Screwed by Sony You can tell by the screws!
Note: we do not recommend the purchase of Sony cameras.
The construction of a camera is most important because it is the quality that allows the camera to make high quality images over a period of time. I am talking about the better quality cameras. The parts of a camera that must maintain their integrity are those parts that keep the lens plane parallel with the sensor plane or what had been the film plane. Since the lens is mounted in a movable barrel of some kind, the quality of the material in that barrel and lens mount has to resist wear with use over time to maintain sharp images.
We can't see the quality of the components in a camera because they are hidden inside. Cameras are not designed to be opened by anyone not trained in their technology. Even the smallest change in the structure will completely ruin a camera. You can see in the picture at the right that the inside of a camera is an extremely intricate maze of small parts.
It has been the usual custom for camera manufacturers to use extremely high quality materials for the parts. The smallest amount of wear will adversely affect the quality of the images. One thing that is easy to see are the heads of the screws that hold the camera together. Let's look at some. Let's compare Sony to other camera manufacturers. Sony should be ashamed of what I'm going to show you now.
The camera that I am going to comment on is the Sony at the left. It is one of my personal cameras. I purchased it a couple of years ago because I wanted to test the mirrorless cameras that are becoming popular now. I have been a photographer for more than 60 years and have a large collection of cameras. My primary current set is a pair of full frame Canons with an assortment of the white barrel lenses. But let's get back to this Sony.
A member of one of the camera clubs to which I belong was thinking abut buying a new camera and asked me about the Sony. I told him I liked the image quality and it was light weight. I brought it in to a meeting so he could handle it. As you can see from the picture at the left, the camera, as are all my cameras, has been kept in very fine condition.
He looked it over and pointed out to me some details on the camera that shocked me. In places that are not easily noticed, my Sony camera was held together with screws made from really cheap material. Something I would not expect to see on any good camera. Here is what I saw.
At the right you see the bottom plate of my Sony camera. The screw heads showing (circled in red) are covered with some kind of white grainy corrosion. I don't know what it is but I assume the reason is that the screws are made of aluminum instead of stainless steel, which would be more expensive for Sony to use.
To the left is an enlarged image of the screw heads to make it a little easier to see.
The viewing screen on the back of the camera is on hinges so you can turn the screen in different directions The hinge is held in place by four screws. You can't see the screws when the screen is in any of the use positions. In order to see them you have to turn the screen at an angle to expose the screws. Here is a picture of what those screws look like. They are rusty. It appears that instead of using good quality stainless steel screws, Sony used cheap screws to save a few pennies in making the camera.
This camera, as are all of my cameras stored in an air-conditioned room. I checked all of my other cameras, the ones I currently use, the ones I used to use and the antique cameras that I have from many countries. This Sony was the only one that appears to look like a piece of junk with rusty or corroded screws.
I contacted Sony and told them about the screws. Their reply astonished me.
About 40 years ago I purchased a used Linhoff camera set that included a roll film adapter on which the image counter was slipping and on which the leather exterior was peeling off. It was about 12 years old. I sent the adapter back to Linhoff asking them to repair it. I was guessing the repair bill would be about $100. They sent it back fixed with a new leather cover on it telling me there was no charge because the problem with it should not have occurred. They replaced the leather because they did not want their equipment to be seen in that condition
Here is the reply I received from Sony:
For those of you who are not old enough to remember the products being imported from Japan after WWII, I'm gong to point out that the quality was so bad that anything that was labeled "Made in Japan" was considered to be of inferior quality. It took many years before Japan developed their industries to a point where Japanese products were accepted around the world as worthy of taking their place with goods from other countries.
In point of fact, Sony was the very first Japanese company to begin commercial advertising for their products in the United States after the war.
It looks like Sony has decided that their reputation is secure enough now that they can start producing shoddy products without hurting their place in the market.
One good example of the importance of using quality material in the construction of a camera is demonstrated in one of the finest cameras ever made in the USA. Generally the USA is not known for fine cameras. Historically the best cameras came from Europe and later from Japan as well. The first camera I am going to mention is the Kodak Medalist.
It was completely made in the USA by Eastman Kodak and used a Kodak Ektar lens. That was an extremely sharp lens capable of being used by the military in World War II for long distance and aerial photography capable of being enlarged to show details of distant objects.
The arrow points to a metal lens barrel that worked extremely well. The camera was expensive. Kodak wanted to get a larger customer base so they came out with a less expensive model using a plastic lens barrel instead of metal. It originally sold very well but they soon fell out of favor because the plastic barrel would wear and the lens plane would not be accurate. The used Medalists with the metal barrel command a very high price but the ones with the plastic barrel are worth very little. I have circle the screw heads in the picture because that is what I am going to discuss in this article. The screw heads are frequently easy to see on a camera. I want you to notice that the screws showing on this camera that was manufactured around 1940 are still shiny and in perfect condition. They have a slight patina on them but they are not rusty or corroded, even after all those years.
I'm going to show you the screws on an assortment of very old cameras from many countries to demonstrate how easy it is to use good quality screws compared to the junk Sony put on their cameras.