Rumors of Panasonic charging for next GH4 firmware update. Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by DeeJayK, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    It sounds as though Panasonic may be considering charging consumers for the upcoming V-Log firmware update. This would set a new precedent, as I am not aware of any camera manufacturer asking consumers to pay to update firmware. I'm not really sure how I feel about the impact of this potential decision.

    On the one hand, this update apparently offers significant performance improvements for videographers (I say "apparently" because I only shoot the occasional video, don't have a GH4 and have no real idea of what "V-Log" actually means) and as such it could be a very valuable addition to the functionality of the camera. If Olympus were to offer some significant feature (e.g. adding focus peaking to my E-M5) via firmware, I might consider paying a modest amount for such an update. Also, I'm a software dev by trade, so at some level it would be nice to see a software change being considered by the market to be valuable.

    On the other hand, I would hate to set up a case where consumers are asked to pay for each advancement/fix.

    Obviously this may not even happen and we have no information on what the price point might be. It's possible the rumor is just a trial balloon being floated by Panasonic to gauge consumer reaction.

    How do you feel about this possible change to the pricing strategy?
  2. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    I ignore such rumors.
  3. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    Real Name:
    If it meant that manufacturers would make meaningful improvements or add features, then I would be willing to pay for such updates. It makes one wonder if paying for major firmware updates might help entice some manufactuers add features to older gear (such as focus peaking to the EM-5). Bug fixes especially, or minor updates, shouldn't come at a cost.

    At some point it would be great to see firmware that allows users to add or subtract major features as needed, and purchase new features as they are developed...
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    My experience is that m43 rumors sometimes likes to rouse the rabble and fan the fanboy flames. A rumor like this gives those folks an opportunity to tut-tut and cluck their tongues and talk about how Panasonic has lost the thread and m43 will likely die because of it. I seem to remember very credible rumors they posted about Olympus FF cameras... or maybe it was how a credible source said Olympus was adding 4k in a firmware upgrade (and no, it wasn't an April fools post).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I don't see any reason why Panasonic shouldn't charge for such an update. This isn't a minor firmware update. They've essentially developed new, professional image processing software that happens to be specifically designed for a GH4. If any 3rd party company did the work, they'd charge you a pretty penny for it.

    If you're the kind of discriminating user that truly needs LOG gamma shooting, you should really be making money with your camera. No amateur needs it. And if you're a professional who can't afford to spend $100-200 for such an upgrade, you're probably in the wrong line of business.

    How much money to people spend on frivolous little accessories for their cameras?

    Outside of the NX1, the GH4 remains the only interchangeable lens camera (outside of other Panasonic models!) under $2500 to shoot 4K. The NX1 has a basic Gamma profile, not sure how it compares to V-Log. Only the A7S can has built in LOG, but to shoot 4K you need a $2000 external recorder on top of the $2500 purchase price.

    This seems like much ado about nothing. The people who are outraged are not the people who have any business caring about it at all.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    This is basically where I come down on the issue.
    I could envision a future where firmware updates were basically handled as a subscription or even similar to a vehicle warranty where they would be available at no charge for some period of time (perhaps 2-3 years) after the camera was purchased. Subsequent updates would be made available by the manufacturers at a small cost to the consumer for some additional period (maybe 5-7 years). Beyond that, ideally the firmware could be released to the public domain for anyone who wanted to tinker further with a camera which was by that point "obsolete".

    It's highly unlikely such a scenario will ever come to pass, but I can dream, right?
  7. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    I say that firmware updates should be free - firmware being things that fix issues.

    If camera maker wants to charge for other types of enhancements - such things as new picture controls, new video codecs like LOG, additional scene modes - then they need to make them a module within the camera framework and not part of the firmware.

    Even if they did that, you'd hav all kinds of after market issues with people creating their own things. You'd also have issue with selling used gear as price points would be all over the place based on what someone decided to upgrade and what they did not.

    If we go to a pay to play kind of thing, then you have to consider that getting something like the LOG update might cost someone a few hundred dollars, depending on how many people actually purchase it.

    If the camera companies are not already building the price of firmware updates into the cost of the cameras, then they should start doing it now. My thought is that most are already putting some overhead into the price to cover firmware updates.
  8. PhotoDmiK

    PhotoDmiK Mu-43 Regular

    May 26, 2015
    AFAIK all Panasonic firmware updates are done in offline mode so for paid upgrade they have no control on amount of updated cameras.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. rjl1246

    rjl1246 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 18, 2013
    Real Name:
    Robert Lietz
    Given the current markets for new cameras, it seems manufacturers might have real concerns about deflating
    the market for new offerings if users are skipping new models and relying on firmware upgrades to stay up to date.
    That said, I suppose an alternative view might be that flatter markets for new cameras might be balanced out by
    firmware purchases, if buyers are satisfied to miss the hardware and design modifications new models generally introduce.

  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If it adds a significant enough feature, then I think it is OK and different from fixing something like poor metering or slow AF with certain lenses.

    The alternative is to release a very incremental hardware update (GH4s, etc) with that feature and then charge $1500 for it, so I think it is a reasonable approach to helping customers get the most value out of their past purchases, but still add some incentive for Panasonic to continue development.

    What if you could have added the Hi-Res feature to the E-M5 for $49.99? Would you have bought an E-M5II?
  11. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 12, 2014
    I think this would be a PR disaster in the broader market. While people like us might "understand", the average Joe (even those who don't need the firmware upgrade at all) would be outraged.
  12. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'm not sure the "average Joe" would know or care what we're even talking about.

    I suggested this sort of thing a while back, but I didn't sense tons of support. :) I'd like to be offered upgrades via firmware at a cost, that way my camera is relevant a bit longer and I can be more selective in features and where I spend my money. Fixes should certainly be free, but I think a line can be drawn beyond which I'd be happy to pay.
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Management 101: You get what you reward. If you reward bug fixes by paying for new software that's bad. If you reward effort expended to enhance the capabilities of your hardware that's good. The hardest thing about designing a reward system is anticipating and foreclosing all the unintended consequences.
  14. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    This. All you do is stick a file on an SD card. How do you even pay Panasonic if you ordered it second hand, and there's no local agent? Unless they lock it to serial number the update file is just going to get put on the internet for general download by somebody eventually.
  15. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Daft idea. Firmware upgrades are to keep users and reviewers happy and for them to become promoters of the camera and the wider brand. The churn of camera models and the gradual phasing out of updates is enough to mean it isn't an open-ended commitment from the manufacturers. Firmware update are also a cheap way to extend the life of a camera in the face of new models from competitors.
  16. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    hypothetically: Firmware update adds feature, but doesn't enable it. To enable it you have to connect your camera to wi-fi and enter a software key to do an online activation that enables the feature.

    Some Sony cameras offer paid "apps" that enable photo filters and HDR, etc, so it is not without precedent.
  17. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 12, 2014
    Ha, I feel like you just took a bad idea and made it worse.
  18. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If Panasonic is listening, my consulting services are available for an unreasonable hourly fee! :biggrin:
    • Funny Funny x 1
  19. PhotoDmiK

    PhotoDmiK Mu-43 Regular

    May 26, 2015
    One more worse idea - provide upgrade in service center only. :hide:
  20. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    The problem is that it seems some manufacturers (<cough>Olympusonic<cough>) seem to have concluded the inverse of this: that cheap firmware updates which add features to existing cameras may prevent owners of those cameras from upgrading to a new model.
    • Agree Agree x 1