A firmware upgrade that refines shooting responses and creative options for the α900 and α850 35mm full-frame DSLR cameras has been released by Sony. All new and existing customers are advised to install the upgrade, available to download from the ‘Support’ area of the Sony web site.
Autofocus is quicker and more responsive than ever, thanks to improved AF motor control and smarter distance detection of out-of-focus objects.
Creative options are extended by a broadened range of exposure value (EV) compensation settings, now increased from ±3EV to ±5EV. Selected compensation value is displayed in the navigation display on the main LCD screen of both cameras. This boosted EV compensation range gives extra headroom when composing extremely high- or low-key images.
Exposure bracketing range has also been increased from a maximum of 4.0EV (three shots at -2EV, 0EV, +2EV) to a maximum of 6.0EV (-3EV, 0EV, +3EV). This wider range gives added flexibility when capturing multiple frames at different exposure values – for example when acquiring images for the creation of powerful post-shooting HDR effects. Please note that the bracketing still does not include 1EV steps as an option (the widest range of ‘normal’ bracketing is 5 frames at 0.7EV) and the +/- 2 or 3 EV options remain as wide-spaced three shot sequences only; there is no provision for the most desirable HDR settings such as -3 to +3 in 1EV intervals, a seven-frame set.
As a further refinement, a new menu option allows shutter release to be enabled, even when the camera body doesn’t detect an attached lens. It’s useful for specialist applications such as astrophotography when the camera is attached to a telescope.
Asia support server direct links:
Alpha 900 http://www.sony-asia.com/support/download/product/dslr-a900/modelfirst
Alpha 850 http://www.sony-asia.com/support/download/product/dslr-a850/modelfirst
and see the ‘Latest Downloads’ tab
The US download was not available six hours after the announcement, but should be found through this page: http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/swu-list.pl?mdl=DSLRA900&SelectOS=50
These zip archives contain Unix (camera processor executable) files called DSCA850.APP or DSCA900.APP. These are the components which must be copied on to a newly formatted camera memory card. Once the camera is turned on with the Menu button depressed, as instructed, the update takes roughly 1 minute 30 seconds to complete, after which the camera displays a restart screen for about 15 seconds before rebooting.
There is some risk involved in using firmware which is non-specific for your camera’s region, but owners are not reporting any problems. Be aware that once you have installed the firmware, from whatever region, it is not possible to revert or to re-install your own region’s firmware. However, it seems likely that there is no difference between regional versions other than Japanese.