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Behind The Shot: Animal Eye AF

Over the last month and a half, your #SonyAlphaAnimalPortrait posts have been popping up all over Instagram. Animal Eye AF, which was part of firmware 3.0 for the α7R III and α7 III, is proving to be as game-changing as Eye AF and we’re seeing animal portraits like we’ve never seen before. Check out these standout photos taken using Animal Eye AF and how it’s changing how to photograph animals. If you haven’t updated the firmware for your α7R III or α7 III, go here to find the latest version and check out our quick guide to installing firmware here.

See how these photographers captured their standout #SonyAlphaAnimalPortrait images with Animal Eye AF.

Ben Murphy Photography – @benmurphy.photography

Gear Used

Sony α7R III and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM

Behind The Shot: Using Animal Eye AF

With the lions sitting where they were, I set up my composition, pressed the button on my Sony α7R III that's mapped to Animal Eye AF, and fired off a burst of photos at 10 frames per second at the movement the male lion was licking the female. I was using my Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master at 200mm and even though the lions weren't filling up the frame, the Animal Eye AF locked on at that distance. I took advantage of the camera’s 42 megapixel sensor to crop in on the lions in post.

This lion photograph was from my first shoot with the Animal Eye AF feature after I updated my α7R III’s firmware. Previously I would have to use expand flexible spot focus to try and get my focus point on the animal's eye, and when the animals move a lot, tracking and keeping the eye in focus could be difficult. Once Animal Eye AF came out and I started using it, focus would lock on and track the eye just like it would for a normal portrait, which allows me to focus on the composition of the photo and the unpredictable nature of animal movement. I love it!

Lyo The Cat – @lyo.thecat (photographer Rebekka Plattner)

Gear Used

Sony α7 III and Sony 85mm f/1.8

Behind The Shot: Using Animal Eye AF

We were at the lake with Lyo because he loves to be outside. He was standing there on that rock looking at the ducks which were behind me and I took the chance to take a few photos of him since it’s quite rare for him to stand still! I started with Instagram because when I got my cats I didn’t want to annoy my friends with sending them cute cat pictures every day. I thought the Instagram community could be a cool chance to share my cats and my photos with. I’m honestly so happy I made this choice because I’ve learned so much about photography. The positive feedback we get motivates me to try new things, to be creative and to do what I love.

The very day Animal Eye AF was released in the firmware update I downloaded it and I will never go without again! I really love it and I honestly couldn’t imagine taking photos of the cats without it anymore. It’s so cool that now I don’t have to take 100 photos to get one sharp shot when they’re running or doing something. Animal photography is super tricky because it’s challenging to get an animal to look in the camera or to do something specific because you want to get THAT shot. For me, Animal Eye AF takes animal photography to a whole new level and experience. For me and Lyo The Cat, it’s changed my photography life completely.

Scout The Dog – @theadventuresofscoutthedog (photographer Peter Kim)

Gear Used

Sony α7 III and Sony 55mm f/1.8

Behind The Shot: Using Animal Eye AF

My wife and I started the Scout The Dog account as a way to document the adventures we go on with our pup, Scout. I wanted a way to record and journal our lives when she first came to us. The first photos on the account were mostly taken with our phones or our entry level DSLR. Since then, I’ve developed a passion for photography and I’ve constantly tried to improve my techniques and the gear I use. Sony’s Animal Eye AF has been a defining milestone and I was so stoked when it was released. Since adopting Sony as my camera and lens system, I have been ecstatic to be a part of the Sony family.

In this photo, Scout was sleepy and my wife was cradling her head. I held the camera in my right hand and used my left to hold Scout’s chin. I used Animal Eye AF to track her eye which made taking the photo very easy with one hand. Since updating my α7 III firmware, I always have animal eye AF enabled.

Kevin Dale – @_kevd1_

Gear Used

Sony α7R III and Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM

Behind The Shot: Using Animal Eye AF

This is my cat Mandy. She's 11 years old and still acts like a kitten and is very affectionate. The shot was captured in my garden and there’s no need for me to do anything special to get her to pose as she loves the attention. This shot only took a few attempts to get as I tried getting her attention so she’d look straight into the lens. Using the extra reach of the 100-400mm G Master lens let me keep my distance and Animal Eye AF did the rest.

I love taking shots of wildlife and am a huge fan of the Animal Eye AF. I cannot wait until Sony takes this further and adds other animals which I hear is in the pipeline. I'm sure this will be a huge hit with wildlife photographers and as soon as birds and other animals are added so we can purely concentrate on composition. I use Animal Eye AF a lot and have programmed a button on my α7R III so that I can easily switch between Animal Eye AF and regular human Eye AF.


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