Sony A9 and High ISO’s

1/320 Sec. f/6.3, ISO 1600 AWB

As I’m putting my new camera kit, the Sony A9 paired with the newly introduced Sony 200-600mm lens to the test, there are several things I wanted to work with and one of them was how well it handled high ISO settings.

Frequently when I’m photographing birds in low light, my ISO is between 1250 and 1600. On rare occasion I’ll push that ISO setting to ISO 2000 but thankfully my Canon 5D Mark IV handles it well.

So I wanted to see if the Sony A9 was up to the task. There was a large flock of Robins and Cedar Waxwings that were enjoying the water features in my garden the past few days and with the overcast light they were perfect subjects.

As Cedar waxwings are quite shy I had to stay inside the house and open up a window to capture them. This meant that they were further than I preferred them to be which meant the image would need cropping.

With the crop for composition and using the basic Lightroom noise reduction option my final image is above. Below is the full-res unedited image for comparison.

Of course we have to enjoy the Cedar Waxwings as they were great masked bandits.

1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 1250

And the original.

I’m still with the impression that the 200-600mm lens doesn’t capture fine detail and I now consider it a good improvement from the Sigma Contemporary or Sport 150-600mm lenses and most certainly from the Tamron 150-600mm. The image stabilization paired with the internal zooming mechanism versus the lens zooming out on the 150-600mm helps to avoid camera shake when fully zoomed to 600mm. Both the Tamron and Sigma lenses are front heavy when fully zoomed out and the Tamron lost sharpness at the full 600mm.

So my take away with how well the Sony A9 handles high ISO is excellent. I can comfortably crop the image that has high ISO’s and have a lovely images. The lack of detail is minor overall but noticeable when zoomed in 1:1.

The whole kit itself is completely addictive. Between the weight, the focal reach and the fast tracking and rapid frames per second this kit is hard to put down.

I’ve run into a couple of ‘glitches’ that I’m going to discuss on my next blog post, but it’s lovely to be back out in the field chasing our feathered friends.

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