In the previous post, I tested the real-time eye AF on humans. As there was a pet show over the weekend, I decided to head over and test out the other feature of the new firmware 3.0 for the Sony A7III and A7RIII.
For this test, I decided to use the slowest of my Sony-branded lenses - the FE 90mm f2.8 Macro G OSS lens. I use this lens predominantly for what it was primarily intended - macro photography. Sometimes, though, I would take it out for portraitures as I find the bokeh at f2.8 way more pleasing than my 24-70GM. However, during many these shoots, I found that the speed of the auto-focus mechanism just a wee bit short of my liking.
So upon testing the lens on the new firmware 3.0, I was very pleasantly surprised that the lens now focuses much faster. Not only that, the real-time eye AF on my human subjects are just spectacular. So now my FE 90 macro has a new lease on life - being that of a portrait lens. And for that, the sharpness is beyond comparison, coming up just second to the FE 85 f1.4 GM according to the folks at dxomarks.
So how did the new firmware 3.0 live up to its claim of a real-time animal eye AF? Well, just one word - incredible! The results speak for itself! For dogs at least, no matter what breed, colour or size, every shot was spot-on right to the eyes of the subject matter. All of the pictures were shot fully wide at f2.8.
Even when the dogs were not looking straight-on, the real-time animal eye AF system worked flawlessly, producing shot after shot of perfectly-focused pictures.
Feline lovers too rejoice! The animal AF system works on cats as well.
There weren't too many choices of animals to shoot in the pet exhibition, so I will test on other animals in the weeks ahead. One thing the show had were colourful parrots and unfortunately the animal AF is a hit-and miss and it is not always a lock-on to the eyes of these birds.
The animal eye AF focus can be tricked. In this straight-on shot, the AF mistook the nostrils as the eyes and locked onto them instead.
The most highly anticipated Sony firmware update is finally here! Firmware 3.0 for the Sony A7RIII and A7III were released on 11th April 2019 and I have been putting it through its paces.
This is an enhancement of the eye-focus functionality that has been a key selling point for the Sony A7 range of full-frame mirror-less camera. But alas, the competition in the form of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 as well as the Canon EOS RP has been slowly creeping up.
So, in response, Sony has released firmware enhancements for their A7III and A7RIII cameras. These enhancements do not disappoint and have put Sony way ahead of its competition yet again.
This real-time eye auto-focus (AF) system is a joy to use and is the result of incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and focus on the human eye. By using machine- learning algorithms and feeding it with millions of images, Sony was able to create a system that is able to detect and focus on the human eye.
What a difference a week makes! In a photo shoot last week, I did get several some off-focused shots in instances when the hair was in front of the model's eyes.
With the new firmware 3.0, this was completely eliminated. Every one of my photos had the focus of the eyes spot on!
I simply put the camera to the AF-C (continuous) setting, half-press the shutter release and a square box first appears as it detects the face. Then in a split second the system zooms in on the eyes of the model.
Even when the subject matter was looking up or down, or looking away from the camera, the AF was spot-on.
I even tried moving to one side so that only one eye was visible but that did not trick the AI system one bit.
Next I tested the system on a dimly-lit, partially covered face with only the eyes exposed. But even this extreme case the AF system performed flawlessly.
It was virtually like owning a new camera with an AF system on steroids! Nothing I could throw at it was able to make it foil up. For me, it is an indication of things to come. The battle is not only on who makes the best lens or camera system. It is also about which manufacturer is able to make major advancements in the software of their system.
So for now, I await eagerly the response from the competitors and whether or not they are able to incorporate this vastly superior AF feature into their new mirror-less systems. As for the rest the like of Olympus, Panasonic Lumix and Fujifilm, I seriously wonder if they are able to survive this new battlefront.
I will be putting another feature of the Sony firmware 3.0 to the test in the weeks ahead - the animal eye-focus function. Just a word of caution - I tried it on birds and it does not work. Worse, it slowed down the AF of my Sigma 150-600 lens with the MC-11 adapter
More than a year ago I posted the many ways of shooting time lapse using the Sony A7RIII. It seems like the folks at Sony heard my pleas as well as those of a million or more A7RIII users - the need for a built-in time lapse, interval shooting capability.
Well, today, Sony released the latest firmware 3.0 and I spent no time in updating from my old firmware 2.1. And lo and behold, I can now get rid of all the pesky intervalometers for good. The new Interval Shooting Function can be accessed from the Camera 1 menu, page 4/14 (see below).
Upon clicking into that menu item, you see two sets of settings:
Interval Shooting: On/Off (I assign this to a custom button to quickly turn on or off).
Shooting Start Time: From 1 second to 99 minutes 59 seconds
Shooting Interval: From 1 second to 60 seconds
Number of shots: From 1 to 9999 shots
AE (Auto Exposure) Tracking Sensitivity: High/Mid/Low
Silent Shooting in Interval mode: On/Off
Shooting Interval Priority: On/Off
A nice feature, is the Shooting Time calculation at the bottom to show the actual total time it will take to complete your shoot.
Here is the first test done using the new Interval Shooting function:
- Shooting Interval: 5 seconds
- Number of Shots: 360
Shooting Time: 30 minutes.
The images were then put into the new Imaging Edge software. There is even an option to add a musical track to the final rendered video.
Finally, you can save the file in the top 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) at 25 frames per second, creating a stream of 60Mbps.
I downloaded the video into YouTube, but unfortunately, a lot of resolution is lost. Here is the link to the file:
For now, I am fully satisfied with this new firmware feature and will test it further in the days and months ahead.