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May
15

Video: A Sony flash ‘feature’ you may not like, and how to work around it

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Photographer Robert Hall sent us his latest video, because he's found some interesting things about the way the live view and EVF on recent Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras respond when you attach a flash or flash trigger to the hot shoe. And, usefully, he's also found a workaround.

Like many mirrorless cameras, the Sonys offer a choice of whether the preview display reflects your settings (to help assess exposure) or ignores them to give a consistently bright preview (useful if you're working with strobes in a studio). This is one of the key advantages a digital preview can offer over an optical viewfinder. You select this by turning "Setting Effect" On or Off in the Live View Display menu.

However, when you attach a flashgun or trigger, this setting is over-ruled, automatically switching to a 'corrected' preview simulating the metered exposure. This is a behavior we quite liked when we tested the camera, but Hall points out that it's not very helpful if you want to assess the contribution of ambient light to your scene. It essentially surrenders the advantage of using a digital preview.

This, in turn, led Hall to work out what the 'Shot Result Preview' option—assignable to a custom button—is for. It lets you work around the camera's enforced behavior when you have a flash or trigger attached, albeit at the cost of one of your custom buttons. We checked with some other brands and found Panasonic cameras do the same thing as Sony, but without any kind of workaround.

From our perspective, it would be much simpler to add a second option after the 'Settings Effect' On/Off option in the menu: one that lets you define what happens when you add a flash. That way you can accommodate the preferences of both kinds of photographer, but without the need for workarounds.

It also goes to show: for all that we criticize the complexity of menus in current cameras, it's extremely difficult to build a camera that works the way every user will want. It also highlights the occasional need to re-assess the way cameras work, from the ground up, rather than gluing patches and workarounds on top of what's already there.

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