Sony today announced a major upgrade for their a9 mirrorless camera that will be available via a firmware update, updates to both the Sony a7 III and a7R III are also coming.
Sony a9 Firmware V5.0 (Coming in March 2019)
The new version 5.0 software for α9 adds Sony’s newly developed ‘Real-time Tracking’ for object tracking. This mode utilises Sony’s latest algorithm including Artificial Intelligence-based object recognition and processes colour, subject distance (depth) and pattern (brightness) as spatial information to ensure that all subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and precision. Furthermore, when photographing or videoing humans or animals, face and eye position information are recognised by AI and the subject’s eyes are monitored in real-time with extremely high tracking precision. In addition, ’Tracking On’ helps initiate ‘Real-time Tracking’ at any time by simply pressing the custom-assigned button and ‘Touch Tracking’ which quickly activates through the touch screen.
Additionally, with this new version 5.0 software, Sony’s acclaimed α9 camera will receive advanced ‘Real-time Eye AF’, the latest version of Sony’s acclaimed Eye AF technology. This exciting new capability employs AI-based object recognition to detect and process eye location data in real time, resulting in improved accuracy, speed and tracking performance of the Eye AF. In all autofocus modes, the camera can automatically detect the eyes of the subject and activate Eye AF with a half press of the shutter button. The camera will seamlessly track the eyes at all times when in AF-C mode. Additionally, with the new software, photographers can select the preferred eye (left or right) of their subject as the focus point.
Other focusing capabilities that will be available with the new software include Touch Pad, Touch Tracking, an extended phase-detection AF aperture range that has been increased from F11 to F16 and Fast Hybrid AF for movie shooting that provides smooth automated focusing or movies.
Image quality will also be enhanced with the new α9 software version 5.0. Specifically, in colour reproduction, as the camera will more accurately account for subtle changes in light for smoother, more natural tonal gradations in elements like the sky. There is also a new AWB algorithm, which produces more consistently balanced images during burst shooting. Other new functions for efficient control and data management include My Dial and Dual Slot media menu improvement, rating and protect functions.
The new software adds compatibility with Sony’s new ‘Imaging Edge Mobile’ application, the successor to ‘PlayMemories Mobile™’. The new app offers several new capabilities such as the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ mobile application to assist professional workflow – allowing photographers to transfer images from their camera to smartphone simultaneously while continuing to shoot images, while also adding support for including IPTC metadata on transferred images. This is a welcome addition after the recent software version 4.0 update for the α9 that greatly enhanced the camera’s capabilities with FTP transfer.
Sony a9 Firmware V6.0 (Coming in Summer 2019)
Version 6.0 firmware for the α9 camera will add Eye AF for animal eyes, an extremely exciting development for wildlife photographers. It will also add interval shooting functionality for creating time-lapse movies.
Sony a7R III and a7 III ver.3.0 (April 2019)
Sony’s popular α7R III and α7 III full-frame cameras will both receive enhanced Real-time Eye AF performance with new version 3.0 software. This will be available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button. Real-Time Eye AF for animals will also be available.
Additionally, the cameras will receive interval recording functionality that will allow for the very simple creation of time-lapse movies. The new feature can be set for anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. AE tracking sensitivity can also be adjusted to ‘High’, ‘Mid’ or ‘Low during interval recording, allowing for reduced changes in exposure over the shooting interval.
Unfortunately the a7R III and a7 III are not getting the new Real-time Tracking mode that the a9 is getting.
You can view the full press release here.