Sony A1 + 200-600 First impressions (long)

If you would like to post, you'll need to register. Note that if you have a BCG store account, you'll need a new, separate account here (we keep the two sites separate for security purposes).

arbitrage

Well-known member
Over the last few days a number of folks have reached out to get my first impressions so I figured I'd share my experience after 3 mornings of photography. This is in no way meant to be thorough or definitive (that will be Steve's video :) ), so without further ado

Handling, Ergonomics and Haptics
* For a Nikon shooter, ergonomics are quite easy to adjust to (maybe Canon shooters might have a bigger adjustment) - the layout is quite familiar with the benefit of adding an extra button under the right thumb for multiple BBF set-ups (something I always missed on Nikon)
* Menus are very deep, complex and laid-out by an engineer, not a photographer (things that should be together sometimes end-up in very different tabs) but you don't need to use menus often. There are plenty of customization options so that everything you need is either on a button or in the quick menu. It's daunting at first but once set up, it's very easy to use.
* Haptics are a bit rougher than Nikon and Canon, especially the shutter trigger but not to the point of distraction. Use it for an hour and you won't notice the difference.
*Overall the A1 is super responsive; lag is mostly non-existent and the difference is quite obvious vs the Z7ii, R5 and A9ii and those don't feel horribly laggy if used alone - but when the A1 comes into the picture, one realizes that everything takes a bit longer with those other cameras (I assume the R3 is at least as good as the A1 but have not had a chance to see one).

EVF
* Others have said it but it is indeed the most natural looking EVF I have used. Even the Z7ii, which has really good optics in the EVF, is not as smooth and fluid. For anybody like me who has major reservations on giving up the OVF, the A1 provides an experience that is finally not a set-back.
* Then we get all the benefits of EVF - wysiwyg is truly powerful and the A1 provides very useful zebras for photography (set at 109+ it shows the true clipping of the sensor, including Raw flexibility). Lots of composition aids, focusing aids etc... that we get with EVF
* AT 120Hz refresh the screen is very smooth but on fast panning there can be the slightest level of stuttering but that disappears at 240Hz. I intend to shoot at 120Hz most of the time and only enable 240Hz when dealing with expected fast action (diving ospreys would be an example). Reality is, even on fast panning, 120Hz is very easy to use and track - you just see a bit of stutter but nothing like the Z7ii and less than the R5 (which is quite manageable already).
* Blackout-free shooting is real and a revelation - the D500 at 10fps has 60% blackout and this camera shoots at 30fps without blackout. So even if there is a tiny stutter at 120Hz refresh, it's far less problematic to deal with than 60% blackout.

Sensor quality:
* Obviously the highlight is speed and resolution but you do pay a slight price in image quality in my eyes at lower ISOs.
* Compared to the D850, the A1 holds its own on noise at iso 6400-12800 but the Nikon sensor retains colors better at those high ISOs
* The surprise (to me) is that at lower ISOs, the A1 always shows a bit more noise than the D850 which is a 5 year older sensor. Clearly the D850 is optimized for low ISO DR and noise, while the A1 is optimized for speed and something had to give (a little)
* Up to now colors have been excellent but Steve mentioned that he's run into some weird green colors casts under a few circumstances - so probably something to be aware of.
* Good news is that from ISO 100 to 25600 (highest I have tested), DXO Pure Raw does an incredible job cleaning up those files, including color retention at higher iso. I find that software mandatory to get the most out of A1 files

AutoFocus
* There is no good way to put it into words - compared to D850 + 500pf or D500 + 500pf, the A1 + 200-600 just grabs focus at a speed that feels "instantaneous" and the lower the light level, the more obvious the difference is; and obviously the difference continues to get wider when adding a 1.4x TC.
* Until you try that combo, you'd never feel that the D850+500pf is somewhat slow but in comparison, it is. Acquisition on BIF is simply in a different category of performance with the A1.
* I don't have a D6 + 600f:4 so you'll have to wait for Steve to know if that difference holds against the big guns.
* Zone focus with tracking is about as magical as it gets - people have said it reads your mind and I swear at times, it does.
* I am still figuring out the best set-up for precise spot focusing - expanding spot is very unpredictable and I am not sure what use it really is for, but the small flexible spot might do the trick.
* Bird eye tracking works about 50% of the time - when it does, it's awesome and when it doesn't the camera just reverts back to head tracking or zone tracking which both work exceptionally well so there is no real downside to eye tracking but it's not the panacea some make it out to be - it's just a really good addition.
* AF on the A1 has some mild cases of the usual mirrorless issues - it does latch on backgrounds and won't let go on occasion. It does catch water splashes rather than the animal on occasion - but in both cases, significantly less so than the Z7ii and no worse than the R5.

Lens:
* Optically the 200-600 is so far at least on par with the 500pf and maybe a tad smoother bokeh and obviously the real benefit of being a zoom
* I also find the stabilizer more effective but it could just be the lack of mirror and the use of e-shutter - when I tried the 500pf on the Z7ii I did not notice the VR improvement but candidly, I was so frustrated with the AF misses that I did not pay attention to whether stabilization was improved.
* There are a couple things to know though. It's is heavier and more front-heavy than the 500pf. It's not unmanageable - just feels different.
* More annoying to me is that there is no focus distance recall function which is a great way to address the cases when AF gets stuck on the background. There is also no option to manual focus without pressing a button or using the AF/MF switch on the lens to engage MF, so you can't just "rack it back to close focus" when stuck on background.

Finally, the A1 doesn't replace the photographer, it just handles some of the technical aspects more easily to better focus on the photography itself. But even on that point, you still need to make a lot of the technical choices - but once you have made those choices, the camera can be trusted to a much higher level than any other I have used before (disclaimer, I have not shot the D6 or R3).

I hope that helps demystifying some of the hype vs reality. Another poster here said it best, the A1 is actually more fun to use and I think it boils down to the fact that you very rarely have to second-guess it and every time I go shoot with it I learn to trust it even more and so far it doesn't let me down. It's a tool that does its job well, is more reliable and simplifies my picture-taking process; for me that's good enough.
Great review. I think I concur with most if not all of it. I've owned all that same gear, including R5, but now all I use is the A1, 600GM, 200-600 and 100-400.

I still have my D500 and 500PF (sold the 850) but every time I try to use it I just can't get used to it anymore. Even though I used to rave about it after coming from Canon DSLRs. It is amazing how small the OVF FOV looks in comparison to the expanse of the A1 EVF.

I sold my R5 just before buying the A1 so I never got to shoot them back to back. I recently borrowed an R5 and 600III to try back to back with the A1/600GM. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the R5 in relation to the A1. What I found was the A1 was remarkably better at picking up small, fast swallows against complicated backgrounds. Also tracking a bird down from a sky background onto a complicated background saw the A1 keep on the bird where as the R5 constantly jumped to background. I'd been eyeing the R3 but once I tried the R5 again and saw the 20MP resolution I have removed the R3 from my mind.

I'm curious what your opinion is about the EVF of the A1 vs R5? My friend who just recently sold off all his Canon gear (R5) and bought Sony (A1) says he finds the R5 EVF better, especially when reviewing images zoomed in. I hadn't really found an issue with that but he is always complaining about it. I made sure he wasn't zooming in too far (As the Sony has no preset for 100% and you can zoom way past it) but even though that helped it didn't make him happy about it.
 

Mommacat

Member
Over the last few days a number of folks have reached out to get my first impressions so I figured I'd share my experience after 3 mornings of photography. This is in no way meant to be thorough or definitive (that will be Steve's video :) ), so without further ado

Handling, Ergonomics and Haptics
* For a Nikon shooter, ergonomics are quite easy to adjust to (maybe Canon shooters might have a bigger adjustment) - the layout is quite familiar with the benefit of adding an extra button under the right thumb for multiple BBF set-ups (something I always missed on Nikon)
* Menus are very deep, complex and laid-out by an engineer, not a photographer (things that should be together sometimes end-up in very different tabs) but you don't need to use menus often. There are plenty of customization options so that everything you need is either on a button or in the quick menu. It's daunting at first but once set up, it's very easy to use.
* Haptics are a bit rougher than Nikon and Canon, especially the shutter trigger but not to the point of distraction. Use it for an hour and you won't notice the difference.
*Overall the A1 is super responsive; lag is mostly non-existent and the difference is quite obvious vs the Z7ii, R5 and A9ii and those don't feel horribly laggy if used alone - but when the A1 comes into the picture, one realizes that everything takes a bit longer with those other cameras (I assume the R3 is at least as good as the A1 but have not had a chance to see one).

EVF
* Others have said it but it is indeed the most natural looking EVF I have used. Even the Z7ii, which has really good optics in the EVF, is not as smooth and fluid. For anybody like me who has major reservations on giving up the OVF, the A1 provides an experience that is finally not a set-back.
* Then we get all the benefits of EVF - wysiwyg is truly powerful and the A1 provides very useful zebras for photography (set at 109+ it shows the true clipping of the sensor, including Raw flexibility). Lots of composition aids, focusing aids etc... that we get with EVF
* AT 120Hz refresh the screen is very smooth but on fast panning there can be the slightest level of stuttering but that disappears at 240Hz. I intend to shoot at 120Hz most of the time and only enable 240Hz when dealing with expected fast action (diving ospreys would be an example). Reality is, even on fast panning, 120Hz is very easy to use and track - you just see a bit of stutter but nothing like the Z7ii and less than the R5 (which is quite manageable already).
* Blackout-free shooting is real and a revelation - the D500 at 10fps has 60% blackout and this camera shoots at 30fps without blackout. So even if there is a tiny stutter at 120Hz refresh, it's far less problematic to deal with than 60% blackout.

Sensor quality:
* Obviously the highlight is speed and resolution but you do pay a slight price in image quality in my eyes at lower ISOs.
* Compared to the D850, the A1 holds its own on noise at iso 6400-12800 but the Nikon sensor retains colors better at those high ISOs
* The surprise (to me) is that at lower ISOs, the A1 always shows a bit more noise than the D850 which is a 5 year older sensor. Clearly the D850 is optimized for low ISO DR and noise, while the A1 is optimized for speed and something had to give (a little)
* Up to now colors have been excellent but Steve mentioned that he's run into some weird green colors casts under a few circumstances - so probably something to be aware of.
* Good news is that from ISO 100 to 25600 (highest I have tested), DXO Pure Raw does an incredible job cleaning up those files, including color retention at higher iso. I find that software mandatory to get the most out of A1 files

AutoFocus
* There is no good way to put it into words - compared to D850 + 500pf or D500 + 500pf, the A1 + 200-600 just grabs focus at a speed that feels "instantaneous" and the lower the light level, the more obvious the difference is; and obviously the difference continues to get wider when adding a 1.4x TC.
* Until you try that combo, you'd never feel that the D850+500pf is somewhat slow but in comparison, it is. Acquisition on BIF is simply in a different category of performance with the A1.
* I don't have a D6 + 600f:4 so you'll have to wait for Steve to know if that difference holds against the big guns.
* Zone focus with tracking is about as magical as it gets - people have said it reads your mind and I swear at times, it does.
* I am still figuring out the best set-up for precise spot focusing - expanding spot is very unpredictable and I am not sure what use it really is for, but the small flexible spot might do the trick.
* Bird eye tracking works about 50% of the time - when it does, it's awesome and when it doesn't the camera just reverts back to head tracking or zone tracking which both work exceptionally well so there is no real downside to eye tracking but it's not the panacea some make it out to be - it's just a really good addition.
* AF on the A1 has some mild cases of the usual mirrorless issues - it does latch on backgrounds and won't let go on occasion. It does catch water splashes rather than the animal on occasion - but in both cases, significantly less so than the Z7ii and no worse than the R5.

Lens:
* Optically the 200-600 is so far at least on par with the 500pf and maybe a tad smoother bokeh and obviously the real benefit of being a zoom
* I also find the stabilizer more effective but it could just be the lack of mirror and the use of e-shutter - when I tried the 500pf on the Z7ii I did not notice the VR improvement but candidly, I was so frustrated with the AF misses that I did not pay attention to whether stabilization was improved.
* There are a couple things to know though. It's is heavier and more front-heavy than the 500pf. It's not unmanageable - just feels different.
* More annoying to me is that there is no focus distance recall function which is a great way to address the cases when AF gets stuck on the background. There is also no option to manual focus without pressing a button or using the AF/MF switch on the lens to engage MF, so you can't just "rack it back to close focus" when stuck on background.

Finally, the A1 doesn't replace the photographer, it just handles some of the technical aspects more easily to better focus on the photography itself. But even on that point, you still need to make a lot of the technical choices - but once you have made those choices, the camera can be trusted to a much higher level than any other I have used before (disclaimer, I have not shot the D6 or R3).

I hope that helps demystifying some of the hype vs reality. Another poster here said it best, the A1 is actually more fun to use and I think it boils down to the fact that you very rarely have to second-guess it and every time I go shoot with it I learn to trust it even more and so far it doesn't let me down. It's a tool that does its job well, is more reliable and simplifies my picture-taking process; for me that's good enough.

Thank you FB101 for sharing your findings! Very thorough! I too had very similar findings after 3 Sony A1 rentals this summer with the 200-600 and 100-400. There have been a few things that have prevented me from pulling the trigger on purchasing the A1 and 200-600 and I think still do:
  • noise - when I process the Sony images just in LR, like I do with my D500/D850 and PF lenses files, there is too much noise for my liking. Assuming I do my part, the Nikon files are beautiful and require little changes in LR (most of the time 😉). I downloaded the free trial of DXO that you mentioned was helpful and am happy to report, DXO really does improve the noise level in these files when you bring them into LR. Thank you for that tip!
    • Workflow question on DXO - how do you incorporate this into your workflow? The reason I ask is that I'm finding it takes a considerable amount of time to process these files, which slows down my workflow quite a bit. Honestly, I'd like to spend less time behind the computer and not more and I still find that because my Nikon files look so good in LR, not having to add another step is important. Note: I will also add that personally I found I only needed to use LR to process the Canon R5 with the 100-500 files (again another rental). Those files were stunning without any "extra" AI help! My main issue around that setup was evf lag.
  • 200-600 is front heavy - I too found this lens very front heavy and many times difficult to control panning with fast moving birds unlike with the PF lenses on the D500 or D850. The 500mm PF is close in weight to the 200-600, seems much better balanced, easier to control panning, and more enjoyable to use. These are just my findings and yes, I wish I could hand hold a 600mm F4 like many here. 😉
Again, thank you for sharing!
 

FB101

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Great review. I think I concur with most if not all of it. I've owned all that same gear, including R5, but now all I use is the A1, 600GM, 200-600 and 100-400.

I still have my D500 and 500PF (sold the 850) but every time I try to use it I just can't get used to it anymore. Even though I used to rave about it after coming from Canon DSLRs. It is amazing how small the OVF FOV looks in comparison to the expanse of the A1 EVF.

I sold my R5 just before buying the A1 so I never got to shoot them back to back. I recently borrowed an R5 and 600III to try back to back with the A1/600GM. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the R5 in relation to the A1. What I found was the A1 was remarkably better at picking up small, fast swallows against complicated backgrounds. Also tracking a bird down from a sky background onto a complicated background saw the A1 keep on the bird where as the R5 constantly jumped to background. I'd been eyeing the R3 but once I tried the R5 again and saw the 20MP resolution I have removed the R3 from my mind.

I'm curious what your opinion is about the EVF of the A1 vs R5? My friend who just recently sold off all his Canon gear (R5) and bought Sony (A1) says he finds the R5 EVF better, especially when reviewing images zoomed in. I hadn't really found an issue with that but he is always complaining about it. I made sure he wasn't zooming in too far (As the Sony has no preset for 100% and you can zoom way past it) but even though that helped it didn't make him happy about it.
Thanks for confirming a lot of my first impressions. I rented the R5earlier this year and although I found the EVF quite good, I actually liked the vividness and comfort of the Z7ii better (Until you needed to get into action and then the Z7ii collapsed).
But for me the A1 is better than both - I don’t judge on image review (maybe there is something unique there) but on the overall experience when actually shooting - tracking, panning, blackout, low light contrast- and I find the A1 the most seamless to use so far. This is the first camera where I am forgetting it’s an EVF, it’s never happened before, not with the R5 or Z7ii.

i am sure your friend has a very specific qualitative aspect he likes to see and doesn’t get from the A1 but for me, first and foremost, the question is whether the EVF gets out of the way when I shoot. The A1 does and the R5 almost does (close though).
 

FB101

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Thank you FB101 for sharing your findings! Very thorough! I too had very similar findings after 3 Sony A1 rentals this summer with the 200-600 and 100-400. There have been a few things that have prevented me from pulling the trigger on purchasing the A1 and 200-600 and I think still do:
  • noise - when I process the Sony images just in LR, like I do with my D500/D850 and PF lenses files, there is too much noise for my liking. Assuming I do my part, the Nikon files are beautiful and require little changes in LR (most of the time 😉). I downloaded the free trial of DXO that you mentioned was helpful and am happy to report, DXO really does improve the noise level in these files when you bring them into LR. Thank you for that tip!
    • Workflow question on DXO - how do you incorporate this into your workflow? The reason I ask is that I'm finding it takes a considerable amount of time to process these files, which slows down my workflow quite a bit. Honestly, I'd like to spend less time behind the computer and not more and I still find that because my Nikon files look so good in LR, not having to add another step is important. Note: I will also add that personally I found I only needed to use LR to process the Canon R5 with the 100-500 files (again another rental). Those files were stunning without any "extra" AI help! My main issue around that setup was evf lag.
  • 200-600 is front heavy - I too found this lens very front heavy and many times difficult to control panning with fast moving birds unlike with the PF lenses on the D500 or D850. The 500mm PF is close in weight to the 200-600, seems much better balanced, easier to control panning, and more enjoyable to use. These are just my findings and yes, I wish I could hand hold a 600mm F4 like many here. 😉
Again, thank you for sharing!
Thanks for sharing your experience too. Nice to be able to talk freely about what works and what doesn’t.
My workflow for now, it may change, is that I import the files from the memory card into LRc without any profile applied except “camera settings” (I use LRc to also create a backup copy on my NAS drive).
Then I do my culling into LRc and flag pictures for deletion - I mark the files destined for DXO pure raw with 3 stars.
When I am ready to call it a day, I sort on the 3 star labels, drag all the files from LRc (you need to be in grid view for it to work) onto DXO pure raw and hit process to let it run overnight.
Next morning the files are ready to import back into LRc with a custom color profile on import (no lens correction because DXO pure raw took care of it) and a gentle boost of the saturation of the blue channel in calibration (+15) because it gives a nice glow to yellow lights (I probably will tweak that profile over time).
When those files are imported I label them all 4 star. Then I process the ones I want fully in LR and PS. When I have a finished image I label it 5 star.
That way I can quickly find the preprocessed raws with 3 stars, the DXO optimized files with 4 stars and the finished images with 5 stars If I ever need to get back to any.
hope that helps.
 

Mommacat

Member
Thanks for sharing your experience too. Nice to be able to talk freely about what works and what doesn’t.
My workflow for now, it may change, is that I import the files from the memory card into LRc without any profile applied except “camera settings” (I use LRc to also create a backup copy on my NAS drive).
Then I do my culling into LRc and flag pictures for deletion - I mark the files destined for DXO pure raw with 3 stars.
When I am ready to call it a day, I sort on the 3 star labels, drag all the files from LRc (you need to be in grid view for it to work) onto DXO pure raw and hit process to let it run overnight.
Next morning the files are ready to import back into LRc with a custom color profile on import (no lens correction because DXO pure raw took care of it) and a gentle boost of the saturation of the blue channel in calibration (+15) because it gives a nice glow to yellow lights (I probably will tweak that profile over time).
When those files are imported I label them all 4 star. Then I process the ones I want fully in LR and PS. When I have a finished image I label it 5 star.
That way I can quickly find the preprocessed raws with 3 stars, the DXO optimized files with 4 stars and the finished images with 5 stars If I ever need to get back to any.
hope that helps.

Awesome! Thank you again, FB101! Great stuff! :)
 

Mommacat

Member
Awesome! Thank you again, FB101! Great stuff! :)
I've been testing DXO on more files, especially ones taken in very low light and the DXO definitely makes these files presentable. Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but I still wish the Sony A1 files (with 2-6 and 1-4 with 1.4x) were "cleaner" initially, like the Nikon D850 with PF lenses, and the Canon R5 with 1-5. The DXO step truly makes a huge difference, but it really means more time behind the computer instead of out with the birds and more disk space (and yes I understand space is relatively cheap these days).

It's great this combo works so well for others and I greatly appreciate FB101's suggestion! I just wish, at least for me, the files didn't require more time behind the computer.

Still hoping the Z9 produces those gorgeous Nikon files without a lot of extra PP time, that it will have AF close to A1/R5, and mere mortals can get a hold of one without waiting for 2+ years. ;)

Many thanks again to Steve, FB101, Backdoorarts, and to so many of you who have posted your thoughts on all of this!
 

sid_19911991

Active member
Wow. Amazing pics. Thank you for your posts. Love the first two the most.
 
Last edited:

thelordofthelight

Well-known member
@arbitrage lovely images..some clarifications pls.
1. What AF modes did you use for these images the ones with tracking or the non tracking? Inknow you used to avoid the tracking modes on your A9/II. Is the A1 better in this regard?
2. On the A1, is it possible to use bird eye af with and without tracking AF modes?
3. When I was using the A9 ( and I'm assuming on most Sony cameras) there were Standard AF modes like spot S,M,L, Zone, wide etc. and then a corresponding tracking mode of each of those modes. While on the non tracking modes these AF modes had enough differences, I always felt when you switch to tracking mode of any AF modes they all behaved exactly the same and Sony just had those many tracking modes to simply make users think there are lot of AF options. I read somewhere the A1 does this a bit differently. For instance if I had flexi spot large vs zone and then use the tracking override, does that tracking box still track throughout the frame or just within the selected AF area?
 

Tiago Cardoso

Well-known member
Great review. I think I concur with most if not all of it. I've owned all that same gear, including R5, but now all I use is the A1, 600GM, 200-600 and 100-400.

I still have my D500 and 500PF (sold the 850) but every time I try to use it I just can't get used to it anymore. Even though I used to rave about it after coming from Canon DSLRs. It is amazing how small the OVF FOV looks in comparison to the expanse of the A1 EVF.

I sold my R5 just before buying the A1 so I never got to shoot them back to back. I recently borrowed an R5 and 600III to try back to back with the A1/600GM. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the R5 in relation to the A1. What I found was the A1 was remarkably better at picking up small, fast swallows against complicated backgrounds. Also tracking a bird down from a sky background onto a complicated background saw the A1 keep on the bird where as the R5 constantly jumped to background. I'd been eyeing the R3 but once I tried the R5 again and saw the 20MP resolution I have removed the R3 from my mind.

I'm curious what your opinion is about the EVF of the A1 vs R5? My friend who just recently sold off all his Canon gear (R5) and bought Sony (A1) says he finds the R5 EVF better, especially when reviewing images zoomed in. I hadn't really found an issue with that but he is always complaining about it. I made sure he wasn't zooming in too far (As the Sony has no preset for 100% and you can zoom way past it) but even though that helped it didn't make him happy about it.
The R3 has 24MP
 

FB101

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
@arbitrage lovely images..some clarifications pls.
1. What AF modes did you use for these images the ones with tracking or the non tracking? Inknow you used to avoid the tracking modes on your A9/II. Is the A1 better in this regard?
2. On the A1, is it possible to use bird eye af with and without tracking AF modes?
3. When I was using the A9 ( and I'm assuming on most Sony cameras) there were Standard AF modes like spot S,M,L, Zone, wide etc. and then a corresponding tracking mode of each of those modes. While on the non tracking modes these AF modes had enough differences, I always felt when you switch to tracking mode of any AF modes they all behaved exactly the same and Sony just had those many tracking modes to simply make users think there are lot of AF options. I read somewhere the A1 does this a bit differently. For instance if I had flexi spot large vs zone and then use the tracking override, does that tracking box still track throughout the frame or just within the selected AF area?
1. I can't compare to the A9ii but I can say that zone with tracking is extremely effective. The only time I had to turn tracking off because of the induced delay in acquisition was in very low ambient light (before sunrise - just to give you an idea, exposure was 1/320 f:6.3 ISO 12800 and about 1 stop underexposed - so really dim.
Zone with tracking is my main mode for all things BIF - I have the non tracking zone as the registered alternate mode on C1 toggle just in case but so far I have not had to use it.

2. Yes, bird eye-af is disconnected from tracking - you can have it in any AF mode with or without tracking. The strange thing that happens sometimes is that the camera will latch on eyes that are outside of the AF mode (like if you use flexible spot large and put it on the bird's chest, if the camera sees the eye of the bird situated outside of the large box the AF will jump to the eye), it's nice but but since it's not 100% reliable it can be a bit problematic.

3. The A1 still has the same structure - full list of AF modes and then the same list with tracking enabled. BUT depending on where you go to choose the AF mode you will see different presentations. In some menus you will see that double list, but in use you will see all the non tracking modes and then a tracking option with all the AF modes as sub-options. I find that very counter intuitive and one of the reasons I said this is an engineer's camera :)
To your tracking question, once you acquire focus in a tracking mode, tracking will continue in the full frame regardless of the starting AF mode.
 

arbitrage

Well-known member
@arbitrage lovely images..some clarifications pls.
1. What AF modes did you use for these images the ones with tracking or the non tracking? Inknow you used to avoid the tracking modes on your A9/II. Is the A1 better in this regard?
2. On the A1, is it possible to use bird eye af with and without tracking AF modes?
3. When I was using the A9 ( and I'm assuming on most Sony cameras) there were Standard AF modes like spot S,M,L, Zone, wide etc. and then a corresponding tracking mode of each of those modes. While on the non tracking modes these AF modes had enough differences, I always felt when you switch to tracking mode of any AF modes they all behaved exactly the same and Sony just had those many tracking modes to simply make users think there are lot of AF options. I read somewhere the A1 does this a bit differently. For instance if I had flexi spot large vs zone and then use the tracking override, does that tracking box still track throughout the frame or just within the selected AF area?
1) All of these are in Wide (No Tracking). I still only use Tracking versions for non-BIF.

2) Bird Eye AF can be used with all modes. I have it on 99% of the time. Only turning it off if it is getting confused on some other pattern on a bird (for perched birds). I have a custom key (Set button) to toggle it on/off.

3) Once Tracking is started the system (AFAIK) is doing the same thing regardless of which mode you start the tracking from. Benefits of using a smaller AF mode to start tracking is you can be more precise on what you want tracked. On the A1 I have my AF_ON button set to "Tracking On". Therefore all my regular AF modes (limited to S Flex Spot, Expand Flex Spot, Zone and Wide) can be switched into the Tracking version if I hold down the AF-ON button (I use shutter AF). If you are a back button focuser Sony added a new option of Tracking+AF-ON so you could have your "regular" AF modes done via AF-ON and then program AE-L to Tracking + AF-ON which would then do back button focusing with the tracking version of your currently selected AF mode.

One more thing to note...if you are in a non-tracking mode then the Eye-AF only looks AND TRACKS within that limited focus area. If you switch to Tracking AF mode then the Eye-AF will continue to track around the entire frame even though you may have initiated it with a Small Flex Spot (or whatever). But Tracking always works over the entire sensor regardless of what you start it with.
 
Top