Sony has announced firmware upgrades that will improve the AF performance and image quality in its α9, α7R III and α7 III cameras.

Version 5.0 software for the α9 adds Sony’s new ‘Real-time Tracking’ for object tracking and ‘Real-time Eye AF’, which are based on Sony’s 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 accurately. Face and eye position information are recognised by AI and the subject’s eyes are monitored in real-time with high tracking precision.  ’Tracking On’ can initiate ‘Real-time Tracking’ at any time via the custom-assigned button and touch screen.

In all autofocus modes, the camera can automatically detect and track the eyes of the subject and activate Eye AF with a half press of the shutter button. Photographers can select the preferred eye (left or right) of their subject as the focus point. Other focusing capabilities that will include Touch Pad, Touch Tracking, an extended phase-detection AF aperture range that has been increased from f/11 to f/16 and Fast Hybrid AF for movie shooting that provides smooth automated focusing or movies.

Image quality will also be enhanced with better 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. A new AWB algorithm also 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. 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. The new system software update version 5.0 is scheduled for launch in March 2019 and version 6.0 is scheduled for the middle of the year.

Firmware updates for the α7R III and α7 III full-frame cameras will add 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. The cameras will also receive interval recording functionality for the simple creation of time-lapse movies, allowing intervals to be set for anywhere between oneand 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. The new version 3.0 system software update is scheduled for April 2019.