Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Top Secret Features Nobody's Talking About

In this edition of the Friedman Archives Blog:
  • Things I discovered about the A7R IV and RX100 VII
  • How to post to Instagram from your Computer
  • More!  (Including new eBooks!)

Things I discovered about the A7R IV and RX100 VII 

Normally I try to shy away from camera-specific blog posts, so humor me a bit since you're unlikely to find this information anywhere else.  Let's start with the amazing 61 megapixel A7R IV, the ebook of which should be out within a couple of weeks.  I was going through each menu (as I always do) to see what's changed, and I came across a new item in the "Send to Smartphone Function" menu (below).  "What in the world is THAT?"

Turns out it's a big thing, and hardly anyone's talking about it.  Let’s say you’re on your way back from another full shooting day.  Your camera’s packed away in your bag while you’re in the Jeep heading home.  You want to post an image to Instagram showing off the kind of day you’ve had, but it's too inconvenient to dig out your camera, open your laptop, and upload everything to Lightroom just to pick one out.  You’ll have to wait a few hours until you get home, and by that time you'll be too tired to pore through your images.  (Plus, the value of immediacy will have decayed by then.)

But picture this – with your camera still turned off and packed away, you can whip out your smartphone, wake up the camera’s CPU, download thumbnails of what you’ve shot today, specify which ones you want, download just those in high-res, post those to Instagram, and then shut off the camera – all while it’s still packed away!  Best of all it doesn’t drain the camera’s battery much because you’re just turning on its CPU, data pipeline, and wifi / Bluetooth connections; not the sensor, LCD or EVF.  (And when the camera is off, just the Bluetooth receiver is drawing very little power.)  It’s pretty cool.

Something else I discovered about the A7R IV - something I couldn't turn off and then I couldn't turn it back on:

See those mysterious orange cross-hairs near the lower-right-hand corner?  They appeared suddenly one day, and I had no idea why.  Several days later they mysteriously disappeared.  I sent this screenshot to Sony, who had no idea what it was either.  Still waiting for a formal response, but I'm not going to let this hold up the release of the ebook.

Of course I've also been busy playing with the new, improved pixel-shift feature of the A7R IV, which allows you to take images up to 240 megapixels in size!!!

The new mode shifts the sensor a quarter pixel in each direction and takes a total of 16 images which you must stitch together on your computer later on.  The amount of detail is staggering.  (As always, click on any image to see it larger.)

Want to see the detail for yourself?  Here are download links to three high-resolution .TIFF files for your pixel-peeping pleasure.  Then prepare to say, "Whoa!"

1) Just a plain old 61 MP image (344 MB)
2) A composite image using the 4-shot method (176 MB – yes, SMALLER than one of the originals!  Can’t explain that)
3) A composite image using the 16-shot method (689 MB)

Two other important features about the A7R IV that nobody’s talking about:

  1. You can have the camera start to transfer images via FTP to any server in the world the minute you take your first picture.  If you don’t have a wi-fi router nearby you can activate the wi-fi hotspot on your phone and upload images that way.  You can send anything from RAW+JPG, smaller sized JPG.  (Just not movies.)
  2. Need to caption and keyword images out in the field so you can upload your time-sensitive photojournalism images while you drive home?  Using a new “Transfer and Tagging” app from Sony, you can wirelessly download the images you want onto your phone or tablet, crop/caption/keyword using voice commands, then hit “Upload”.  Your images can then silently upload to Reuters or Alamy on your cell phone while you’re driving home.  A wonderful time saver!

Unexpected Feature of the RX100 VII (and the A9) (and the A9 II)

Recall that a few months ago, I discovered some noteworthy things about the RX100 VII.  (Including my favorite, the Auto Power Off function which keeps the camera on standby until I need it - no more missing shots because it takes 3 seconds to start up.)  Well, just before that book was published I also discovered some surprising behavior, which affects not only the RX100 VII but also the A9 (since they both employ the same near-global sensor technology).  If you own either camera, try the following:
  1. Set the Shutter Type to Auto
  2. Set the Drive Mode to Continuous
  3. Set the exposure mode dial to either "S" or "M"
Now try to dial in a shutter speed slower than 1/8th of a second.  Can't do it?  Change the Shutter Type to "Mechanical" and try again.  It works!

Turns out this isn't a bug; since this behavior is documented in the manual.  But neither is it expected behavior.  When I set the shutter type to AUTO, I would expect it to switch automatically to something that would allow the slow shutter speeds that I select.  I have just heard from an A9 II early adapter, and sure enough the behavior is there as well.

There must be a technical reason for it; but I have no idea what it is.
The Pipeline

The ebook on the Sony A7R IV has just been released!  Order your copy here.

The Spanish translation of the Sony RX100 VI and RX100 VA ebook is now available!  Order yours here.

The Sony A6600 and A6100 will probably both be featured in one book, and then the A9 II after that.  Email me at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com to be put on a waiting list for any of these titles.


Currently Scheduled Live Seminars:

Indio, California Jan 11-12, 2020: Learn More and Sign Up!
Seattle / Tacoma, Washington – March 14-15, 2020.
Portland, Oregon - March 21-22, 2020
St. Louis, MO  May 30-31, 2020:  
New Zealand (North Island)  November 7-8, 2020
Nice, France  Fall, 2021

(Kiawah Island, South Carolina  has been postponed to 2021.)

Please let me know by email (Gary at Friedman Archives dot com) if you'd like to be added to the waiting list for any of the above seminars.

My travel schedule is getting full, but there's still two slots available for 2021.  Have your local photo club get in contact with me; I'll speak to your club for free and I'll keep that club buzzing for months after they take my seminar.  Not a member of a club?  Find out why all the "experts" at your favorite online photo forum are wrong by treating yourself to the truth about great photography.

Next Time in Cameracraft

In the next issue I interview Shane Balkositsch, the photographer who took this portrait of climate activist Greta Thunberg using a 160-year-old nearly-forgotten photographic process whose impression lasts at least 200 years.  (In sunlight.) (With infinite resolution.)

“Photography has lost its way”, he insists.  “Each and every day the world is filled with millions and millions of digital cell phone photographs that have no value, character, significance or physical form.”   Find out what he really thinks by subscribing to one of the best printed photo magazines still being published.

How to post to Instagram From Your Computer

If you're an Instagram user, you know that the service only lets you upload images from your phone.  And if you're like me, you'd rather upload images that have been tweaked or cropped somewhat.  (Or perhaps something more extreme.)  And while there have been several desktop solutions to let you post from your computer, none of the ones I've tried (including a lightroom plug-in) have worked very well.

Well, I found one that not only lets you upload images but it also lets you comment and reply to comments - as if you were using it on your phone natively!  It's a free extension to the Chrome browser (sorry, not Firefox or Safari) from a company called "Oink and Stuff", and you can download and install it from here.

Once it's installed, just click on the icon with the white camera in the orange circle.  (See red oval in the upper-right-hand corner in screen grab below.)

And a new Instagram window pops up, just begging you to waste more of your time!  

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman


  1. .... "By that time you're too tired to PORE through your messages";
    heaven help you if you POUR through them.

    1. I'll fix that when I get home. 😊

    2. lol, nothing to fix, see https://www.lexico.com/en/grammar/pour-or-pore

  2. Of Course People read this stuff :) Gary ...

  3. For computer Instagram I use Flume Pro-$10.Works well.

  4. Yes the "send to phone" feature is fantastic and I use it all the time on my A7RII. Great when traveling as you can set to auto transfer when you turn off the camera and you do not have to catch hell from wife about fooling around with camera at the restaurant or something.

  5. Hi Gary - marvellous as always seriously good writing and tips. Im thinking of subscribing just for the photo of GT.

    BUT this line below clunks a bit - I assume WHO not TO?

    …...Next Time in Cameracraft

    "In the next issue I interview Shane Balkositsch, the photographer to took this portrait"

  6. I deleted Google Chrome due to unwanted popups I couldn't get rid of any other way. I'll try Flume Pro.

  7. Well, I found Flume Pro is only available for Mac users, so I reluctantly reloaded Google Chrome and downloaded the Instagram app you recommended. But where do I find it? I've unsuccessfully searched on Google Chrome, and yet I know it's there somewhere.

    1. Actually, with this Chrome extension you "install" it rather than download it. You hit the blue "Install" button in the upper right corner, then after a few seconds the orange circle (with the white camera inside, as I pictured above) appears. Click on that and it's like you're on your own phone! The extension is free, but for $5 more you can upgrade and download any image you want full-size.

  8. Is "Connect During Power Off" a feature that could trickle down to the A7III and other cameras in a Firmware update (I know, it's Sony, don't laugh), or does that function have a hardware component too?

    1. There is a hardware component, yes. The bluetooth receiver has to stay on all the time and then be able to wake up only parts of the camera. How much of that same hardware exists in earlier models with bluetooth capabilities is unknown to me. But in my hardware engineering days I can tell you that features like this are extremely difficult to implement as an afterthought (or, as in this case, via a firmware update). But I've been surprised before...

  9. I have an RX100 VII v1.0 and I don't see this in the menu. Am I missing something?

    1. 'Cnct. during Power Off" only appears on the A7R IV.

  10. Hi Gary,
    Lots of great stuff as usual. Just got my new Cameracraft today. Looking forward to reading the article you mentioned. If you don't mind I have a question about my old school A99M2 and A77M2. Do these cameras have ability turn off shutter sound? I could of swore the A99M2 could do it but I can't find the setting to save my life. Please help an old man. 😉

    1. No, there is no 'silent shutter' function on either the A77 II nor A99 II. :-(

    2. The best you can do is use the EFCS function. That at least decreases the amount of sound.

    3. Thanks for responding. Sorry but I'm not up on that acronym does it mean "electronic front curtain shutter"? If so I always keep camera in front curtain mode.

  11. Always enjoy your blog AND your writing style! As everyone else seems to want to critique your 'typos', I thought I would join the band!!! In your 'headline banner' The Friedman Archives Blog - Wisdom and TiDbits, the usual spelling is TiTbits! Perhaps you are shy?! I would guess THAT typo has been around for a little while.... I haven't checked.
    All good wishes.

    1. I just did a google search for 'tidbits' and lots of legitimate definitions which matched my usage came up. So this is a lot like "pour" vs. "pore" - both are now accepted uses.

      At least I now know how to get people to leave comments. :-)

  12. Gary,I am about to purchase the Sony A7r IV. For the last three months I have been reading reviews. ( I do believe I have read every review on the internet) NO ONE ever mentioned the "connect during power off". Although this is a not a big feature for me, it begs the question what else was missed. I am impressed and always enjoy your evaluations!! Thank-you (will be buying your book)

  13. There is another standalone app for MAC users called 'windowed' if you don't want to beholden to Google Chrome to be able to use Instagram from your PC/laptop. https://windowed.io/. Works very well

  14. Dear Garry,
    The photo you took is sensational! Wow! Vicki

  15. Hi! I stumbled into this discussion and just want to mention the "unofficial" publish plug in to Lightroom Classic at https://www.lrinstagram.com/.
    Has worked nicely for me! :-)