Firmware Friday(ish): Canon improves SX280 movie mode, plans EOS M update


posted Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 12:37 AM EDT

We're a little late with Firmware Friday this week, but we'll stick with the name nonetheless -- it's still Friday on the West coast, after all. We've got news of two updates this week, both from imaging heavyweight Canon, but only one is available immediately.

The Canon SX280, announced last March, has only been shipping for a couple of months now, but its maker has already issued one update. We believe that version, SX280 v1.0.1.0, was never released for public download, but merely replaced the initial in cameras leaving the factory. It's now been superceded by another level-up to firmware version

From the release notes, we can deduce that the SX280 version firmware fixed an issue with a premature low battery warning in movie mode. The new update extends movie capture by a further 20% over the earlier firmware versions, and Canon says this was achieved by reducing power consumption of the optical zoom lens. That 20% improvement, incidentally, is to Canon's own in-house testing procedure; if you seldom use the zoom during capture you'll likely notice a lesser improvement, if any at all.

The new Canon SX280 firmware can be downloaded from Canon USA's website immediately.

As for the second update revealed this week, it also hails from Canon, but it's not yet available. Instead, its development was announced alongside a new ultrawide zoom lens which we reported on earlier today, whose development has been revealed in certain markets outside of the USA. (Thus far, Canon USA has made no comment on either lens or firmware.)

The EOS M body will be available in white, but only from Canon's own web store. Photo provided by Canon. Click for a bigger picture!

The new Canon EOS M firmware version 2.0.0 is predicted by the company to improve autofocus speed -- a much-criticized point of the camera's feature set -- by a whopping 2.3x. That figure is a manufacturer rating, specific to the 18-55mm lens when using one-shot FlexiZone Multi autofocus, and the testing methodology isn't stated. (We'd presume it to be an in-house Canon test method.) However, if that improvement is borne out by third party tests, its importance can't be overstated.

The Canon EOS M v2.0.0 update is slated to ship at the end of the month, some nine months after the EOS M hit the market, but while its taken a while to appear the update could represent a night-and-day difference to the camera's usability. In our preview almost a year ago, we called out the EOS M's autofocus performance as the camera's main stumbling point, but noted that in a lot of other ways we liked the design. Like any camera it's still not for everyone, thanks to its very limited native lens selection and few dedicated controls, but with autofocus performance perhaps now resolved, the Canon EOS M would represent an altogether more attractive proposition.

You can, of course, look forward to further news on our site once the EOS M v2.0.0 update becomes available.