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Panasonic Firmware Update for Power Zoom Lenses - Which Cameras Supported and Why?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    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:
    • 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.
    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

    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.

    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:

    • Like Like x 9
  2. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    It still works, it's not like you loose AF or something like that.
  3. agwe

    agwe Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 13, 2011
    Manila, Philippines
    Thanks for this Amin. Somewhat gives me an excuse to get a G3 since I'm eyeing that 14-42X:biggrin:
  4. longimanus

    longimanus Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 29, 2011
    Madrid (Spain)
    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
    do always.

    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????
  5. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    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 ?
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    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.

    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.
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Exactly John - and, in their response, they did indicate that an update may be made available to the older models.

    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.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. longimanus

    longimanus Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 29, 2011
    Madrid (Spain)
    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:

    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
  9. longimanus

    longimanus Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 29, 2011
    Madrid (Spain)
    Completely agree, thanks Amin
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    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.
  11. DekHog

    DekHog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 3, 2011
    Isn't there a surgical procedure to cure that nowadays? :smile:
  12. longimanus

    longimanus Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 29, 2011
    Madrid (Spain)
    Sure!!!! For iPhone corrector 
  13. jiroumi

    jiroumi Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 12, 2011
    Just speculation at least from the point of the GF1 would be that releasing a firmware for it will enable those with a late model gf1 with the unreleased to the public firmware to be able to run the Ptool custom firmware hack... :) 
  14. mseawell

    mseawell New to Mu-43

    Jun 14, 2011
    Obermohr, Germany
    I believe the truth lies in between. As someone pointed out on another forum most of these features benefit video and my beloved G1 doesn't support video. Now the GH2 that I bought and safely hidden away from my wife till Xmas, that will work just fine! ;) 
  15. SimonL

    SimonL Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2009
    NW England

    Thanks for this - and congratulations on your new found leverage with Panasonic :thumbup:

    The above statement from Panasonic seems odd. Either the older models will support the new functions or they can't. If they can't, then fine, my 8 month old GF-1 has been consigned to ancient history as far as Panasonic is concerned. :mad: 

    But 'future support' seems a bit of a promise to keep us 'has beens' quiet until they simply drop it some time in the future.
  16. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Of course you may be right. I suggest though that we consider a few things:
    - We know (or should know) that the M4/3 format relies very heavily on electronics, including for example lens correction technology. These companies, especially Panasonic, will look for digital solutions to making advances. This means some things are left behind. It's the nature of the arena.
    - Your GF1 remains a good camera, it just may not be able to fully support the features of these lenses.
    - It seems sensible for a company to invest more in future products than in those of the past. If this is the case, perhaps let's at least assume good intentions on the part of Panasonic, and that the priority for them is to get these lenses ready for cameras that are currently still largely in production or the supply pipeline. It seems sensible to then move to support older models.
    - While your frustration is understandable, it does seem a little bizarre that there would be a corporate policy to keep GF1 owners 'quiet'.

    You could be right of course.
  17. I'm looking at the lens functions that aren't supported in the older Panasonic bodies, and I'm wondering, is their absence something that will bother me? Probably not, and it is likely that at some point I'd have one of the newer bodies anyway in a year or two.
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I received some additional information from Panasonic and have updated the first post:

    Panasonic would love to sell this lens to each and every current Panasonic MFT camera owner, and I don't think that a lot of people would upgrade the body just for the extra functionality not supported in the older cameras, so financially, it would make sense for them to fully support all features in all bodies if they could do so via firmware update. If Panasonic said the lens wouldn't work at all with the older bodies, I'd be more suspicious, but not with the present situation.
  19. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I started thinking about this whole discussion and a concern did come to mind - if lens performance is tied into firmware because of all the correction going on what will this do to the usability of the lenses and bodies over the long haul?

    I find what Panasonic doing interesting and well worth pursuing and I fully understand the inability to support older systems fully. But will I be locked into an upgrade cycle to ensure everything is working at maximum performance?

    I think this makes the Leica and Voightlander lenses actually more valuable over the long term as the quality is built into the glass and not dependent on after the fact camera correction.
  20. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't know yet if these things are concerns, or just things to keep in mind so I know what I am purchasing as a system.

    I am certain we are going to see more of it in certain areas. As optical performance increases become expensive (and perhaps less necessary) opportunities for differentiation are likely to be via software, which of course requires more computing capacity.

    I am glad I shoot with primes. they are not separate from this, but are likely to benefit less and remain relatively simple. Maybe.
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