Why Do Sony a9 iii Images Look So Good at Only 24.6 MP? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Why Do Sony a9 iii Images Look So Good at Only 24.6 MP?

Why Do a9 iii Images Look So Good at Only 24.6 Megapixels?

From Day One with the a9 iii, I have been trying to figure out why the quality of a9 iii images (24.6 megapixels) looks so good when compared to the quality of a-1 images (50.1 megapixels). See item 8 in the What You Gain feature below.

Your Call?

Please be so kind as to let everyone know which of today’s two featured images is the strongest. And be sure to let us know why you made your choice. I have a clear favorite and would be very interested in the thoughts of others. I will share my pick and my reasons in the next blog post.

What’s Up?

When I headed down to the lake at ILE on Thursday morning, I knew almost immediately that I should have gotten up early and headed back to Stick Marsh as there were clear skies and a fairly brisk wind from the NE that soon switched to the East.

On Friday morning, Jim and I again headed early to Stick Marsh. It was clear and there was a gentle breeze from the SE and it turned out to be the least productive of my three 2024 visits. That said, I still enjoyed lots of good chances, made some really fine images, and — of course — missed some as well 🙂

Today is Saturday 16 March 2024. Though the forecast is not good — partly cloudy with a breeze from the SW switching to West. I will head down to the lake in an effort to learn more about my a9 iii. Wherever you are and whatever you wind up doing, I hope that you have a great day.

If you plan on purchasing a Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera (or anything else for that matter), please remember to use or write for either my Bedfords discount code or my B&H affiliate link. As above, folks who use one of my two affiliate links to purchase the a9 III will receive my .DAT settings (the complete camera set-up) along with a Buttons and Dials Guide.

If you would like to enjoy some incredible world class photography and photographic instruction, do yourself a favor and grab one of the three remaining spots on the two 2025 Homer Bald Eagle IPTs. Better yet, save $1000.00 by signing up for both! It will almost surely be my last ever Homer trip … Both trips will surely fill soon. See the details along with all IPT info on the recently updated page here.

Please remember to use the B&H links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

If an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

ddc 728w

Save 15%!

If you’d like to try out a new lens or if you need a lens for a specific trip or project (or for an IPT), LensRentals.com is the only way to go. To save 15%, simply click on the logo link above, arrange for your rental, and type in BIRDSASART15. If you type the gear you are looking for in the search box, it will pop right up. LensRentals.com offers affordable insurance. You can decline it, opt for LensCap: Damage Only, or select LensCap: Damage & Theft. Then hit PROCEED TO CHECKOUT. After you enter all of your info but before completing your order, be sure to scroll down to Promo Code box and enter the BIRDSASART15 code to save 15%.

I checked on renting a Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens for a week. The cost is only $122.00. LensCap: Damage Only coverage can be added for a very low $18.00. Going with LensCap: Damage & Theft would be $27.00. The shipping charge varies. They offer an interesting program called Lensrentals HD. By signing up for this shipping discount program ($99.00/year), you’ll get free Standard Shipping on all the orders you place.

Renting a Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens for a week will cost you $536.00. The two coverage options come in at $76.00 or $114.00. Less your 15% discount when you enter the BIRDSASART15 code into the Promo Code box at checkout and enter the BIRDSASART15 code in the Promo Code box at checkout to save 15%.

Remember, to save the 15% on your rental you must start your search by clicking on the logo above, or on this link: LensRentals.com


To ensure that I get credit for your B&H purchases, you can always click here. The tracking is invisible but greatly appreciated. And, you can use your PayBoo card. You must use the website to order. B&H will reopen on Fri April 14. Thanking me for the past 4000 educational blog posts could not be any easier and will not cost you one penny. Please shoot me your B&H receipt for major purchases.

Many folks have written recently stating that they purchased a Sony a1 from B&H and would like their free membership in the Sony 1 Info and Updates Group, a $150.00 value. When I check my affiliate account, their orders have not been there. When I let them know that they get credit for B&H purchases only if they use one of the many B&H affiliate links on the blog or begin their searches with this link, they are always disappointed. If in doubt, please contact me via e-mail m and request a BH link. I am always glad to help and to guide you to the right gear.

Bedfords Simplified

Click here to start your search. Choose standard shipping, and when you get to the payment page, enter BIRDSASART in the discount code box and hit apply. You will be upgraded to free second day air Fed-Ex and receive 3% cash back on your credit card once your stuff ships. Either is greatly appreciated by yours truly.

Bedfords Amazing BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, prior purchases.

Visit the Bedfords website here, shoot Steve Elkins an e-mail, or text him on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are — out of ignorance — using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often stave you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

This image was created at Stick Marsh on 12 March 2024. I used the handheld Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 800: 1/4000 sec. at f/2.8 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead-solid perfect (ho hum). AWB at 8:05:41am on sunny morning.

Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill in flight with nesting material

Stick Marsh Hot!

As we drove over in the dark, a thought crossed my mind: do I really need any more images of spoonbills in flight? After the bird in Image #1 took off from my left and flew right at us, those thoughts disappeared; I was beyond stoked! With virtually non-stop action and sweet light, Tuesday past was tied for my best ever morning with the spoonbills at Stick Marsh. When Jim and I left at 9:00am there were still lots of birds flying in.


On pretty much every IPT, I tell folks: “Keep your eyes moving — left, right, left, right, and occasionally even behind you. Doing that habitually paid off in spades with the image above.

Sony a9 iii Plusses and Minuses

As you read my thoughts below, please remember that new toys are almost always shinier.


1- When comparing the a9 iii to the vaunted a-1, the obvious negative is the file size. a9 iii raw files weigh in at 24.6MP, a1 files are 50.1MP. Theoretically at least, and practically — to some degree, a-1 files can stand up to larger crops than a9 111 files. In addition, a-1 images can be printed larger.

2- You need more Delkin Devices 160GB BLACK CFexpress Type A Memory Cards.

What You Gain

When comparing the a9 iii to the vaunted a-1, there are lots of plusses for the a9 iii:

1: The ridiculously fast frame rate (120 fps) of the a9 iii will give you four times as many flight and action poses as the a-1 (30 fps). For me, that is the single largest advantage with the a9 iii. And there is no getting around it. More is better. As far as picking your keepers from many thousands of images, Photo Mechanic saves the day. That said, using the a9 iii requires a different approach to culling a folder. Picking my keepers from more than 9000 images from 8 March took only 20 minutes.

2- The a9 iii chassis is larger than the a-1 body. It is much easier to handhold than the a-1. And the difference when wearing gloves is huge.

3- The ergonomics of the a9 iii grip is greatly improved — the size of the knurled ridge in front of the shutter button has been reduced. In addition, the shutter button has been re-positioned slightly. Thus, it is far more comfortable to hold.

4- The a9 iii offers a multi-angle touchscreen LCD screen that will allow folks to work off the rear screen while shooting verticals! It will take me a while to get used the new two-way tilting screen.

5- With the smaller file size, image optimization times are reduced significantly. All noise reduction operations take about less than half the time they do with the larger a-1 files.

6- Though the jury is still out, a9 iii autofocus may be slightly better than a-1 AF.

7- Incredibly, in view of its wider profile, the a9 iii is two ounces lighter (1.6 pounds with battery and card) than the a-1.

8- The a9 iii’s sensor does not have an anti-aliasing (Low-Pass) filter. That likely accounts for the fact that a-9 iii raw files appear sharper and a bit more detailed right out of camera than a-1 files. In addition, that somewhat lessens the a-1’s 25.5MP file size advantage.

Some might be surprised that the a9 iii’s pre-capture feature is not near the top of (or even on) my list above. While I have a lot more to learn about a9 iii pre-capture, I can already state with certainty that pre-capture will be more useful when working on a tripod than when handholding and that, more importantly, it will be most useful to folks with strength, stamina, and super-fast reflexes. The latter does not include me in any way, shape, or form.

Please note: In the same vein, there are lots of a9 iii videos out there extolling the virtues of this fast, new camera body for bird photography. Before you believe one word that most of these folks are saying, take a look at the images. In short, virtually all of them are very poor at best: tiny in the frame, flying away, well off light angle, and more.

Folks who use one of my two affiliate links to purchase their a9 iii will not only get my complete a9 iii setup (with notes) as below, but they will learn my developing thoughts on the best pre-capture settings.

Deal of a Lifetime

Folks who use one of my two affiliate links to purchase their a9 iii bodies will receive the complete camera setup by way of a CAMSET.dat file with detailed instructions on how to load my settings onto their a9 iii. Along with everything that I know and have learned about this amazing 120 fps camera body. That same CAMSET01.dat file along with the other info will be available to others (those who did not use one of my affiliate links) for a very fair $209.93. Shoot me an e-mail to learn how I came up with that price. If you think it is too high, use one of my affiliate links (it does not cost you one penny) to purchase an a9 iii or figure out the camera on your own.

Sony 300mm f/2.8 GM Lenses

Huge thanks to “Seattle” Mike Lavigne, Paul Sher, Keith Kennedy, Pamela Vitale, Monte Brown, Anita North, Richard Curtain, and Dane Johnson for using one of my two affiliate links to purchase their very own “game changer.” Each will be receiving a copy of the first-ever BAA Lens Guide around the end of this month. If you used one of my links to purchase your Sony 300mm f/2.8 lens and you are not on the list, please shoot me an e-mail and include a copy of your B&H or Bedfords invoice.

The Stick Marsh Site Guide Subscription Service

if you have been hankering for some incoming spoonbill action but have not been, you will surely want to sign up for the Site Guide Subscription Service. You will receive all back issues, most importantly Stick Marsh Site Guide e-Mail #1 that includes specific directions to the site, a map of the rookery area with specific instructions and wind, weather, and where-to-be advice.

There are lots of photographers at Stick Marsh most days. Many are skilled at handholding 500 and 600mm f/4 telephotos lenses. But with all due respect, none of them can come anywhere near me when it comes to analyzing the photo opps at a given location. With the exception of a very nice and very helpful man I met, Fred Vaughn, every single photographer got to their favorite spot and never moved. As always, Fred and I moved around a lot and enjoyed different chances all day long. I will be sending the 2024 update very soon.

To sign up for the Stick Marsh Site Guide Subscription Service, call Jim in the office weekday afternoons at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand or send a PayPal for the $100.00 to us at birdsasart@verizon.net. Please be sure to include the words Stick Marsh with your PayPal.

I fully understand that you can go to Google Maps, find Stick Marsh, visit, and likely make some good or even great images. You might think, I can do fine just without artie’s advice. But you will do a whole lot better with it. I was aghast yesterday listening to folks sharing their exposure settings with glee — in the soft early low light, all were two or more full stops to dark, and praising AUTO ISO (that can never work when the background tonality is changing often as is the case at Stick Marsh).

If you would like to schedule an In-the-Field session any time soon, get in touch via e-mail.

This image was created at Stick Marsh on Tuesday 12 March 2024. I used the Robus RC-5558 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens with the Sony FE 2x Teleconverter and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 1250 1/2500 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be dead solid perfect (ho hum). AWB at 8:41:29am on a sunny morning.

Trading: Expand spot/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Roseate Spoonbill wrestling with nesting material

The a9 iii at 1200mm!

The a9 iii performs beautifully on the 600 with either TC, including and especially the 2X teleconverter. And as with any rig, the 120 fps frame rate is addictive. And productive. If you are photographing birds, it seems to me that choosing one of the slower frame rates would be a big mistake.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

12 comments to Why Do Sony a9 iii Images Look So Good at Only 24.6 MP?

  • Roger Smith

    Hey Artie, great stuff, been loving your shots with the A9III and 300 f2.8. Question, when you note that the A9III doesn’t have an AA filter, first of all that’s great to hear. But neither does the A1, correct? Perhaps what you meant to say was that the files are sharper compared to the A9II, a camera which in my opinion exhibited one of the heaviest AA filters in their lineup.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Roger. No., I was comparing the a9 iii images to a-1 images. Opinions differ as to whether the a-1 has an anti aliasing filter. Some say that it has a weak anti aliasing filter. Others state firmly that it does not. And Sony is not talking, at least officially.

      See the discussion here: https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1687834. One thing becomes quickly obvious — the folks in this discussion know a lot more about the technical aspects of mirrorless photography. I just know how to make great images. Sometimes I wonder if the internet experts have head into the field to photograph birds.

      The fact is that my a9 iii images, when viewed on my MacBook Pro M2, look sharper and more detailed than comparable a1 images. That said, when you blow the images up to 300% or 400%, or view them on a large, quality monitor, a-1 image quality is clearly superior.

      with love, artie

  • Richard Curtin

    Believe I like image 2 better because it concentrates attention and has a great head angle.

    Do we need a prescription to use the BIRDSASART15 codeine? (LENSRENTALS para 3)

  • For new and different, has to be Image #1. Fly softly and carry the biggest stick ever.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Tanks, Cliff. Surely not the biggest or the longest stick ever, but a very nice image that is different for sure. Stay tuned to learn what makes it so special.

      with love, a

  • David Policansky

    Artie: I absolutely love image 1 for the color, composition, bird’s pose, background, and interesting action. Image 2 is well made and interesting and wicked sharp but does not have the visual and emotional impact for me that image 1 does.

    On frame rate there must be a point where a higher frame rate is outweighed by the need for more memory and processing time. I don’t know where that would be for me, but I think it would be less than 120 fps.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thank you Dr. Fish.

      If you edit judiciously, there is no need for additional storage. And it actually takes less time to optimize an a9 iii image than it does to process an a-1 image. The trick is in the culling. sign me up for a 240 fps body with great AF 🙂

      With love, artie

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