Does Sony Have a Problem With Failing Shutters on the a7 III?

Does Sony Have a Problem With Failing Shutters on the a7 III?

The number of failed shutters being reported on the Sony a7 III and a7R III Facebook groups has raised a few eyebrows over the last couple of months. Are the latest Sony cameras more susceptible to mechanical failures or is it simply the case that lots of people are suddenly reporting it?

At some point, every camera shutter will fail as parts give way. With a burst rate of ten frames per second using its mechanical shutter, the a7 III/a7R III offers a lot of speed, and critics will no doubt question if the aggressive pricing means that corners have been cut, compromising the build quality.

The frequency with which new instances have appeared in one Sony Facebook group over the last couple of months has led to the creation of a group dedicated to discussing the phenomenon and trying to find out whether users have reason to be concerned. It may be that a statistically normal number of users have reported shutter failures but they stand out thanks to a fear of it happening that is then exacerbated by Facebook algorithms. It’s not clear whether research will establish a higher failure rate across all Sony cameras compared to other manufacturers and the results will almost certainly remain unclear. Some have speculated that it might only be a batch of cameras with specific serial numbers that are affected.

For some users, the failure is quite dramatic with the shutter suddenly failing to clear, hanging in front of the sensor and partly obscuring all images. 
 

Sony a7III shutter failure

For others, the failure is more subtle, with users realizing that their images have strange banding that appears only when using the mechanical shutter. This is a result of the rear curtain failing to clear properly. If you see this stripe appearing in your images, my advice is to shoot entirely in silent mode until you can get your camera repaired. At least this way you can use your gear and avoid the shutter failing completely, obscuring the sensor, and rending the camera useless.

Sony a7III partial shutter failure

If you've experienced problems with the shutter on a Sony a7 III or a7R III, you can join this Facebook group set up by photographer Ivan Buštor. If you need to check your camera, the rear curtain banding is more pronounced when shooting at a faster shutter speed. Unfortunately for Buštor, he noticed the problem just before his warranty expired but wasn't able to diagnose and report it to Sony in time. He's hoping that Sony will acknowledge from the raw files that the failure happened before the camera was no longer covered. His a7 III has performed just over 20,000 actuations.

Rear curtain failure a7III

Photograph courtesy of Ivan Buštor - ivanbustor.com

Users are hoping that Sony will issue a statement, either to confirm the existence of a problem or to allay fears. Nikon users may recall problems affecting the D750 a few years ago, leading to the manufacturer issuing a recall for a range of serial numbers and offering a free repair. Of the Sony users reporting problems so far, many have found that their cameras are a few months out of warranty, leading to repair bills of around $400. Anyone wishing to have a go at repairing their camera themselves can pick up a replacement shutter on eBay for a mere $87.

If you've any experience of a failed shutter or any knowledge on whether this is a genuine problem with Sony cameras, please leave a comment below.

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31 Comments

Adam Palmer's picture

I had mine replace while it was still under warranty

Royan Descartes's picture

i laughed so hard at this comment LMFAO!

Jerome Brill's picture

"All shots were taken with the camera pointed away from the sun."

Looking at the shadows on the beach images the sun was to the right of the camera, not complete away from it. Also the photo shifts a little to the right and up towards the sun as the refection happens. Not a very controlled test. Not saying this doesn't happen but I've seen this before on my 16-35mm f/2.8 gm and any other wide angle lens I've owned. Although It wasn't related to shutter speed, it's just what can happens if you're at the right angle to the sun. Same with any other camera I've had. Most of my direct on images don't have this. Sony a7Riii user and previous Canon user with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 lenses.

The shutter malfunctioning completely could be an issue though. Too early to tell. So far no issues here. Time will tell.

Alec Kinnear's picture

The Sony A7 III shutter is so loud and brutal it wouldn't surprise me if it failed early. Nasty, brutal and cheap shotgun sound. Much prefer the Fuji X-H1 or the Nikon Z6 approach (a very quiet and controlled sound which doesn't attract attention on the street).

Sony has been cutting quality corners on its cameras forever. About time it bit them in the backside. Hopefully Sony will cover its customers with an extended warranty on the defective part like Canon, Nikon and Apple occasionally do.

Slawek G's picture

Loud ? What about the first a7r ? :-)

Had the same thing happen around 25k on one of my a7iii’s, other one and my riii are still fine

I had to take my lens off and try it without a lens before I was convinced it wasn’t lens flare.

Michael Aubrey's picture

If you're out of warranty, relatively decent with your hands and can keep track of tiny screws. It's surprisingly easy to replace the shutter on Sony's II and III series cameras.

I broke the shutter on my A7rII (it was my fault, not a flaw), bought a replacement shutter from the official parts source and did the repair myself. Good as new!

https://sony.encompass.com/model/SONILCE7RM2

Christian Lainesse's picture

Link for the 7M3: https://sony.encompass.com/model/SONILCE7M3

That said, availability for all parts is "no".

Michael Aubrey's picture

Most say "in stock" when I click the link. Mysterious...

Dave Nunez-Delgado's picture

I've had 2 replaced under warranty by Sony Pro Support in under a year. The 2nd one that failed was on the same camera, the repair had lasted for about a month and was deemed to have been a defective.

Rob Mitchell's picture

woah, dial it back a bit.

I thought these were punted as the perfect camera and the bestest thing ever?
Noooow the truth comes out, the stocks are going.to dive, a swathe of blogposts on the way 'why I switched from the shitty shutter shony'

I'll get the popcorn ready.

user-244549's picture

For tonight, I swim on an ocean of salty Sony fanboi tears. It will be the sweetest experience of my life.

You sound a bit religious about cameras as for a non-photographer...

For Nikon addicts there is mention of issues with D750. It means whole Nikon line, including mirrorless, lenses and microscopes is screwed up, right?

Rob Mitchell's picture

Totally doomed. Let’s not even remember the grease splurge nightmares of the D600.

Jan Kruize's picture

I remember the cano eos 5D had an issue with the mirror falling off. Never was an issue. Guarantee or not. They repaired it for free.

David Pavlich's picture

My son has an old 5DIII that he gives his second shooter. It's got about 400,000 clicks on it. It's never seen a repair shop. ;-)

Joel Cleare's picture

Well yea. It’s a Canon. The Toyota of cameras.

David Pavlich's picture

I would say Lexus. ;-)

Why are you giving more views to this Sony salesman?

Dang, they were working for Nikon, then Canon or was it Canon then Nikon. They sure get around.

Alec Kinnear's picture

They are real pros, they'll slander and misrepresent and distort for whomever is handing out the biggest perks or whatever might get them more air time.

It happen to mine within the first 4 months of having it.

Adam Palmer's picture

If you are on the fence between a7III and a7rIII this is point for the R3. Seems to have a better shutter. I feel like you should just put the best shutter you have in all your cameras and just add 20 to the price or whatever it costs. Lots of ways to economize but this might be one of the worst. I will give props to sony support though. Fast and reasonably priced. I have two cameras in there for other reasons now.

Joel Cleare's picture

Where are the videos? I spent thousands switching to Sony and now it’s a brick....🤷🏽‍♂️

Robert De Paulis's picture

Wish I knew about this earlier as I invested in both the A7iii and a A7Riii with a good selection of G master lenses on faith of so called great reviews and the sales rep at a reputable camera store .
I have got a photographic trip planned for Greenland and Iceland next year and now concerned that my shutters are going to fail at a critical point .
Not a happy camper at the moment as this wasn’t a snap judgment it getting this system .
Should I be worried

Andy Day's picture

Hi Robert. There's no solid evidence as yet, just some research.

I'm having the same problem. It happens when I shoot at higher shutter speed. Extremely annoying and of course disappointed. Mine is still under warranty. Sending it in tomorrow (already got a shipping label from Sony.)

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