Last week, Sony launched the Sony A7R V (opens in new tab), a camera that basically does everything better than its predecessors. Although aimed at those who demand a high-resolution sensor, its impressive video features and brand-new AI processor for tracking subjects completely blur the lines when it comes to who it's designed for. Humans, animals and vehicles are easier to track than ever before and the good news is, it hasn't had to compromise on speed or power.
There has been a lot of talk about AI camera technology recently. Without realizing it, you have probably been using AI camera technology for longer than you think. When it comes to the best sony cameras, the first Sony to include continuous Eye AF was the Sony A7R II (opens in new tab) released in August 2015 and every camera since has featured it. Eye AF works by continuously refocusing to make sure your subject's eye is always pin-sharp which for portrait photographers is key.
Sony’s new AI-driven processing unit takes things one step further by recognizing human form through posture and limbs regardless of how big your subject is within a frame or how they’re positioned. The main advantage of subject recognition AI is it can maintain focus on your subject even when the eyes are not clearly visible or the subject is facing away from the camera.
Compared to previous the Sony A7 IV (opens in new tab), Sony claims the A7R V is 40% better at recognizing animals. AI subject recognition also isn’t reserved for living things - it can also recognize planes, trains, cars and motorbikes so regardless of what you’re shooting, you can be sure your images will almost always be in focus.
When we tested the Sony A7R V we found that the animal AI subject recognition worked much better with a black and white dog (which is coincidentally the dog Sony used in the AI-driven performance video) than with a golden retriever although it had no issue when shooting french bulldogs. One of the drawbacks to AI subject recognition is that sometimes it will focus on the wrong subject - for example, if you're shooting a car and a person, it may focus on the person even though the car is the real focal point but we suspect the more clever it gets, the better it will be at guessing which to focus on.
Sony is without a doubt extremely progressive when it comes to adopting new technology and with AI becoming such a fundamental part of advances, it's no wonder the Sony A7R V is so heavily invested in it. Although other brands such as Nikon and Canon already use AI for face recognition and eye tracking, we imagine it won't be long before we see other brands bring out their own versions of AI subject recognition using deep learning.