Function Button: Top Row


Sony® A9 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Function Button: Top Row

We have our movie record, and as I say you can press the movie record anytime you want but if you want to see the proper framing, you're going to want to get your camera into the movie mode first, before you press record but like I say you can do that anytime you want. This camera has an AF-ON button. I think this is the first official AF-ON button on a Sony camera, and I'll be honest with you, if you've taken your camera just out of the box, the AF-ON button is not going to help you out in any way because when you press down on the shutter release, your camera's going to focus. The AF-ON button is really designed for people who want to turn off the autofocus on the shutter release of their camera. So if you want to do back button focusing, the AF-ON button is right there and programmed for you but you need to go in and turn off the autofocus option that I talked about earlier on the shutter release. But of course this button can be reprogrammed to do pretty much anything else that you...

might want it to do. If you do want to set your camera up for back button focusing, go into camera settings number one, page five of 13 and look for AF with shutter, go into that particular mode and turn it off. You will then use the AF-ON button to focus and once it's focused then you can take your finger off the button, wait however long you want, recompose, and then shoot as many photos as you want and the camera will not refocus until you press the AF-ON button on the back of the camera. As a second note, it is a zoom-in button when we get to playback, and we'll talk about playback in a little bit and so there's a lot of these buttons that serve double duty depending on whether you're shooting photos or you're in the playback mode. We have our rear dial which is going to be used for changing shutter speeds, apertures, and going through the menu system as well. And then we have the AEL button, auto exposure lock button and so this button can also be reprogrammed for anything else but let me show you again on what we can do with it, and just as a reminder or anybody who tuned in late, if we have our manual exposure set on the back of the camera, we can press in AEL, we get the star which we know we now have it engaged and we can adjust and get even exposures but at different settings right here. So now if we change the camera, and I'm going to put it in an aperture priority mode and so the camera at F11 is choosing 1/13th of a second. If I move this around, you can see that the camera is giving me many different shutter speeds but if I figured out that you know, 1/13th of a second is really the right shutter speed, I would press in on the AEL button, get the asterisk down here in the corner, and then as I move the camera around no matter where it is it's holding that 13th of a second and so if I want to move the camera over here and get it set right for that exposure, I'll just press down. The key thing is that you have to leave your finger pressed down on the button. If you want to turn this into a toggle button, where it's a single press to turn it on and then a single press to turn it off, you can go into the custom functions and you can change that if you want, but for right now it's a press and hold button to lock your exposure and program aperture priority, shutter priority, and thankfully manual exposure as well. If you do want to go in and program this as something else you're going to go into that same custom key shooting which is on page eight of nine in the custom settings too. You can go in there and select from those several dozen different options, and so if you don't use the AEL, find something more useful that you're going to find important and reprogram that button. We have our new multi-selector, a nice little thumb joystick. This is going to be used for moving that focusing point around, and so if you have one of the focusing areas that has some movement available, so for instance you have let's see let me check my names here to get the names right. So if you have the zone focusing or you have the flexible spot or you have the expand flexible spot you can just use that to move your focusing point around, but I'll also let you know it is a button. If you press straight in on it, it is a custom function button that you can reprogram in your custom keys. And so be aware that that should be preprogrammed as something you find useful as well. Next up is our function button. It also doubles as our send to phone button that we'll talk about when we get in the play section. So before we get into the function button, let me just say that there are a number of features that you are going to see a number of times on the camera. There are certain dials and buttons on the outside that have direct control. There are certain features in the menu system and between those two, 'cause one's very accessible, a button on the camera. One is very lengthy, the menu system. This is kind of a combination. This is your shortcut menu, so when you press the function button you are gonna get into a shortcut holding 12 features in here and what you'll be doing is you'll be navigating with them using that dial on the back of the camera as an up down left right mouse. You can also use the multi-selector to move your way around this, and we're going to have 12 different features in here and Sony has preprogrammed these 12 slots with 12 things it thinks that you are going to use on a regular basis. So let's go through what these are. Number one is not something that you can change. It just simply a visual indicator to let you know where you have turned the dry dial on the top of the camera. And so if you like to be reminded by this, it's nice to have it there. If you say hey, I'm not actually able to make a change there. I can see it perfectly well on the top of the camera. This can be reprogrammed if you want. Now we've already talked about this. We already went through all the different wide zone center flexible spot areas, but you can access it back here as well. Currently it's preprogrammed to C2 on the top of the camera. If you want to reprogram that you can still have access to it here if you're not changing it quite as frequently. The exposure compensation. Well, there's an exposure compensation dial on the top of the camera and this is just going to show you where that's set. Now it can be handy showing you on the back of the camera. Let's say it's on a tripod or the camera's mounted in a position where you can't see the top of the camera. Well now you can see where that dial is set towards. All right, a very important feature here. The ISO, the sensitivity of the sensor. And this is something that a lot of people might preprogram into one of those customizable buttons on the camera, but for right now this is our first encounter with it. So the standard range on this camera goes from 100 to 51,000. 100 of course is going to be what is known as the native or base sensitivity, and if you want to get the highest quality images off the camera, you want to try to shoot with them at 100 or near 100. The camera does have some lower ISOs. You'll notice they have lines above and below the number, and that's kind of out of the normal range. You can set 'em here. The problem with these lower ISOs is that they do not capture with as much dynamic range as in the standard range, and so you'd only want to use them in very special use cases where you absolutely had to have that lower ISO. And then of course we also have an auto ISO where the camera will choose the ISO for you and we'll talk more about how to customize this when we get into the menu system. And on the high end of the spectrum, we do have some high settings which are pretty low in quality. There's going to be a lot of noise on those, so let's take a look at some of the image quality shot with different ISOs, and so I run my standard little test and then we're going to blow it up small section and then compare different ISOs to see how much noise we get. And the first page here is gonna look pretty good, 'cause this camera is very clean up through 800. There's just a little bit of noise there at 1, but it's still very very clean and as we get to the higher settings you can see that those higher settings of 102 and 204, are incredibly noisy and you're going to try to avoid those as best you can. Like all cameras, you're always best trying to shoot at the native sensitivity of 100, but this camera does look pretty darn clean up through 6,400 and 12,800, so for those of you shooting under low light conditions, this camera is going to be on par with any cameras that are out on the market for low light shooting with those higher ISOs. Is it exactly better or worse? I'm not the guy that's reviewing and testing that case out but it's right in the ballpark, it is competing right with them in that way and so very good for those low light sports action in my opinion. Next up on our function menu is our metering system. And so we have different metering modes available in this camera, and so let's look a little bit more closely at what these different metering modes are doing. First up is the most popular metering mode on this just known as multi. It's a multi-pattern area that measure 1,200 different sections, compares and contrasts them, runs them through a little program, and gets you a nice, even exposure that's going to work out in pretty much everything that you might encounter. And so this is where a lot of people will leave their camera on an almost permanent basis, and so it's good for mixed lighting, easy lighting. It does a pretty good job with almost everything, but some people do like to meter light in their own ways. Traditionally, light was metered using a center weighted system which is a big, fat blob right in the middle. For subjects that have an average brightness and are right in the center, and so you can change it to that to be kind of traditional in that manner. There is a spot that actually has two options. There's a standard spot and a large spot, so you can choose to read off of a very tiny or still a pretty tiny area in the middle of the frame. Now this can also be linked with your focusing point, so if you want to move your focusing point off to the side you can do that and I'll talk about how to do that when we get into the menu system on the camera. Another, this one's kind of new. An entire scene average, and it just measures the entire scene, it's an average brightness, and I haven't really seen where this is going to be that much better than the multi-system but according to Sony it's going to be a little bit more stable if there's lots of movement going on, or perhaps a lot of changing in lights and darks and it might keep you a little bit more average exposure between all of those. And then it also has another new one here called highlight and this looks at the entire scene and wants to prevent you from being overexposed in the highlights, and this may make sense for a lot of people who really want to protect those highlights. Say a wedding photographer is shooting a bride in a white dress, you don't want those highlights to go too bright. You might want to experiment with this highlight metering to see if it works for you in the way that you shoot with your lenses and in the type of light that you shoot with and it may give you a little bit safer exposure than the multi-system and so the multi is definitely the safest place to keep it most of the time, but the spot, the entire scene average, and the highlight are some interesting options that you may want to play with to see if they're right for your photography.

Class Description

We know what it’s like to dive right into taking pictures with your new camera. But trying to understand the manual can be a frustrating experience. Get the most out of your new mirrorless Sony A9 with this complete step-by-step walk-through of the camera’s features.

Join expert photographer John Greengo for a fast-track introduction, and unlock your camera’s full potential. In this Fast Start class, you’ll learn:

  1. How to utilize the 20 frames/second with full autofocus feature
  2. How to understand the new menu systems
  3. How to use the camera's 4K video capabilities

John is a CreativeLive veteran instructor and an experienced photographer. He has extensive experience teaching the technical minutiae that makes any camera an effective tool: aperture, ISO, the Rule of Thirds, and the kinds of lenses you’ll need to suit your camera body. This Fast Start includes a complete breakdown of your camera’s exposure, focus, metering, video and more. John will also explain how to customize the Sony A9 settings to work for your style of photography.



I've taken lots of John's classes as my photography journey has unfolded. Like all good teachers, John has a fantastic ability to take concepts which are complex and could be overwhelming, and making them accessible and much simpler. I'm lucky enough to own this amazing camera, I'm sure I'll get even more enjoyment from using it after taking this class - John has done so much of the hard work of learning away, now I feel like I can just start enjoying it!


Great information as always, John's approach is amazing, well paced and very informative. I own so many of his amazing tutorials, I feel like he's part of my family - but a lot more knowledgeable 😏

Alexander Zlatev

Thank you Great Work