posted Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:09 PM EDT


The holidays are almost here, and so to is the second-last weekend of 2013. It seems that camera manufacturers are in a gifting mood, because this week we have one of the busiest Firmware Friday updates in recent memory, with new firmware and software for no less than nine still and video cameras from five manufacturers.

We'll kick off this week's roundup with Pentax, which has just delivered its first update for the flagship APS-C digital SLR, the Pentax K-3. (A camera which, incidentally, we're now shooting, having updated our firmware right before heading out -- watch for our first Shooter's Report shortly.)

Pentax K-3 firmware version 1.01 improves burst performance when using phase-detection autofocus. It also reduces the time taken to process HDR images, and extends the duration of the enlarged display in live view mode. As always with Pentax updates, the company also says that general performance / stability are improved, but doesn't go into details.

Get the Pentax K-3 v1.01 update here.

From Fujifilm, we have no less than four updates, whose development was revealed back at the end of November. These are major updates, bringing in a wide range of new features for the Fujifilm X-Pro1, X100S, X-E1, and X-E2. Summing up briefly:

  • Fuji X-Pro1: More accurate bright frame indication, preview of exposure in live view mode, the ability to shift shutter speed and aperture while retaining exposure lock, control over Auto ISO sensitivity and shutter speed limits, user-selectable filename prefixes, more typical display of burst images in playback mode, and more logical behavior after in-camera raw conversion.
  • Fuji X100S: All of the above, with the exception of the updates to Auto ISO sensitivity and shutter speed limits.
  • Fuji X-E1: All the same updates as the X-Pro1, with the exception of the viewfinder tweaks (since it has only a standard electronic viewfinder, and not a hybrid finder.)
  • Fuji X-E2: Only two tweaks -- the user-selectable filename prefixes, and the revised raw file conversion behavior.

Fuji's updates can be found at the links below:

Sony have yet to ship their new firmware, but they've detailed what will be coming for the QX100 and QX10 lens-style cameras when the firmware drops next month. Sony QX-series owners can look forward to the following changes:

  • Sony QX100: The upper sensitivity limit will be raised from ISO 3200 to ISO 12,800 equivalent. Additionally, a shutter priority mode will be added, offering exposures from 30 to 1/2,000 second. Finally, it will be 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 will be raised from ISO 1600 to ISO 3200 equivalent. Movie capture at Full HD resolution will also be added.

Alongside the QX firmware promise, Sony has also updated the PlayMemories Mobile app for Android and iOS, used by all its connected cameras. New features include an embedded photo browser, and a 50% reduction in the time taken to establish a connection to iOS devices. A similar improvement in connection time is promised for Android users next spring. Get the updated apps in the Google Play store or on the iTunes app store.

Next up, we have the professional movie camera updates. Last September, Canon promised that by year's end it would offer updates for the Cinema EOS C500 and C500 PL, with a whole raft of changes. It's done so with a week and a half to spare. Canon's firmware version for the EOS C500 and C500 PL adds peripheral lens correction , increases ISO sensitivity to ISO 80,000 equivalent, adds an impressive 4096 x 1080 pixel raw video crop mode, and makes the camera capable of up to 120 frames per second capture. It also adds new gamuts, a record button lock function, and the ability to move the magnified view area to check focus of off-center subjects. As if that's not enough, it also lets you have simultaneous Wi-Fi camera control and metadata input from two users, and allows you to assign ISO and aperture adjustments to certain camera controls.

Get the Canon Cinema EOS C500 and C500 PL firmware version here.

And finally, we come to Panasonic's new pro movie camera firmware, which will ship next month. The company will extend its AK-HC3800 HD Studio Camera to support Full HD video capture at a new rate. As well as the existing 59.94i, 50i, 29.97p, and 25p rates, the Panasonic AK-HC3800 will now shoot at a 23.98p rate suitable for broadcast video. The update will be a free download, and available from January 2014.

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