Date: 15/09/2015 | By: Mathieu
Focus Stacking, Focus Bracketing and more on Olympus OM-Ds / 8 new lenses and 14bit uncompressed Raw on Sony A7 cameras
Cover photo: taken with the E-M10 II and Focus Bracketing mode (full review here)
Today seems to be a great day for firmware announcements. Olympus just released a list of new features that the flagship OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 II will receive in November, while the new official SonyAlphaUniverse site along with Neil Manovitz (Deputy Vice President for Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics) announced that the long-awaited 14bit uncompressed Raw option will finally be available on A7 cameras.
Firmware 4 and Firmware 2 for the OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5 II
One of the most welcome new features of the recently announced E-M10 mark II was focus bracketing (read our in-depth article here). This feature is now coming to the E-M1 and E-M5 II as well.
The E-M1 also gets something extra – a new Focus Stacking mode that merges 8 shots captured at different focus points in-camera. This mode will help you achieve a deeper depth of field without a loss in sharpness due to diffraction at smaller apertures.
The E-M1 also inherits functions already available on the more recent OM-D cameras including:
- Electronic/silent shutter
- Advanced focus peaking (4 colours and brightness adjustments)
- Sequential shooting for the Anti-Shock Mode when set to 0
- Menu recall option
- Movie image stabilisation with 5-axis IS and digital IS (M-IS1 and M-IS2)
- Support for 24p (23.98p)/25p frame rates
- Movie Info Display
- Movie Rec Start with Release Cable (RM-UC1)
- Time Code
The E-M5 mark II also receives one exclusive feature, which is a new “Flat” picture profile that allows you to record video with less contrast but more details in the shadows and highlights (basically a log type profile although I am not sure if it is a real log gamma profile). This was one of the complaints we had when reviewing the E-M5 II for video and I’m glad that Olympus listened.
The other new/updated features that will be available for both cameras are listed below:
- S-OVF (Simulated OVF): simulates an optical viewfinder by disabling exposure, white balance and picture profile previews.
- Synchronized PCM Audio Rec. with Movie Recording: when using the Olympus Linear PCM Recorder LS-100 via USB cable, you can now enable the Slate Tone to synchronise audio and video after recording is complete. A second option will allow you to start the audio recording when movie recording is activated on the camera.
- Enhanced functions on Olympus Capture Version 1.1: You can customise the information of the display on the Super Control Panel so that only the required functions are visible. You can change the layout for easier access to the most frequently used functions. Direct PC saving is available and the transfer speed is now faster because images can be directly saved to a computer without recording to an SD card. Transfer speed is also improved up to 4 times. Tether shooting capabilities are also expanded. Finally, features such as Keystone Compensation are now available.
- MF Clutch and Snapshot Focus Disable: You can choose to disable the MF Clutch and Snapshot Focus on selected M.Zuiko lenses.
- Latest firmware for M.Zuiko Pro and Premium lenses: aperture drive has been improved for smooth exposure control even when shooting movies in situations with sudden changes in brightness. It also supports the option to disable MF Clutch and Snapshot Focus.
Firmware updates 4 and 2 will be available in late November 2015.
Sony finally listens to its customers and more lenses are on the way
One of the most annoying points about the Sony A7 series was the lack of an uncompressed 14 bit Raw option. For some users it wasn’t a problem while others complained about it a lot. Personally, having used all the A7 cameras on the market, I can say that 90% of the time, I didn’t find it an issue. However I always wondered why Sony couldn’t give customers the option of choosing 12 or 14 bit, compressed, lossless or uncompressed as you can do on all high-end DSLRs. The customer is always happier when he can choose rather than having to stick with the factory default.
Well, hopefully all this will be over soon. Spotted first on SonyAlphaRumors and subsequently on the new SonyAlphaUniverse site (an official site dedicated to the Sony ambassadors and community), the firmware update has just been announced. The only information available for now is that the recently announced A7s mark II will have this option from the start while the A7r II will receive it via a firmware update. There’s no mention of the other A7 models but Sony did state that they are willing to bring it to additional cameras. My guess is that the A7 II at the very least should receive the same upgrade. There has been no mention of a release date yet.
The announcement also states that by early 2016, no less than 8 new lenses will be released for the FE system. For those who still believe that there aren’t enough lenses for the A7 cameras will need to find a new bone to pick. This will make for a total of 20 lenses in two years. I can’t recall another brand achieving the same feat in such a short amount of time.
Are you excited about these new firmware updates? Share your thoughts below!
Like our blog? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out Amazon and Adorama. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to us. Thank you!