Popular YouTube reviewer Max Yuryev enlisted the help of sports photographer friend, Paul Nelson in testing the Sony α9 side by side with the Nikon D5. Nelson, who frequently shoots more extreme sports like ultra marathon races and MMA fighting, also has experience with both systems and recently spent a week shooting a race with the α9.
"I shot an ultra marathon in a dark forest, ... I shot about 2200 photos in 9 hours, [it was] about 75 degrees out, it did AWESOME. What's crazy is the sensor."
Nelson goes on to explain his initial interest in Sony's new mirrorless king, "I'm looking at this camera because I'm a hybrid shooter. I do video documentaries. I think you're seeing a lot of us photographers do more video. The video out of this ... is amazing. "
Max Yuryev acknowledges the outstanding video performance of the α9 saying, "We're not actually even going to be looking at video, we're going to be just sports photography testing because we know this camera (α9) blows this (D5) away for video. There's not question about it"
"There's no question." Nelson says, in agreement.
The first test the two conduct in the great outdoors of Portland, Oregon is comparing the autofocusing capabilities of each camera in action. In this particular case, with a runner racing towards them through the water at in the base pool of a waterfall.
After shooting with both cameras, Nelson immediately notes of the D5, "I am limited by the autofocusing points. They only go out so far."
Shifting focus to the α9's performance he says, "I could frame the shot better with the Sony. Especially with the waterfall I could capture more of the trees in the background. I'm limited by, I'm framing my shot because the autofocus points only go so far out [with the D5], in the frame. So for me, shooting sports outdoors that's huge to be able to frame the shot a lot better. Instead of moving the camera around I can keep the camera centered the way I want and then frame it out."
As the two continue hiking, Nelson points out a critical fact for many outdoor and action photographers. "So you can see why, coming out here... some of the races are 10 or 15 miles... the weight of the gear is important. I'm excited about the weight of the new Sony α9."
Next Yuryev and Nelson set up for tracking comparison using 70-200mm lenses.
After shooting Yuryev takes a step back and leans in to Nelson noting the uncanny consistency of the autofocusing of the α9, "...just looking at the back of the screen....each one looks in focus."
The two reset for another test with 24-70mm lenses this time.
This time Nelson steps back after shooting and gestures to the α9 "The beauty of that camera is that I don't have a limit on the framing... I keep repeating that but in an environment like this it's awesome."
Motioning back to the D5 he says, "Right now I have to look back and forth (D5) to see how it is, that (α9) I can look at the EVF and just fire away."
After the two do a quick outdoor low light test, Yuryev, delighted, shows Nelson the results on his α9 saying "It looks like it tracked PERFECTLY".
For the second test, the two visit a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym in Portland. Nelson has a real passion for the sport, as he fought amateur Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 12 years. He notes that the lighting in MMA gyms is historically bad, so he wanted to test the sensors to see if any banding would happen.
As he begins to shoot, Nelson points out the one thing that stands out to him most - the silent shutter.
"The guys aren't distracted in training or fighting and can stay in the moment," he says.
Watch the full video and catch the final test on Max Yuryev's YouTube channel.