March 5th, 2018
Setting up Geotagging between a Sony Alpha A7R III and an iPhone should not be the arduous task that Sony has created. The Sony Playmemories (Version 6.2) app is among the worst, least intuitive iPhone applications I have ever used.
To begin with, all the Sony help files on the web do not align with the A7R III, because staring the the Alpha A9 and extending into the Alpha A7R III and A7 III, Sony has stripped ‘Applications’ from the camera menu. So none of the instructions online seem to be in sync with the equipment your looking at.
That being said, there are a lot of tutorials that say ‘use the linkage information on the playmemories app’ to connect geo tagging from your iPhone to the Sony. The problem is, when you download the playmemories app from the App store, there is no menu item for linkage information! This is very confusing.
The solution, as I found out, is that you have to connect your camera to your iPhone over wifi. However, this is where things become murky, you must create a wifi network which connects the iPhone ONLY to the camera. This useless network is required by the playmemories app to let the app know you own a specific camera, once this is achieved the mysterious ‘linkage information’ menu item becomes unhidden.
More complicated, this step can only be achieved by 1) taking a picture, so you better have a lens connected and have an SD card in the new camera. Once you have this picture you can then goto the network menu on the camera and ‘send it to a smartphone’. This will bring up a QR code on the back of the camera which you can scan with the playmemories app. Achieving the momentous goal, will install a private network device which Apple will complain about since it is unsigned by Sony. After you install this private network, the last step is to go to your wifi setting on the iphone and connect to this private network. Remember, Sony does NOT call your device the A7R III, it calls it an ‘ILCE-7RM3’.
Congratulations you finished step 1!
Now on the camera goto the Network Menu and page to page 2, click on ‘bluetooth settings’ and click on ‘Pairing’, this should now pair the camera to your iphone.
Next, in the same page 2 of the network settings, click on ‘Loc. Info. Link Set’ and turn ‘location info link’ on. Next on your Iphone, bring up the playmemories app and click on ‘Location Information Linkage’, it will warn you that this will only work with bluetooth camera, click OK. Now enable Location Information Linkage.
My suggestion now is to throw the app away and restart it, and power cycle the camera. Maybe even reboot the iPhone.
Is it working?
You should, on the Sony’s camera display, see what looks like a Stamp next to a bluetooth symbol. If you have this symbol without an exclaimation point (That means it lost connection), take a picture and look at the picture with the preview button and you’ll see what looks like compass in the lower left hand corner with geo information.
Does it keep working?
With the default setting of the camera and my phone locked in my pocket (Literally 2 feet away), I would lose connectivity to the camera every time the camera went to sleep. Once connectivity is lost, I needed to throw the app away and restart it, or occasionally re-enable the bluetooth connection on the phone then restart the app. I’m currently experimenting with changing the sleep period to 30 minutes which will beat the hell out of my battery. This seems to work 100% of the time.
Why it this process so difficult? I believe this is an app problem and not a camera problem. It feels to me like Sony paid some upwork people $100 to build an app. This process should have been completely re-thought for the A9, A7R III and A7 III, without the requirement of connecting via wifi. This app should be bluetooth only.
Please comment if you’ve had a different experience.