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Sony will let you add gridlines to select Alpha cameras - for a price

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Select Alpha camera users can now import up to four original customized gridlines that can be displayed on the viewfinder or rear LCD, as long as they can part with $149 to do it.

“Your pictures deserve the perfect frame,” says Sony. “If you need to compose multiple shots quickly, consistently, and reliably, Sony has the perfect solution. Now you can register and load up to 4 custom gridlines onto select Alpha mirrorless full frame cameras. And you can make the gridlines visible in the electronic viewfinder, the LCD or on an external monitor via HDMI output. No need for LCD overlays to get that perfect image.”

Which is all very lovely. 

“Our custom gridline license is perfect for school photos, athlete pictures, cruise ships, photo IDs, theme parks, and more,” says the company. “Create them as PNG files and replace them as needed. You can even choose gridline colors, for example magenta to contrast with hair color. Supported cameras include the a7 IV with more on the way. At $149, this may be the most cost-effective camera accessory ever.”

Which is all very lovely, too, until you get to the last sentence. Let’s put it like this: the internet has definite opinions on the cost of this gridlines license and many, many unflattering comparisons to other firmware upgrade licenses offered by other manufacturers. As PetaPixel points out, for the same cost, Panasonic’s optional S1 filmmaker upgrade adds 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI live output, 4K 30p/24p 4:2:2 10-bit in-camera recording, LUT support, and V-log.

Sony will no doubt counter that for those that need it, for the photographers working in the turn and-burn environment of school photo shoots or taking endless shots of delighted tourists at theme parks or on cruise ships around the world, it’s a very worthwhile investment. Indeed, its announcement of the feature comes with endorsements from the likes of the School Photographers of America. And it's worth pointing out that not only can this new feature be utilized as gridlines, but they can also be used as partially filled transparency masks. The same upgrade options will be added to more cameras in the future, too.

The Sony a7 IV gridlines license will be available for $149 directly from Sony’s Upgrade and License Management Suite starting in spring 2024. We guess we’ll find out if they’ve called the business model on this correctly if the license stays at that price when it reaches other cameras.

Tags: Production