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Reader Comment: Sony Shutter Warning an “absurd behavior for a camera that bills itself as a professional camera”

See my Sony wish list.

My review of the Sony A7R II discusses configuration in depth for Sony A7S II, A7 II and A7R II and predecessors:

Sony A7R II

Jonathan L writes:

I’ve just picked up a Sony A7R II.

After an hour on chat with Sony, it appears that the camera shake warning indicator - which flashes on and off in the viewfinder when shutter speeds are selected by the camera and fall below 1/30th - cannot be turned off.

Is is absurd behavior for a camera that bills itself as a professional camera.

DIGLLOYD: that is correct (“cannot be turned off”).

This behavior has been a thorn in my side forever—there I am working on a tripod, and that distracting blinking shutter speed warning won’t go away and cannot be disabled—even when I have image stabilization off and I am in manual exposure mode! I also have another (non flashing) icon show up when the shutter speed warning is flashing: a sort semicircle with rays as if it were some kind of white balance warning. I don’t know what it is, but it disappears when the shutter is half-pressed.

I can’t imagine any serious photographer paying attention to such things: when I am composing my image I tune out all that stuff; I already know that I will be shooting in terms of exposure and so on. Am I supposed to stop composing and focus my attention on some blinking icon? No one intent on capturing a moment can afford to lose focus like that.

Behaviors of this kind are even worse with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II until problematic behaviors are programmed out, and no better once programmed-out.

Cameras are for making images, and camera companies ought to figure that out already. The idea that a consumer is informed enough to pay attention to such a warning is ludicrous—and all of the A7 series qualify for professional use. Plus, anyone who understands shutter speed does not need the warning! So why are things like this designed in when 1000 times more image are made with iPhone? I could live with an “idiot mode” if a setting could disable it, but all that does is add more clutter to a professional camera. The rights solution is to restruct that warning to P (program) mode and leave it at that (though IMO, P mode does not belong on any pro camera). Anything else demonstrates a conceptual failure in design.

Even my Nikon D810 has a problem of this general kind: exposure comp overlays the image in Live View mode, and it cannot be banished without also losing the exposure preview facility—this interferes with my ability to frame and compose.

To Sony’s credit, a Sony Pro services mini-booth was right there at CES for any Sony Pro customer with an issue.

“Little” things like this are really not little at all, but show a poor understanding of customer usage, are thus a product quality issue. Because a product is hardware and software/behavior. There are plenty of other problems like this with Sony (and other brands), but I’ll give the Olympus E-M1 Mark II the blue ribbon for worst user interface design ever for a pro camera, at least until de/reprogrammed into something usable (but still with plenty of issues).

Such things can be fixed in firmware, but potential is not the actual and never can be if a company lacks solid mechanisms for translating customer feedback into changes that move the product forward.. The lossless raw mode firmware update shows that Sony can sometimes hear customer feedback. But little things like that blinking warning? These seem to be ignored.

There is ample room for improving the firmware in the Sony A7 series, including game-changing features like pixel shift on Sony. As a sort of test balloon, I tried the pixel shift idea out on two Sony employees: one had never heard of pixel shift, the other had heard of it, but had no idea why Sony does not implement it. Neither had any specific insight into why Sony does not do it.

As I pointed out to a high level Sony representative at CES, Fujifilm is aggressive in responding to user input with regular firmware updates. In regards to the customer-engineer feedback loop, Sony and other vendors seem to have their engineers living in a Faraday cage somewhere in a cave. My experience has been that US employees of Japanese companies are just as mystified as customers are as to why things are done or not done over in Japan. Surely a company that takes the customer as the highest priority could over time change company culture to become the dominant digital camera player.

Peter H writes:

I'm not sure how my overall A7rII's settings differ to yours, but I do not get the shake warning in either Manual or Shutter Priority mode (only in Aperture Priority or Programme modes when the speed equals, or is less than, the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens being used). Having image stabilization on or off makes no difference.

Anyway, I have the custom button 'C2' set to 'Aperture Preview' which gets rid of the flashing warning in Aperture Priority mode (my usual mode), and gives you a clean, distraction free viewfinder.

DIGLLOYD: this distracting shake warning icon flashes at lower shutter speeds, so the reciprocal speed statement is not relevant. Of course it ought not to flash at “acceptable” shutter speeds.

C2 = Aperture Preview: aside from the fact that losing my C2 button to behavior I do not want and losing the behavior I do want is a non-starter, I tested this suggestion using aperture priority mode and found it 100% useless: nothing happens when pressing the C2 button. And the flashing shutter speed warning persists regardless (aperture priority, Zeiss Batis 18/.8). Program it as you like, then point the lens somewhere dark (or just partially cover it with a hand), and that warning starts flashing.

BTW: focusing stopped down is a source of significant error and must be avoided for careful work as I learned the hard way doing some focus stacking one day: the A7R II focuses with the lens stopped down (set to f/8, it focuses at f/8). The C2 button had no effect on toggling this behavior and I’m not aware of any setting that fixes this serious algorithmic bug.

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