August 30th, 2011, 11:16 AM
Panasonic Firmware Update for Power Zoom Lenses - Which Cameras Supported and Why?
Panasonic recently announced two new "Power Zoom" lenses, lenses which include zoom button controls on the lens to allow for smooth, powered zooming during video. Along with the introduction of these lenses, Panasonic announced that version 1.1 firmware updates would be made available for certain cameras (GH2, G3, GF3, G2), which would allow those cameras to take advantage of certain features:
Within hours of these announcements, owners of apparently excluded Panasonic cameras (G1, GF1, G2, G10, GH1) began to complain about the lack of full support for those cameras with the new lenses, and a petition was initiated: Petition G1, GF1, GH1 & G2 firmware for LUMIX G X VARIO lenses
- Display of focal length
When you zoom, the focal distance is displayed and you can confirm the zoom position.
- Step zoom
When you operate the zoom, the zoom will stop at positions corresponding to predetermined distances.
- Zoom resume
When you switch the power switch [ON], the zoom positions when you last switched [OFF] are automatically restored.
- Selectable zoom speed
Users can select the speed of electric-powered zooming.
I contacted Panasonic to ask for clarification about this issue, in particular the explanation for why some bodies were being updated via firmware to get full functionality while others were not.
Here is the response which I received:
Presumably, Olympus bodies will offer the same basic operation as the older Panasonic models, although I do not have confirmation about that.
1. The following models will be fully supported: DMC-GF2, GF3, G3 and GH2.
2. These models will have additional menu options that add:
- Three zoom speed choices, where each choice will offer a separate high and low speed for still images and motion video.
- Step zoom function
- Display of focal length.
3. Older models such as G1, G2, G10, GF1 and GH1 are not supported because they do not have the required internal resources and do not access the camera’s CPU in the way newer models do. (Future support is not ruled out, though no date commitment can be offered at this time)
4. For the models not supported, basic operation is offered (less the options explained in #2 above.) The zoom speeds for these models will be fixed to one of the three choices, and will still offer separate low and hi speeds for still images and motion video. (Motion video speeds are slower than for still images)
My personal take is that Panasonic is doing due diligence here by making sure that basic operation is supported with the older models (as well as all Olympus models), and I appreciate the response indicating that there were technical reasons for limiting certain added features to newer models.
For owners of the GF2, GF3, G3 and GH2, the version 1.1 firmware will be available for download in early October at DIGITAL CAMERA LUMIX | Digital AV | Consumer Products | Support | Panasonic Global
8/31/11 Update: I received some additional information in a follow-up correspondence from Panasonic:
What our factory engineers referred to as "internal resources" is actually RAM memory within the Venus engine IC. The older Venus engines had less "resources". Adding more features would over-utilize this RAM and likely slow the camera's performance in other areas. So by "giving" new features, we would be "taking" from elsewhere. The feedback would likely be quite negative.
The ultimate solution is to see if the firmware can be rewritten to be more efficient / compact, thereby releasing some additional resources. That is being investigated, but that's all it is at this time.
August 30th, 2011, 12:11 PM
It still works, it's not like you loose AF or something like that.
Jonathan | My Blog
Cameras: E-M10 | E-PM2 | GF2 | XE-1 | D3 | D800 | N80 + Too Much Glass
August 30th, 2011, 12:29 PM
Thanks for this Amin. Somewhat gives me an excuse to get a G3 since I'm eyeing that 14-42X
August 30th, 2011, 02:57 PM
IMHO Panasonic answer is not true.
Noadays digital cameras are really computers with specialiced perifericals.
And a computer maybe programed to support almost anything.
Out of the "official" brands firmwares there are several good known examples that oficial firmware does not expand our cameras posibilities (canon powershot and DSLR cameras, and in our case m43 the hacking firmware for GH1, GF1 and GH2).
There are a continuous and forced and programed obsolencentia for all electronics devices. Cameras is not an exception.
Panasonic is really doing what an electronic devices' manufacturing company
What will happen if someone will develop a custom firmware adding complete Support for the new lenses for our GF1,G1 and GH1?
Panasonic answer is really a poor excuse. And really a very bad comercial option. How many first models' users will be potential buyers for that lenses?
Please this is not an official Panasonic site. I think we must be more critical with this kind of things because is the only path to not allow that easy exits to Panasonic.
What do you think????
August 30th, 2011, 03:24 PM
Interesting - I wonder where this leaves the Olympus bodies too ?
Apart from the physical aspects of the m43 mount for an electronic coupled lens surely some common standards must have been agreed upong to aide interoperability ?
August 30th, 2011, 03:38 PM
Interesting theory but completely unsubstantiated. For sure Panasonic makes some features available in some cameras but not in others. It is their prerogative to sell different cameras at different pricepoints. And they may have done that here.
Originally Posted by longimanus
But it's also possible that the older cameras are simply incapable of incorporating this feature, due to issues like memory capacity, processor speed, etc... As you said, they are computers, and sometimes old computers just aren't powerful enough to run new software.
At the end of the day, we don't know the reasons why the older cameras don't get the firmware updates. It's just speculation.
August 30th, 2011, 03:54 PM
Exactly John - and, in their response, they did indicate that an update may be made available to the older models.
Originally Posted by John M Flores
Computers provide a useful comparison. We desire ever improved graphics performance (faster frame rates, lower power consumption etc) for a variety of tasks. In time, software developed for the faster graphics chips does not run well, or at all, on older computers.
A quick observation: well done on building this community. In doing so, some influence has been developed which equips you to have these questions answered. This is good for us. Thanks.
August 30th, 2011, 04:21 PM
I agree with you. Maybe I am wrong and, of course, I don't have enought information and technical knowhow... But Common sense said to me 2 things:
Originally Posted by John M Flores
1- create a jpg file request a mayor computer resources that Simply change a setting.
2- the m43 lenses have dedicated microprocessors that can help or store Simply settings.
Only because of that reasons Panasonic responses are not very credible.
Anyway good to see people that ask themselves
August 30th, 2011, 05:05 PM
Completely agree, thanks Amin
Originally Posted by Pelao
August 30th, 2011, 06:25 PM
my G1, gf1 and E-P1 are not interested in having these lenses put on their bodies anyways.
If Panasonic wants to make lenses that don't work on my cameras, that's fine. There are plenty of others that do.
They may risk alienating the easily offended, but no one is likely to use the same camera for the next 30 years.
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