The Sony a9 firmware 5.00 gains additional improvements to benefit video with real time auto focus tracking.
The a9 is the flagship mirrorless camera from Sony, announced almost 2 years ago. It is capable of filming in 4K despite being focused heavily on photography. In the latest firmware there are a number of updates that can benefit those using the camera for video purposes. So let’s get down to it.
Improved Real Time Auto Focus Tracking
Some of the key features of this firmware update improve the Sony a9’s autofocus capabilities through new, real time object recognition algorithms. The focus tracking is now completely real time, and is now faster and more accurate when filming moving subjects. The Tracking On function can now be set to a custom key, enabling subject tracking at a desired time. Additionally, Touch Tracking has now been included which enables the user to track a subject by touching the monitor. A similar feature that is also included in the Sony A7III and A6500.
This greatly improves the ability to follow very fast moving subjects throughout the frame while filming.
The contrast AF frame divisions have been increased from 25 to 425 which improves accuracy in many shooting environments. This goes hand in hand with the increased focal plane phase detection AF accuracy. Wow what a mouth full. This is an AF algorith that improves the phase detection accuracy in AF-C and continuous shooting modes.
Improved Video Functions and Proxy Recording
Although the Sony a9 doesn’t include picture profiles, it does still have the ability to record 4K, HD and slow motion video downsampled from the 6K sensor. The focus peaking accuracy has been improved, and Initial Focus Magnification has been included. This allows the user to set the initial magnification from x1 or x4 in movie mode.
Proxy video recording has now been included, enabling low bit rate and low resolution files to be recorded simultaniously, even when recording in 4K. The proxy files are recorded in XAVC S HD (1280×720) at 9 Mbps, with the respective frame rate staying the same across both files.
Although the proxy video files cannot be played back on the camera, this is a useful workflow feature that can speed up the post production process.
To summarize the video-centric additions and updates to the Sony a9;
- Proxy video recording in XAVC S HD (1280×720) at 9 Mbps.
- Low bit rate XAVC S HD recording at 60p 25M and 30p 16m respectively.
- Improved auto focus subject tracking.
- Touch focusing using the monitor and touch pad.
- Increased contrast AF frame divisions from 25 to 425 frames.
- Auto White Balance Lock.
- Improved focus peaking.
Customizing The Camera
- Automatic card slot switching.
- Up to 112 custom keys.
- MP4 video recording has been removed.
- Certain AVCHD file formats have also been removed; 60p/28M(PS), 24p/17M(FH) and 24p/24m(FX).
Is the Sony a9 fit for filming purposes?
It’s important to note that although the Sony a9 isn’t optimised for video, it is still the flagship mirrorless camera from Sony that has video capabilities. The enhanaced auto focus functions enable even more accurate focus tracking while filming, and Sony are drip feeding additional features that benefit video shooters. Does the exclusion of picture profiles and price make the Sony a9 too far out of reach for filming purposes?
The firmware update version 5.00 is available to download via the Sony website here.
Do you use the Sony a9 for filming? What additional firmware updates do you want to see in the other Sony mirrorless cameras? Let us know in the comments.