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On Sony

I’ll continue to objectively review Sony cameras and lenses because they are in the market and a major player.

As for myself, I have firmed up my previous reluctance to invest my money in Sony products. Along with a revolting phone call experience last spring with Sony personnel, Sony’s checkered ethical history (which continues today with outgoing attacks on web sites), the Sony incompetence on their own security coupled with the Sony worst practice of a “root” updater Sony camera firmware, and now the whole spineless movie release thing, my discomfort with Sony has turned into contempt. This is not a company I wish to support with my spending.

At the same time, I feel no need to have that view adopted by anyone else; I am simply expressing how Sony looks to me as a a company. Which means I don’t confuse Sony the company and the many solid people within it with the leadership.

Mark M writes:

There were times I swore I would never buy another Nikon, Epson, or Canon (include Adobe, Google, etc.) product for very similar reasons of corporate arrogance; lack of competent service and customer service; predatory marketing practices; vindictive employees. Cyber security was not the issue then that it is today, and Sony Pictures has screwed up big time, no doubt about that.

On the other hand, I need to make images using the best products I can afford. And I get the satisfaction of watching Sony eat Nikon's, and though not as devastating, Canon's lunch. And in time, some other entity will blast Sony out of the water.

DIGLLOYD: My perspective is equally objective. Everyone has to deal with the reality of their own situation and a mix of conflicting factors—just like at the voting booth.

If Sony made a great camera that solves serious issues, I’d have to consider it. A product is the sum total of its part: physical manifestation, service and support, and the factors I started this discussion with.

Alfredo P writes:

I totally agree with you, so, please stop using cameras with Sony-made sensors inside!

DIGLLOYD: I sense sarcasm. Sony makes the best sensors on the market (Nikon D810).. See previous comment. I am not anti-Sony or anti any company: I just like well conceived products with good support and service and company behavior that doesn’t make raise my hackles. Sony could easily turn around its whole image, but its leadership seems to have an ingrained culture of circle the wagons.

Brad B writes:

If it hadn't been for your reviews of the A7R shutter vibration flaw and other things that were negative for me I was all set to go with that system. I wasn't thinking clearly because I was a little intimidated by the size and cost of the D810. Pfft, my fears were unfounded, after a couple of hours with the D810 it felt like an old friend because Nikon isn't stupid; basic things in their design haven't changed that much since my first F in the early 70's and my fingers knew exactly where to go. After 40 something years of Nikon use I'm happier than ever with this amazing camera.

Sony is a huge monolithic company and their own worst enemy. I didn't know the story of the copy protection software fiasco until I read the link you provided--thanks. As for the movie melodrama, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Sony is foremost a Japanese company and they have a lot more to fear from the North Koreans than we do. If anyone is taking the hacking of their systems personally it should be people in Tokyo.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t conflate Sony the company leadership with its thousands of employees any more than I’d judge residents of a city by its leaders.

Regarding the A7R shutter vibration, I see the issue as a technical one about which I must inform my readers. Many users of the A7R can avoid or minimize the issues simply by the way the camera is used. But it won’t work in general for my needs. See also Sony, Fix These Things and Win.

James K writes:

I appreciate your comments on Sony. Not only do I own several Sony cameras, I also am a substantial owner of Sony stock, and I seriously thought of selling when the movie thing erupted. However, by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that Sony did inform the White House of the hacking and asked for advice.

Moreover, Sony pulled the movie because it could not get independently owned theaters to show it after the threat of violence. Faced with the certainty of crippling law suits in the event of an attack, and the sad realities of tort law in this country, this was a no brainer. What did bother me was the sickening bowing to one of our country’s worst race baiters, an individual who makes a living off blackmailing well-intentioned people and businesses. The only saving grace is that Sony Pictures is an independently run step-child of the parent company, and my guess is that this incident will cause a complete re-evaluation of that relationship.

DIGLLOYD: Clearly Sony has touched some nerves besides my own.

Dr S writes:

Looks as if we both agree about the Sony Pictures debacle. Caving to this thug in North Korea can only mean we will rarely, if ever, see any movies with characters representing extremism of any kind. For example any movie depicting a militant Islamist in any fashion other than empathy/positive terms will result in terror threats from that community. If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled.

DIGLLOYD : Indeed, the chilling effects are a serious threat a healthy society, which to be free, must endure both the good and the ugly and coarse and vulgar in discourse, because the extent to which unpleasant discourse is uttered is the only real measure of the true freedom of speech—when minimal it means people do not feel free to express views. To be clear, censorship is a concept often mangled by the press; it applies to government controls over citizens. As is happening now in California with our attorney general. Far worse is the effective codification of intolerance of view points into the vast majority of colleges and universities in this country (in the name of tolerance). And 51 US senators voting to consider neutering the 1st amendment. The future looks grim, and the Sony thing is only a blip.

Chris C writes:

Your correspondent, Dr. S., writes: "If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled."

The fact is that it could have been pulled right then, had Chaplin not
secured a large measure of independence. Ben Urwand, a Harvard
historian, has recently published a history of Hollywood's
entanglement with, and appeasement of, the Nazis right up to WWII.

As it happens, Urwand was just asked by TIME to comment on the Sony
debacle. His take is here:

Quote from Urwand's piece:

"So yes, The Interview was cancelled, and yes, it may have been a silly comedy in the first place, but figures in Hollywood and Washington have not allowed the events to pass unnoticed. In the 1930s, Hollywood entered into an agreement with the Nazis, and as a result, the images on the American screen were censored by a foreign
dictator. Tragically, this meant that instead of mobilizing audiences against fascism, or even giving people a chance to laugh at Hitler, there was only silence."

I think this is a lot bigger than Sony Pictures. A cold-minded, hard-nosed capitalist could analyse the stakes and conclude that indiscriminate pursuit of gain tends to create conditions where earning money at any price is no longer worthwhile —
or too risky.

Notes and References on Ben Urwand's book:

A positive review:

A frightful panning:

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