The release of Firmware version 5.0 for Sony’s professional α9 camera brought AI-driven Real-Time tracking mode for precise and robust subject tracking to its award-winning AF system. PC Magazine’s senior digital camera analyst Jim Fisher took those new capabilities for a test drive at a professional rugby match in Brooklyn, NY. Using the α9 paired with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master to capture the game, Fisher shared some of his thoughts on the update in an article in PC Magazine. See some key takeaways below.
Photographer tests the new Sony α9 Firmware version 5.0 and 100-400mm GM at a professional rugby match.
On Real-Time Tracking
“A half-press of the shutter initiates focus and tracking. When you hold it down halfway, the camera will follow the subject and keep it in focus, as long as you can keep it in frame. Pressing down fully starts capture, but because the α9 has no blackout, you'll never lose sight of the action through the viewfinder.”
On Eye AF
“The firmware update also changes the way the EyeAF system works. EyeAF is one of the best features Sony has to offer. But, up until now, using it meant engaging the function required a special button press on the camera. With Firmware 5.0, EyeAF kicks in automatically. If the camera detects an eye in the active focus area, that's where it puts the focus. It works as advertised, and I was especially happy to see that the α9 was able to detect faces in a relatively dark tunnel as the team was waiting to be introduced.”
On Other Features For Pro Shooters On The Sidelines
“A sidenote, the new α9 firmware has some features aimed specifically at pro shooters working the sidelines. These include a new companion app with voice annotation, IPTC tagging, and FTP transfer for photographers working with wire services, and the ability to delete an entire burst of images at one time. If you jammed the shutter button down in anticipation of a great play, and the action fizzled, you can now clear out the entirety of your 20fps burst with a couple of button presses.”
On Making The Update
“There are some real benefits. The complete lack of blackout, wide focus coverage area, and 20fps Raw capture are the obvious ones, but there's also savings in weight, and its video features, unmatched by rival SLRs. I named it [PC Magazine’s] Editors' Choice in the category, even with the first version of the firmware.”
See more of Fisher’s photos and his full thoughts here.