Firmware Friday: Leica, Blackmagic cameras, Sony camcorders updated; Nikon ViewNX-i arrives
posted Friday, March 20, 2015 at 6:16 PM EDT
It's that time again -- the weekend has arrived, and with it, the time for another roundup of all that's new in the world of digital imaging firmware (and occasionally, software). This week, we have news from Atomos, Blackmagic, Leica, Nikon and Sony, and while it's predominantly for devices other than cameras, there's still plenty to talk about.
We'll start with Leica, whose rather awkwardly-named Leica T (Typ 701) compact system camera has just been updated to firmware version 1.310. The new release fixes four issues, according to the release notes. Perhaps most significantly, a lens error reported when using certain SD cards has been fixed, as has an inability to connect to some wireless networks when the SSID name was too long. Leica has also changed the camera's behavior such that a firmware update or camera reset will no longer reset its file numbering, and removed some unnecessary icons from the electronic viewfinder live view feed when the M-adapter T is mounted. You can find more details and the firmware update on Leica's website.
Next up, we have new firmware from Blackmagic Design for several of its video-oriented cameras. The new firmware can be installed using the Blackmagic Camera 2.1 utility, which you can get here, and it makes changes for the Pocket Cinema Camera, Cinema Camera and URSA models. All three get new Blackmagic Camera Setup software, and the two Cinema Camera models also get the ability to bypass the dashboard and go straight into settings by holding down the Menu key. They also now remember your focus peaking preference even after a power cycle, and feature more frame guide options. For the Pocket Cinema Camera, there's also Japanese / Chinese language menu support, while the Cinema Camera model now offers lossless compressed raw capture. Finally, media formatting performance has been improved for the Blackmagic URSA.
Nikon's update this week is technically software, rather than firmware, but it's certainly worthy of inclusion in our roundup nonetheless. At launch of the Nikon D7200 some three weeks ago, the company promised a replacement for its earlier ViewNX software package, and now it's here. Nikon ViewNX-i is available for both Windows and Mac OS X systems, and acts as a location-aware image browser and hub for sharing your creations on social networks such as Facebook. It works hand-in-hand with Capture NX-D for raw image processing, and comes alongside a video editing utility called ViewNX Movie Editor. A further update is promised in September 2015, which Nikon says will integrate still image processing and adjustment functions equivalent to those in the earlier ViewNX 2 release. In the meantime, you can download and try ViewNX-i free of charge from the Nikon website.
That wraps up the camera-related updates, but we still have news to report from Sony and Atomos. We'll start with Sony, whose professional camcorder line has just been shown some love courtesy of two new firmware updates, plus two more pledged by this summer. The Sony PXW-X180 camcorder receives its version 2.0 system software and version 1.3 network software immediately and free of charge. New features include video / audio streaming functionality via wired LAN or 3G/4G/LTE modems using the CBK-NA1 network adapter kit, as well as white balance memory that's now aware of the on-demand neutral density filter, and a new Picture Cache Rec function. The Sony PXW-Z100 camcorder also gets its firmware update free and immediately, with a new AVCHD recording mode, seamless playback of clips using the same or compatible formats in-camera, and the ability to format SDXC / SDHC / SD memory cards that are Class 10 or faster, as well as Sony's own proprietary Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo cards.
Two more updates will follow later this year. First to arrive in Spring will be a free update for the Sony PXW-X200 camcorder, with support for simultaneous recording on dual media, streaming via wired / wireless LAN or 3G/4G mobile networks, capture of GPS location data in XAVC-I and XAVC-L formats, and support for the HVL-LBPC battery video light and UWP-D11/D12 wireless microphone systems in the camcorder's proprietary Sony Multi-Interface Shoe. Which leaves only the Sony PXW-X70 firmware to discuss, and this won't arrive until Summer 2015, with an unstated fee required to obtain the update. After paying, you'll get access to 4K capture at rates of 24, 25 or 30 frames per second at 60Mbps (with higher bit-rates to come in the future), wired / wireless LAN streaming of video, FTP transfer from the camcorder to a remote server, and proxy recording. This last, in essence, captures your video at two bit-rates -- one low bit-rate file for quicker transfer and editing, while the other file is high bit-rate for better quality once you're done editing. Both files include the same timecode, so they can be swapped seamlessly. More details for all of the above can be found in Sony's press release.
Finally, we have new firmware to report on from Atomos. The new version 6.2 firmware for the Atomos Shogun recorder / monitor adds a raft of new features, and fixes several bugs. New features include the ability to load 3D lookup tables, record and play using Avid DNxHD (HD) and DNxHR (4K), and to downscale 4K to 1080p on the loop-out port. Playback mode also now displays preview frames of selected clips, audio meter size has been increased, and analog gain can now be adjusted separately per channel. Bug fixes include improved drive compatiblity, take numbers now reset correctly after a disk format, and manual gamma settings directions have been corrected.
And that about wraps things up for this week. Check back next time for all the latest firmware news!