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