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Sony A9 – Banding Issue?

I wrote up in my hands-on experience post for the Sony A9 that I was a little disappointed in this camera.

If you keep in mind that this is just from a hands-on and I haven’t written off the camera completely, just my first impressions of it didn’t excite me.

I did write in my post for the Sony A9 announcement that I won’t be pre-ordering the camera until I can see how the silent shutter feature performs.

I’ve seen a few reviews and discussions on the camera and the ones particularly reviewed by any Sony Artisan or Collective, they seem to praise the camera as if the silent shutter has been remedied completely. At worst they have said you “might see some banding at certain light frequencies”, so I was lead to believe if the banding does appear, it will be subtle and at a few shutter speeds.

At the event hosted at Fixation UK they had a staged setup with light panels and a golfer. As predicted, the silent shutter worked flawlessly at all shutter speeds with regards to banding. However, when I turned around and saw the florescent lighting at Fixation and took some shots there, the flaws were much more apparent.

Rather than discussing this scenario in depth, it’s easier if I just show you…

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/50sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/100sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/200sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/400sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/800sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/1600sec

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A9 @ 1/3200sec

To be completely fair to the Sony A9, the problem may not occur as much in more common lighting scenarios and it is unlikely you will see this type of lighting at a wedding or any large sporting event such as the Olympics.

However, with how heavily this feature has been pushed I would have liked it to be fully resolved, or at the very least hard to see. Similarly the distortion is still there, but hard to see.

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As you can see in the above examples, the Golf Club starts bowing forward. When it bows more backwards it’s at least more acceptable as it appears the motion is just too fast, but when it bows forward it just looks odd. It is very subtle, but it is there.

However, this blog post was more about discussing the banding issue and as you can see from the examples above, it’s very much apparent.

To be clear, I am not trying to Sony bash as if anything, I am a Sony fanboy considering how much Sony kit I got. In reality, I have no brand allegiance. I am just disappointed to see this issue not fully resolved.

I mentioned in my hands-on review that I would consider this A9 to be more in-line as a Sony A7III and marketed as an events camera. Then closer to the Olympic date, they push out the A9 in a bigger body after releasing some more telephoto lenses.

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3 Responses

  1. David Scott says:

    Interestingly, I’ve found the problem you illustrate worse with the A9 than my A7s and A7sII, when shooting under old, non-daylight balanced fluorescents. I discovered early on that I had to use their mechanical shutters to eliminate it. However, today, shooting the A9 under those same tubes, the color bands appeared even when using the mechanical shutter UNLESS I shot at 125th sec. With the A7 and A7sII, I could shoot at a much higher mechanical shutter speed and never got the color distortion. Very curious.

  2. David Scott says:

    I should add, however, that under daylight-balanced fluorescents, the A9 electronic and mechanical shutter results are, for my purposes, excellent and exposures result in none of the distortion seen with the non-daylight lights. In the case of those older lights, I was astonished to see the phenomenon at all with the A9’s mechanical shutter since the earlier cameras had no such problem.

    • Leo Hoang says:

      Thanks for your comment David.

      I would be very interested in exploring that situation further. I do plan on trying to get my hands on another A9 sometime soon. I have a corporate shoot coming up under poorly lit conditions, so I would love to test how this camera performs under a real-world scenario.

      Sounds very strange with the issue occurring whilst using mechanical shutter.

      If you’re happy to share any sample images, I would love to see.

      Thanks David.

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