Sony is currently selling a custom gridline license for Alpha camera bodies, beginning with the Alpha 7 IV, however it will not be available until March 2024.
The “Custom Gridline License” allows a7 IV users to import up to four custom original gridlines into the camera, which can be shown on the electronic viewfinder or the back LCD to create more consistent photographs, according to Sony.
“For example, staff at schools, photo studios, theme parks, cruise ships, malls, etc. will now have the ability to update their cameras with ease and utilize this tool for quick and precise, more professional shots,” the company says. “Imported customized gridlines are replaceable and color gridlines are available. Once gridlines are registered, it can be displayed with HDMI output as well. After shooting, users can check the images with the grid lines overlayed on EVF and LCD.”
While this is the primary purpose, Sony claims that these can also be utilized as partially filled transparency masks in addition to gridlines.
In a press statement, Sony cited the support of several groups, including Inter-State Studio and Publishing, Strawbridge Studios, Inc., the School Photographers of America (SPOA), and the School Photographers Association of California (SPAC). The apparent target is what is commonly referred to be “turn and burn” picture jobs, which are high volumes of consistent portraits.
“The ability to import customized gridlines into a mirrorless camera is an essential feature for all of our photographers to capture images consistently,” says Frank Lombardo, National Photography Manager for Inter-State Studio and Publishing, for example. “These simple gridlines keep head sizes the same for all our products and improve our production time. They also allow us to know where the edge of print will be during capture.”
It should be noted that this single function constitutes the entire $150 license. At the end of the day, calling it innovative and charging users for a feature that should be a free firmware update is a very strange marketing decision.
Within hours, several users on social media and in Sony forums referred to it as “an April Fool’s joke” and a “desperate gesture to imitate Adobe and BMW in order to sell you a subscription.”
More info on Sony’s website.