Warning: Array to string conversion in /homepages/22/d818328208/htdocs/clickandbuilds/MichaelGuthmann/wp-content/plugins/selfhost-google-fonts/inc/process.php on line 416

Firmware updates in future still for free?

close up shot of keys on a red surface

Small manufactures like Fuji, OM Digital Solutions and Panasonic offers since a while free firmware updates for their flagship models. Those firmware updates doesn’t fix bugs only but add also new functionalities. Whether this will be the case in future or not I would like to discuss in this small blog post. I mean firmware updates which add new functionality. Bug fix updates are not discussed here.

Sunset in Botswana kündigt das Ende kostenloser Firmware Updates bei digitalen Kameras an.

Reasons for free firmware updates

The small companies do have a difficult situation compared to the big three. Limited R&D capacities limit also the capabilities to bring new hardware in the same frequencies as the bigger ones. In case a company is not able to introduce new hardware, those companies are not mentioned in the medias. This ends in less brand awareness. Therefore those companies make less revenue which ends again in less R&D resources. Sounds like a vicious circle
One possibility to break this vicious circle are firmware updates, which add new functionalities. As this is “only” software, R&D need less resources. In addition customers are happier. The firmware adds value to their camera. In the mean time those firmware updates are already sales arguments. That is the reason that big companies are offering such kind of updates as well. Nikon just recently published a functional firmware update for their Z9.

Reasons against firmware updates for free

Not only hardware development needs resources in R&D. Also the development of firmware needs manpower. Despite this firmware will be tested and ties therefore R&D capabilities. Through firmware for free the companies cannot make revenue. Therefore the ongoing hardware sales has to finance the development. In addition the parallel firmware development disturbs the development of new hardware. In most of the cases the same developers are involved. As the market is decreasing also the numbers of sold cameras is decreasing. Therefore prices of hardware increases. Customer will buy less often a new hardware. In addition the innovation steps between each hardware generation are getting smaller. This decrease the interest in new hardware on customers side in addition. The differences between the owned and the new camera are to small.

How does the future look like?

As above described firmware updates for free do have tow sided of a coin. In fact companies do get more brand awareness, but also tie R&D resources. Those are urgently needed to develop new hardware. This potentially delays new hardware this is needed urgently. But new hardware brings higher margins than hardware which is already on the market for a longer time. In addition we all know that the camera market is shrinking. Therefore it will be more and more difficult to generate revenue for all manufacturers. Therefore we will see in near future a destructive competition. Brands will either disappear or bought by other brands. Even though that Nikon recently publishes a functional firmware update for its Z9, this was already mentioned at the launch of the Z9. Already know some of the brands offers only for their flagship model those functional updates.

Über den kostenlosen Firmware Updates digitaler Kameras ziehen sich düstere Wolken zusammen

I’m sure we will see very soon market adaptions. Therefore functional firmware updates will be only available for sales. Even more likely we will also see in the flagship models the strategy to bring new hardware to add new functionality as we do already see in the cheaper models. Sony already do have this strategy and other manufacture will follow soon or later. Otherwise the companies are not able to generate revenue with dropping numbers. Even thought firmware updates prolong the live span of camera hardware, but the companies are earning less revenue.
I’m sure this is a very controversial opinion and I’m curious what you think about this. Leave a comment with your thoughts. I’m looking forward to an active and respectful discussion.

Following might be interesting for you as well

In my blog post “Has the term focal length become obsolete” I share my thoughts about the terminology focal length.

USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace useful?

OM Workspace is a RAW file developer, which is for Olympus / OM System camera owners for free. Ist can be downloaded from the OM Digitalsolution website. As it is the OM Digitalsolutions own software it will be renewed on every product launch. Therefore the first one supporting RAW files of a new camera. Beside the possibility to use the computer processor it offers also to utilize the camera processor to process the RAW files. In forums and the social networks it is heavily discussed whether it makes sense to use the USB-RAW processing capabilities or not. With this short article I would like to help.

OM-1 product image

What is USB-RAW Processing in OM Workspace?

A in camera processor has different tasks than a processor in a computer. Therefore concept and design is fundamental different. A camera processor is optimized for the task needed in a camera. Means that the usage of a camera should be possible, without any delay, at all times. For this task the camera processors has special areas, which are optimized for image processing. This means that a camera processor can make image processing much faster than a ordinary computer processor. A ordinary computer processor is optimized for general usage. This is the reason why OM Workspace offers you the option to utilize the camera processor for RAW image development

How can I use USB-RAW Processing?

Preconditions to use USB-RAW processing is that you have installed OM Workspace and have one compatible camera (E-M1 Mark III; E-M1 Mark II, E-M1X und die OM-1) connected via USB to your computer. It is important that you are using the same camera for processing as you have used for taking the images. Also important is that you set the camera mode to “RAW/Control” . In addition it is important that the camera is connected directly to the computer and no hub is used.

After you have startet the software you can activate USB-RAW processing in the icon bar

screenshot how to activate USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace

Or in case you prefer to uses USB-RAW processing all the time you can make the setting also in the option menu.

where the USB-RAW procession option is located in the settings

Now OM Workspace is able to utilize the camera processor to develop your images..

When does it make sense to use USB-RAW processing?

In case you are using the newest version of apple computers, like the Mac Studio, which do have massive computer power, it only makes sense to use USB-RAW processing, if you would get the same image quality as you are getting from in camera JEPG images. For all other scenarios, the development with the camera processor, which is as said optimized for images processing, will be much faster than processing the images with your computer. I do have a MacBook Pro from 2018, the development with the camera processor is 10x faster as with the Intel processor. In case you would like to judge the advantage in your case, make a simple test. I would be happy when you would share your experience down in the comments.

OM System OM-1 AI detection AF

With the OM-1, OM Digitalsolutions has taken the intelligent object detection, introduced with the OM-D E-M1X to a new level and called it “AI detection AF”. In addition to the additional detection of cats and dogs, both the speed of detection and the accuracy have been significantly improved. I want to briefly discuss which improvements have been achieved and how.

Speed

The OM-1 introduces two new essential improvement for subject detection AF. On one hand side the sensor and on the other hand the image processor 

The new sensor is a backside illuminated stacked CMOS sensor, who has pixels which are divided in four sub pixel. This design brings two essential improvements compared to the OM-D E-M1X. A stacked sensor can be read out much faster and is therefore able to deliver needed information for AF calculation faster. The four sub pixel information can be read out separately and could be utilized as cross sensors for phase detection autofocus. This is the reason why the OM-1 has a 100% sensor coverage of autofocus sensors. But providing the information faster is only one thing. To be able to utilize this data the image processor has to able to process those data. Therefore the new image processor of the OM-1 is much faster as the one in the E-M1X.

Starting kingfisher taken with AI Detection AF

Precision

Beside speed accuracy in subject detection is as important. A fast autofocus is not helpful, if the subject detection is working well. The accuracy of the OM-1 subject detection as been improved by two changes. On one hand side the size of the single AF points as been reduced. Therefore, are more AF points available, which leads to a better differentiation between objects, background and foreground. Result is that the camera is not irritated by branches or similar interruptions, which leads to a improved subject detection. On the other hand the algorithm to recognize the single subjects has been improve and programmed directly into the processor, which is thanks to the much higher processing speed able to deliver the focus results in a shorter time. The camera is able to react to changes in front of a lens much faster.

Kingfisher taken with the OM-1
Kingfisher

Functional AI detection AF Improvements

Luckily the improvements of the OM-1 are not only in speed and precision, but also in functionality. In case of the E-M1X the intelligent subject detection is only available when you activate C-AF + Tracking and the hole sensor area. That is the reason that the photographer is not able to recognize which subject will be focused on. Even though the camera focus on the subject which is closest to the selected AF point.

The OM-1 is offering intelligent subject detection also on S-AF and the “normal” C-AF mode. In opposite to the C-AF + Tracking, which is following the focused subject, S-AF and C-AF keeps the position in the frame and reacts accordingly. This enable the photographer to decide which of the functionality fits to his / her needs best.

Great tit in the trees taken with the OM-1

Conclusion about AI detection AF

The new generation of subject detection as essential improvements compared to the one introduce three years ago with the E-M1X. All aspects, which do have influence in subject detection, has been improved.

Die neue  Generation der Objekterkennung ist eine wesentliche Verbesserung gegenüber der vor 3 Jahren vorgestellten E-M1X. Alle Aspekte, die einen Einfluß auf die Objekterkennung haben, wurden wesentlich verbessert. The interaction of the new sensor, new processor and new algorithms gives you a package that makes it much easier to photograph objects such as birds in flight. This development also shows what we can expect from new camera generations in the future. Instead of just increasing the number of pixels, there will be more and more computational photography, in which the camera provides functions that make it easier for the photographer to achieve results. After all, 20 million pixels, the OM-1 is more than enough to print out the pictures in any desired size and hang them on the wall.

OM-1 details

Interested in details about the OM System OM-1, then read “OM System OM-1 introduced”

PEN E-P7 introduced

E-P7 silver front view

In 2009 Olympus introduce in Berlin the E-P1 the first mirrorless camera with Micro Four Thirds standard. Already at that time, the camera design was based on the PEN design in the late sixties. Several successors have been released and in 2013 the last PEN of the P series has been released. Now after 8 years, OM Digital Solutions pick up the threads and releases with the Olympus PEN E-P7. Its design doesn’t require hiding from its predecessors. Modern but classic looks pretty nice and OM Digital Solutions achieved once again a very attractive camera.

Product image of the Olympus PEN E-P7
Olympus PEN E-P7 with M.Zuiko Digital 12mm F2.0

The inner values of the Olympus PEN E-P7

Personally, I love the design and this is already a good reason to buy the E-P7, but the E-P7 is coming with the newest technologies. It has the current image processor TruePic VIII and brings a 5 axis image stabilisation, which can correct 4,5 EV steps. In addition, it is the first PEN with the known 20 MPixel sensor of the E-M10 Mark IV. In conjunction with the high-quality M.Zuiko lenses, the E-P7 can deliver the best possible image quality.

What I like about the E-P7 most are the creative possibilities. Besides the well know Art Filters and the long time exposure function Live Composite and Live Bulb, the E-P7 is coming with Monochrom Profile and Colour Profile Control, which is known from the Olympus PEN-F. For both profiles, the E-P7 comes with four presets, which could be adjusted to personal preferences. The creative functions can be combined. For example, you can combine the Monochrom Profil or Color Profile with Live Composite and LiveBulb. This enables you to create unique results without long time post-processing.

The target group of the E-P7 are those who are using the smartphone to take images and looking for a camera with interchangeable lenses to be more creative. Therefore is the camera compatible with OI.share, with which you can remote control the camera. In addition, it is possible to transfer images directly from the camera to the smartphone. New in the E-P7 is, that you can transfer taken images automatically to the smartphone. Now it is even easier to transfer images to your smartphone and share them on social networks.

Olympus PEN E-P7 on a semi reflective underground
Olympus PEN E-P7 white

Critics

As beautiful as the camera is there are some features which will not be liked by all of you. For example, the display is only tiltable by 80° up and 180° down. It is also no swivel display. As the display is tilted downwards to see it from the front it is not possible to use a tripod. This makes selfies and selfie movies more difficult. OI.share can help here, as the live view can be used to control the image.

In addition, the E-P7 doesn’t have an electronic viewfinder. A lot of photographers do prefer an electronic viewfinder, especially when they are taking images in bright surroundings or need reading glasses. Here is a viewfinder helpful as the image is shown in infinity. The missing viewfinder is the reason for the compact size of the camera, which enables you to have the camera always with you.

Details of the Olympus PEN E-P7

Conclusion

All in all the E-P7 is a very nice camera. Especially using the creative functions is fun and enable you to create impressive images without post-processing. This helps you to share your own image styles fast and uncomplicated on social networks. Due to the small size and weight, it competes with a camera like the Canon GX7 with the advantage of interchangeable lenses. In case you own already a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-P7 is certainly an option as a second camera.

Further article about the Olympus PEN E-P7

Officially the E-P7 is not compatible with the Profoto Air Remote O-TTL, however see how it works in my article “Olympus PEN E-P7 and OM-D E-M10 Mark IV compatible with Profoto Air Remote O-TTL?

Switching from winter to summer time

Every year in spring and autumn we have to switch the clock by one hour. In case you own an Olympus E-M1X, which has a built-in GPS receiver, and you have set-up the automatic time switch. If not, you have to do it by yourself. Otherwise, the time in the EXIF data is not the correct capture time. In case you use your smartphone to record GPS data the position in the EXIF data is wrong.

Set time with OI.share

In case you own an OM-D, which can be connected via WiFi with your phone, I recommend connecting it once with Olympus OI.share. If you selected synchronise time in the settings, the time will be adjusted just by that. How this works in detail you see in the movie on the left.

Adjust time manually

In case your camera is not equipped with WiF, you have to set the time manually.

Menu screen shot to set up time manually

Just go to the wrench menu and change the time.

Both methods are quick, but guarantee that the capture time in the EXIF data in your image is correct. This helps you in the end not only if you synchronise GPS data of your smartphone with your camera, but helps you sorting the images as well. It helps a lot when you are searching within your images.