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Pentax's K-r digital SLR. Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co. Pentax: New K-5 firmware, digicam software, and more
(Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 21:20 EDT)

Japan's Hoya Corp. has made a number of new announcements over the last few days, including a planned firmware update for its flagship APS-C DSLR -- the Pentax K-5 -- as well as a variety of software updates, and other news.

The Pentax K-5 firmware update aims to address early concerns about buffer depth when shooting raw images, one of the few specifications where the K-5 has lagged its predecessor, the Pentax K-7. For raw shooters, the Pentax K-5 with initial firmware is limited to a maximum of just 8 raw frames in a Continuous Hi burst -- barely more than half the 15-frame burst depth of the K-7. With the upcoming firmware, the imbalance will be redressed, with Pentax predicting a burst depth of some 20 PEF raw frames at ISO 100. The update will also include other unspecified changes made to improve operating stability. It should be available from mid-November 2010.

Hoya has also released two software updates catering for its recently-announced K-5 and K-r models. The Pentax Raw Codec update doesn't carry a version number, but adds support for Raw files shot with the K-5 and K-r, in addition to those shot with the *ist D,*ist DS,*ist DS2, *ist DL,*istDL2,K100D, K10D, K100D Super,K20D,K200D , K-m (aka K2000), K-7, K-x, and 645D. The software enables preview of photos captured as Raw files using the explorer in Windows Vista and Windows 7, without the need to process the files first. The software continues to be compatible only with the 32-bit version of each operating system, and is not currently available for their 64-bit incarnations, nor is any equivalent offered for Apple's Mac OS X.

The Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 update, meanwhile, is available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms, and carries version number 4.31 on both. Changes from last July's v4.21 are as follows:

  • Support for the K-r and K-5 camera.

  • Added [Bleach Bypass] mode on Custom Image function.

  • Add [auto correction] on lens correction item

  • Added lens data.
    [smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mmF3.5-5.6ED AL[IF]DC WR]
    [smc PENTAX-DA 35mmF2.4AL]

  • Improved response of general performance.

An intriguing note has been added to the Pentax Global page for the medium format 645D DSLR, regarding future plans for the company's Digital Camera Utility package. Quoting Hoya's "Post-shooting resources" page for the 645D:

"A remote-access application will soon to be added to this software, allowing you to control your PC from a distance using the 645D."

The translation isn't perfect, as we can't see much reason to control the PC from the camera ;-) but it seems to suggest that Pentax is planning to address concerns about the lack of tethered shooting capability in its cameras -- for the 645D, at least. Given the close relationship between the 645D, and Pentax's flagship K-7 and K-5 APS-C cameras, we can but hope any investment in tethering will be shared across these cameras as well. Watch our news page for any further developments...

Finally, the company's colorful marketing strategy for its entry-level and mid-range APS-C DSLRs continues to develop in Japan, with news from Impress Group's DC Watch site that the DA 35mm F2.4 AL lens will soon start shipping in twelve body colors. In addition, Pentax Japan has started two programs allowing owners of the K-x / K-m, or the recently-announced K-r, to return their cameras to the company to have the rubber handgrip wrap replaced with a different color.Nine colors are available for K-x / K-m owners to choose from, while ten colors are available for the K-r.

Pentax's K-5 digital SLR is due for a significant boost in raw buffer depth, courtesy of new firmware. Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's K-5 digital SLR is due for a significant boost in raw buffer depth, courtesy of new firmware.
Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co.

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