Sony a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0

Sony a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0

Last night Sony released a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0. It’s not a whole new camera like Firmware version 5 for the a9, but does bring with it 3 significant new features:

  • Real-Time Eye AF
  • Real-Time Eye AF for Animals
  • Interval Shooting.

Of those, Real-Time Eye AF for Animals is available for the first-time in any camera. AI-based AF means the traditional method of acquiring a subject is history. Algorithmic focus is more powerful than phase or contrast data because of a large inference database that’s continuously updated and complied into the firmware. Algorithmic Focusing also means AI is doing something more than showing us conspiracy theories on YouTube.

Sigma: The wait is over. Shop e-mount primes.

What’s most important about this batch of firmware releases is that Sony has moved AF into a realm of artificial intelligence and their move signifies that the traditional means of acquiring subjects is history.

Sony’s AI is making better photographs.

Sony a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0
Sony a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0

The a9 already had the best AF system and Real Time Tracking took it to the next level. An AI engine supports it by detecting subjects and locking onto them. Now, Real-Time Eye AF for Animals is further proof that Sony can do things no one camera brand can.

The AI and machine learning Sony is deploying has ushered in a new era of autofocus. I think it’s the biggest shift in DSLR focusing technology since Nikon introduced autofocus to a mass market in 1983.

The a9, a7r III, and a7 III are all running an AI engine after the update. Later this summer, the a9 will get another firmware rev enabling animal update too.

Real-Time Eye AF

The reason Sony designates their Eye AF as happening in real time is because it’s always on. Past versions of the focusing technology required two buttons to enable. For a photographer, it means you’re less likely to miss a portrait or subject in a crowd. That’s because Sony’s database of information about faces is used-in camera to more quickly find a subject’s face and eyes.

Watch this video where Artisan Caroline Jensen explains how Eye AF improved her portrait photography. She’s discussing the Eye AF generation before the this one, but it still means with the subject locked, the photographer can freely recompose without losing focus.

Not only that, but the camera can re-acquire the eyes if they are obscured or if the subject turns away, without first having to acquire a lock on a face. It doesn’t lose focus when the eyes are obscured from view, and so it can pick right back up focusing when the eyes are visible again.

The result is an eye detection system that’s much faster than any previous system.

And, it works on animals. Any Sony shooter knows that their camera will lock onto a dog or cat, as shown in the photo below. The Sony RX10 IV with Eye-AF turned on locked right onto this pup’s eyes and face. That was luck and a bonus detection back in 2017.

Sony RX10 IV at a park where dogs run around.

Real-Time Eye AF for Animals

Now, Eye AF for Animals works for real. The AF reliably detects and tracks the faces of dogs and cats. Future updates will bring recognition and tracking for other wildlife including birds in flight. Considering the AI in the camera is detecting things like faces covered in fur, and features like elongated muzzles (on dogs) or cute button noses (on cats) standard geometric processing like phase or contrast detection just doesn’t cut it.

Last night Sony released a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0. It's not a whole new camera like Firmware version 5 for the a9, but does bring with it 3 significant new features:
Sony released a7III/a7RIII Firmware version 3.0. This pup’s face was detected with Real-Time Animal Eye AF.

Sony manufactures the sensor and processor and that’s why only Sony’s mirrorless camera system are capable of useful results tracking human and animal faces. Sony’s a9 and mark 3 a7 cameras are computing a data layer while capturing images.

What’s most important about this batch of firmware releases is that Sony has moved AF into a realm of artificial intelligence and their move signifies that the traditional means of acquiring subjects is history.

More About a7r III and a7 III

Sony a7 III Eye-AF

How to Update Sony a7 III/a7R III Firmware version 3.0

If you’re considering a Sony camera to try out these new AI-based features yourself, the a7r III on Amazon has a $400 instant rebate, so it’s $2798.

My daily shooter is Sony a9 with a vertical grip and various Sigma lenses attached like the 14mm 1.4 Art. Find more gear recommendations in our shop.