Newsshooter reports that Sony has announced a new mirrorless camera model and significant firmware updates for the a9, a7r III and a7 III at an event at Sony HQ in San Diego. The a6400 has a 24MP APS-C sensor with a native ISO range of 100 to 3200 and new autofocus functionality including Eye and Real Time Tracking. Video recording is available in 4K with no pixel binning and HLG picture profile, along with S-Log2 and S-Log3.
The firmware updates will add improved autofocus performance, adding the “Real-time Tracking mode.” It is expected to be available from summer 2019.
The a6400 will ship in February, priced at $900 for a camera body only in the U.S.
Sony Announces α9 Camera Upgrade Through Major Firmware Updates
New Firmware Releases will Deliver Enhanced Autofocus Performance and New Functionality for Sony’s Acclaimed Full-frame Camera
SAN DIEGO — Jan. 15, 2019 — Sony Electronics Inc. today announced a major upgrade to its α9 mirrorless camera that will be available via a firmware update.
Sony’s revolutionary α9 camera will receive several major enhancements to its award-winning autofocus (AF) performance and image quality, as well as receive a variety of new features that are designed to improve the overall workflow for professional photographers. In addition, new firmware updates for α7R III and α7 III will be available that update these cameras with the latest enhancements including Real-time Eye AF performance and add interval recording capacities.
“These new firmware upgrades demonstrate the strong commitment that Sony has to our customers,” said Neal Manowitz, vice president of Imaging Solutions at Sony Electronics. “Their voice is critical to everything we do, and being able to provide our customers with new capabilities is a source of great pride for Sony.”
Firmware Ver. 5.0 and Ver. 6.0 for α9
The upcoming firmware version 5.0 for α9 adds Sony’s newly developed Real-time Tracking mode for object tracking. This mode utilizes Sony’s latest algorithm—including Artificial Intelligence-based object recognition—and processes color, subject distance (depth), pattern (brightness) as well as spatial (distance) information to ensure that all subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and precision. When photographing or video graphing humans or animals, face and eye position information are recognized by AI, and the subject’s eye is monitored in real time with extremely high tracking precision. In addition, “Tracking On” helps initiate real-time tracking at any time by simply pressing a custom-assigned button and “Touch Tracking,” which quickly activates through the touch screen(ii).
With this new firmware version 5.0, Sony’s acclaimed α9 camera will receive advanced “Real-time Eye AF,” the latest version of Sony’s acclaimed Eye AF technology. This exciting new capability employs AI-based object recognition to detect and process eye location data in real time, resulting in improved accuracy, speed and tracking the performance of Eye AF. In all autofocus modes, the camera can automatically detect the eyes of the subject and activate Eye AF with a half press of the shutter button, and the camera will seamlessly track the eyes at all times when in AF-C mode. The new firmware will also enable photographers to select the preferred eye (left or right) of their subject as the focus point.
Other focusing capabilities that will be available with the new firmware include Touch Pad, Touch Tracking, an extended phase-detection AF aperture range that has been increased from F11 to F16, and Fast Hybrid AF for movie shooting that provides smooth, automated focusing for movies.
Image quality will also be enhanced with the new α9 firmware version 5.0, specifically in the areas of color reproduction. The camera will more accurately account for subtle changes in light for smoother, more natural tonal gradations in elements like the sky. There is a new auto white balance algorithm that gets added as well, which produces more consistently balanced images while burst shooting. Other new functions for efficient controls and data management include My Dial and Dual Slot media menu improvement, rating and protect functions.
In addition to the several new capabilities, the firmware also adds compatibility with Sony’s new Imaging Edge Mobile application - the successor to the PlayMemories Mobile™ application. The new Imaging Edge Mobile application features a ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ function to assist professional workflow. This allows photographers to transfer images from their camera to their smartphone during capture using the FTP transfer functionality and adds support for including IPTC metadata on transferred images.
Version 6.0 firmware for the α9 camera will add Eye AF for animal eyes(i), an exciting new feature for wildlife photographers that will enable interval shooting functionality for creating time-lapse movies.
The new system firmware update version 5.0 is scheduled for launch in March 2019, and version 6.0 is scheduled for Summer 2019.
Firmware Ver. 3.0 for α7R III and α7 III
Sony’s popular α7R III and α7 III full-frame cameras will both receive enhanced Real-time Eye AF performance with the upcoming firmware version 3.0. This will be available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button. Real-Time Eye AF for animals will also be available.
The cameras will also receive interval recording functionality that will allow for the simple creation of time-lapse movies(vii). The new feature can be set for anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. AE tracking sensitivity can also be adjusted to “High,” “Mid” or “Low” during interval recording, allowing for reduced changes in exposure over the shooting interval.
The new system firmware update version 3.0 is scheduled in April 2019.
(i) Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations
(ii) Function must be set via the menu beforehand
(iii) A successor application of PlayMemories Mobile. Existing PlayMemories Mobile users can use this by updating PlayMemories Mobile
(iv) Add-on mobile application for ‘Imaging Edge Mobile.’ Available countries: US/Canada/UK/France/Germany/Hong Kong/China/Australia/Japan. User registration is required to use this application. Compatible with ILCE-9 with firmware update Ver.5.0 or later, ILCE-7RM3, ILCE-7M3
(v) Compatible with ILCE-9 with firmware update Ver.5.0 or later
(vi) IPTC metadata for digital image metadata is a standard created by the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council)
(vii) The latest version of “Imaging Edge” ‘Viewer’ and PlayMemories Home desktop applications is required