The Sony a9 Continuous Eye Autofocus Looks Amazing

There has been a ton of excitement drummed up around the Sony a9, and today, there seems to be another reason to anticipate the camera's release. A Japanese camera tester posted a video of the camera's eye-tracking autofocus in action, and the results are highly impressive.

Not much fazes me these days when it comes to gear, but this definitely caught my attention. As someone who loves wide-aperture portrait lenses, I've come to accept the autofocus woes that often come with them, meaning I throw away a fair amount of my shots. The beauty of cameras like the a9 is the on-sensor phase detect autofocus, which means no microadjustments (as with SLRs) and (theoretically) AF speeds approaching or eclipsing the best DSLRs. Throw in the eye-tracking you see above and it has me drooling. I found it truly impressive how quickly the camera picked up on eyes in the frame and tracked them very quickly and accurately. If performance like this is consistent, there will be a lot of very happy portrait photographers out there.

If you'd like to preorder the Sony a9 (expected to begin shipping May 25), you can do so here.

[via PetaPixel]

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10 Comments

Spy Black's picture

A blatent brain fart by Sony on the design of this camera is that they made the second card slot on the A9 UHS-1! That means that if you try to shoot redundant, you're only as fast as the slowest card slot, which means no 20 fps shooting for you. You'll have to put your faith in a mission critical assignment on a single card if you need to do any high speed shooting. Granted, most cards today are pretty reliable, but when your building a flagship camera, and charging FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED dollars for it no less, this strikes me as a massive fuck-up.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

That does suck! I'm sure there's a reason they couldn't pull it off.

And while we're at it: USB 2.0 on a camera that is issued in 2017 ?! *facepalm*

I thought that as well, but considering that if you're shooting tethered there's a chance that it'll be able to shoot via the network cable with a more secured connection instead of the micro USB connection, no?

Also for transferring files, wouldn't you rather transfer via card reader?

@Je Park:
I think I don't know exactly what you mean ?! ;)

We are shooting tethered for a few years with Capture One Pro now.
Right now we are still using a a 5DM2 which is USB2. And even though the files are not large by today's standards it is not the fastest method but it is ok.

But for larger jobs we regularly rent a 5DSR, a 5DM4 or sometimes a Phase One camera and the speed advantage of USB 3 - with much larger files - is quite important and noticeable.
Actually it makes all the difference.

We shoot directly into the laptop. The content of Capture One is mirrored to an iPad over Wifi (preview JPEGs only) to the clients - who can directly mark it stars while shooting.
This workflow is not possible with shooting to cards and transfer via card reader.

At one point we had rented equipment (Macbook Pro 2014 and 5DM4) and it would not connect. Complete fail of equipment.
THEN we shot directly on cards and used the Wifi option of the 5DM4 to send previews to the iPad for the client. No one noticed the difference. That was "Plan B". But it only worked because the Canon App was stable and programmed quite ok. Not superior like Camranger or qDSLR Dashboard. The Fuji App for example is pure sh*t in my opinion.

The quality of the USB ports is whole other story.;)

BUT I don't really know what you mean shooting via "network cable" ?!
Do you mean an ethernet cable ? To my knowledge the A9 does not have a network port...
Or what do you mean ? ;))

Neil Pho's picture

It is reported to have an Ethernet port. There are pictures of this.

@Neil Pho & Je Park
Ok. I just saw it online. I had not seen it yet. I would not have thought that they even had space for that.
That is quite an unusual move. I don't even know if - e.g. - Capture One would recognize a connection via ethernet port ?!

Although the plugs of those ethernet cables are also a litte fragile they are way better than those micro usb ports. This is really a stupid development.

But I am wondering about the data rate because USB 3 is - in theory - faster than 1GB ethernet. Although I don't know a how real world scenario would turn out.
And then there is fibreglass ethernet cables.
We will see.

A few years ago I shot with a Leica S2. Which is rather old by todays standard. But that was the only camera that had a proprietary USB port with a metal plug. You could hang the camera on that cable without damaging the port.

But it was proprietary and it would never make it to the market because it was too well constructed.

I wish all camera manufacturers would think about a "tethering standard" that they employ in all future cameras. Small, sturdy and and with a kind of magsafe device as a tripping protection.

All the stuff we use - e.g. from tethertools - is ok but it does not solve the real problem: shitty usb ports that get smaller every year.

We see the dot moving but we need to see pics enlarged to know if it's actually in focus. Also-- if the subject doesn't move forward or backward you don't need to refocus. This is more of a tracking test than an autofocus test.

David Apeji's picture

This will be awesome for lifestyle photography

Henry Do's picture

The A7RII has eye-focus AF for a while and it just as good as this.. why is this considered "new" on the A9?