I have to come straight out and say it and save you the read if you're not interested in knowing my personal opinion on the Sony a9. Astrophotography is a huge passion of mine and to the best of my ability and know how, the Sony a9 is NOT a "star eater." After having the privilege of being part of this year's Sony Kando trip 1.0 in the later part of May 2017, I had a few days to test out the new a9 during this very special event. I put the new flagship for Sony through the surf, action sports, portrait photography and YES I even got some time in shooting with it at night.
A few days obviously isn't enough to tell a story and give a 100% recommendation for the a9. Like the tech nerd that I am and a hybrid shooter picking up this new beast of a camera was a no brainier! With all the info out there online about its speed, silent shutter, beautiful video, etc, there is no need for me to beat a dead horse and go over all those specs on the Sony a9. Just know this; in my opinion it's a photographers dream camera! It is well-suited for any sort of photography and even for people interested in video. The video capabilities and quality are outstanding! New video with the Sony a9 coming soon!
The one question people haven't answered yet is "is the Sony a9 well suited for astrophotography?" I have to say YES it darn right is! Because of a firmware update that Sony put out in August 2016 on their a7 line of cameras, the astrophotography community has been slowly noticing a side effect to update 3.30 on the a7RII and 2.10 on the a7SII. This unwanted side effect has been coined the "star eater." I have been lucky enough to not witness this because I simply haven't updated the firmware. If this is the first time you're hearing about this, DO NOT update your camera at this time. I believe it's virtually impossible to go backwards after doing so. There has been a recent attempt to fix this problem with a new update but I've heard it really hasn't solved the problem.
This side effect changes the image quality while shooting longer exposures. Mistaking sharp stars for noise, the update will reduce brightness in these stars and even wipe them out completely, resulting in a final image with less stars. It's been said this side effect might go un noticed and it takes a fair amount of pixel peeping to see the difference. However, it's a decrease in overall image quality that would rather avoid. If you would like to learn more about the "star eater" issue, there have been some excellent write ups and open forums here and here.
With all that said, let's pop back on the brighter side of things. I'm here to bring you real world photos. Other then not seeing the "star eater" problem on the Sony a9, this camera is a excellent performer in low light! As you have noticed, I have attached a set of images for you to check out that I recently captured at Joshua Tree national park. Here are a few final edits and two sets of images taken with a few of my favorite lenses, the Tokina Firin 20mm f2.0 and the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8. These images are straight out of the camera with no editing done. I have provided sample images in the ISO range that I normally shoot in. (ISO 3200 - 12,800)
I hope this read has helped answer some of those questions and doubts about the Sony a9 for astrophotography. I certainly have been having a blast with this new camera and have simply not found a fault with it yet. Whats next for Sony? Who knows? They just keep blowing minds with each and every new release.
As always, thank you for your time and if you are considering purchasing the Sony a9 or some of my favorite gear for your next adventure, please do from the links below. It helps keep the site going strong and allows me to bring you new content, inspiration and information. Until next time, happy shooting!