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A9 vs. A7rIV - My Head Has Cleared

Biro

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I've been torn between the original A9 and the A7rIV for weeks now. Both are available brand new for just under $3K. In fact, I have had both cameras in my virtual shopping basket at different times.

As much as I like the A7rIV with its new shutter and enhanced weather resistance, I find 61mp to be as much a liability as a feature. I'm just not interested in complications like huge files to store and slower workflows.

If Sony also had settings allowing us to shoot jpgs and raw at, say, 42 and/or 36mp it would be different. But it's 61/26/15mp for jpgs and then crop mode - and full resolution for raw.

And if I'm going to shoot 26mp except on rare occasions with wildilife (which is one of the few times I can imagine using 61mp and then cropping) then I might as well buy an A9 with the autofocus system that's even better than the one in the A7rIV.

But the A9 - as good as it is - still has the questionable weather resistance of the older Sony bodies. What I really want is the A9II, with the new shutter and the better environmental sealing. But it's $4,500 U.S.

This morning, my head suddenly cleared. As great a deal as is being offered on these cameras right now, it is madness to spend that much money on something that still isn't what one really wants. So I'm waiting to see what the Sony A7IV will turn out to be. And, by then, perhaps the A1 will be shipping and there may be a sale on the A9II.

Just posting this as a reminder to others. Don't spend money on what you don't want or need. The price on any of these cameras isn't rising. If the answer isn't clear to you, then just put the question aside until it is.
 
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bdbits

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If you are worried about file sizes and workflow, there are RAW sample sets you can download from around the internet. I wondered about this even going from 24 to 42 mp, so that is what I did. I found out it really made only a little difference for me and my setup. After a year or so, I do occasionally notice the larger files slowing things down but it was not worth worrying about vs having 42mp. For me.

Not sure that would be true of 61mp, but I plan to stick with my A7Riii for some time to come anyway.
 

WoodWorks

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Well, I just scored an A7RIV on eBay from someone dumping it for the A1, so I’m about to find out how the 61 MP files will affect my workflow. But like @bdbits, I didn’t notice any change in my developing time when I upgraded to the A7RII, so I expect a similar experience with the A7RIV. That said, I don’t come back from a shoot having to scour through 2000 images to find the keepers (probably a legacy habit from my film days, when every shutter click was precious), so I’m fairly sanguine about it. My new blazing-fast M1 Mac Mini should help in that regard too. We’ll see.
 

davect01

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I've been torn between the original A9 and the A7rIV for weeks now. Both are available brand new for just under $3K. In fact, I have had both cameras in my virtual shopping basket at different times.

As much as I like the A7rIV with its new shutter and enhanced weather resistance, I find 61mp to be as much a liability as a feature. I'm just not interested in complications like huge files to store and slower workflows.

If Sony also had settings allowing us to shoot jpgs and raw at, say, 42 and/or 36mp it would be different. But it's 61/26/15mp for jpgs and then crop mode - and full resolution for raw.

And if I'm going to shoot 26mp except on rare occasions with wildilife (which is one of the few times I can imagine using 61mp and then cropping) then I might as well buy an A9 with the autofocus system that's even better than the one in the A7rIV.

But the A9 - as good as it is - still has the questionable weather resistance of the older Sony bodies. What I really want is the A9II, with the new shutter and the better environmental sealing. But it's $4,500 U.S.

This morning, my head suddenly cleared. As great a deal as is being offered on these cameras right now, it is madness to spend that much money on something that still isn't what one really wants. So I'm waiting to see what the Sony A7IV will turn out to be. And, by then, perhaps the A1 will be shipping and there may be a sale on the A9II.

Just posting this as a reminder to others. Don't spend money on what you don't want or need. The price on any of these cameras isn't rising. If the answer isn't clear to you, then just put the question aside until it is.
An additional consideration to a 61MP camera is that you gotta have some great glass to go with it. A $300 kit lens is just gonna look bad on a big MP sensor whereas if gets by just fine on a 24MP camera.
 

Biro

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Well, I just scored an A7RIV on eBay from someone dumping it for the A1, so I’m about to find out how the 61 MP files will affect my workflow. But like @bdbits, I didn’t notice any change in my developing time when I upgraded to the A7RII, so I expect a similar experience with the A7RIV. That said, I don’t come back from a shoot having to scour through 2000 images to find the keepers (probably a legacy habit from my film days, when every shutter click was precious), so I’m fairly sanguine about it. My new blazing-fast M1 Mac Mini should help in that regard too. We’ll see.
David... please let us know how that goes - the sooner the better. If my thinking on this is all wrong, I'd want to know. Because, otherwise, the a7rIV is just fine and I don't shoot hundreds or thousands of frames at a time, either.
 

Biro

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An additional consideration to a 61MP camera is that you gotta have some great glass to go with it. A $300 kit lens is just gonna look bad on a big MP sensor whereas if gets by just fine on a 24MP camera.
I have all of the Tamron f/2.8 zooms for FE mount, plus the Sony 12-24 f/4 and a number of Sony primes - the 20mm f/1.8, the 28mm f/2.0, the 35mm f/2.8, the 55mm f/1.8, the 85mm f/1.8 - and a few Samyang primes, which are quite sharp.
 
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WoodWorks

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David... please let us know how that goes - the sooner the better. If my thinking on this is all wrong, I'd want to know. Because, otherwise, the a7rIV is just fine and I don't shoot hundreds or thousands of frames at a time, either.
Will do, Biro. My guess is that I'll waste no time getting to know this new toy, er... tool.
 
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An additional consideration to a 61MP camera is that you gotta have some great glass to go with it. A $300 kit lens is just gonna look bad on a big MP sensor whereas if gets by just fine on a 24MP camera.
If you blow up a picture to a certain size, the 61 MP file will always look better than e.g. a 24 MP picture. But if you pixel-peep at 100 % on a monitor, the higher-resolution file will look worse because you're effectively viewing the picture displayed to a larger size. I have used the lowly Sony E 2.8/20 on my A7R4 in APS-C mode. Did I see the lens' defects? Sure. But I made some nice pictures with it and I'll keep it for run-and-gun street shooting, whether it be on the A7R4 or the A1.
 

Biro

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If you blow up a picture to a certain size, the 61 MP file will always look better than e.g. a 24 MP picture. But if you pixel-peep at 100 % on a monitor, the higher-resolution file will look worse because you're effectively viewing the picture displayed to a larger size. I have used the lowly Sony E 2.8/20 on my A7R4 in APS-C mode. Did I see the lens' defects? Sure. But I made some nice pictures with it and I'll keep it for run-and-gun street shooting, whether it be on the A7R4 or the A1.
How about you, Ad? How is handling 61mp files on your computer? Bith in terms of space, opening the files and processing them? Do you shoot mostly raw or jpg?
 
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How about you, Ad? How is handling 61mp files on your computer? Bith in terms of space, opening the files and processing them? Do you shoot mostly raw or jpg?
Before I bought the A7R4 I tried some downloaded sample raw files on my computer to assess if it would be workable. Obviously I decided it was :). My computer is a late-2015 5K iMac and I use Lightroom, the latest version with Creative Cloud subscription. Zooming in on a picture takes about 7 s to render in Library mode, in Develop it's faster, a few seconds. Switching between files in Develop mode is quite slow, can also take a few seconds and that's annoying to be honest. All in all, working in Lightroom doesn't feel really smooth but I can live with it, even though it's noticeably worse than with the A7R2's 42 MP files. I have no recent experience with any other raw developer, I just don't want to spend the time and energy anymore to go through what I know is a long learning curve.

I always shoot uncompressed raw and that makes 120 MB files. Yikes! I now convert them to losslessly compressed DNG files on import into Lightroom, yielding 60 MB files; that's just about tolerable, the 120 MB files were chewing through my storage space way too fast. Some people say disk space is cheap, in my mind that's not true at all; I have a fairly extensive backup procedure so all backup space has to accommodate all that data too. My Lightroom catalog contains over 65000 images, a lot of them are older and smaller size. Image files occupy a total of around 1.6 TB on my NAS and a few tens of GB on the computer's SSD; I only keep the current year's raw files on the computer's drive. Even though the NAS runs on conventional hard disks, opening a raw file from there isn't noticeably slower than opening one from the SSD. Which suggests that Lightroom itself takes its sweet time to process image data.

Hope this helps. Do what I did, download some raw files, e.g. from the dpreview sample gallery, and try for yourself. You are not me, and your gear is different too, so it's always hard to go by experiences of others IMHO.
 

Biro

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I took the bait. My local camera store had an open box for $650 off. Batteries are charging. I was surprised that it came with an external charger.

View attachment 113972
Congratulations. Let us know what you think - both of the camera and handling the files. The current sale only runs another week - until February 28th.

Meanwhile... I have downloaded a few compressed raw files from DPReview - 61mb each. They didn't seem too difficult to handle at all on my 2019 iMac with six-core i5 chip and 64gb of RAM. I wouldn't want to handle hundreds at a time but in relatively small amounts they seem okay. I'd be interested in the findings of others.
 
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Tipton

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Initial thoughts:
  1. I like the slightly larger, deeper grip. On the R2, my little finger was only half on, so I always used some sort of accessory grip. And I don't thing my middle finger will accidentally hit the lens release button anymore.
  2. I like having a dedicated AF-ON button, for back button focus.
  3. I like that they moved the movie record button to where my thumb can actually reach without jostling the camera.
  4. Holy crap, there's a lot of new stuff in the menus.
  5. Focuses a lot faster.
I'll head out and take some photos tomorrow.
 

WoodWorks

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Mine came in yesterday afternoon, and I got out today for just about an hour to try it on. I agree with all of Rae's thoughts — though I don't shoot video, so #3 doesn't apply to me. To his list I'd add that I like the quieter shutter too. But it's going to take me some time to get all the custom buttons squared away.

I downloaded the 36 frames I shot today into Lightroom (and let it create the standard previews) in 55 secs. And when I worked on the images I never noticed any lag. Everything was snappy. I shot compressed raw files (61MB), and based on what I've read online about compressed vs. uncompressed, I think I'll stick to compressed raws in almost all cases.

After my last Lightroom-culling bloodbath, I'm down to 2842 photos in my catalog. So the file size of the compressed raws won't be an issue for some time to come. And since Lightroom seems unfazed by their size, I guess it's a nonissue for me.

I don't print billboards, so the main advantage of the additional resolution over my old A7RII is the ability to crop more and still maintain a decent image. Here's a photo I shot this afternoon:

Cropped.jpg
ILCE-7RM4    FE 85mm F1.8    85mm    f/1.8    1/320s    ISO 100


And here's the full frame:

Full frame.jpg
   ---            


Once I get more familiar with the interface, I bet I'm going to enjoy shooting with this camera a lot!


DSC09281.jpg
by David Wood, on Flickr
 

Tipton

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Good news! My 2012 vintage windows computer handles the 61 megapixels raw files well. No real delay on import, there is a noticeable delay when zooming, but not a deal breaker. Exporting to jpg is where I noticed a delay, but I can go and get a coffee, come back and it's done.

Other: I think the new sensor has better color. The following are minimally edited jpgs from the raws I imported.

Handheld macro with the FE 70-300g is a possibility:

DSC00007.jpg
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Should have used a lens hood on this one:

DSC00029.jpg
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On my adventures today, I found this great abandoned farmhouse and church:

DSC00053.jpg
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DSC00054.jpg
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And this sycamore tree on the same road:

DSC00063.jpg
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I haven't really tested low light capability or vintage lenses yet. And I wish the sky had been better today!
 

christilou

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Since I got my A9 I rarely use the A7RIII. Although my iMac is about a year old it seems quite slow to me. I don't fancy it's chances with 61mp. Culling is becoming a full time job to keep the space free. I have two external hard drives with most of my pics on and keep only a few months at a time on here.
 

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