Sony Has a New Firmware Update, But Are They Behind the Rest?

Despite Sony’s autofocus being incredibly good, it’s been showing its age. It’s still fantastic, but time hasn’t been kind to Sony, comparatively speaking. Today, Sony is issuing firmware updates for its a1 and a7s III cameras. And while those update are important, we test a lot of cameras and are scratching our heads a bit at what’s happening here.

The Firmware Updates

Here are the details of the new Sony firmware updates.

Alpha 1

  • Three sizes of Lossless Compressed Raw (S/M/L)

Alpha 7S III

  • Improvements to Eye AF
  • Introduction of proxy recording during remote computer connections. 

Even Fujifilm Does This

Now here is where things look odd. Sony’s cameras do human, animal, and bird autofocus detection. When they hit the market with that feature, it outdid everyone else. But then Olympus came out with the addition of vehicles and more. Canon improved on that and showed the world just how smart its autofocus system can be. Suddenly the Nikon Z9 had it, and now Fujifilm can do it with the XH2s. 

If you’re a Sony a1 user, you’re probably wondering why your Sony a1 can’t do scene detection as well as more affordable cameras out there. But you’re also probably happy with the fact that the autofocus system is still incredible. 

So, if it’s incredible, why would a camera like the a1 need more AI? Scene recognition is possibly one of the best autofocus aids of the past decade. You now don’t have to use the joystick to move the autofocus point to a specific area and miss the subject. The camera can instead recognize what’s in the scene and let you select one of the multiple subjects. If you’re a photojournalist in NYC photographing the bike gangs going around, your job will be easier. It’s faster to point your camera at something, have it automatically be recognized, and then have the camera track it. Besides this, sometimes lighting changes on your subject, which may trick the autofocus. 

This makes me wonder why Sony hasn’t taken that market seriously yet. Surely they’ve got the lens selection to appeal to those types of photographers. Why don’t they have it ready yet? And if it becomes available, what cameras will the advanced AI autofocus detection firmware come to? Here are my guesses:

  • Sony A1: This has to get the Sony firmware with advanced AI if it ever comes out.
  • Sony a7 IV: When I’ve called in lenses for review, I was told that certain processors are much better than previous cameras. I’ve been told that the Sony a7 IV is way ahead of the Sony a9 II. The a7 IV is bound to get it.
  • Sony a9 II: This firmware update is not coming to this camera.
  • Sony a7r IV: I’ve never had major faith in this camera to begin with.
  • Sony a7s III: I’d be amazed if a Sony firmware update came to this camera with advanced AI. But it would make a lot of filmmakers happy.
  • Sony a7c: Ha! This won’t happen.
  • Sony a6600 successor: It might have that feature, but I doubt it. Sony likes to give their higher-end cameras new features first and then bring them down to their lower-hanging fruit.

So, will Sony ever bring major new updates to their AI autofocus? I’m curious to see.

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