Front Row with Elliott Erwitt

Elliott and me. Photo: Tony Gale

In case you missed it yesterday, Sony launched their a9 and I was front row to the spectacle—see the coverage of their mirrorless milestone here, here, and here. More importantly, seated next to me was Elliott Erwitt whose photographs you’d recognize (his work is that famous).

While I ran 3 streams simultaneously, tweeted, and posted about the cameras, Elliott watched next to me, quiet and engaged. He’s still shooting at 88 and was profiled by the New York Times in 2015.

Kenzie Tanaka senior general manager of the interchangeable lens camera division

As these events happen, after the Japanese exec speaks, the Americans come on stage for the big reveal. There’s a dramatic edit of the camera in action and then Sony’s influencers arrive to share the marketing message while mentioning their achievements (award-winning, war zones, Pulitzers, that sort of thing).

Triple stream.

10 minutes into hearing about the virtues of the a9—there are many—I poked Elliot and said, “You should be up there.”

He guffawed with a snort.

The a9 is Sony’s most significant launch since the first Alpha series, the a7. With this camera, the full promise of mirrorless has been delivered and for Sony’s competitors, the other shoe has dropped. How they respond and how soon will determine the mirrorless event horizon because DSLR tech has run its course.

I asked Elliott what he thought of the a9. His reply, “It’s ok.”

That says a lot, coming from an icon.

A lot indeed.

Elliott also agreed to a selfie, Purple Elliott I called it.

Purple Elliott

Wishing to learn more about the legend I sat next to, during a defining moment in Sony’s camera business, I asked around and Elliott is best known for getting the shot in one take, no matter the circumstance.

The most significant feature of the a9 is the silent shutter; meaning, the sensor is able to throughput images at previously unheard of rates while remaining open (no shutter sound and less rolling shutter).

If I see Elliott again, I’ll ask what he got with the a9.

With the silent shutter, in one take.


Sony a9 in New York

The a9 is available for preorder now and ships next month for $4,500.00.