Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4

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chironNYC Senior Member • Posts: 2,426
Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4
1

Can someone who has used both the A7R3 and the A7R4 discuss the differences between the two in terms of their autofocus systems (after the 3.0 firmware update to the A7R3)?

After the 3.0 update the A7R3 is described as having Real-time Eye AF Tracking in AF-C mode with half-press of either the shutter button or the back button focus button, with both humans and animals.

How does this differ from Real Time Tracking as implemented on the A7R4?

How is the user's shooting experience different?

I'm looking for more insight into the user experience than is provided by reading the help guide or the manuals.

Thank you!

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Qqphot Forum Member • Posts: 57
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4
1

I'm not an AF power-user compared to some here, but having both bodies, the post-v3.0 Eye-AF implementation on the R3 seems to work exactly the same way as the R4's implementation.Which is to say, the camera in AF-C mode will show a frame around detected faces (if you enable that) and if the shutter is half-pressed, will show a much smaller green frame around whichever eye it is tracking.

The non-eye-based tracking is similar. R3 has the usual set of focus modes (flexible spot L/M/S, expand flexible spot) and then tracking versions of all of those. R4 somewhat simplifies the menu selection of those but the operation is more or less the same - put the spot on the area you want to track and half-press (or use focus button) and it maintains focus on that area.

The main difference I see is that the now mostly redundant separate mode called "Center Lock-on AF" is gone, since you can achieve the same thing by selecting any of the other tracking modes.

As far as the relative performance of the same modes between the two bodies, I don't really have a strong opinion. They both seem to work fine, both obviously prefer good lighting and contrast. The big difference is apparently continuous eye tracking now works in movie mode instead of just still mode.

OP chironNYC Senior Member • Posts: 2,426
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4
1

Qqphot wrote:

I'm not an AF power-user compared to some here, but having both bodies, the post-v3.0 Eye-AF implementation on the R3 seems to work exactly the same way as the R4's implementation.Which is to say, the camera in AF-C mode will show a frame around detected faces (if you enable that) and if the shutter is half-pressed, will show a much smaller green frame around whichever eye it is tracking.

The non-eye-based tracking is similar. R3 has the usual set of focus modes (flexible spot L/M/S, expand flexible spot) and then tracking versions of all of those. R4 somewhat simplifies the menu selection of those but the operation is more or less the same - put the spot on the area you want to track and half-press (or use focus button) and it maintains focus on that area.

The main difference I see is that the now mostly redundant separate mode called "Center Lock-on AF" is gone, since you can achieve the same thing by selecting any of the other tracking modes.

As far as the relative performance of the same modes between the two bodies, I don't really have a strong opinion. They both seem to work fine, both obviously prefer good lighting and contrast. The big difference is apparently continuous eye tracking now works in movie mode instead of just still mode.

Thanks for your response--very clarifying!

This tells me exactly what I have been trying to find out. So, the A7R3 will also track non-eyes as well as eyes, and does it in a similar way to the A7R4.

The A7R4 is described as having improved autofocus, so I assume it tracks better, with both eyes and non-eyes?

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SigZero
SigZero Regular Member • Posts: 428
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4
3

chironNYC wrote:

Can someone who has used both the A7R3 and the A7R4 discuss the differences between the two in terms of their autofocus systems (after the 3.0 firmware update to the A7R3)?

After the 3.0 update the A7R3 is described as having Real-time Eye AF Tracking in AF-C mode with half-press of either the shutter button or the back button focus button, with both humans and animals.

How does this differ from Real Time Tracking as implemented on the A7R4?

How is the user's shooting experience different?

I'm looking for more insight into the user experience than is provided by reading the help guide or the manuals.

Thank you!

The logic of both systems is similar but implementation is quite different.

R3 does not have the Real Time Tracking - it has only Real Time Eye AF - which detects faces and eyes in scenes. As for tracking it still uses old tracking method - which is not AI powered and does not take shape and texture into account.

R4 has the Real Time Tracking which makes huge difference. In my case (I'm using tracking to track planes and trains) those are two worlds. R3 tracking looses object very fast and does not find them again, does not work if you zoom during AF, does not work if object is approaching. R4 RTT handles all those situations perfectly. And if object is a person it automatically switches to Eye AF or Face AF if possible.

As a matter of fact Real Time Tracking (with AF-C) is the only AF method I'm currently using. Even in landscape - I simply point to an object which is the main subject and then recompose freely - camera keeps that object in focus constantly - I can zoom, pan etc.

The Real Time Tracking is the first Sony's tracking system that works. I had A6300, A6500 and A7R3 - and to be honest in not trivial situations the tracking mode in those cameras is useless - it looses objects fast and randomly - which is not a reliable way of using AF. 
(I'm talking about general tracking of object - not Eye or face tracking).

Br, Pawel.

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My photo-blog: http://pawel.online

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OP chironNYC Senior Member • Posts: 2,426
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4

SigZero wrote:

chironNYC wrote:

Can someone who has used both the A7R3 and the A7R4 discuss the differences between the two in terms of their autofocus systems (after the 3.0 firmware update to the A7R3)?

After the 3.0 update the A7R3 is described as having Real-time Eye AF Tracking in AF-C mode with half-press of either the shutter button or the back button focus button, with both humans and animals.

How does this differ from Real Time Tracking as implemented on the A7R4?

How is the user's shooting experience different?

I'm looking for more insight into the user experience than is provided by reading the help guide or the manuals.

Thank you!

The logic of both systems is similar but implementation is quite different.

R3 does not have the Real Time Tracking - it has only Real Time Eye AF - which detects faces and eyes in scenes. As for tracking it still uses old tracking method - which is not AI powered and does not take shape and texture into account.

R4 has the Real Time Tracking which makes huge difference. In my case (I'm using tracking to track planes and trains) those are two worlds. R3 tracking looses object very fast and does not find them again, does not work if you zoom during AF, does not work if object is approaching. R4 RTT handles all those situations perfectly. And if object is a person it automatically switches to Eye AF or Face AF if possible.

As a matter of fact Real Time Tracking (with AF-C) is the only AF method I'm currently using. Even in landscape - I simply point to an object which is the main subject and then recompose freely - camera keeps that object in focus constantly - I can zoom, pan etc.

The Real Time Tracking is the first Sony's tracking system that works. I had A6300, A6500 and A7R3 - and to be honest in not trivial situations the tracking mode in those cameras is useless - it looses objects fast and randomly - which is not a reliable way of using AF.
(I'm talking about general tracking of object - not Eye or face tracking).

Br, Pawel.

Great explanation. Nailed exactly what I wanted to know. I have been trying to decide whether to keep the R4 I just bought a week ago or go back to the R3 I sold about a month ago. My concern with the R4 has been the slight increase in noise (which disappears when you equalize sizes relative to the R3 or A9 or A73). A big issue fro me has been autofocus and I have been trying to compare my memory of the R3 system to the new R4's system that I am still learning. So it is very helpful to have such a clear expalnation of the similarities and differences.

I think I am going to keep the R4, but still trying to optimize my use of its autofocus system.

I seem to have the experience a lot of going from a tracking (expanding small or medium spot) lock on to bouncing groups of green squares as the R4 loses tracking.

I tend to shoot in dimmer light a lot, so that may be a situation that I have to lean how to optimize for the R4.

Thanks!

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dcstep Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4

I don't have the a7RIV, but I have the a9 and the a7RIII. The BIG difference between the two that I own is that you can't use Eye Detect and Tracking modes at the same time in the a7RIII. If you activate Eye Detect, then the Tracking modes ("Wide", "Flexible Point" etc.) can't be activated. With the a9 you can.

I'd be surprised if the a7RIV did have the same mode selection flexibility. If the RIII has enough processing power, I'd expect a firmware upgrade for it, but that's a big "IF."

I'm a wildlife and bird-in-flight shooter, so now, on my a9 with latest firmware, I leave Animal Eye detection on, in combination with either Tracking: Wide or Tracking: Flexible Spot. If there is an eye that's within the system capability (it has limits), then it locks onto the eye, but if it loses the eye, it continues tracking on the area where the eye was.

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Dave

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hjs_koeln Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4

SigZero wrote:

chironNYC wrote:

Can someone who has used both the A7R3 and the A7R4 discuss the differences between the two in terms of their autofocus systems (after the 3.0 firmware update to the A7R3)?

After the 3.0 update the A7R3 is described as having Real-time Eye AF Tracking in AF-C mode with half-press of either the shutter button or the back button focus button, with both humans and animals.

How does this differ from Real Time Tracking as implemented on the A7R4?

How is the user's shooting experience different?

I'm looking for more insight into the user experience than is provided by reading the help guide or the manuals.

Thank you!

The logic of both systems is similar but implementation is quite different.

R3 does not have the Real Time Tracking - it has only Real Time Eye AF - which detects faces and eyes in scenes. As for tracking it still uses old tracking method - which is not AI powered and does not take shape and texture into account.

R4 has the Real Time Tracking which makes huge difference. In my case (I'm using tracking to track planes and trains) those are two worlds. R3 tracking looses object very fast and does not find them again, does not work if you zoom during AF, does not work if object is approaching. R4 RTT handles all those situations perfectly. And if object is a person it automatically switches to Eye AF or Face AF if possible.

As a matter of fact Real Time Tracking (with AF-C) is the only AF method I'm currently using. Even in landscape - I simply point to an object which is the main subject and then recompose freely - camera keeps that object in focus constantly - I can zoom, pan etc.

The Real Time Tracking is the first Sony's tracking system that works. I had A6300, A6500 and A7R3 - and to be honest in not trivial situations the tracking mode in those cameras is useless - it looses objects fast and randomly - which is not a reliable way of using AF.
(I'm talking about general tracking of object - not Eye or face tracking).

Br, Pawel.

One related and one not so related question: How well does RTT in the A7r IV work in low or very poor light? Let´s say social situation (banquet, wedding, etc.) in dimly lit rooms, no flash possible.

Regarding the limited touch functionality: Is it possible to tap the spot I want to have in focus on the display, and the camera keeps the focus via RTT?

Drawshot New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Tracking Autofocus on A7R3 vs A7R4

My experience using A91 with face priority and sensitivity value, using small or large flexible spot, if the face being tracked changes so that it is not a full face the focus point will immediately jump to the nearest full face. So real time tracking does not automatically change from face to object that was the face. Maybe I have a camera fault but it would be interesting to know if someone else has had this experience. Note this is with full face locked on and being tracked properly using FF or cropped frame and Sony native lenses. Maybe A911 will have corrected this.

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