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Can you believe that eight years ago, Sony did something massive? The company has only been at the top of the photo game in the past few years. But almost a decade ago, they could have changed photography forever. The problem, they really didn’t make much of a marketing effort around a special feature. And unfortunately, they took it away from photographers. Today, they’re often lauded as the most innovative camera company around. Despite all my gripes with the company, I’ll concede to that statement. They make the only camera system that I can properly use for work and play. Small things keep others away from that title. But Sony also shoots itself in the foot.
In 2012, we were still calling it the NEX camera system. The entire lineup of mirrorless cameras was APS-C. This was before they were brought under the Alpha system as a nod to their Minolta heritage. And the company introduced an app system for their cameras. Called the Sony PlayMemories app store, it gave your camera lots of power. But the apps were costly. Lots of customers wanted all these features built into the cameras. Some at Sony wanted customers to pay more. And ultimately, they ended up killing the program.
To date, I still think it’s one of the dumbest moves Sony made.
And ultimately, it removed one of the most innovative features. If Sony had only nourished that small sapling, it could have blossomed and bore fruit. That feature was cinemagraphs. In late 2012, the company introduced a feature that basically let photographers create cinemagraphs in-camera. We’d know, we reported on it. Today, we only see it present in Sigma cameras.
But why, Sony? Why did you take away something from photographers that could’ve made your cameras even better? Why remove a tool that could’ve pushed photography forward? And specifically, it would’ve pushed in-camera processing and photography forward–not post-production. This is something that still bothers me. If a camera can do something or if it was able to do something awesome, don’t take it away from us. Yes, we’ve got AI, better autofocus, better sensors, and arguably better weather sealing. But the camera bodies still feel like computers. And if you’re going to make them feel like a computer, then embrace that idea. Let someone use a camera as a computer! Let us have all of those cool apps that you removed from the market.
So what do we do about this?
I think that Sony could do a few things. They could firstly bring back the app store. It could be easily integrated into the Imaging Edge app. And from that app, you could browse their shop and port firmware/apps to your camera. If you want to charge a fee, then fine. But don’t make the fees more than $4 an app.
The other route is that they can deliver special editions of the cameras. There could be something like the a9 III standard version. This would be the camera without extra apps built-in. The variant would be the a9 IIIe or something–and this would be really cool. It would have extra firmware features built into it and have even more internal memory to store that and firmware updates. Then photographers could pick and choose which they want.
Personally speaking, though, I think that all of those cool features should just come built into the cameras, to begin with. Back in 2015, we wrote about all the things that Sony cameras were capable of doing. Multiple exposures, Live Composite, and other cool things made the system more lively.
Sony: come on. Bring them back.