Firmware Friday: New features for Sony interchangeable-lens cameras; Canon preps pro camera / camcorder updates


posted Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM EST

Firmware Friday is here once more, and it's time for a roundup of all that's new in photographic firmware updates. This week, Sony adds new features to several of its NEX mirrorless and SLT Translucent Mirror cameras, while Canon pledges updates for a range of high-end video cameras / camcorders. Sony's updates cover four models: the Alpha SLT-A99, NEX-5R, NEX-6, and NEX-7. Canon's planned updates are for three Cinema EOS cameras, and two XF-series camcorders.

The Sony A99 firmware update adds a simultaneous output mode for the HDMI connection, providing simultaneous 50p/60p video output without overlays on both the camera's LCD and the HDMI output, whether the camera is recording or not. The update also newly supports Dual AF with the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 lens (SAL50F14Z).

The NEX-6 is among four Sony interchangeable-lens cameras recently gifted new features.

For the NEX mirrorless cameras, all three models receive an update adding what Sony terms as an AF drive system for movies. What does that mean? Well, the company is rather cryptic, stating that it "has been added in order to enhance scalability of future E-mount system. This feature ensures a higher degree of design flexibility for future E-mount lenses". Your guess is as good as ours as to what the change entails, but in addition, two models -- the NEX-5R and NEX-6 -- now support the 20mm f/2.8 (SEL20F28) and 16-70mm f/4 (SEL1670Z) lenses for Fast Hybrid AF.

Get the updates from Sony USA at the links below, or check with your local Sony agent if you live outside of the US market:

Canon, meanwhile, takes a different route. Instead of releasing new firmware, the company has announced plans to release firmware in the coming months -- something it's done a few times lately. Depending on the camera model, the firmware will be available some time between November 2013, and the first quarter of 2014. (In other words, by the end of March.)

Firmware for the Cinema EOS camera line will be first to arrive, with the Cinema EOS C100 and C300 updated in November, followed by the C500 in December. The XF-series firmware will follow in Q1 2014. There are a lot of updates, some shared between the cameras, and some unique to specific models.

Canon's pro-oriented Cinema EOS cameras will soon be even more capable, thanks to new firmware that's slated to arrive before the end of the year.

All of the Cinema EOS models receive peripheral lens correction , increased ISO sensitivity to ISO 80,000 equivalent, a record button lock function, and the ability to move the magnified view area to check focus of off-center subjects. The EOS C500 and C300 also get the ability to have simultaneous Wi-Fi camera control and metadata input from two users, as well as to assign ISO and aperture adjustments to certain camera controls.

Additional changes for the Cinema EOS C500 include an impressive 4096 x 1080 pixel raw video crop mode, capable of up to 120 frames per second capture, as well as new gamuts and more. The EOS C300, meanwhile, gets GPS support, a new 1440 x 1080 35Mbps video mode at 50i/60i, wide DR gamma, flicker reduction, and various new exposure / control options. Finally, the EOS C100 gets the ability to navigate menus using the camera's buttons if the joystick is detached.

The XF300 and XF305 firmware will be more straightforward, adding GPS support and two new digital teleconverter zoom levels, yielding a 5x or 6x zoom.

Expect more details on these updates in the months to come...