Sony just announced that it will launch a gridlines feature in the spring of next year. It will enable photographers to import four sets of gridlines making it easier for "volume photographers" to consistently compose images, but there’s a caveat – it’s going to cost $149, and I can’t help but think that’s a bit of a rip-off.
What Sony is offering is a convenient solution for taking the same image over and over again with different subjects. Initially, it will only be available for the Sony A7 IV but the company plans to roll it out across other cameras. While it might appeal to school, graduation or cruise ship photographers, it seems like a lot of money to pay for four gridlines.
The famous saying "convenience kills" – or, in this case, convenience costs – couldn’t be more relevant. While it might enable photographers to take images quickly and more easily, I’m worried about how expensive more advanced paid-for software updates might be.
Ever since Nikon released the Z9 with a bunch of features that would "be available at a later date through a firmware update" I have been impressed by how much a camera can be improved. What’s impressed me even more is that these firmware updates come at no cost to the customer, yet they can completely change the specs of a camera.
I wouldn’t be entirely against paying a reasonable amount to access these upgrades. Of course I would rather they remain free, but I understand the camera market is struggling and it’s necessary to look for new revenue streams.
My biggest concern is that if a set of gridlines will set you back $149, how much will more advanced software features be? Sony users are already frustrated over the company’s outdated firmware strategy and have accused it of not offering enough support to professional users who are missing out on advanced features available on newer, less expensive Sony cameras. Will Sony start charging for its more advanced firmware updates? If that's the case, I'm almost certain people will jump ship.
The overall reaction to the news has not been positive for Sony. In a video posted by YouTuber Andrea Pizzini (above), one person commented, "It's decisions like this of corporate greed that make me want to abandon ship and look elsewhere for another manufacturer for my gear", while another pointed out that "4 Grid lines couldn’t be worth more than $5" – a sentiment I agree with.
Sony already charges for additional features when you buy one of its professional camcorders, but this is the first time the company has charged for more consumer-level cameras. I think Sony needs to reevaluate how much it’s going to charge for the Custom Gridline License or risk no one buying – it or even worse, losing customers completely. Let's hope this isn't the start of paid firmware updates…