Sony’s New AI-Powered AF Subject Recognition is Pretty Remarkable

Image credit: Sony

As we recently covered, Sony’s new A7R V full-frame mirrorless camera release offers some truly impressive new features in its internal technology roster.

One of these -and quite possibly the most important of the bunch- is the camera’s new AI subject recognition AF tech.

The new A7R V essentially does everything that Sony’s more recent A7R series cameras are capable of, except much better. Its high-resolution sensor in particular is very unique and deeply impressive.

What’s more, the A7R V’s video recording specs are also excellent, and its responsiveness is nothing short of superb.

The AF technology of this little beast of a shooter is however probably the most stellar example of how well Sony keeps innovating.

The AI processor in this part of the camera’s specs is masterful enough at tracking subjects and distinguishing between different subject types, sizes, and characteristics that it possibly makes them easier to track than they’ve ever before been in a camera.

Sony has a strong history of innovation in this area. Its still-wonderful A7R II from 2015 featured a continuous Eye AF technology that constantly tracked the eyes of a human subject for persistently crisp, sharp focus on a person’s face. This made the camera exceptional for portrait photography.

With the A7R V, the advances rise to another level through the AI processing unit due to its form recognition capabilities.

The new AF technology distinguishes the human form through posture, limb movements and other characteristics with reportedly wonderful precision.

This recognition of people during focus applies even if human subjects are somewhat far away, or if they’re facing away from the camera.

The A7R V’s AI processing unit then also takes this recognition and applies it to other types of moving objects and subjects well enough to readily distinguish between them even at a large distance.

Thus, the camera can identify and adapt to the difference between a human, a dog, a bird, a plane, a car, a motorbike or any number of other moving objects and keep any one of these in focus remarkably well even during fast-paced shooting.

To put just one precise number to the camera’s AF tracking qualities, Sony itself claims that the A7R V is 40% better at animal recognition than its also-excellent predecessor the A7R IV.

Image credit: Sony

With all that in mind, the A7R V’s AI recognition engine isn’t absolutely perfect. In tests conducted by Digital Camera World, the camera’s AI sometimes had a hard time distinguishing between two common subjects if they were close together.

In one example, a person driving a car caused the camera to get confused about whether it should focus on the vehicle or the individual inside it. This is a mistake that few professional human photographers would easily make.

In other tests, black and white dogs fared better for the AI’s subject recognition than did other breeds like golden retrievers.

Overall, however, the AI subject recognition engine in the Sony A7R V once again seems to demonstrate how well the company does at adapting new tech frontiers to its camera releases.

Other brands have made their own AI AF advances, but none so far seems to have quite managed what the A7R V delivers with an AI-managed subject focus.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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