Sony a9 ‘Reborn’
Sony has announced a major firmware update 5.00 for Sony a9 is coming in March with THIRTY-FOUR feature updates including Real Time Tracking and Full-time Eye AF using .
Sony refers to Firmware Update 5.00 as ‘Sony a9 Reborn’ which is an accurate term since it contains more updates than you typically find in a next generation camera model with 11 feature updates from a7 III & a7R III along with 23 all-new features – yet it will be available as a FREE FIRMWARE UPDATE!
I had a chance to shoot with an early pre-release version of the firmware last week in Los Angeles. Here are the highlights:
Real Time Tracking
With the fw 5.00 update, Lock-on AF has been replaced by Real Time Tracking. Sony a9 already had the Best AF system of any camera on the planet, but Real Time Tracking takes autofocus to another level.
Lock-on AF uses three factors to track focus:
Color | Distance | Face
Real Time Tracking uses five factors to track focus:
Color | Pattern | Distance | Face | Eye
Real Time Tracking processing and analyzes these five factors in real time to provide the most accurate Continuous AF. Ever.
…and did I mention the upgrade will be free?
Full-time Eye AF
As a portrait photographer, my favorite new feature is that you no longer need to Press & Hold a Custom Button to activate Eye AF. Once you enable Face/Eye Detection in the menu, Eye AF is on whenever AF is active. This includes half-press of shutter button or full-press of Back-Button AF.
Full-time Eye AF works so well that I don’t see any real need for portrait photographers to ever use the joystick again…
Right/Left Eye Select
As with previous versions of Eye AF, you can allow the camera to auto-select the nearest eye, but now you also have to option to select the eye of your choosing:
Menu > Camera Settings 1: AF2 > Face/Eye AF Settings > Right/Left Eye Select > Auto/Right Eye/Left Eye
Just for clarity, please note that as the name implies, ‘Right Eye’ refers to the subject’s right eye – not camera right.
You can also assign “Switch Right/Left Eye” to a Custom Button such as the Focus Hold Button
Visual Custom Key Menu Settings
Speaking of Custom Key Settings, the Custom Key Menu now includes a visual display of what you’ve assigned to each Custom Button.
1:1 Aspect Ratio
Those of you who follow me know that I’ve long been pushing Sony to add 1:1 and 4:3 Aspect Ratios to their cameras. While that request made it’s way into Sony RX1R II, they had yet to make their way into Sony fullframe mirrorless cameras. But we’re halfway there with the inclusion of 1:1 Aspect Ratio in this early firmware version. I strongly made my case for adding the 4:3 Aspect Ratio as well and it’s my hope that it finds it way into the release version.
New Transfer & Tagging App
Imaging Edge Suite gets a fourth app. The new Transfer & Tagging App for iOS and Android smart phones allows you to transfer photos to your smartphone, pre-load a caption general caption than use voice to update the caption, crop and upload via FTP or publish on social media. Whew!
[This app will also be available for a7 III & a7R III.]
Phase Detection AF all the way to F16
Firmware 5.00 will add a full stop of sensitivity to Phase Detection AF extending it all the way to F16!
Blue Peaking Color Added
In addition to the existing Red, Yellow & White Peaking Colors, FW 5.00 adds the fourth option of Blue.
Focus Area Limit
Focus Area Limit allows you to deselect AF Areas from the Menu that you do not wish to use.
Focus Circulation allows you to jump from the far right side of screen to far left side (or vice versa) or top to bottom similar to video game controls. that junction is off by default but in can be enabled in the menu.
ISO Range Limit
ISO Range Limit allows you to set a Minimum and Maximum ISO. For instance if you don’t want the camera to go into Expanded ISO you could set Minimum ISO to 100. You can also select the maximum ISO you wish to use.
ISO Display in Video Mode
When shooting video the ISO will be displayed on the bottom of the frame – even when Auto ISO is selected.
Touch Focus / Touch Tracking (New to a9)
One of the most-requested features from a7 III/a7R III comes to a9.
Contrast AF Improved from 25 Points to 425 Points (New to a9)
Sony a9 Contrast AF has been upgraded from 25 to 425 Points – just like a7 III/a7R III.
Rollover to Second Card Slot (New to a9)
Another of the 11 features from a7 III/a7R III that’s new to a9 is the ability to set image recording to automatically rollover to Card Slot 2 when Card 1 is full.
Sony a7 III & a7R III Firmware Updates Coming in April!
Sony a7 III & a7R III firmware updates 3.0 are coming in April with Evolved Eye AF, Animal Eye AF and Interval Shooting (yes, an intervalometer as a menu item.)
Sony a9 Firmware Update 6.0 Coming this Summer!
Sony a9 firmware updates 6.0 will also add Animal Eye AF and Interval Shooting.
More Firmware Updates to Come!
If your favorite feature request is not included in this list, rest assured that Sony in already working on another round of firmware updates for this summer that may well include the features you’ve requested…