Sony a9 Firmware v5.0 – A New Camera

Sony a9
The Viewfinder view of the Sony a9

I have been a fan of the Sony A9 camera since its release. It is the fastest camera in the mirrorless market by far. The auto-focus is so responsive and the frame rate is astonishing. This camera has allowed me to capture wildlife and action images, unlike any camera I have previously owned. The continuous AF and no blackout viewfinder allow me to track my subjects with no interference. The readouts in the viewfinder indicating all aspects of exposure, tracking and AF lock are incredible.

Alley Cats Frisbee
Alley Cats Frisbee – note the ISO and image quality for this high ISO

In March 2019 Sony announced a long-anticipated firmware upgrade for the A9 to version 5.0. This was not just a tweak upgrade to fix some bugs. It was essentially an upgrade that almost made it like getting a new camera. Sony literally took something that was at the top of the class and raised the bar further with new features.

So many focus settings. You can turn on and off the ones you use the most

The A9 has 14 different types of modes and focus areas—way too many to scroll through when making changes. One feature of the new firmware lets the user select which ones they want to make visible based on the kind of photography being done.

Auto WB lock is also new and allows users to lock in an auto WB that won’t change in mixed light environments.

The major upgrade is with AF. Now users have better tracking that locks onto eyes and faces with amazing accuracy. We have some examples of this in the accompanying video that shows how the AF system tracks a person, locks onto the face, and then focuses on the eye. That’s right: eye AF at fast continuous focusing speeds.

Setting for locking AWB
Setting for locking AWB

All the features sounded too good to be true so Michael Durr and I decided to give the A9 a run for its money. We visited a professional Frisbee match here in Indianapolis. It was an inside event under subpar lighting. This was another chance to try out the high ISO capability of the A9 and see if there were any limitations on the AF capabilities.

See The Video (3:49)

We also got the chance to try out the NEW Rode Wireless GO microphone. Wow, this new microphone was amazing. Primarily designed for bloggers, this two-piece set (transmitter and receiver) were tiny. The microphone runs a bit hot so we had to turn down the input volume quite a bit. We were able to get over 100 yards line of sight distance from transmitter to receiver with this microphone. Michael was on one end of the field and I was at the other end, and it worked flawlessly. This is definitely going into our kit.


As you can see with the accompanying images and the video, the results were really good. I didn’t know that a frisbee match could move so fast. It made anticipating the location of the action difficult, to say the least. After about the first quarter I got the hang of it. The camera would just lock onto whatever I had the focus selector pointed at and it wouldn’t let go.

As you can see by a few screen grabs in the video, the AF would find a head and focus and then find an eye. If it lost the eye it went back to the face and then when it acquired the eye again it switched back.

The A9 is different in the shape of the body as well as dial and button placement. Many controls are set from the top multi-purpose dials. I really like this setup and was hoping it would be adapted in the future A7 series cameras but that didn’t happen.

Different from other Sony cameras as you can control Drive settings and Focus settings from a top dial.
Different from other Sony cameras as you can control Drive settings and Focus settings from a top dial.

The other thing I really like about the A9 is silent shooting mode. Thank heavens you have a grey frame that lights up in the viewfinder when making exposures in silent mode or you would never know you were taking photographs.

The bottom line is that the Sony A9 works for me time and time again. The new firmware update makes the camera even better. Shooting at high ISOs of 12,800-25,000 scared me at first but the images came out OK>. Capture One handled the noise well and I slo used Topaz DeNoise and it did a great job set on auto. It’s nice to know if you are in a pinch you can still get the shot.

For a complete review of the Sony A9 please visit my friend’s review website, Camera Labs.

Some More Images From The Alley Cats Frisbee Match

Kevin Raber
September 2019
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: Reviews, Videos, MISC

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