Mapping the complexity of the Sony Alpha 7 Mark III menu system


It all started as a seemingly simple task. To make it easier to master the menu system of the Sony α7 Mark III, I decided to create a mind map. But this project quickly evolved into a major, and rather fascinating, undertaking. It's not a secret that the menu systems of any Sony Alpha camera can be charitably described as advanced. But you can only appreciate its intricacy and sheer complexity, when the entire system is laid bare in front of you. I spent several days mapping the menu system, and it felt like exploring an uncharted world. The result is both fascinating and mind-boggling. The mind map contains about 900 nodes, each corresponding to an individual menu item and this is not the complete number, as I didn't map elements where it was impractical to do so. Even if I subtract a handful of nodes containing annotations of certain menu items, the number is still staggering. You can view and download a fully-expanded mind map here.

The goal of this endeavor was not to produce an impressive-looking mind map, though. Well, not entirely, at any rate. First, it offered a good way to discover and understand the camera's less-often used functionality and unearth useful features buried under multiple menu layers. I also use the resulting mind map as a reference on my laptop and mobile devices. Quickly navigating through mind maps is much more practical than flipping through pages or scrolling through a PDF file.

You can get the mind map file at Gumroad. The mind map was created with Freeplane. This is an open-source mind-mapping tool available for Linux, macOS, and Linux. The mind map itself is stored in the .mm format that can be imported into many popular mind-mapping applications. Better still, you can export the mind map into different formats. So if the mind map is not your cup of tea, you can export it as a collapsible outline in the good old HTML format that can be viewed in any browser.

The mind map is released under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, so you are free to tweak it.


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