Firmware Friday: Blackmagic, Canon, GoPro, Nikon get updates; Canon / Pentax firmware hacks land too


posted Friday, April 7, 2017 at 8:00 PM EDT


Our regular Firmware Friday roundup is a little unusual this week, as it includes not just official firmware from the manufacturers themselves, but also news of a couple of third-party firmware hacks. (As always with these unofficial updates, you run the risk of bricking your camera and turning it into a rather expensive paperweight, but if you're technically-minded or just willing to accept that risk, you can potentially gain access to new features beyond what the manufacturers themselves can offer.)

We'll start right in this week with Blackmagic's URSA Mini-series camera updates, and also have news of official firmware for the Canon Cinema EOS-series, GoPro Hero5-series and several Nikon Coolpix / KeyMission cameras, before returning to those you-take-the-risk hacks for the Canon 5D III and Pentax K-30.

Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K, URSA Mini 4.6K and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

Blackmagic Design's latest Blackmagic Camera Update version 4.3.1 brings with it several changes for three specific models: The URSA Mini 4K, URSA Mini 4.6K and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K. For the first two models, there's only a single change made, with low battery detection said to have been improved. The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K gets the most love, though, with new support for Cinema DNG stills capture, as well as fixes for three bugs. You should no longer see grids appearing when you enable frame guides, nor should the camera detect that headphones are plugged in when they're not. And a bug which would prevent switching back to record mode after dropped frames has also been resolved.

Windows users can download the Blackmagic Camera Update v4.3.1 here, and Mac users can do so here.

Canon Cinema EOS C100 (including Dual Pixel CMOS AF upgraded variants) and C100 II

Moving on to Canon, the company has three updates available for its Cinema EOS C100-series and C100 II cameras. There are actually two updates for the Cinema EOS C100, depending on whether or not your camera has been upgraded to support Dual Pixel CMOS AF. If your camera hasn't been upgraded, you'll want firmware version, but if you've had your camera upgraded you'll want to choose firmware version instead. Both updates can be found here, and they include the list of changes below. (The only difference between the two updates is in their support or lack thereof for Dual Pixel CMOS AF.)

  1. The following features are enabled when these lenses are attached: CN7x17 KAS S/E1*, CN-E18-80mm T4.4 L IS KAS S or CN20x50 IAS H/E1*.
    *The lens firmware also needs to be updated. If you have CN7x17 KAS S/E1 or CN20x50 IAS H/E1, please contact the Canon Support Center.

    • Saving and displaying metadata, such as the model name and the focal distance of the lens attached.

    • Support for peripheral illumination Correction.

    • Manual Iris control via the camera’s control dial on the grip..

    • Zoom operation via the joystick on the camera’s grip.

    • Control of focus, zoom and iris using the separately-sold Remote Controller RC-V100.

    • Support for Dual Pixel CMOS AF function.  (Upgraded EOS C100 with firmware version only. Not applicable to the CN20x50 IAS H/E1 lens).

    • Automatic aperture and push auto iris functions.

    • Operation of REC start/stop via the lens’s grip unit.

  2. Adds Peripheral Illumination Correction for the following lenses:

    • EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

    • EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

    • EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    • EF24-105mm f4L IS II USM

For the Canon Cinema EOS C100 Mark II, meanwhile, the new firmware version available here makes two changes as follows:

  1. Shutter Angle Priority has been added. A constant shutter angle can now be maintained, regardless of any other camera settings being changed.

  2. Support for peripheral illumination correction when the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens is attached, has been added.

The only other new firmware we're aware of for Canon cameras this week is a third-party hacked release for the Canon 5D Mark III, which we'll come back to in a moment.

GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session

Last-moment edit: GoPro seems to have pulled both updates as we were preparing this article. We'd expect the firmware will return soon, presumably with additional fixes for whatever issues caused it to be pulled in the first place. Changes for the Hero5 Session are as follows:

  1. Adds Korean, Russian, and Portuguese (Brazil) as options for camera and voice control languages*
    *Use of Korean, Russian, and Portuguese (Brazil) on Remo requires updating to v01.01.08, coming soon

  2. Adds ability to reformat SD card directly from camera

  3. Adds 4K24 video resolution

  4. Enables all FOVs in 1080p48 setting

  5. Includes power state optimizations for increased battery life

  6. Allows manual upload of selected content to GoPro Plus subscription service

Unfortunately, the release notes for the Hero5 Black vanished before we could grab a copy, but we do know that the update for this model lacks the 4K24 and 1080p48 changes mentioned above, while adding the ability to extract a photo from a multi-shot series and some additional photo mode shutter settings in Protune. Watch this space for the firmware to return for your Hero5 Session, or here for the Hero5 Black!

Nikon Coolpix B700 and W100; KeyMission 80 and 360

Nikon has updates for four cameras in total this week. Both the Coolpix B700 and W100 receive fixes for unstable SnapBridge app connections with Apple devices running iOS 10.2. The Coolpix W100 also gains more reliable still and movie transfer with the app. You can download Nikon Coolpix B700 firmware version 1.1 here, and Nikon Coolpix W100 firmware version 1.3 here.

The KeyMission 80 and 360 both also receive improved stability when using their SnapBridge app, and for the latter model this is the only change made in Nikon KeyMission 360 firmware version 1.3, which you can download here. For the KeyMission 80 firmware version 1.1 update available here, though, there are three additional changes as follows:

  1. Made movie and photo download using the SnapBridge app more reliable.

  2. Fixed an issue in which zoom would be displayed during remote photography with the SnapBridge app.

  3. Fixed an issue in which location data supplied by the smartphone would be recorded incorrectly when On was selected for Upload location in the Connect tab of the SnapBridge app.

Third-party hacks

And that brings us to the end of the official updates, and to a couple of unofficial hacks for the Canon 5D Mark III and Pentax K-30. It bears repeating that these updates are not sanctioned by either Canon or Ricoh, the owner of the Pentax brand, and that if you install this firmware you will unquestionably void your warranty and risk potentially turning your camera into an expensive paperweight. If you're the kind who likes to stretch the most from your camera, though, and you're willing to accept that risk, you can potentially unlock features which aren't available in the official firmware.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the folks at Magic Lantern have released rough proof-of-concept firmware enabling a raft of new video resolution and framerate options including full-resolution live view, 4K, 3K and more. As a proof of concept, the risk is greater than normal and the firmware is said to be rather buggy, but you can learn more here if you want to keep an eye on development, help yourself, or you're willing to take the risk.

And for Pentaxians, a user by the name of ABel over at PentaxForums has managed to extend the PHDK firmware hacking project to install firmware from the Pentax K-50 on the earlier K-30 body. The firmware is, much like that from MagicLantern, a proof of concept and not yet broadly available, although ABel is offering to share his work with others who understand the potential risks. Once installed, it unlocks a higher extended sensitivity limit of IS 51,200-equivalent. It's possible that other K-50 features may have made the jump to the K-30 as well, but this hack hasn't yet been fully tested, so it's not clear which if any other new features you may potentially gain access to. More details can be found here.

And that brings us to the end of this week's roundup. Be sure to check back next week for more firmware news!

(Camera parts image courtesy of Kelly Hofer / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license. Image has been modified from the original.)