A99 v1.02 firmware update reduces flash delay

Three days ago, Sony released firmware v1.02 update for the A99. The update officially adds support for the SAL50F14Z lens, and improves some aspect of video that I don’t personally care about. What I do care about, a lot, is that the update also reduces a problem with the A99’s built-in, optically-triggered wireless flash.

Built-in, optically-triggered wireless flash works by triggering remote, off-camera flashes with an pre-flash from the flash on the camera itself. Another way to do the same thing is to use radio triggers. But radio triggers are expensive and you have to go to the trouble of attaching them to your flash units. The optical system is attractive because it’s basically free — it’s built into the camera and the flash units — and it generally works pretty well.

Except that it didn’t work so well on the Sony A99 when it was first released late last year. You’d press the shutter, the flash on your camera would fire the triggering burst, and a beat later, the off-camera flashes would fire while the shutter was opening. The delay was small but distinctly noticeable. You can see it demonstrated by Gary Friedman in a video review he made of the A99. Fast forward to 2:15, which is where he’s demonstrating the delay in the original A99.

Well, the v1.02 update doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it does reduce it. Here’s a quick video showing the delay now. I have followed Friedman’s approach by showing how the A850 works first, then switching to the A99. The A850’s response sounds like a single plikx. The A99’s sounds like a quick two-syllable ker-plikx. If you want to jump over the A850 examples to the first examples from the A99, go to 1:05.

I forgot to take some video showing the delay on my camera before I installed the 1.02 firmware update, so I’ve compared my firmware v1.02 video to Friedman’s firmware v1.0 video. I would estimate that the flash delay now is about half what it used to be. Used to be bad, now it’s less bad. 
Anyway, it works better now than it did last week. And I want to end by mentioning that, when I’m not triggering slave flashes this way, I love the A99. It is without a doubt the best camera I’ve ever worked with. And if I did more off-camera flash work than I do, I’d just give in and go back to radio triggers, which would completely finesse the problem. I think the very positive mini-review that Friedman includes in his video was and remains right on the money. It’s a great camera. I just wish that, in this one respect, it worked as well as the A850.

One comment on “A99 v1.02 firmware update reduces flash delay

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