From the D500 to the Z9 and, unfortunately, back again; some Qs for Sony shooters

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Bluetail

Member
There’s a lot I like about the Z9—it’s an incredible upgrade from my D500—but it’s killing my already-problematic shoulder, and as a woman with smaller hands, the Z9’s bulk and weight make it a camera I just don’t enjoy shooting with, especially with the 500mm PF lens attached to it. So, after a couple of weeks of yes/no/yes/no, I’ve decided to sell it. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to using the D500 for BIF while I cast about for a smaller, lighter high-resolution mirrorless option.

Since the elusive unicorn Z8 is nowhere on the horizon, not even rumored, it may be time to look at offerings from Sony. I have a few questions for Sony shooters: What are the A7iv and A9 like for tracking BIF and other fast-moving wildlife if the A1 isn’t completely off the table, but would be a real stretch for me financially? I like what I’m learning about the A7iv, and wonder about your experiences with its AF system for BIF, its eye AF stickiness and overall user-friendliness, especially compared with the Z9 if you’ve used both. I appreciate your input!
 

Ductape

Well-known member
Sorry for the poor fit. Not considering a switch myself, but I like your question. Kind of an "is there already an equivalent to the what we all dream about in the Z8 available in the Sony line"?
 

jeffnles1

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I will be following closely. I’m very interested in the A7iv. I, too, will be coming from a D500. If the rumors of a Canon R7 are true I will need to check it out too.
Jeff
 

sh1209

Well-known member
Supporting Member
There’s a lot I like about the Z9—it’s an incredible upgrade from my D500—but it’s killing my already-problematic shoulder, and as a woman with smaller hands, the Z9’s bulk and weight make it a camera I just don’t enjoy shooting with, especially with the 500mm PF lens attached to it. So, after a couple of weeks of yes/no/yes/no, I’ve decided to sell it. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to using the D500 for BIF while I cast about for a smaller, lighter high-resolution mirrorless option.

Since the elusive unicorn Z8 is nowhere on the horizon, not even rumored, it may be time to look at offerings from Sony. I have a few questions for Sony shooters: What are the A7iv and A9 like for tracking BIF and other fast-moving wildlife if the A1 isn’t completely off the table, but would be a real stretch for me financially? I like what I’m learning about the A7iv, and wonder about your experiences with its AF system for BIF, its eye AF stickiness and overall user-friendliness, especially compared with the Z9 if you’ve used both. I appreciate your input!
Unfortunately I just did the same thing for the same reason. Just too big and heavy for me. I am shooting the A1 which is very small and light as well as the lenses. The 200-600mm lens is a little hefty but easier for me to manage than the Z9/500PF combo.
 

FB101

Well-known member
There’s a lot I like about the Z9—it’s an incredible upgrade from my D500—but it’s killing my already-problematic shoulder, and as a woman with smaller hands, the Z9’s bulk and weight make it a camera I just don’t enjoy shooting with, especially with the 500mm PF lens attached to it. So, after a couple of weeks of yes/no/yes/no, I’ve decided to sell it. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to using the D500 for BIF while I cast about for a smaller, lighter high-resolution mirrorless option.

Since the elusive unicorn Z8 is nowhere on the horizon, not even rumored, it may be time to look at offerings from Sony. I have a few questions for Sony shooters: What are the A7iv and A9 like for tracking BIF and other fast-moving wildlife if the A1 isn’t completely off the table, but would be a real stretch for me financially? I like what I’m learning about the A7iv, and wonder about your experiences with its AF system for BIF, its eye AF stickiness and overall user-friendliness, especially compared with the Z9 if you’ve used both. I appreciate your input!

I will get killed, but as a Sony shooter, if the A1 is off the table, your best option is the canon R5 + 100-500 zoom. It is much lighter, great IS, excellent AF. It’s not as good as the A1 and that canon zoom has its own weirdness but for weight / size / performance ratio I don’t think you can do better today.
otherwise the Sony A9ii with 200-600 but you will lose resolution and the zoom is a bit heavier than the 500pf.
‘I can’t comment on the A7iv, I have not tried it.
 

Barbara

Active member
I started in mirrorless with the A9. My thought at the time was to try mirrorless as an experiment, but not spend a lot of $$ doing it. I got the A9 instead of the A9ii because the reviewers found no real difference in AF capability, and it cost less. Well, I fell in love with it for its BIF capability. I also got the 200-600, but found that too heavy to handhold, and instead went with the 100-400 plus 1.4 TC. There are some caveats -- I found the focus accuracy a bit fussy with low contrast subjects, and the A9 is 24 MP FF. But I still think it may be the best cost/size&weight/performance combo out there.

I have no experience with the A7iv, but I'd check the reviews regarding AF capability for action.
 

abc123brian

Well-known member
You have received some good responses so far, but as it’s been mentioned there really isn’t a weight savings going with the A1 (or other Sony body) + 200-600mm over the Z9 + 500mm PF. The weight is distributed differently which may be better or worse for you. The weight will be different with other lenses and the Z9 will be heavier with a 100-400mm for example. I wouldn’t jump into a change without trying to see how it works for you. As @FB101 mentioned, the Canon R5 +100-500mm might be what you’re after.
 

FB101

Well-known member
the r5 does look to be a crazy good value
As I always say, I see the R5 as the true spiritual successor of the D850. It does everything 90% of more for 70% or less of the price of the flagships. The only reason it doesn’t get more acclaim is because it lacks a stacked sensor but canon I think squeezed as much performance out if a cmos (not even bsi) as technically possible. To be honest, the R5 is what the z7ii should have been - I’d still be shooting Nikon if it had.
 

John Navitsky

Well-known member
As I always say, I see the R5 as the true spiritual successor of the D850. It does everything 90% of more for 70% or less of the price of the flagships. The only reason it doesn’t get more acclaim is because it lacks a stacked sensor but canon I think squeezed as much performance out if a cmos (not even bsi) as technically possible. To be honest, the R5 is what the z7ii should have been - I’d still be shooting Nikon if it had.
agree, although i’m a bit unsure i dig the nr applied to the raws.
 

MorganP

Well-known member
Have you considered using a tripod? I hate having to drag a tripod with me but if the photo is worth taking it worth setting up the tripod. I have been using a tripod for 40 years on 99% of my photos and I think the payoff is worth it.
 

Ivy

New member
There’s a lot I like about the Z9—it’s an incredible upgrade from my D500—but it’s killing my already-problematic shoulder, and as a woman with smaller hands, the Z9’s bulk and weight make it a camera I just don’t enjoy shooting with, especially with the 500mm PF lens attached to it. So, after a couple of weeks of yes/no/yes/no, I’ve decided to sell it. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to using the D500 for BIF while I cast about for a smaller, lighter high-resolution mirrorless option.

Since the elusive unicorn Z8 is nowhere on the horizon, not even rumored, it may be time to look at offerings from Sony. I have a few questions for Sony shooters: What are the A7iv and A9 like for tracking BIF and other fast-moving wildlife if the A1 isn’t completely off the table, but would be a real stretch for me financially? I like what I’m learning about the A7iv, and wonder about your experiences with its AF system for BIF, its eye AF stickiness and overall user-friendliness, especially compared with the Z9 if you’ve used both. I appreciate your input!
I also find the Z9 too big for my hands. Does not help that I am recovering from a broken left wrist so still using a splint. But I absolutely love the Z9 and much prefer it to my D850 and D500. I did have to make some changes to my set up. Using a monopod with a FlexShooter Mini ballhead was key. So much easier to maneuver all the buttons with the weight of the camera on the monopod. And very smooth following your subject. I gave up back button focus and assigned 3D tracking to the AF-ON button. So once I lock on, I engage 3D as Steve suggested. I assigned Video Record Button to Recall Shooting Hold to turn subject detection off. I love changing settings easily via the viewfinder and seeing the histogram, etc. My main lenses are 80-400, 300 PF, and 500 PF. Undecided on 800 PF. Have a Tamron 150-600 but it does not work on the Z9. Not sure if there is a Tamron firmware update that will correct the problem.
 

John Navitsky

Well-known member
Have a Tamron 150-600 but it does not work on the Z9. Not sure if there is a Tamron firmware update that will correct the problem.
they note compatibility on their web site, it’s possible you need to send it to them for a fw update
 

Venkatesh VT

Love nature & nature loves you back
Supporting Member
I had considered A7 Iv ( I already have A1 ) for my wife . How ever reading the reviews & using it once I found it to be a lame duck camera
Then I went for Z9 to be paired with 500 PF
She loves to take videos & we are going to Masai Mara this year. She will be mostly using vehicles & hence its bulking as is not an issue
I did consider R5 . How ever I love my 500 PF & hence went for z9 which has very good video
 

fcotterill

Well-known member
Supporting Member
If net weight and also size are priority factors in your camera system, all the FX systems are much heavier than smaller formats with telephotos
A OM-1 and Used 300mm is comparatively handy.


Also check out videos by UK pro Andy Rouse
 

fcotterill

Well-known member
Supporting Member
The logical follow up(s) to the Z9 might be either 1. A slightly lighter Z8 built on the same stacked 45mp sensor. Optional grip but battery life could be tricky without the ENEL18.

2. New stacked 24mp sensor in Z9 body, 'only' 4K video, even high raw frame rates etc, including PreCapture. The Lowlight fiend....

Given the pending Fuji APC with stacked sensor, animal recognition etc al.... and a rumoured high spec Canon APC, a Z90 is possible, and certainly the logical path to update the D500 niche

EXPEED7 is very likely in any prosumer Zed MILC in the next wave
 
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gdecamp

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Forgot to mention but double check on the A9 and A9ii I don't think they have bird eye focus.
 

StefanSC

Well-known member
What are the A7iv and A9 like for tracking BIF and other fast-moving wildlife if the A1 isn’t completely off the table, but would be a real stretch for me financially?

Not a Sony user but a D500 user with some Sony experience here ...

A while back I rented the Sony A9 and 100-400mm and shot a few thousand frames with it (portraits, landscape, wildlife). In parallel, I had with me the Panasonic G9 (m43 camera) with the Leica 50-200mm f2.8/4 (equivalent to FF 100-400 f5.6/8) and the D500 with the Sigma 150-600mm C.

These are my impressions of the A9 and 100-400mm combo:

- build quality is very good. As good if not better than the G9 and the D500.
- ergonomics are a bit meh... Body is too cramped and the center of mass is a bit too forward due to the light body and the heavy lens. It's way too easy to push the wrong button.
- AF is impressive. Real time tracking is sticky and doesn't seem to be fooled easily by multiple subjects flying around (seagulls in a feeding frenzy). In use it's different than a DSLR (you can trust the A9 RTT to follow the subject in the frame) and I could get roughly the same ratio of in focus subjects as with the D500, just that it was at 20fps and it gives the user more confidence. BUT...
- AF has a few issues: it tends to grab backgrounds when shooting birds on branches with a busy environment and it sometimes lies in the EVF (I had a number of shots that the AF confirmed they were in focus but when viewed on the computer screen, they were just slightly out of focus).
- while it does have Animal Eye AF, it rarely found it on birds and even on things like cats it seemed to struggle (firmware version 6).
- Image quality is a mixed bag. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, quite the contrary, but, between the AA filter on the A9 sensor and the quality of the rented 100-400mm, I would constantly get sharper and more detailed images from the 20Mpx G9/50-200mm combo up to ISO 3200. The difference was enough that I would take the small sensor m43 kit over the FF one if I was basing my choice only on the image quality and ergonomics.

Overall, I'd say it's a nice camera and with what I've seen from the Sony 200-600mm, it would make a good setup for those who want a black-out free EVF, 20 FPS and solid AF. It's just that I'm not sure I would pick a Sony A9 and 200-600mm over an Olympus OM-1 and 300mm f4. Image quality in real life would be close enough as to make no difference and the Olympus system is lighter, better balanced and has much more functionality (as well as dedicated bird AF).

P.S: regarding A7IV, keep in mind that this is 10fps max camera whose read speed si 1/15s ( 15 times slower than a Z9 or A1 I think), meaning shooting electronic shutter means distorsions on moving subjects...
 

FB101

Well-known member
Forgot to mention but double check on the A9 and A9ii I don't think they have bird eye focus.
Correct, it has “animal” eye AF for cats and dogs but very unreliable for birds. It works better if you just turn it off (fewer identification mistakes) and use a small area AF on the head of the bird (with or without tracking depending on situation), not unlike group AF in Nikon DSLR with the benefit of tracking but the issue of getting stuck on backgrounds at times.
 

Bluetail

Member
Thread starter
Correct, it has “animal” eye AF for cats and dogs but very unreliable for birds. It works better if you just turn it off (fewer identification mistakes) and use a small area AF on the head of the bird (with or without tracking depending on situation), not unlike group AF in Nikon DSLR with the benefit of tracking but the issue of getting stuck on backgrounds at times.
This is good info, good to know; sounds like Steve’s Z9 strategy to sometimes turn off animal eye focus
 
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