How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?

Started Oct 17, 2012 | Discussions
harry2007
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How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
Oct 17, 2012

Is there any review and/or tests already about the new auto-focus system?

The hybrid CDAF+PDAF system.

Thanks

jpr2
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re: all reviews so far are very tight-lipped and strangely reserved abt. HDAF...
In reply to harry2007, Oct 17, 2012

harry2007 wrote:

Is there any review and/or tests already about the new auto-focus system?

The hybrid CDAF+PDAF system.

...and even users who had both opportunity and skills seem to skirt the issue on their tiptoes (using various [rather phony] excuses) by a huge distance: from VietNam - many images, yet not a word on HDAF

jpr2

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rogatsby
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Re: re: all reviews so far are very tight-lipped and strangely reserved abt. HDAF...
In reply to jpr2, Oct 17, 2012

jpr2 wrote:

harry2007 wrote:

Is there any review and/or tests already about the new auto-focus system?

The hybrid CDAF+PDAF system.

...and even users who had both opportunity and skills seem to skirt the issue on their tiptoes (using various [rather phony] excuses) by a huge distance: from VietNam - many images, yet not a word on HDAF

jpr2


It does seem strange that none of the early testers or reviewers have mentioned the new HDAF system.

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nevercat
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Re: re: all reviews so far are very tight-lipped and strangely reserved abt. HDAF...
In reply to rogatsby, Oct 17, 2012

rogatsby wrote:

It does seem strange that none of the early testers or reviewers have mentioned the new HDAF system.

I don't find it that strange, as most don't have a a camera with a production version of the firm ware. So they can't realy tell a lot about how good (or bad) it is.

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jpr2
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re: yes, oficial reviewers might be [and usually are] in a binding agreement...
In reply to nevercat, Oct 17, 2012

nevercat wrote:

I don't find it that strange, as most don't have a a camera with a production version of the firmware. So they can't really tell a lot about how good (or bad) it is.

  • ...with producers, about not disclosing some shortcomings;
  • but this doesn't apply to independent users,
  • and seldom prevented early testers in the past to asses how some new features might be faring (usually expressing a hidden or even overt hope that the final version will display a marked improvement)

jpr2

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viking79
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to harry2007, Oct 17, 2012

harry2007 wrote:

Is there any review and/or tests already about the new auto-focus system?

The hybrid CDAF+PDAF system.

Thanks

Also when reading early reports of any improvements, be sure to consider lens selection, which has a very large impact on focus performance.  I.e. if you see a bunch of reports of faster focus all using the 16-50 mm lens, it might be the lens and not the hybrid focus.  Have to test the newer lens on the older bodies too.  This is a what if, I have no idea how that lens or the new hybrid focus system perform.

Eric

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Enthused
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to harry2007, Oct 17, 2012

I tried it as best as I could at a photo show in Toronto on the weekend (on a NEX-6). The camera didn't have a memory card so all I could do was attempt to track focus on people walking by the booth.

It seemed to track reasonably well using the 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses but very hard to confirm under these circumstances (i.e. it seemed to maintain focus subjects walked by but I could not take a photo and zoom in to confirm without a memory card)

In the NEX-6 (pre)review that was done in Alaska there was a sequence of shots taken of an incoming float plane on a lake. It looked as though the camera did a reasonable job tracking the plane through a short burst of photos. One of the reviewers has commented (here or on his blog?) that subject tracking does work but not as well as a high performance DSLR.

I'm seriously considering buying the camera but this is an important feature for me, so I need to see more evidence that it works before pulling the trigger...



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Helen
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to viking79, Oct 17, 2012

Here is a direct cut & paste from the proper, final production full instruction manual (which, interestingly, is a SHARED document for the 5R and 6, so the apparent differences between their PDAF settings in the separate prototype manuals that were posted on a US Patent Office or similar appear to have disappeared).

If the Phase Detection AF ranging points are displayed inside the selected auto focus area, the camera focuses using the Phase Detection AF and the contrast AF in combination.
You can set the display of the Phase Detection AF ranging points by selecting MENU - [Setup] - [Phase Detection AF Area]

1 MENU - [Setup] - [Phase Detection AF Area] - desired mode.
• When the aperture value is greater than F6.3, Phase Detection AF is unavailable. You can only use
Contrast AF.
• Phase Detection AF is available only with compatible lenses. If an incompatible lens is attached, you will be unable to use Phase Detection AF. Phase Detection AF may not operate even with some compatible lens, such as lenses purchased in the past that have not been updated. For details on compatible lenses,visit the Sony web site in your area, or consult your Sony dealer or local authorized Sony service facility.
• When using an A-mount lens (sold separately) with the Mount Adaptor (sold separately), Phase
Detection AF of the camera will not be activated.
• Phase Detection AF is unavailable for movie shooting. The Phase Detection AF ranging points are not displayed on the screen.


​I'll have to confirm this with further use, but to translate that little lot, the rather busy little grid display over the central 30% or so of the screen appears when PDAF is active (for which read: available in theory).  It will then try to use it in combination with CDAF if it can.  This grid disappears if you turn off the PDAF feature or (presumably) if the PDAF is unavailable because the lens isn't compatible. I'll verify that by trying an existing 18-55 lens on the camera tonight (i.e. without the required latest lens firmware.  I expect the PDAF grid display to disappear when I fit that lens).  Please bear with me - I've had my hands on the camera for all of 5 minutes so far.

In single point AF with PDAF on (with compatible 18-55 lens) a brief trial didn't seem any different, speedwise, to CDAF.  It was pointed at a distant sunlit landscape through a hazy window though, with no particularly strong detail or edges to lock onto.  This was in S-AF though - continuous might show more benefit.

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Schwaeble
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to Helen, Oct 17, 2012

Helen wrote:

-snip-

• Phase Detection AF is unavailable for movie shooting.

-snip

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zackiedawg
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to Helen, Oct 17, 2012

Helen wrote:

In single point AF with PDAF on (with compatible 18-55 lens) a brief trial didn't seem any different, speedwise, to CDAF.  It was pointed at a distant sunlit landscape through a hazy window though, with no particularly strong detail or edges to lock onto.  This was in S-AF though - continuous might show more benefit.

Thanks for being willing to test it out.  Indeed I think what most are looking to find out isn't necessarily whether the overall focus acquisition speed for general shooting is faster, but whether the PDAF addition allows the camera to track a moving subject better.  So if you have the chance to test it, please try the following:  Definitely set to AF-C, as this is the mode most needed to test.  Put yourself in good daylight, as low light might introduce slowness and not really tell whether the tracking is better than the previous CDAF only system.  Try to acquire focus on a subject that's moving - a person walking towards you, a car approaching, etc.  Try using center or spot focus area to make sure you acquire focus on the moving target and not the background...keep the focus point on that subject, then see whether the AF-C mode is able to keep up with the moving target as it comes towards you.

With the CDAF system in AF-C mode, the current NEX cameras won't keep up with anything much faster than a slow-walking person coming towards you, and the focus often has to move in and out of focus to confirm the new distance to the subject.  Theoretically, the PDAF system should do a much better job of keeping the focus on the subject as it closes towards you, handle faster moving subjects, and no pulse in and out of focus as frequently to keep in focus.  It may not match a DSLR and dedciated PDAF focus system, but if it can reduce the hunting and keep up with faster speeds, it would make a lot of NEX shooters happy.

Overall focus acquisition speed on the CDAF NEX has never been an issue for me - it's plenty fast in good light and can acquire even a fast moving target in milliseconds.  The problem is, it can't then track that subject, so AF-C mode is much less useful to the point that many of us who shoot action, birds in flight, etc. simply use AF-S and just keep reacquiring the target.

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mtechnic6
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to Enthused, Oct 17, 2012

Hi,

I just recieved my NEX5R body yesterday and I am disappointed as nether my ZEISS 24mm F1.8 nor my 18-55mm OSS Lens black (from a NEX-7 that I brought fromn someone) didn't work with the hybrid auto-focus as that function under the setup is not available with my lens (all I get is Contrast auto-focus! Plus with the LA-EA2 adapter with the SAL1650 it doesn't work with that as well. So I am not sure if I want this camera vs. my NEX-5N.

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viking79
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to Schwaeble, Oct 17, 2012

Schwaeble wrote:

Helen wrote:

-snip-

• Phase Detection AF is unavailable for movie shooting.

-snip

Ouch, that is the reason to have PDAF on a mirrorless.  To me that indicates using PDAF must be highly processor intensive, which seems strange to me.  They must have a lot of signal processing going on to get something useful from the sensors.

The lenses needing to be compatible is another issue that indicates there is very specific processing going on with each different lens in order to get useful data from the PDAF sensors.  Not a standalone system at all like it is on a DSLR.

Oh well, wait to see how it performs.  I suppose it will perform well enough to make a person want version 2

Eric

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chillzatl
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to mtechnic6, Oct 17, 2012

mtechnic6 wrote:

Hi,

I just recieved my NEX5R body yesterday and I am disappointed as nether my ZEISS 24mm F1.8 nor my 18-55mm OSS Lens black (from a NEX-7 that I brought fromn someone) didn't work with the hybrid auto-focus as that function under the setup is not available with my lens (all I get is Contrast auto-focus! Plus with the LA-EA2 adapter with the SAL1650 it doesn't work with that as well. So I am not sure if I want this camera vs. my NEX-5N.

Your lenses need a firmware update which is not available yet and with the la-ea2 it uses it's own PDAF autofocus and doesn't need the camera's hybrid system.

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Robert Morris
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to Helen, Oct 17, 2012

Thanks for post this, and I look forward to you assessment.

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mtechnic6
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to chillzatl, Oct 17, 2012

Hopefully the firmware won't be 6 months later.

As for the LA-EA2 I understand I was just hoping for the 99 point vs 15 point focus, maybe I should try the LA-EA1 to see the Hybrid auto-focus would work, as all Sony Apha lens are phase auto focus right?

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chillzatl
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to mtechnic6, Oct 17, 2012

mtechnic6 wrote:

Hopefully the firmware won't be 6 months later.

As for the LA-EA2 I understand I was just hoping for the 99 point vs 15 point focus, maybe I should try the LA-EA1 to see the Hybrid auto-focus would work, as all Sony Apha lens are phase auto focus right?

As someone who has plans for a 6 in my future, I hope so!

I'm not sure the la-ea1 is going to get you what you want. While they may update it to interface with the hybrid system in the new cameras, it's still a slow focusing adapter, so I'm not sure the trade-off would yield any benefit.

Technically I don't think lenses care. They are just a collection of glass and motors. Focus is determined by the camera sensors and they in turn tell the motors in the lens what to do or when to stop going one way or the other when the sensors feel they have focus. The difference in the la-ea1 vs 2, as I understand it, is that the la-ea2 has a drive motor built in, where the la-ea1 does not and requires that the A-mount lenses you use on it need the drive motors to be built in. Which is why it only supports a small selection of a-mount lenses (ssm and sam, I believe).

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mtechnic6
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to chillzatl, Oct 17, 2012

chillzatl wrote:

mtechnic6 wrote:

Hopefully the firmware won't be 6 months later.

As for the LA-EA2 I understand I was just hoping for the 99 point vs 15 point focus, maybe I should try the LA-EA1 to see the Hybrid auto-focus would work, as all Sony Apha lens are phase auto focus right?

As someone who has plans for a 6 in my future, I hope so!

I'm not sure the la-ea1 is going to get you what you want. While they may update it to interface with the hybrid system in the new cameras, it's still a slow focusing adapter, so I'm not sure the trade-off would yield any benefit.

Technically I don't think lenses care. They are just a collection of glass and motors. Focus is determined by the camera sensors and they in turn tell the motors in the lens what to do or when to stop going one way or the other when the sensors feel they have focus. The difference in the la-ea1 vs 2, as I understand it, is that the la-ea2 has a drive motor built in, where the la-ea1 does not and requires that the A-mount lenses you use on it need the drive motors to be built in. Which is why it only supports a small selection of a-mount lenses (ssm and sam, I believe).

Thx for the clarification.

Then I am not sure if the NEX-5R is right for me as I get what i need from my old 5N. Base on what you just stated about lens that they are glass and motor in a shell, I have 'legacy" emount lens that may or may not get a firmware (yes I know of the announcement but not the timing or is it apply to new lens purchase after the release officially on Oct 21st?) in the camera to allow it to give Hybrid auto focus.

I may just return the NEX5R for a refund as currently IQ wise they look the same to me. Yes functionally they change somethings from the old 5N and added some to the 5R but I purchase this with idea of the hybrid autofocus.

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TiagoReil
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to harry2007, Oct 17, 2012

harry2007 wrote:

Is there any review and/or tests already about the new auto-focus system?

The hybrid CDAF+PDAF system.

Thanks

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/10/11/the-sony-nex-6-1st-quick-look-review/

From the article:

In real world use I find the NEX-6 to be much quicker to AF than the 7 and it just seems very snappy and responsive which is good! The 7 at times seemed a bit slow when compared to the new breed of mirrorless like the Olympus OM-D. Sony did not take a break and just say “deal with it”..nope! Instead they ramped things up by combining Contrast Detect AND Phase Detect focus ala Nikon V1 for a much improved AF experience. This means that in good light the AF is near instant. IN low light it is faster than it was before in past NEX cameras. This is a pretty big deal and I am happy that Sony made this move. The NEX-6 feels like a 100% fully polished product..finally.

I wouldn't expect miracles, but it shows that this is an improvement.

Ti@go.

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mtechnic6
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Re: How is the new hybrid auto-focus on NEX 5R/6?
In reply to TiagoReil, Oct 17, 2012

As long as you got the new lens with the firmware already loaded as mine did not both the Zeiss 24mm F1.8 nor the 18-55 OSS black from an NEX7



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Cheng Bao
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Re: re: yes, oficial reviewers might be [and usually are] in a binding agreement...
In reply to jpr2, Oct 17, 2012

What I heard is

The first wave of testers don't have 16-50mm lens in hands.

The old 18-55 lens need firmware update to comply PDAF, which is not available right now.

Although a few testers who do have 16-50mm to test reported mixed bag.

Some said they are not faster than older NEX.

Some said they are much faster than fastest NEX, on par with m43.

jpr2 wrote:

nevercat wrote:

I don't find it that strange, as most don't have a a camera with a production version of the firmware. So they can't really tell a lot about how good (or bad) it is.

  • ...with producers, about not disclosing some shortcomings;
  • but this doesn't apply to independent users,
  • and seldom prevented early testers in the past to asses how some new features might be faring (usually expressing a hidden or even overt hope that the final version will display a marked improvement)

jpr2


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