Less than a year has passed until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sony's lineup of the full-size mirrorless “α” series is aimed at the use of professional photographers at the Tokyo Olympics, driven by popularity in the consumer market. In addition to launching the flagship model “ α9 II '' with improved shooting performance at the beginning of November, we prepared an advanced system that can capture the pattern of the hot war from all angles and send it to the world quickly. .
Smart, such as being able to shoot while checking the live view of multiple cameras installed several tens of meters away from the photographer on your computer, or transferring photos taken via smartphone without even needing a computer I was greatly surprised by the mechanism.
The "α9 II" [ILCE-9M2] released by Sony on November 1 is a professional model for sports photographers and the news field, and features continuous shooting performance and communication functions that have been greatly enhanced. It can be said that Sony's new weapon made with the Tokyo Olympics in mind. On November 19th, a press conference was held for media members who could try out this α9 II.
Remote shooting for batch control of up to 20 cameras
The first thing that stood out at the venue was the workflow of remote shooting using the α9 II mounted on the ceiling of the arena or on the second floor. You can connect the α9 II to a computer with a LAN cable of about 100m and release the shutter by operating the computer.
This kind of remote shooting is a common way of shooting at big sporting events. The advantage is that you can take pictures from different viewpoints because you can shoot from places where photographers cannot enter. In addition, one cameraman can also control multiple cameras at the same time. Sony's system can connect up to 20 α9 II or α9 to one computer [the manufacturer's warranty is up to 6].
The software used for remote shooting is Sony's “Remote Camera Tool” [free of charge]. While viewing the live view image of the camera, press the number key on the keyboard assigned to each camera to release the shutter. Continuous shooting is possible by holding down the space key. Of course, settings such as shutter speed, aperture value, and ISO sensitivity can also be adjusted from a computer.
Many digital cameras can transfer images wirelessly, such as Wi-Fi, but there may be a problem where images cannot be sent due to interference at the site where many photographers gather. For this reason, wired LANs are often used in professional sites to ensure reliable communication. The reason for using LAN instead of USB is that long-distance transfer is easy. In general, USB connections are limited to a few meters, but a wired LAN can communicate over considerable distances. In fact, at this venue, a 100m LAN cable was connected to connect the camera to the computer.
The α series is equipped with a wired LAN terminal [RJ-45] from α9. α9 LAN terminal was 100BASE-TX, but α9 II newly supports 1000BASE-T [Gigabit Ethernet]. The theoretical value is 10 times faster. This has enabled faster image transfer.
Captured images can be saved to the camera or computer, and can also be transferred from a computer to a remote server by FTP transfer. In other words, you can immediately send photos taken at the venue to the office where the photo editor is located.
Automatically convert voices into photos to text
Even more noteworthy is the provision of a smartphone workflow for transferring images to an FTP server. According to Sony representatives, there are many sporting events that can't bring a personal computer due to space problems. At such sites, α9 II and smartphone can be connected via Wi-Fi or USB, and images sent to the smartphone can be transferred to the server via FTP.
By installing Sony's “Transfer & Tagging add-on” [free of charge] on your smartphone, you can transfer images from your camera to your smartphone at any time using “FTP background transfer”. In other words, you can use other apps on your smartphone. If it is an Android device, you can connect the camera and smartphone with a USB Type-C cable to do the same, and even if the Wi-Fi signal condition is bad, you can transfer reliably.
This Transfer & Tagging add-on is equipped with a tagging function based on “automatic text conversion of voice memos” that is not available in other companies. This is the voice memo function that was previously used on other professional machines, but for the first time Sony has made it available for the α9 II.
The distinctive feature of Transfer & Tagging add-on is that the voice memo that has been blown is automatically converted into text and written as tag information. The speech was converted to text using Google's cloud server, and was tagged as soon as the smartphone was connected to the Internet. I tried the demo several times in a somewhat noisy venue, but it was impressive that it was made into text without mistranslation.
Conventional voice memos require editors and operators who received the photos to listen to the voices and type them in as tags, but they were all manual and time consuming. Speed is the key to reporting in the Internet age. Automatic memoization of voice memos will greatly contribute to shortening the time to publish photos.
You can record a voice memo of up to 60 seconds by pressing the center button on the control wheel while playing the image. The audio data is saved as a WAV file with the same name as the image file, and is sent along with the image transfer.
Video shooting also utilizes the ultra-compact digital camera “RX0 II”
A small camera "Cyber-shot RX0 II" [DSC-RX0M2] was also active at the venue. RX0 II is a palm-sized compact digital camera equipped with a 1-inch sensor and a wide-angle lens equivalent to 24mm. Despite being so compact, it has toughness such as 10m water resistance and 2m shock resistance.
This time, 3×3 [three-player basketball] was installed above and below the goal post, and a video was shot and transferred to a computer. Since RX0 II is very small, it has the advantage of not being noticeable. Even if it is placed on the top of the goal or on the ground, there is no worry of blocking the audience's view.
A wired LAN is used between the RX0 II and the PC for stable long-distance transfer. RX0 II does not have a LAN terminal, but an optional camera control box “CCB-WD1” can be used to add a LAN terminal.
If you connect to the camera control box address with a web browser on your computer, you can shoot while viewing the live view. This time, we were appealing for slow motion recording using the RX0 II HFR [high frame rate, high speed shooting] function. Slow shooting up to 40 times is possible, so it is possible to deliver slow video immediately without using editing software.
When using the camera control box, up to 100 RX0 IIs can be connected to one computer.
AF continues to match eyes even if player's hand is in front of face
Prior to the live-action experience, Photographer Kobashi Castle, an active photographer in sports photography, talked about the usability of α9 II. According to Mr. Kobashi, the AF tracking performance has been improved at the previous α9, and even in scenes where the hand is in front of the subject's face, the face is focused and the pupil AF function is in focus. Evaluated the ability to take photos. With a single-lens reflex camera, in such a case, the hand is generally in focus.
“With the α9 II, the AF function has further improved. Even when the ball hits the face due to soccer heading, AF continued to fit on the face. I sent the photos via FTP using a smartphone, and I feel that they have a finish that can be used in the workplace. ”[Mr. Kobashi]
I was able to take a good feeling even for sports shooting amateurs!
I also tried shooting with α9 II. There are two types of subjects, cheerleading and 3×3. In both cases, the person moves quickly and irregularly, so it can be said that the scene where the AF tracking performance of the camera is tested.
The cheerleading team took photos with the telephoto zoom lens "FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS". These arenas are very dark for taking pictures, even if they look bright, but a bright lens like the open F2.8 is especially advantageous for sports photography that requires a high-speed shutter. AF was set to face / pupil AF, and continuous shooting was performed at 20 frames per second.
The author has little experience in sports photography, but many cuts were just in focus, and I was able to realize the high tracking performance of α9 II.
Next is 3×3. This time, I borrowed and used Yonnippa [FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS], which I can't usually get. These heavyweight lenses were difficult to follow if I was not used to handling them, and I felt the lack of my skills, but the subject in the frame was in focus. If you have the ability to follow the subject reliably, the shooting height will increase.
In addition, the grip shape of α9 II has been improved compared to α9, and it has been confirmed that holding is better when actually held. I haven't tried this time, but the topic is that the maximum continuous shooting speed at the mechanical shutter has doubled from 5 frames / second to 10 frames / second. Shooting with reduced flicker is also possible.
In addition, Wi-Fi is compatible with 5GHz in addition to α9 2.4GHz, enabling high-speed communication. Both card slots support UHS-II, which allows high-speed transfer. Many of the improvements in α9 II are based on user feedback.
I'm looking forward to seeing how much the camera and work area of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be swept over, with the camera and workflow evolving to the next level.
Born in 1981. Since 2006, he has worked as an editor for the Impress news site “Digital Camera Watch”, covering the camera and photography industry and writing equipment reviews. Free from 2018.