Why Can't Sony Just Give Us a Flip-Out Screen?

Why Can't Sony Just Give Us a Flip-Out Screen?

Dear Sony, why is it so difficult for you to get the flip-out screen right? It's as though you're trying to do absolutely everything you can with your screen except give us what we've been asking for. How many times do we have to ask you Sony? Almost everyone asked for the flip-out touch screen, instead, you gave us a completely useless flip-up screen.  

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Apparently, the Sony a6400 is a camera designed predominantly for YouTubers and vloggers. Clearly, Sony hasn't thought this one through or they think that vloggers don't need microphones. Just so that it's extremely clear, flip-up screens suck. I mean how are you supposed to use the flip-up screen when you have something like a shotgun mic connected to the hot shoe? This is why Canon is number one, they just get the basics right. Most people who vlog with their cameras tend to use a microphone because almost all cameras are terrible for recording audio. The dumbest thing about this is that Sony also markets their shotgun mic with the a6400. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.  

I can already imagine what Sony's excuse is going to be. More than likely they're going to say something like, "Well, we saw how people were attaching monitors to their hot shoe and thought oh, that's what people want". 

Sony, please, enough with the excuses and feigning ignorance. You know what customers have been requesting for what seems like an eternity. Please, for the love of God, give us a flip out screen. Not a tilt screen. or a weird vertical screen and definitely not a flip-up screen. An actual proper flip out touch screen. Just in case there's any confusion, take look at the image below of a camera from a company that gets it right. 

No matter what Canon get's wrong they always seem to get the very basics right. This is one of the reasons why Canon continues to dominate the industry. Recent data suggest that Canon is now the number one manufacturer for both DSLR cameras and mirrorless in Japan; that didn't take long did it?

What annoys me the most about the choices Sony makes for their screens is the fact that they're the one company that shouldn't be getting this wrong. I mean, It's Sony, you know, the company that makes stuff with high-quality screens like TVs and smartphones. Even without considering the flip-out issue, the screens they have in their cameras are terrible. How is Sony the company to not get this right?  

My guess is that Sony will probably disappoint with their potentially upcoming cameras like the a7S III and the a7000. These cameras are not going to have flip-out touch screens, because Sony just wants to be awkward. 

Ok, I'm done with my little rant now; what are your thoughts on Sony and why do you think they refuse to offer a proper flip-out touch screen in their cameras? 

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120 Comments

Kyle Medina's picture

It's not just Sony...

I’m assuming it’s a mix of a patent issue and they might be developing a mark 4 body that incorporates one.

Patents could definitely be holding them back. Also wondering if Sony et al patenting the 'easy' IP caused Canon some grief wrt designing sensors.

Jonathan Brady's picture

My thoughts? Most people don't care. Even people claiming to be vloggers. No, seriously. Think about it NOT in terms of the most popular YouTubers, think about it in terms of each individual user. Weight whoever the most popular YouTuber is equally to that annoying kid Brian who lives down the street who wants to buy a camera because his phone isn't cutting it for his videos that get 17 views a month. To Sony, those two people are equal. There are exponentially more "Brian's" out there than top YouTubers (or Usman's) when you think about sales and Brian's don't have the money for an external mic when they're dropping $900 on a camera but more importantly, they don't care because the on-camera audio is easy and easy is what they want.
Additionally, for those who might want to use a mic, there's a good chance that A) they're happy using a clip on mic and/or B) they'll have someone holding the camera.
Finally, the total package is smaller when using a tilting screen than a flip out screen. Personally, I'll never buy another camera with an articulating screen. It's a deal-breaker for me. Tilting screens only, for me.
In summary, the crowd who wants to record themselves and use a hotshoe-mounted mic is much smaller (exponentially) than the crowd who doesn't and Sony is looking to entice more people, not fewer.

Xander Cesari's picture

Couldn't agree more. A lot of articles like this just go in with the assumption that a flip out screen is unilaterally superior to a tilting screen. But for shooting stills from high or low vantage points a tilting screen is way better. Faster to actuate, doesn't block the left hand grip, and keeps the body much smaller. For a flip screen you need the width of the hinge to the left of the screen and I'm glad to not have an extra 10mm on that side of my Sony.

Everything about the rest of the A6xxx line is making the camera as compact as possible. Range finder style, small grip, and smaller battery all keep it tiny. Their mount being ~5mm smaller than the competition helps as well. So I'm not surprised they didn't go flip out for the A6400, giving up one of the advantages of the body.

Kyle Medina's picture

"assumption that a flip out screen is unilaterally superior to a tilting screen."

but it is...

Xander Cesari's picture

Reasons a tilt screen is better: "Faster to actuate, doesn't block the left hand grip, and keeps the body much smaller."

Usman Dawood's picture

Those are minor detractions when you consider the overall benefits. Tilt screens can only tilt, hence the name. A fully articulating screens offer far more movements and also the ability to put the screen away offering some extra degree of protection.

A fully articulating screen is obviously better than a screen that only tilts.

Jonathan Brady's picture

"Obviously better" is subjective based on preferences you have. It's subjectively "obviously inferior" based on preferences I have.
Honestly, I'd prefer a screen which tilts up and down for portrait orientation as well. But as I mentioned elsewhere, articulating screens are a deal breaker for me. I simply won't buy another camera with one.

I used both tilt and flip, and for every day photography use I really don't want to go back to the flip screen. It's just slower and has no benefits. But there's also the entry level Fuji X-T100 which gives you the best of both worlds. Let's hope we see this design in future high end cameras.

Xander Cesari's picture

"A fully articulating screen is obviously better than a screen that only tilts."

How many people have chimed into the comments disagreeing with this? I see that you have a YouTube channel so I can definitely see how much more useful you would find a flip screen. Totally feel that, they make a lot of sense for that use case. But I think it's pretty clear from these comments that it's more debatable than you're making it sound.

I'm not trying to change your mind but at this point you have to admit that there's another side of this debate.

Usman Dawood's picture

I don't see anything bad in someone trying to change someone's mind. If you have a valid point I'm always interested. I just think to say that a tilt screen is better because of a very minor speed improvement is short-sighted. Also, there is no left side grip, people generally hold the cameras from the bottom of the lens and the actual grip. Cameras like the 80D, for example, do it really well with all of the ports on the left side still being fully accessible. The GH5 is another example.

I will clarify something though, I don't think all of Sony's cameras need a fully articulating screen just the ones they aim more towards video. The a6400 is one of those cameras and so is the potentially upcoming a7s III. For photogrpahy it may not be the perfect option but that's not what I discussed, I discussed more about video although I do see benfits for photography too.

If you don't shoot video and these cameras are aimed more towards video then doesn't that make your points moot?

Xander Cesari's picture

I just spent the morning shooting with my A7iii with the battery grip and the 24-105mm, a reasonably sized lens. A big enough setup that I'm definitely supporting it from both sides. I usually place my palm on the left side of the body and my fingers wrap around the lens. A flip-out screen would block that and when I'm framing high or low I want the best grip on the camera for stability. I can tilt the screen with my thumb while hardly shifting my grip on the camera as I go low or high, snap the shot, and be back to shooting without missing a beat. It's fast, steady, convenient, and doesn't need fixing.

I think you're hearing a lot of pushback in the comments because despite the very small number of photographers who are in the niche of vlogging but without an external monitor they've become loud voices on YouTube decrying a lack of these very specific features. Vloggers make unilateral claims about how a camera is terrible because it lacks this specific feature or a plea to a manufacturer to add it. So all the photographers who never turn the camera on themselves feel like if we don't speak up the camera manufacturers will only hear this vocal minority. That's not your fault, it's not you or your article, it's just a very common sentiment. I think you just triggered a bit of defensiveness.

Usman Dawood's picture

Last two paragraphs of my previous comment.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Ha! You're funny, Kyle!

revo nevo's picture

It is not and I don't wan't it on my camera

He's right. It is. The flip out screen is far superior. I have a 60D with that awesome flip out screen and an XT1 with a tilt screen. I 100% prefer the flip out screen. It does everything you need it to. On the XT1 I can't tilt it up in portrait orientation to get a low to the ground shot. I also can't flip it out in any way to do a self portrait. It's only Up or down in landscape and that's it. granted it' still way more flexible than a standard non flip or tilt screen.

user-156818's picture

And I'm the outlier who doesn't want either. I look at it as one more part that can break. It's a weak point on a camera with those articulating joints. I don't have an issue crawling on the ground to get a different vantage point. I'd rather have a sturdy and durable camera.

John Dawson's picture

Exactly! There's more to life than YouTube. If you're a professional, get an external monitor.

On the flip side of this argument (pun intended), I'm tired of paying for video features that I'll never use. It's like buying a minivan when I just need a sedan.

Usman Dawood's picture

If you don’t like paying for video features you never use maybe Leica is the option for you :-p.

John Dawson's picture

No, i don't like paying for over-hyped and insanely priced mediocrity either.

Usman Dawood's picture

That’s the only option I can think of that’s available with no video features. Point I’m making is that statement you made about not paying for video features is in all practicalities a little dumb because only Leica offers what you’re asking for.

Another reason is that most of not all other camera manufacturers wouldn’t want to make their cameras less compelling by removing video features.

For better or worse video features will remain in cameras and will receive further developments.

John Dawson's picture

Yeah, despite being dumb, i get it.

Usman Dawood's picture

Let’s be very clear here I didn’t and wouldn’t call you dumb I don’t even believe that to be true. I called the point you made dumb which is extremely different.

Making a dumb point doesn’t make the person dumb. We all do it.

Jan Kruize's picture

Maybe a stupid question..... but when you want to vlog or whatever why don't you buy a videocam? I'm a photographer and i hope canon brings up a follower for the mkiv without video features and 1000 dollar cheaper.

user-156929's picture

I can't imagine it would be $1000 cheaper. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

michaeljin's picture

Video cameras tend to be big, heavy, and expensive if you want one that allows you to attach a lens comparable to a stills camera lens on it. Stills cameras are essentially the "budget cameras" of the video world.

Tony Northrup's picture

They insist on reusing the same body design that we've complained about for years. They do listen about other aspects. Clearly the marketing department decided there was demand for a vlogging camera, but didn't tell the engineering department.

Spy Black's picture

The only way to effectively vlog with this is to use an external recorder and sync in post. If you're only going to record yourself, an inexpensive lavaliere plugged into your cellphone is the cheapest route. It's also the simplest.

Marius Pettersen's picture

How about using a cheap bracket to offset an external mic to either side of the camera?

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