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Update on Sony A7R Shutter Vibration

Sony A7R

Sony A7R with FE 55/1.8 Sonnar
Sony A7R with FE 55/1.8 Sonnar

I spoke with Sony today (Sony PR and a technical representative in SoCal) regarding the Sony 7R shutter vibration issue.

Update: see Photographers Ask Sony to Address the A7R Shutter Vibration Issue.

From the technical representative:

  • Sony does not agree that there is a shutter vibration issue.
  • Sony tech suggested they might consider implementing a shutter delay mode akin to something I had suggested (no commitment).

The rational: “results on the internet are in conflict with your findings”. My results can be repeated by myself and others at will, so I am baffled by this assertion. And since there is already a self timer delay available, I can’t see the point of a shutter delay mode when there is no shutter vibration to quell (contradictory position).

I’d be happy to see a close/delay/open shutter delay mode feature in the hope that it would reduce the vibration issue, but it’s an unknown to me whether the closing or the opening of the shutter is the main source of vibration.

When companies don’t tackle issues head-on, it only tends to pour gasoline on the fire. It should be interesting to see how this progresses over time. Still, let us remember that JPEG is the default and that most people think the JPEGs out of the camera are sharp.

At 35mm and 55m with the native lenses, the issue is suppressed (very hard to detect if an issue at all), assuming a solid tripod setup. But at the right shutter speeds with longer focal lengths or with a less stable setup (e.g. lens tripod foot), things get rougher.

By the way, the Leica M Typ 240 has a similar shutter vibration issue.

Update

Two day after I wrote this, I attempted to shoot the 2013 Mac pPo innards with the Sony 55mm f/1.8 and the A7R in the vertical position (sturdy tripod with wireless remote release). I knew this was likely to be trouble from past field shooting (theory being that the vertical position allows the shock wave to travel laterally, not being resisted by gravity) but what the heck. After all, 55mm is a focal length alleged to not have an issue, even though my field shots show odd discontinuities from ƒ/4 to ƒ/5.6 when the shutter speed crosses the danger line (1/125).

Every one of the A7R + 55/1.8 shots I took was unacceptable, with a slight motion blur but no obvious double image. Fatiguing on the eyes, which cannot settle on the image. So I took a pair of images at 1/250 and 1/125 (1/125 being a problem speed). The 1/250 image was sharp, but the 1/125 image went dull, with fine details losing their crispness. Again, not a double image, but an effect similar to a very strong anti-aliasing filter (a ~1/3 to 1/2 pixel blur in this particular case). Because that’s what’s going on: the shutter blur is a fractional pixel, but with a directionality to it also. In this case, 36 megapixels reduced to ~24 megapixels (as downsampling suggests), by shutter vibration. JPEG shooters might not see it (almost by definition), though I’m not entirely sure on that point, because the directionality is disturbing to the eye.

Client upset with results, photographer fired. New photographer hired, shoots job with Nikon D800E and Otus 55/1.4, with resulting razor sharp images. Well, that’s me (client and photographer). What it it were you as a working pro and it was a job for a paying client that could not be re-shot? Will you be in business very long once word of the botched job gets around? A pro is expected to deliver top results, and his/her choice of gear is of no concern to the client; get it right or see ya' and over lunch some other folks we know will be happy to hear us vent about what was delivered. But even if you just take pride in a job well done it matters. The slightly blurred images could be faked as 24-megapixel originals (downsampled from 36MP and sharpened again), but I can’t stomach the thought of showing work that I know to be 2nd rate.

The next day I went and shot another entirely different scene for confirmation, and the same degradation was observed. The day after that the A7R was boxed up ready for its trip back for a refund—I want reliable gear that delivers the image.

Now where is that exposure delay feature that’s not needed because an issue does not exist? My guess is that it gets sneaked in as a bullet point buried in the notes for some future firmware release. Which might not completely solve the issue, but might mitigate it.

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