Sony says sorry – its new menus WON'T be coming to older cameras

FINALLY, Sony fixed the camera menus!!!
(Image credit: Sony)

UPDATE: The new menu system with touch controls, introduced on the Sony A7S III, will not be coming to older cameras, the manufacturer has stated. 

While many had hoped that the long-awaited menu over might make its way to existing Alpha cameras from the Sony A7S III, it appears that this won't happen because the new system requires the new Bionz XR processor. 

"There has been criticism of the menu structure of Sony cameras for some time and the question was whether the improvements via a firmware update also come to existing cameras," writes Dutch website Tweakers (hat tip to SonyAlphaRumors). 

"Sony reports to Tweakers that this will not happen and claims that this is technically not possible because the A7S III has a new design with a new chipset. However, the spokesperson expects that future cameras will receive the new interface."

ORIGINAL STORY (29 JUL): After what feels like an eternity, Sony has finally revealed the Sony A7S III – a 4K video powerhouse that doesn't do anything exciting in the resolution stakes, but also doesn't overheat the way other cameras do. 

However, the most exciting thing about the Sony A7S III isn't the camera itself, but the fact that Sony has – at long, long last – implemented a new menu system. And this is nothing less than manna from heaven for long-suffering Sony shooters, who have wrestled with its obtuse structure not just since the inception of the Alpha line, but even the NEX system before it.

Not only has Sony redesigned its menus, it's actually done something else a bit radical: you can now actually navigate the menus using TOUCH on the camera's TOUCHSCREEN. What sorcery is this!

The labyrinthine and nonsensical layout of the menu system has been a frustration among Sony users for years, and is so notorious that it has even become a chuckling point for Sony ambassadors and during official PR presentations. 

Thankfully, the new menu layout of the Sony A7S III addresses most of the issues that users (and message board critics) had with the system. The new interface now possesses a vertical structure across three pages, displaying up to seven options at a time, and changes when you're adjusting stills or video settings. 

Important shooting options are now both much (and we mean MUCH) easier to find, and everything feels a lot more logically and instinctively laid out according to their actual priority (so you won't find things like format options, which should be front and center, buried halfway down obscure submenus that you wouldn't even think to look in).

Even so, there are still some typically bizarre Sony-isms, including such peculiarly abbreviated options as "Emph dips dur REC".

Of course, there is plenty else to be excited about the Sony A7S III – it does 4K without overheating, which can't be said of the Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6 or Fujifilm X-T4, it uses the shiny new CFexpress Type A format, and its full-frame 12MP sensor makes it an amazing low-light photo and video tool. 

Still, for us the single most exciting thing is Sony's decision to revamp the menus – because that means we can safely expect to see them rolled out on all new Sony cameras from here. Hallelujah! 

• US: Pre-order the Sony A7S III at Adorama
• US: 
Pre-order the Sony A7S III at B&H Photo
 UK: Pre-order the Sony A7S III at Wex Photo Video
 AUS: Pre-order the Sony A7S III at CameraPro

Read more: 

Sony announces the long-awaited Sony A7S III, but it’s still 4K. Is that enough?
What is CFexpress Type A? Sony A7S III's new memory card explained
The best Sony cameras
Best cameras for filmmakers

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.