Photographer Hugh Hastings has a long association with Chelsea Football Club – he was their official photographer for ten years back in the 1970s and 1980s, and now manages their digital photo archives and workflow. Hugh still shoots sports, and recently took the new Sony A9 to the touchline for a football work-out, the first of its kind in the UK for this camera.
“Back in the day Chelsea FC had no money at all and could only afford for me to shoot one roll of film per match. Just 36 frames. If I shot more, I had to pay for the film and processing. How times have changed! In photography too; the equipment is so much more automated than when I started, when there was no digital cameras and no autofocus for instance.
The Sony A9 is the first mirrorless camera I’ve ever used that is a genuine alternative to the established DSLR pro sports market. I have had five hip operations over the years and that’s partly down to the weight of cameras and lenses. We all need smaller gear! It’s been a pipe dream until now.
I shot the A9 for two hours taking in the match and post-match celebrations, and it wasn’t until after 75 minutes play that I remembered that the A9 has an electronic viewfinder. That’s how much things have progressed. No black-outs, no issues with focus, in fact I think the focus is quicker and more reliable than any other camera I’ve used. The images were stunning, using the 100-400mm lens, with quite a bit more detail in the shadow areas than normal, and no missed shots other than when I was conserving battery power as I was switching off and on. The camera is so new, we had no accurate idea of how many shots I could take. In fact, I took over 1500 images and that used up only 48% battery power which is bang on, and I was viewing a lot of them back in the viewfinder so see how the equipment was handling the job.
The feature set is outstanding, not just a whole lot lighter, but more useful too, such as the silent shutter that I was able to use in the press conference. Now I can’t wait to try the longer prime lenses and also the camera grip, I shot all these images without a grip as the new battery grip had yet to ship, which is pretty amazing from a handling point-of-view. So, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that the A9 is the start of a whole new ball game for sports photographers, action and wildlife shooters, right here, right now.”
The camera is also available in Calumet Rental, for £100 per day.