Firmware update without a cable - Success achieved

shnitz

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Aug 25, 2011
Messages
1,026
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
As you guys may know from my post history, I took my brother's E-M1 that was sitting in a closet since he got his E-M1 II. While going through the manual to make sure that I was familiar with features outside of my usual shooting style of just using Aperture priority and not fussing with anything else, I came across the fact that my E-M1 was firmware version 2.2, whereas the current version is 4.3. I went to the Olympus website, but they only provide a way of updating by using their installed application. There are 2 downsides to this:
- You need the cable. I did not have the foresight to take it. Olympus uses a proprietary-ish cable, so a standard micro USB wouldn't work.
- You need administrator rights on your computer. This isn't a problem for most, but if you're like me, you bought the Olympus camera to be more mobile, and you might have only your domain-joined laptop with you, and you might not be allowed to install software.

So, I found a website that purports to allow you to update firmware by putting a .bin file onto the SD card. It appears that it's the level 1 Olympus technician backdoor to quickly flash a specific firmware. I looked on the Olympus website, which recommends going stair-stepping. I downloaded the 2.2 to 3.0 bin file, as well as the 4.3 bin file. Since it's a binary file, and they're all the same size, I decided to take a chance and go straight from 2.2 to 4.3. I followed the instructions on the website (put the bin file on the SD card, turn the camera on while pressing OK) and it was effortless. It took all of 90 seconds, and I'm off to the races. I haven't researched enough, but it appears to be the factory bin file.

From what I read about the Olympus process, this seems to cut out the middle man. Instead of having to rely on the Olympus PC software to copy the file over to the camera and flash it, you let the camera do all the work. Note that this process doesn't work for any accessories like lenses, flash, etc. Hopefully this helps the next person searching here update their firmware. I found a few threads that mention this in the solution down below, but none

Good luck to anyone that need to try. Eventually I'll get the cable that I'm sure is sitting in my brother's drawer somewhere:
Olympus firmware update tool
 

junkyardsparkle

haunted scrap heap
Joined
Nov 17, 2016
Messages
2,482
Location
Brennschluss
It took all of 90 seconds, and I'm off to the races. I haven't researched enough, but it appears to be the factory bin file.
Yep, if you pay attention to browser requests, you'll notice that the files come straight from the Olympus server. :)

I looked on the Olympus website, which recommends going stair-stepping. I downloaded the 2.2 to 3.0 bin file, as well as the 4.3 bin file. Since it's a binary file, and they're all the same size, I decided to take a chance and go straight from 2.2 to 4.3.
Not quite following the logic there... :hmmm:
 

eteless

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 20, 2014
Messages
1,899
I looked on the Olympus website, which recommends going stair-stepping. I downloaded the 2.2 to 3.0 bin file, as well as the 4.3 bin file. Since it's a binary file, and they're all the same size, I decided to take a chance and go straight from 2.2 to 4.3.
Not quite following the logic there... :hmmm:

Going straight to 4.3 shouldn't cause any problems as long as you do a full settings reset. There was a change to the memory locations where settings were saved (and many additions related to new functionality) in the 1.4->2.0, 2.2-3.0, and 3.1-4.0 updates, the most likely fallout is minor errors if settings are carried over (some functions not working, or the camera locking up requiring the battery being removed to reset it).

Normally the updater would have triggered it, however I have no idea if it would trigger using the SD card method... to be on the safe side I would advise doing a full reset just in case.
 

Orbmiser

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Nov 15, 2017
Messages
531
Location
Portland,Or.
Olympus uses a proprietary-ish cable, so a standard micro USB wouldn't work.

Thanks for this tidbit of info. Didn't know that as bought used EM-1 didn't come with a cable.
Don't know if I really need to update tho as came with version 4.2 and don't know if 4.3 will really give me anything I need?
Quick read doesn't appear anything significant to basic functions or features?
.
 

eteless

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 20, 2014
Messages
1,899
Thanks for this tidbit of info. Didn't know that as bought used EM-1 didn't come with a cable.
Don't know if I really need to update tho as came with version 4.2 and don't know if 4.3 will really give me anything I need?
Quick read doesn't appear anything significant to basic functions or features?
.

4.3 is a bug fix from 4.2.

Essentially Rec view displays the last picture taken briefly after exposure has finished, however as I understand it several functions relied on an interrupt which skips the display when pictures are still being taken (basically to tell the camera when the burst for HDR/Focus stacking/etc had concluded) - however when it was set to off this was never called and the camera would lock up (it would wait for something which was would never occur).

If you don't use HDR, focus stacking, or the off setting with rec view it won't impact your usage of the camera.
 

shnitz

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Aug 25, 2011
Messages
1,026
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
Not quite following the logic there... :hmmm:
Sorry about that! Let me explain it a little more clearly. So first off, with many pieces of software, there is an upgrade path. If you didn't upgrade in a long time, then oftentimes you can't go straight from, for example, 2.2 straight to 4.3. You might have to upgrade from 2.2 to 3.0 to 3.1 and then you can finally lay down 4.3. Otherwise, there might be missing information. The Olympus E-M1 website seems to corroborate that, with the updates being staggered. It doesn't just say E-M1 update 4.3, it says update 4.2 to 4.3. And the one below it isn't just 4.1, it's 4.0 to 4.1.
upload_2018-1-25_10-47-32.png
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


When searching about this site, I found a lot of discussions about it here, but no-one actually trying it and giving a report. Also, from someone that found their cable, I see that the Olympus PC software DID make them stairstep the upgrade to 1.5, instead of letting them go straight there:
Firmware Update with SD card?

So, it appears that Olympus doesn't package their previous firmware updates in with their latest, or at least at the time they didn't. However, the .bin files are all exactly the same size, telling me that instead of just inserting the updates for the particular version, the .bin file on the SD card completely overwrites the existing .bin file that is on the camera, and wholly includes all of the firmware, just as if you were laying the firmware into a camera on the assembly line. So, just to confirm for anyone that comes here in the future, you don't have to follow the Olympus website upgrade path. You can go straight from your legacy version of the firmware to the newest version, and it will work.
 

Growltiger

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,165
Location
UK
And how will you update your lenses? Surely far better to buy the cable and do it the normal way.
 

eteless

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 20, 2014
Messages
1,899
Sorry about that! Let me explain it a little more clearly. So first off, with many pieces of software, there is an upgrade path. If you didn't upgrade in a long time, then oftentimes you can't go straight from, for example, 2.2 straight to 4.3. You might have to upgrade from 2.2 to 3.0 to 3.1 and then you can finally lay down 4.3. Otherwise, there might be missing information.

...

So, it appears that Olympus doesn't package their previous firmware updates in with their latest, or at least at the time they didn't. However, the .bin files are all exactly the same size, telling me that instead of just inserting the updates for the particular version, the .bin file on the SD card completely overwrites the existing .bin file that is on the camera, and wholly includes all of the firmware, just as if you were laying the firmware into a camera on the assembly line. So, just to confirm for anyone that comes here in the future, you don't have to follow the Olympus website upgrade path. You can go straight from your legacy version of the firmware to the newest version, and it will work.

With most software you can incrementally patch it meaning the patch is only the changes required and thus smaller, while possible with firmware it's easier (and generally more reliable) to wipe the chip and reload the entire configuration. In this case the .bin file is the configuration data (basically a program) for a microcontroller (specifically the Panasonic MN103), this controller also has a separate EEPROM (used to save user settings and such) which is not wiped when you flash the firmware which is where problems occur - the saved settings can be nonsensical and cause the camera to lock up when some functions are used (or brick itself in extreme cases).

The idea behind only incrementing one version at a time was to minimize the risk of a camera bricking itself due to the stored settings being incorrect: by requiring a 3.0 upgrade they didn't have to account for a 1.0 or 2.2 camera being updated. This might seem minor however it means they can make more radical changes as they are working from a known state rather than variable, it also greatly simplifies acceptance testing as test edge cases such as 1.0 firmware to 4.3 are eliminated.
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2017
Messages
1,167
Location
Thessaly, Greece
..also, it sounds like the .bin file got flashed straight away from the SD card to the flash program memory of the micro controller - if the file is not first taken to the RAM and then validated, if the tiny tinniest anything goes wrong during this process chances are you are left with a brick that must be sent to the service center for hardware level re-flashing as the loader portion of the program may no longer be triggered during OK+power on.
I guess that through the cable you get the pre-validated program sent to the RAM where it is flashed after all checks have been performed so chances of anything going wrong are greatly reduced.

@shnitz
When you had the procedure done, what was displayed on the LCD?
 

astral

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
57
I much prefer the Olympus firmware update tool update tool
as it gives also an easy way to downgrade the fw if you need to.
I have just upgraded to the Pen F 2.1 fw and it all went very smoothly and quickly
much better that upgrading over the web
 

shnitz

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Aug 25, 2011
Messages
1,026
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
And how will you update your lenses? Surely far better to buy the cable and do it the normal way.
I'd rather do the normal technician way than the normal consumer way. Especially since you're introducing a cable, a port on your camera that you never use, a computer, and an installed program into the mix. My camera writes to card every time I use it. I trust that method. After seeing so many people complain about the "normal way" bricking their cameras, then surely it's far better to do it the same way that the people that repair our cameras, trained and employed by the company that build our cameras, do it instead of the method created by the lowest common denominator and prone to errors.

You are correct that you cannot update lenses this way. As I mention in the OP, my cable is in another state. I'll get it at my leisure. I don't have any firmware updates for my lenses. My 12-40mm is at 1.3, and there is no firmware available for my Olympus 25mm f/1.8.

..also, it sounds like the .bin file got flashed straight away from the SD card to the flash program memory of the micro controller - if the file is not first taken to the RAM and then validated, if the tiny tinniest anything goes wrong during this process chances are you are left with a brick that must be sent to the service center for hardware level re-flashing as the loader portion of the program may no longer be triggered during OK+power on.
I guess that through the cable you get the pre-validated program sent to the RAM where it is flashed after all checks have been performed so chances of anything going wrong are greatly reduced.

@shnitz
When you had the procedure done, what was displayed on the LCD?
Nothing shows up on the screen, it stays black. The front AF assist lamp lights up solid orange. After about 90 seconds, the front orange AF assist lamp starts blinking, which means that you can turn off the camera, and turn it back on without holding down the OK button. Just to be safe, I put the card back in my computer, manually deleted the firmware file, and then put the card back in my camera and formatted it via the E-M1.
 

astral

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
May 24, 2017
Messages
57
Nothing shows up on the screen, it stays black. The front AF assist lamp lights up solid orange. After about 90 seconds, the front orange AF assist lamp starts blinking, which means that you can turn off the camera, and turn it back on without holding down the OK button. Just to be safe, I put the card back in my computer, manually deleted the firmware file, and then put the card back in my camera and formatted it via the E-M1.

That is the way it works!!
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom