The system uses AI object recognition to help the camera identify moving subjects and follow them throughout the frame. First introduced in Sony’s a6400 earlier this year, Real-time Tracking keeps your selected subject in focus using a combination of image data, including color, distance and face recognition as well as pattern and eye detection. The system works by first identifying the subject’s general outline as an object. If the subject is a person, face recognition narrows the AF target, and once an eye is identified, the focus point is narrowed even further to ensure that the eye is the primary AF target. If the subject turns away or the eye is otherwise obscured, the system falls back to face recognition if possible, or defaults to more generalized object recognition until the eye can again be identified.
As you’re photographing, the camera displays changing icons to let you know where it’s focusing. When Real-time Tracking has identified your subject, you’ll see an icon that’s a square with two vertical lines on either side. Once the system has found a face, it will be enclosed in a green box that follows the face as it moves throughout the scene, and when an eye is detected, that box shrinks further and stays with the eye. This information overlay allows you to know instantly what the AF system is targeting.
Real-time Eye AF in Firmware version 5.0 is limited to human subjects, but Sony is working on enhancements to the technology that will also allow the system to track animal eyes, which would be an incredible tool for wildlife photographers. That technology is planned for Firmware Version 6.0, currently due to be released this summer. That update will also reportedly add interval timer capability to the a9.
For now, a9 Firmware version 5.0 is available as a free download for all a9 users. In addition to the autofocus system enhancements, it also includes a touch-to-focus capability via the LCD screen when shooting in electronic shutter mode, new flexibility for customizing control dials and changes to the camera’s image processing to improve rendering of subtle tonal transitions.
Along with the a9 firmware update, Sony is also debuting new Imaging Edge mobile applications for iOS and Android. Imaging Edge replaces the Sony PlayMemories app and offers an experience and controls better suited to pros and serious enthusiast photographers.
For additional details, see the Sony a9 Firmware version 5.0 bulletin below. To get the firmware update, visit:
Sony a9 Gains Powerful New Autofocus Capabilities and More through Software Version 5.0 Update
Sony’s industry-leading a9 camera has received a significant software update that brings AI-driven autofocus capabilities to its award-winning autofocus (AF) system, improves image quality, and introduces a range of customer-requested workflow improvements.
Firmware version 5.0 for the Sony a9 adds Sony’s newly-developed, AI-driven Real-time Tracking mode for precise and robust subject tracking. Real-time Tracking uses Sony’s latest AF algorithm—which includes Artificial Intelligence-based object recognition—to detect and follow subjects with unprecedented accuracy.
Real-time Tracking AF works in conjunction with Real-time Eye AF, also added with Firmware version 5.0. The latest iteration of Sony’s best-in-class Eye AF technology, Real-time Eye AF also uses AI-based object recognition, resulting in an unprecedented level of speed and performance for locking on and holding focus on a subject’s eyes. Additionally, with Real-time Eye AF, users can now activate eye detection via a half-press of the shutter release, and can enjoy focus tracking accuracy even if a subject’s eyes are temporarily obscured during shooting.
Also added with firmware 5.0 is Fast Hybrid AF for video, which now provides smoother, more accurate focus during video shooting, even if/when objects move in front of the subject.
Firmware version 5.0 offers notably improved image processing, which maximizes the capabilities of the full-frame sensor. The camera now more accurately reproduces subtle changes in light for smoother, more natural tonal gradations and improved auto white balance results.
Improved Usability And Workflow
With Firmware version 5.0, the Sony a9 adds several customer-requested features:
- New My Dial menu
- Revised Custom Key menu
- Improved touchpad capability,
- Enhanced dual-card functionality
- Enhanced tagging
Sony is also announcing the release of Imaging Edge™ mobile applications, plus updates to the ‘Remote,’ ‘Viewer’ and ‘Edit’ desktop applications that brings exciting new features to all Sony imaging customers.
For professional photographers, Sony is also releasing a new mobile application ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ that supports instant delivery workflow by allowing users to transfer content to their mobile devices via the camera’s FTP background transfer functionality. It also enables voice input for text captioning to streamline overall workflow between photographers and other team members.