Sony A9 finally gets its Real Time Tracking boost through v5.0 firmware

Sony A9
Sony A9. Image Credit: TechRadar

Sony has finally made its version 5.0 firmware update available to owners of its A9 mirrorless camera.

The update's main focus is the newly-developed Real-time Tracking AF mode, which uses machine-learning-based object recognition to identify and follow moving subjects, even if they turn away from the camera or are temporarily obstructed in some way. 

The new technology also strengthens the popular existing Eye AF feature, now dubbed Real-time Eye AF. With the update installed, the camera is now said to lock onto an eye with a half-press of the shutter, which makes assigning the Eye AF to a separate control unnecessary (although it's still possible to do so).

Image 1 of 5

Image Credit: Sony

Image Credit: Sony
Image 2 of 5

Image Credit: Sony

Image Credit: Sony
Image 3 of 5

Image Credit: Sony

Image Credit: Sony
Image 4 of 5

Image Credit: Sony

Image Credit: Sony
Image 5 of 5

Image Credit: Sony

Image Credit: Sony

Sony has also introduced a new AF Area Circulation setting that's said to make it easier to quickly shift the focusing point between the upper, lower, left and right sides of the frame, which is potentially useful if the subject quickly moves between one side and the other. 

The changes to the focusing system are also claimed to improve AF during video recording, with a new Fast Hybrid AF system that promises to keep a better hold on the subject as it moves around the frame.

Better image quality too

The update also ushers in several further changes to operation, such as a Touch Pad AF feature that allows for the focus point to be selected on the rear display when using the electronic viewfinder. 

There's also a new My Dial menu, which provides custom control over the front and rear command dials in addition to the control wheel, among other things. Elsewhere, the camera can switch from one memory card to another when the first card fills up, and the user will also be able to rate images in-camera.

Image quality is also said to be improved, thanks to changes to image processing that reduce shifts in white balance between images captured in succession. A new Transfer & Tagging application, which permits FTP background transfer to a mobile or tablet while you're still shooting and allows for IPTC data to be embedded within metadata is also now enabled.

Sony Version 6.0 update on its way

The new update will be followed in the summer by version 6.0, which will add two new features. 

The first is an extension to the autofocusing enhancements in version 5.0, namely a Real-time Animal AF option, which promises subject detection and eye tracking of animals. The camera will also get a new Interval Timer, which will be part of a wider Interval menu tab. 

If you're lucky enough to own an A9, you can head over to the firmware page on Sony's website to get the update now.

  • It's Space Week on TechRadar, bringing you seven days of features and news exploring the wonders of our solar system and beyond.