Sony Firmware Updates for the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, & a9 III

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Sony has announced firmware updates for several models in its Alpha series of cameras, including the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, and, come April 2024, the a9 III. These updates are being touted as significant.

The firmware upgrades introduce over 45 updates across the various models and they include many requested features to improve everyday use. The updates include improvements to shooting functionality and post-shooting workflow and they also bring advanced movie features like breathing compensation and external timecode support.

Probably of most interest to our readers is that external timecode support is now possible with a dedicated adapter cable (sold separately) for the a1 and a7S III. This is the same cable and system that is being utilized by cameras such as the FX3. From what I understand, timecode doesn’t get embedded into the file when using alpha series cameras, so you would still need to use post software to convert it.

There is also a DCI 4K / 24.00p Upgrade License a7S III. This is free so I am not sure why it being referred to as a license. It is downloadable through Creators’ Cloud.

Unfortunately there is still no way of uploading or using LUTs with the a7S III. You are still forced to use the view assist function when shooting LOG.

Main Updates

The firmware updates include over 10 new features, as well as improvements to existing features, designed to improve the user’s overall shooting experience. According to Sony, these improved capabilities showcase Sony’s commitment to continuing to evolve the functionality of Sony’s existing camera models. As they say, better late than never.

New firmware update functions include: 

  • Relay Playback: Enables seamless sequential playback from one memory card slot to another on the Alpha 1, Alpha 7S III, and Alpha 9 III.
  • Playback Filter Condition: Lets users categorize image playback based on select criteria including date, folder, file format, and more on the Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III
  • Breathing Compensation: The highly requested Breathing Compensation function is now available on the Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III. 
  • Upgrade DCI 4K / 24.00p Upgrade License on Alpha 7S III: via a free downloadable license through Creators’ Cloud.
  • Sync Release function: Enables simultaneous shutter release with two or more multiple cameras connected to the main camera on the a1 and a9 III.
  • Focus frame display: Focus frame will be displayed on the Remote Camera Tool screen on the a1 and a9 III. ​ 
  • Enhanced image stabilization: The camera body and lens effectively work together to correct larger blurs on the a1.
  • Increased upper limit of recordable images in a folder from 4,000 to 9,999 on the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, and a9 III.
  • Matching the time code with other devices is now possible with a dedicated adapter cable (sold separately) on the a1 and a7S III. 
  • Up to 20 IPTC presets can be on the a1 and a7S III.
  • Custom Grid Line is available as a paid license basis for some models.

File Transfer & Network Connectivity 

There are also additional updates that are aimed to optimize the post-production workflow efficiency. These include improvements to the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) preset and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) transfer operability. To streamline processes for users, expanded cloud upload and application services will be available.

Key updates include: 

  • Cloud upload (camera direct) function allows users to upload images directly to the Sony’s Creators’ Cloud. Key additional features include simplified camera software updates, direct camera registration to the Creators’ Cloud, and a flexible system for uploading, storing, and sharing content. Additionally, the capability to manage video and LUT files via mobile apps, along with the transfer of RAW files to smartphones, optimizes the creative process in fast-paced environments.
  • FTP Transfer Improvements: A “Protected Images Only” option for the Auto FTP Transfer and a “Protect Image in FTP Transfer” option for the FTP transfer function have been added. Available on the a1, a7S III, and a9 III.
  • Support for USB streaming on the a1. 
  • Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) has been added to secure protocolon the a1, a7S III, and a9 III and WPA3-SAE is now supported for wireless LAN on the a1 and a7S III.
  • Network streaming enables direct live streaming from the a7 IV to a streaming site.
  • Expansion of app support with Creators’ App and Monitor & Control app now supported with the a1 and a7S III.

Camera Authenticity Solution

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In an ongoing commitment to developing technology in its cameras to aid in the fight against manipulated imagery and AI-generated fakes more Sony cameras will be C2PA compliant.

C2PA is a Joint Development Foundation project, where Sony is a steering committee member. C2PA aims to develop an end-to-end open technical standard to provide publishers, creators and consumers with opt-in, flexible ways to understand the authenticity, and provenance of different types of media. The C2PA is a standards-setting body that will develop technical specifications on content provenance and authentication by certifying the source and history of media content. With this firmware update, the authenticity information embedded on images from Alpha 1, Alpha 9 III, Alpha 7S III, and Alpha 7 IV can be maintained from capture through publication. This provides professional photographers with the ability to preserve their digital signature from the camera, while tracking the editing history throughout revisions. 

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Another critical component of the solution is Sony’s in-camera digital signature technology that signs images in real-time. This new feature certifies the authenticity of an image at the point of capture and creates a ‘digital birth certificate’ that is retained throughout revisions. The signature contains metadata including 3D-depth information captured through the proprietary technology in the image sensor developed by Sony. This depth information can show if the image captured was of an actual 3D object, vs a photograph of an image or video, providing an extra level of protection and ​ even more assurance of the content’s authenticity, and making Sony’s solution especially unique for photojournalists and news agencies. 

Sony’s solution also helps protect the authenticity of content by including an Image Validation Site, which verifies the image even after edits have been made by C2PA-compliant editing software. This service confirms the authenticity of the photo was taken by a specific camera and that the object of the photo is 3D. This service will initially be offered to select news media agencies, expanding to other agencies at a later date.

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