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Sony A1 Animal Eye AF: Figuring Out the Best Settings Makes an Impressive Leap in Hit Rate

I published this page two days ago:

Sony A1 Animal Eye AF: Tigger on the Prowl, Spring Green

As it turns out, it is possible to do even better with some settings changes, enough that I feel a little foolish at not getting this right from the get-go... but all these years I’ve done mostly landscape, so now I have to make a study of specific settings and techniques for animal Eye AF and people Eye AF with a camera far more responsive than what I’ve experienced before. I’m sure some experts out there have it nailed, but maybe I can ease the way for at least some portion of my readers.

Accordingly, I’m going to be experimenting and honing a bit more, but I’ll soon post a new batch of Tigger the Tree Tiger images with some striking results and what I found worked better.

Enough of an improvement that I now wonder how I can not buy the Sony A1 and something like the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS or similar, not to mention the Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM. The 135/1.8 GM on the A1 is magic. Of course the 400/2.8 and 600/4 would be wonderful (though not to carry), but are way out of my financial means.

The Sony A1 makes fantastic monochrome images. They strike me as the best I’ve yet seen from a color camera. I can’t prove that yet (maybe never), but my neural network keeps yelling that at me. With few exceptions, you cannot produce images with aesthetics this good from the Leica M10 Monochrom—I’m adamant on that, at least for subjects like Tigger. And no way in hell can you get eyes right 1/10 the time as with the Sony A1, nor can you buy lenses as good either.

Below, I shot through leaves and past two branches to catch Tigger feeling his feline instincts at dusk. I’ve suppressed the green haze cause by a leaf half-occluding the lens by using monochrome. Suffice it to say the Eye AF was able to function for pin-sharp results at f/1.8 at 135mm (I’ll explain how in the new series).

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CLICK TO VIEW: Telephoto lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Tigger in the Hedge at Dusk
f1.8 @ 1/640 sec handheld EyeAF=Animal, ISO 12800; 2021-03-19 18:57:33
Sony A1 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +93 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, Chroma NR {10}, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Toggle for color, below.

Tigger Posing at Picnic Table
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld EyeAF=Animal, ISO 1600; 2021-03-19 19:11:39
Sony A1 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, pull 0.35 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, Chroma NR {5}, USM {8,50,0}
green channel, ProPhotoRGB

[low-res image for bot]

The A1 does not nail it every time no matter the settings. But with the right settings, more shots come in better like this one, and that makes all the difference. Below, toggle for the monochrome image.

Tigger on Olive Branch
f2.8 @ 1/640 sec handheld EyeAF=Animal, ISO 500; 2021-03-19 18:34:17
Sony A1 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +46 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +20 Whites, +19 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Toggle for color. Eyes are in exact focus but it’s better than I was getting two days ago.

Tigger on Olive Branch, Wide Eyed
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld EyeAF=Animal, ISO 1000; 2021-03-19 18:35:28
Sony A1 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, pull 0.25 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, Chroma NR {8}, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
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