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Sony a9 Sensor Hot Pixel Issue?

Yesterday, I got the call from my camera shop in Raleigh to let me know that my Sony a9 mirrorless camera body was on the way and that it would be here tonight. I had it on pre-order and was number three on the list for the Raleigh market. I have been a Canon (and Nikon) pro body shooter for 10+ years and was super excited to pick it up after work and hoped it would be all that the reviews and hype made it out to be. The specs on the a9 made it appear like this could be the ultimate camera for weddings, even though it is marketed as a sports camera. So I placed my pre-oder and took a leap of faith.

I brought it home, charged the battery for a few minutes and started playing with it. I programmed the custom buttons and set it up the way I wanted without too much trouble. The body feels great, the joystick is awesome and the responsiveness is very quick. I've played with the a7 series cameras and felt the usability and ergonomics weren't quite there but the Sony a9 is a big improvement. The buttons feel like a hybrid design between Canon and Nikon and the positioning felt familiar. 

However, after taking just a few test shots, I noticed hot pixels appearing on the lcd screen, in the electronic viewfinder and they were even more noticeable in the files. I shot a bunch of test shots (nothing overly interesting) in JPEG since I don't yet have software that will open the RAW files. These sample photos are underexposed, but by doing that, the files more easily show the hot pixels. As someone who photographs weddings, I routinely shoot in the dark at ISOs of 1600, 3200, 6400 and more with selectively lit subjects so this test isn't too different from how I use the camera in many situations.

I have included some of the shots below for review and I am curious if anyone else who received the a9 today noticed this phenomenon? I'll be calling my camera store in the morning to let them know about this and will at the very least be exchanging this body for a new one.

This concerns me since this is a new sensor design, and for the price of this body, it's really not acceptable. I had high hopes for this camera system jumping from Canon, but I'm not sure I am off to an encouraging start. Stay tuned for more what I find out from the camera store and Sony.

Here are the photos that illustrate what I have seen tonight with my copy of the Sony a9 sensor. I included the full size a9 JPEGS that you are welcome to download for a closer look. The EXIF data is intact and I took a screenshot of it and put it in the files for easy reference. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Sony a9 Hot Pixels

1/125, f5, ISO 1600 (full file here)

1/400, f5, ISO 12,800 (full file here)

Sony a9 Hot Pixels - iPhone Photos Through Electronic Viewfinder

Why should you print your wedding and engagement photos?

A photo that has been printed onto paper can be very powerful. And it can also last a lifetime. Unfortunately, in today’s digital photography era, more photos are being created than ever before yet most are never printed and live quietly in the dark sectors on hard drive of a computer. Tucked away, existing only in ones and zeros, these photos will never be enjoyed to the fullest. Photos should spark good memories, emotions and provide the viewer with the window to see into what was happening when the image was created.

That’s why I offer prints with all of my photo packages in addition to the digital files. There is no single best format or style for prints. In fact, there are a wide-range of options to suit any client. The most important factor is to get the image onto archival paper where the record can be passed along for generations.

Images from Mallory and Carl’s NC State and downtown Raleigh engagement session were commemorated with archival quality color prints with a luster coating. These keepsakes were delivered in a beautiful, elegant mahogany wood box with matching USB drive complete with images from the full session. This keepsake can be placed on a table, or other prominent location, in their home where they will be held and enjoyed by family and friends for years to come. Sharing the images in a format other than digital can be very satisfying and it will help preserve those special moments.

The photos below will allow you to experience what it really means to give the gift of photography. If you would like to create lasting memories for your family, please contact me to set up a session and to discuss your vision. I look forward to starting a conversation soon. Enjoy.

Mallory and Carl's NC State campus and downtown Raleigh engagement

I’ve known Mallory and Carl for several years now and it was exciting to be selected as their photographer for their wedding and engagement. They will be getting married later this fall in Belhaven, NC at the River Forest Manor and I am looking forward to telling the story of their day. 

For their engagement photos, we spent some time on the beautiful campus at NC State University and started the afternoon at the Memorial Belltower. We walked around and had some fun finding nice light and using the backdrops of the classic architecture before driving into downtown Raleigh to finish the engagement session.

A quick wardrobe change and a stroll around the warehouse district gave us the opportunity to create some modern images that fit with their style. We closed out the engagement photography session with some photos on the Boylan Bridge that offered an amazing view of Raleigh at last light.  

We created so many fantastic images during the session that it was hard to choose just a few selects to share but here are a few of my favorites. There will be many more images to come with Mallory’s bridal portraits coming this summer followed by the wedding in September.

Until then, enjoy this set from NC State and downtown Raleigh. 

Hudson Manor Estate wedding venue in Louisburg, NC restores facade

I've had the opportunity to photograph quite a few weddings at The Hudson Manor Estate in Louisburg, NC. It is a beautiful venue for a wedding and the owners have received awards from The Knot for "Best of Weddings 2013 -2017" and the "Couples Choice Award" from Wedding Wire 2010 - 2017.  

It is North Carolina's most award winning wedding venue and it is worth a visit if you are planning your upcoming wedding. The venue has lake and pastoral views and lush gardens create a nice backdrop for any outdoor ceremony. Ceremonies can be held in either the Columned Garden, Lakeview Covered Veranda or Wedding Chapel for a spring, summer or fall ceremony. Winter wedding ceremonies are held in the on site wedding chapel where dimmed lighting, decorative mouldings and stained glass lend an air of old Southern charm. 

A few weeks ago, I visited the venue to photograph the recent renovations made to the front of the manor house. It was restored to its original design and now features beautiful custom ironwork for the front balcony and lower railings. This will make some new opportunities for some nice images. If you are interested in exploring all the venue has to offer, contact Melissa at info@thehudsonmanor.com or call at 919-219-9139.

(Top: Old facade; bottom new facade)

Carolina Inn bridal photo competition in Chapel Hill, NC

A few weeks ago I had some fun with my photography friends at The Carolina Inn for the annual WPS Portrait Palooza competition. This yearly event gives each photographer 10 minutes to create a commercial quality image anywhere inside the venue. Time starts from the minute the photographer leaves the holding room and it is closely timed with a stop watch. Images are judged and a winner is crowned and bestowed bragging rights for the year. Though my image didn't win, (table reflection) it placed tied for second by the judges from the Carolina Inn. It was a great opportunity to work very quickly while being very creative. A few other images that I didn't submit are included below.

Thanks to Nicole Harris for being a beautiful model and for support from local Raleigh wedding vendors. The dress was provided by Gilded Bridal, flowers by Lou Ann Wollett at Southern Petals, makeup by Krista Massey Mua and hair by Hair by Cheri. Get the whole story here. Video coming soon.

These wonderful vendors helped make the shoot possible.

Venue - The Carolina Inn

Hair – Hair By Cheri

Make up – Krista Masey

Flowers – Southern Petals

Gown – Gilded Bridal

Model – Nicole Graziano