Sony Sued: Class-Action Lawsuit Says a7 III Shutter is Bricking Cameras

Sony has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by a consumer who claims that the popular Sony a7 III has shutter defects that brick the camera and force owners to pay for expensive repairs.

Law Street Media reports that the plaintiff, a man named John Guerriero, filed the class-action complaint in the Southern District of New York against Sony Electronics Inc. yesterday.

Guerriero calls Sony “the vanguard of the mirrorless camera movement because they’re the most accessible full-frame system[s] on the market” before accusing the company of denying warranty claims made by camera owners who experienced “mechanical problems” with the a7 III’s shutter.

“The a7iii is smaller, lighter, and more durable than its DSLR counterpart, which contributes to its higher cost – approximately $2,000.00,” the lawsuit reads. “Unfortunately for many purchasers of the a7 III, mechanical problems with the shutter have rendered the cameras unusable provided they do not pay over $500 for repair to an authorized service center.”

Sony states that the a7 III is rated for 200,000 shutter actuations, but according to the lawsuit, many owners have reported shutter failures occurring far before reaching that 200,000 actuation mark.

“Numerous users report shutter failures far below 200,000 but between 10,000 and 50,000 for most of the users who experienced this,” the complaint states. “While the a7iii is generally sold with a one-year warranty, shutter failure occurs randomly, often outside of the warranty period.”

“The result is that purchasers must pay approximately $500-$650 for repair and replacement of the shutter mechanism.”

The lawsuit also claims that because the camera’s shutter failure happens in such a predictable way, it’s due to a mechanical flaw in the design.

“The shutter failure manifests in a consistent way,” the filing states. “Prior to shutter failure, users report hearing an atypical shutter sound, followed by the screen turning black and displaying the following message: ‘Camera Error. Turn off then on.’ […]

The camera error message displayed when the shutter fails. Exhibit photo from Guerriero v. Sony Electronics Inc., 7:21-cv-02618

“When a user removes the lens, the shutter is closed and stuck. In most instances, the shutter has become detached, as shown through the numerous a7 III users who shared pictures of their broken shutters on the internet.”

Stuck shutters. Exhibit photos from Guerriero v. Sony Electronics Inc., 7:21-cv-02618
Broken shutters. Exhibit photos from Guerriero v. Sony Electronics Inc., 7:21-cv-02618

There are various theories out there as to what is causing this particular kind of shutter failure.

“These include the observation that the shutter blade catches on the front edge as it moves down in taking a picture,” the lawsuit says. “This is because the blades are positioned farther forward, so they ‘catch’ and fail to fully clear.

“Moreover, the front curtain shutter material is of limited strength, causing it to break. Additionally, the shutter is unusually susceptible to disruption by small particles, even dust, which can cause the blades out of alignment.”

Some Sony a7 III users are said to be turning electronic front curtain shutter (EFCS) off in hopes of avoiding this failure, but this increases shutter noise and is less-than-optimal for photographers who purchased their a7 III for quiet shooting — at weddings, for example.

Others who experienced this failure have attempted do-it-yourself fixes that can lead to warranty claims being denied.

Guerriero is now suing Sony on behalf of “all citizens of New York who purchased the a7iii cameras,” and among the things he’s seeking from the court are an injunction, an award for damages/costs/fees, and other relief.