Firmware Friday: Pentax K-3 gets AA filter bracketing; Sony QX series get wider ISO range; Panasonic G6 / GF6 improve manual focus


posted Friday, February 7, 2014 at 7:57 PM EDT


This week, Firmware Friday comes bearing presents for Pentax and Sony shooters, as well as some fixes -- and Panasonic fans get a dose of the latter, too.

If you've read part two of our Pentax K-3 Shooter's Report, you'll already be aware of the update for that camera: We installed and tested it on our review sample earlier this week, and reported on the results. Here, the new feature is the addition of a bracketing function for the K-3's unique anti-aliasing filter simulation function.

If you're not familiar with the tech, it's described in-depth in our Pentax K-3 review, but briefly, the optional function uses the camera's shake-reduction system to very subtly blur the image, preventing moiré and false color effects. There are two patterns used for this blurring -- either linear or circular. Now, you can get all three possible outcomes -- an unfiltered image that's as sharp as possible, plus two moiré-fighting versions with linear and circular blur, all with a single press of the shutter button. It definitely beats delving into the menu system to make the change, although we admit we'd like to see it tweaked to allow use in concert with autoexposure bracketing. (Right now, it's an either/or situation.)

That's not the only change in Pentax K-3 firmware version 1.02, either. The update is also said to provide further-improved autofocus performance in continuous AF mode, and to improve operation of the battery level indicator when shooting with batteries installed in the optional portrait / battery grip accessory. And as always, Ricoh also says that it has "improved stability for general performance", a catch-all phrase that presumably translates to "squashed a few minor bugs that weren't important enough to mention."

Get the update from the Ricoh USA website here, or contact your local Ricoh agent for details if you're in another country.

You'll already have known Sony's updates were coming, if you're a Firmware Friday follower. We first told you they were on the way back in late December, when the company announced new firmware for the QX100 and QX10 lens-style cameras would be forthcoming, although it was originally slated to drop in January. Better late than never, these version 2.00 updates gift QX-series lens-style camera owners with the following new features:

  • Sony QX100: The upper sensitivity limit has been raised from ISO 3200 to ISO 12,800 equivalent. Additionally, a shutter priority mode has been added, offering exposures from 30 to 1/2,000 second. Finally, it is now possible to shoot standard Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) movies at a rate of 30 frames per second, rather than the current limit of Anamorphic HD (1,440 x 1,080 pixels) at the same rate.
  • Sony QX10: The upper sensitivity limit has been raised from ISO 1600 to ISO 3200 equivalent. Movie capture at Full HD resolution has also been added.

Windows users can get either QX-series update by downloading the firmware updater here; Mac owners will want to nab a copy of the OS X version instead.

And so we come to Panasonic, whose firmware updates don't any new features -- but they do improve the experience when shooting with the Lumix G6 or GF6 compact system cameras. These mirrorless models both now use version 1.2 firmware, which makes the same changes for each. A Wi-Fi connection problem with Apple iOS devices has been fixed, and manual focus compatibility improved when shooting with the LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm / F3.5-F5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. (H-FS12032) lens. The latter fix was also applied to the Lumix GX7 last November. You can get the new firmware for either model from Panasonic's Joint Update Service for Four Thirds website.

And that about wraps it up for this week. Join us next time for more Firmware Friday fun!*

* Installing firmware updates may or may not be fun, depending on your level of geekiness.

(Camera parts image courtesy of Kelly Hofer / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license.)