Sony announced on Tuesday another feature for its digital cameras that the company hopes will expand their adoption among professional photographers: a software development kit that allows third-party developers to create their own custom tools to remotely control and operate the cameras.
Remotely operating Sony’s Alpha cameras has always been possible, but only through the company’s own desktop applications. And despite being known for its excellent hardware (think digital cameras, headphones, and TVs), Sony isn’t exactly known for its industry-leading software. So by releasing this SDK, other companies will finally be able to develop their own tools, hopefully giving photographers better ways to remotely adjust settings on their cameras, trigger the shutter, and even monitor the framing and focus from afar.
It’s not a feature every photographer will care about; those who roam the streets with a camera glued to their faces while capturing portraits of everyday life won’t be dashing to their laptops to download the development kit. But the SDK will help Sony expand where and how its cameras are used. Studio photography, where unique framing requires the camera to be perched somewhere a photographer can’t easily reach it, or in situations where the camera can’t be moved or bumped between takes, are completely dependent on being able to remotely operate the shooter.
As Sony points out in its official press release, the availability of the SDK will help it push further into the lucrative sports photography market, which is still dominated by brands like Canon and Nikon. Not necessarily on the sidelines, however, but through all of the custom-designed broadcast equipment that’s used to bring audiences unique angles on a sporting event, such as the robotic cable cameras that hang directly over the field during football and soccer games. This equipment requires cameras that can be thoroughly integrated with their own custom hardware and software, and with this SDK, Sony’s cameras are finally an option—and potentially even a more appealing solution given how compact and capable mirrorless shooters have become.
For the time being, Sony’s new SDK only supports the Alpha 7R IV and Alpha 9 II bodies, which are on the pricier end of the scale for the company’s mirrorless cameras. But the company promises it will eventually expand the list of supported cameras and continue to update the SDK as new hardware is released in the future.