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Is it me, or are the Sony camera apps a bit lame?

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by pdk42, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 TalkEmount Regular

    81
    Nov 26, 2014
    OK - so maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I'm feeling somewhat underwhelmed at the moment:

    - They're all very "modal" - they run in their own little world and have their own settings - basic stuff like filetype/quality, size, drive mode, metering mode etc. Why?

    - They seems picky about what mode you're in (e.g. the touchless shutter doesn't work with my Memory 1 setting).

    - They don't work well with back-button focus (e.g. Remote Control doesn't focus at all and Touchless Shutter just tells me that C3 (my assigned button for back focus) is "disabled").

    - Availability across cameras is patchy (e.g. Light Trail only works on A7S and A5100)

    - To use the free ones you still need to logon to the Sony Entertainment Network

    - Some apps don't support raw (e.g. light painting)

    - Some stupid limitations - e.g. Neither Smooth Reflections nor Touchless Shutter will work with full electronic shutter (silent shooting). It also disables the centre button on the dial - the one that let's you move the focus point!

    - Can't combine apps - e.g. Smooth Reflections with Touchless Shutter

    On top of all that the prices of some of them are a bit crazy - £7.99 for timelapse. Are they serious?

    So, IMHO - all a bit lame.... A flawed idea.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 3
  2. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    406
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    It's not a flawed idea at all in my opinion, but the implementation could use some work.

    I've really only used the remote app (free) and the timelapse, first on an NEX-6 and now A6000. The first incarnations were a bit lacking, but have improved considerably. I find the remote useful now and then. For timelapse $10 US is a bit much, but it does actually do a decent job and you can save the RAWs if you like.

    Sony really needs to open this up more. Think "app store" ala smartphones. There are a few 'unauthorized' efforts underway, Magic Lantern style, but they are in very early stages.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Your post sums it up nicely IMHO and I too am underwhelmed :).

    In my opinion the basic concept is flawed: like the OP says, the apps "run in their own little world and have their own settings", precluding access to the full functionality of the camera and precluding multiple apps to provide their functions combined. I think apps should add functionality, not cripple the camera by disabling a lot of its standard functions. Do I sound a bit frustrated? That's because I am :).
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    This is exactly why I haven't bothered with them. Sony's wasting our time.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. adwb

    adwb TalkEmount Regular

    127
    Sep 30, 2015
    Bristol UK
    Alistair
    Completely agree with all your points, I find it particularly galling that the most expensive body they offer is not even listed for some aps at all
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. pdk42

    pdk42 TalkEmount Regular

    81
    Nov 26, 2014
    Yes, OK agree entirely about apps needing to add functionality and not take it away. The way apps work seems quite opposite to this as a concept. I definitely think it's a flawed implementation, even if the high level idea of downloadable features is good.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. rdfisch

    rdfisch TalkEmount Regular

    181
    Nov 13, 2013
    Northern NJ
    Rick
    I agree with all, with the exception of the remote app (which isn't great but I use because of the lack of tethered support with live view by any other means I am aware of).
     
  8. unlo

    unlo Sony ******

    Jan 19, 2014
    Ohio
    Matt
    I've been saying they would get a lot more attention if they released an SDK made their firmware open source. The dev community would have a field day

    Sent from my Oneplus One using Tapatalk
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Matt - I think you and others are viewing apps as a way of upgrading the Camera when Sony doesn't see them that way. They don't touch the firmware. These apps act just like apps for a phone. They run in their own space and they have their own settings and features. They use a limited API to access the phones hardware and firmware to accomplish their objectives. In some cases they can augment or replace the phone's core capabilities, but they do not upgrade the phones core capabilities. The latter only happens via a firmware upgrade. Unlike the phones/cameras core apps, these apps are limited by the APIs made available to them so they will always be clunky. I'm sure Sony has these APIs pretty locked down. They may say it's to prevent bad code from bricking the camera, but I'm sure it's also to control features they want to release in the next body.

    The bottom line is that we want additional features in the Camera itself and that will only come via firmware updates. The problem is that outside of the A7II PDAF and RAW update, Sony doesn't really engage in that stuff. They prefer to offer you a new body.

    So Matt, I am sure Sony wants no part of making their firmware open source. Devs would add PDAF to A7I, add additional bracketing modes to older models and more. Next thing you know people are content sticking with their existing gear. Companies like Canon allow stuff like magic lantern because they only release models every few years. Sony on the other hand hopes people buy new cameras every year or so.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. mrlrz

    mrlrz TalkEmount Regular

    65
    Nov 13, 2013
    Agree
    I motivate this approach with security (like, every app is sandboxed) and reliability (you cannot make your phone unusably slow adding a functionality on top of another, and another, etc)
     
  11. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    It's alright to explain why Sony would act like they do, but it doesn't change my opinion about the usefulness, or rather lack of it, of their apps.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  12. mrlrz

    mrlrz TalkEmount Regular

    65
    Nov 13, 2013
    I wanted just to say that I've no idea on how to make them better without the risk of crippling the user experience
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. pdk42

    pdk42 TalkEmount Regular

    81
    Nov 26, 2014
    I think it's OK for Apps to run in their own sandbox if they're doing fancy stuff that basic camera firmware wouldn't be expected to do. But come on - remote control?, light trails?, time lapse?, ... these are all basic features that should be in the firmware.

    Will we see any useful upgrades to firmware though? - I'm sensing that Sony is perceived as being a bad citizen here. I lived through a period where Olympus were seen in a similar light and they were heavily criticised for it (with endless comparisons to Fuji who are quite the opposite). Olympus changed tack and over the last two years have upgraded the more recent cameras significantly - especially the E-M1 which is now much more of a camera than it was in the early days (focus stacking, electronic shutter, Live Composite, EFCS, much improved CDAF, ...). Maybe if we all whinge enough they might do something - it seemed to work on the compressed raw issue.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    I've only really used the remote app. All the rest seem rather limited

    Sent from my SM-N920P using TalkEmount mobile app
     
  15. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    I think it's the wrong strategy of companies to keep products in their less than optimal state, ie. crippled in order to push new hardware on the buying public. It will only reduce overall sales and lose any loyal base of users. Imagine this in the motherboard industry, and how many end users will abandon a brand if there were no or little if any firmware fixes.
    But Sony's origins are rooted in selling consumer electronics. Push units, nearly non-existent customer support post sales.

    Added firmware features, fixes can only kindle excitement and endorsement of the brand and models. Plus, this promotes brand loyalty and encourages enthusiasts to purchase the next platform to see just what the latest offering will do. Fuji and Olympus has it right.

    Yes, I find it lame that we must purchase these apps. When the free ones offered don't encourage the end user to spend more money because they are so poorly coded and limited. Sony, you want to sell more apps? Offer a 1st class effort on your free and paid apps.
    Hate to say this, but a drug dealer analogy works here, offer away an excellent free sample and get them hooked. :D
     
  16. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    406
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    I still like the idea of camera apps, just not the way Sony has implemented it. Look at all the options you have with Android smartphone camera apps. The 3rd-party-software-driven camera is not here today outside of smartphones (as far as I know), but I think it inevitable that someone will eventually do it. Or smartphones will become everyone's camera (as is largely already the case on the P&S side) and the type of cameras we all use will become an even smaller and more expensive niche market.
     
  17. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    I like the idea, but unfortunately the ones available on the platform seem isolated and very limited in their usage

    Sent from my SM-N920P using TalkEmount mobile app
     
  18. rdfisch

    rdfisch TalkEmount Regular

    181
    Nov 13, 2013
    Northern NJ
    Rick
    YES ! Getting pretty off topic but reminds me of a wish I made here a couple of years ago regarding "unofficial" firmware alternatives:

    "I only wish our user base was large enough to support custom firmware development (think jailbreak but for Sony cameras instead of iPhones). I think there was an attempt or two that didn't really fly to long, but I haven't researched it that much." Here is an old reference to what I assume has fizzled out: Sony NEX hack is go – 46Mbit 1080p tested

    On the legit side, there is of course Sony's "Camera Remote API" (Cameras | Sony Developer World) but it's a far cry from open source and limits developers to their own sandbox.
     
  19. Kendall

    Kendall TalkEmount Rookie

    24
    Feb 29, 2016
    I'm a fan of the smooth reflections and Sky HDR apps. They are not permanent replacements for filters but if I get caught out with the right conditions when I'm packed light these apps come in very handy. The interface is lacking mostly because of the menus to change settings in the apps but I'm afraid Sony will never get their menus right. I do feel that after spending so much cash on the A7RII I should have received some free credits to spend in the app store. The apps should be priced in the $2-3 dollar range.
     
  20. riskinstrument

    riskinstrument TalkEmount Regular

    145
    Nov 20, 2014
    Dallas, Texas.
    I use the lens compensaton app. Yes it's a little expensive, but I'm happy with how it works. Especially on my 14mm Samyang.