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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) (hat tip to SonyAlphaRumors (opens in new tab)). 

"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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab) or Fujifilm X-T4 (opens in new tab), it uses the shiny new CFexpress Type A (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)
• US: 
Pre-order the Sony A7S III at B&H Photo (opens in new tab)
 UK: Pre-order the Sony A7S III at Wex Photo Video (opens in new tab)
 AUS: Pre-order the Sony A7S III at CameraPro (opens in new tab)

Read more: 

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

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web 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 as diverse as 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, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). 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.