posted Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 4:42 PM EDT


If you're the owner of a Panasonic GH4 compact system camera or the large-sensor, long-zoom Panasonic FZ1000, we have good news for you. Both cameras have offered 4K video capture since launch, something that can prove handy not just for shooting movies, but also if you want to catch a high-quality still image but are faced with an unpredictable subject that's too much of a test for your reflexes.

With each 4K video frame having a resolution around 8.3 megapixels, simply shooting a video and then extracting the best frame is a great solution that can provide an image suitable for a moderate print size. The downside, though, is that you have to deal with the work of finding the best frame, then cropping it from the 16:9 aspect ratio of Ultra-High Definition video to your intended form factor. And of course, you have to bear in mind the capacity of your flash card -- 4K video takes up space quickly.

The Panasonic GH4 will soon provide new 4K Photo capture features and USB-tethered shooting.

Now, though, both of these cameras are going to get updates that extend their functionality in this respect. The updated 4K Photo mode will automatically configure the camera's video capture for the optimum still image quality, and will allow you to mark likely candidates for extraction as video is being captured. (To do so, you simply press the Function 1 button during capture.) And you can also set an aspect ratio -- 4:3, 3:2, or 1:1 -- if you want the video cropped automatically for you.

If you're shooting with the Panasonic GH4, you'll also be able to keep recording for longer, courtesy of a Loop Record mode that simply records video constantly, splitting to a new file every two minutes, and automatically keeping the last five files. Once you've recorded ten minutes of video, the oldest file is dropped and replaced by a new one, allowing you ten minutes to decide whether you're going to get a better chance at the photo you're looking for or should settle for what you've already got.

The Panasonic FZ1000 will also receive most of the new 4K Photo features.

GH4 owners will also find several other updates for their camera in the new firmware, including a 23.98 frames-per-second shooting mode at 4K resolution, saved with MP4 compression and AAC audio, plus greater control over flash output and ISO sensitivity. You'll also be able to tether your GH4 via USB for remote control and shooting, as well as data transfer.

FZ1000 owners, meanwhile, will also get the new 23.98p 4K capture mode, as well as three new shutter sound effects. And the provided PHOTOfunSTUDIO 9.5PE application and Panasonic Image Apps for iOS and Android will also be updated at the same time to support the new features of both cameras.

These updates, notes Panasonic, will be available from October 2014 on the LUMIX support site.