My solution to the Sony third party battery problem

There has been a lot of fire and brimstone over the new Sony firmware that gives users an error message, sometimes at critical moments would could ruin a photo opportunity. Whether or not Sony intended it to manipulate Sony users into buying OEM, or whether it was simply Sony “helping” the public find “fake” Sony batteries is besides the point…it’s a massive inconvenience to Sony users who use third party batteries.

Some people may remember the “Don’t buy Pansonic” movement that kicked off when Panasonic disabled third party batteries. It’s a dangerous move from Sony, but they may expect to get away with it legally because they still allow the batteries to be used – they just give the users an annoying message to deal with everytime they start the camera.

Where Sony thinks they made a smart move is the cost to move systems is a lot higher than the cost of a battery, so whilst users won’t be happy, they also won’t have a choice.

My personal perspective is Sony screwed the pooch on this one. I see it as an unethical move on Sony’s behalf, a move to scare people into buying OEM, and a justification for the dealers to sell users overpriced batteries.

“Don’t buy Jupio or Wasabi, you’ll get terrible warning messages that indicate it’s breaking your camera, rather buy these rather expensive, over priced, gold plated, very profitable Sony batteries at 4 times the price”

Would Sony do something like that? Well, they have already. They were fined by the EU and had a class action taken out against them in the USA as a result of battery price fixing. It seems the firmware apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Panasonic also did something similar in the past, the disabled third party batteries on their. The dates of the cartel battery price fixing come shortly before Panasonic decided to take a different angle by completely disabling their third party batteries.

It seems our friends in the camera game make a habit of protecting their overpriced batteries using any means possible, rather than just doing the plain old boring thing or being competitive. Fujifilm seems to be taking the same approach with their X-H1 and X-T3 although they haven’t enabled it on older cameras.

You can argue whether what they have done is right or wrong, but in my case I found the simple solution was to return the favour by showing Sony what happens to loyalty when they don’t give their customers enough respect. I may not have the clout to change Sony’s name, but I do have the clout to make sure they lose as much business as they gained, or in my case a lot more.

I don’t do heavy macro but I do some gear photos, which require a macro lens. In the past I got away with a Fujfiilm 60mm which wasn’t quite 1:1 but did the job. I bought it before the 80mm was available. In the case of my Sony, I was planning to buy the Sony 90mm as I had heard some good things. I didn’t need a spectacular lens for what I do, but I tend to buy good lenses anyway, I have lenses like the Batis in my collection as an example.

When I looked at the 90mm and did some comparisons, the Sigma ART 70mm Macro came in close but I decided to go with the 90mm. When Sony’s battery firmware update killed my third party batteries, I decided to go for the ART at nearly half the price. I didn’t need the extra sharpness of the 90mm so it was no loss to me, I’ve got extra money to spare as a result and I’ll use some of those for Sony batteries. Sony will gain 2 extras batteries, maybe 4 in total with the second body if I buy one in future but they’ve lost the equivalent of 11 batteries in lens purchases, and that’s just on this lens. If I buy more third party lenses, that number may climb, and there are some really good third party lenses available for Sony. Add a third party grip for my second camera, and the numbers start adding up.

So, my advice to Sony is simple: There is a saying “You can win the battle, but still lose the war” and this is one of those cases. Applying firmware to handicap third party batteries is just not the way to do business. So learn your lesson, have more respect for the consumer, and you’d probably make twice as much because consumers would buy more.



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