Sony has released firmware version 3.0 for its a7R III and a7 III full-frame mirrorless cameras, bringing enhanced 'real-time' Eye AF as well as an Eye AF mode designed specifically for animals.

Enhanced Real-time Eye AF

Sony's 'Real-time Eye AF' is now available in the AF-C focus mode and works with a half-press of the shutter button, or when pressing the AF-ON button so you no longer have to hold down a custom button. When set to function with a half press or AF-ON, Real-time Eye AF will continue to operate as the general subject recognition tracking mode, if no eye is found in the scene. If you choose to map the Real-time Eye AF function to a custom button, you will lose out on this behavior.

Firmware version 3.0 seen installed on an a7 III camera.

Real-time Animal Eye AF

It's not just human eyes Sony is focusing on either. Firmware version 3.0 brings - for the first time in an interchangeable lens camera - Animal Eye AF, a new autofocus mode that uses AI-trained algorithms to find and focus on the eyes of wild animals and pets.

Like Real-time Eye AF, Animal Eye AF works with AF-C focus mode and is activated with the half press of the shutter button or when assigned to the AF-ON button. It's worth noting however, that you must choose between the 'Human' and 'Animal' Eye AF mode in the menu before shooting. Sony also notes that due to the large amount of data required to track animal eyes, the Animal Eye AF likely won't perform as well as the Human Eye AF.

Interval Shooting mode

Firmware version 3.0 also brings an interval shooting mode first seen in the Sony a6400. Now, it's easy to capture between 1 and 9999 photographs in 1 to 60 second intervals. The new feature also includes an auto exposure (AE) sensitivity setting that can be adjusted between High, Mid or Low to account for changing exposures throughout the set capture time.

The resulting images can also be put together into a full video using Sony's Imaging Edge app, which will process the Raw photographs and output the final video to YouTube, PlayMemories Online and other online video services. Below is a video shared by Sony showing a video produced with the new Interval Shooting mode.

Other changes found in firmware version 3.0 for a7R III and a7 III cameras include support for Sony's wireless remote commander RMT-P1BT, the ability to assign the 'Menu' button to a custom key and general stability improvements.

As for the a9, Sony anticipated firmware version 6.0 will be released Summer 2019 and will include Animal Eye AF and the interval shooting modes now available for the a7R III and a7 III.

Firmware update 3.0 is available to download now on Sony's website via the Sony a7R III support page and the Sony a7 III support page. As the firmware was only released at the time of publishing this article, we will be spending time with the firmware update to provide more hands-on insight at a later time.

Press release:

New Firmware Update for Sony a7 III and Sony a7R III Boosts Eye AF Capabilities and Adds Interval Shooting for Time Lapse

Sony’s acclaimed a7 III and a7R III mirrorless cameras have received an exciting firmware update—Software Version 3.0— that enhances Real-time Eye AF performance and adds Real-time Animal Eye AF and interval shooting for time lapse.

Real-time Eye AF

Software Version 3.0 brings Real-time Eye-AF to the a7R III and a7 III, an AI-driven, enhanced eye detection system that’s based on the results of machine learning. Through machine learning, Sony has created a system that can detect—and focus on—the human eye even if the subject is looking down, partially blocked in the frame, turning or backlit. This feature is available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button.

Real-time Animal Eye AF

As with human eye recognition, Software Version 3.0 brings AI-driven animal eye detection to Sony cameras for the first time. Advanced subject recognition allows the a7 III and a7R III to detect and track animal eyes, and is the first step in a robust animal-tracking AF system.

The development of Animal Eye AF performance will continue, increasing the range of animals recognized by the system as well the system’s ability to track their movement.

Interval Shooting

This new software adds a built-in interval timer that can be set for anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. AE tracking sensitivity is available to be adjusted to “High”, “Mid” or “Low” in order to reduce changes in exposure.

For more information on Software Version 3.0 for the a7R III and a7 III cameras, please visit AlphaUniverse.com.


Update (April 11, 2019): Text edited to clarify Real-time Eye AF and Animal Eye AF work with AF-C focus mode.