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Mirrorless News

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

E-M10, 1/200, f/ 28/10, ISO 200

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.

omd em1 firmware 4

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.

sony 14bit uncompressed raw update

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!

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Hawkeye

    Everybody does it unfortunately. It’s vaporware. It’s not hardware or software yet until it’s released, it’s vaporware. “Don’t buy the competition, hang with us, we will have a cool new widget/gizmo by next year!” They are constantly promoting things that don’t exist yet.

    The big problem is that every new announcement of “the Next Big Thing” only serves to erode the resale value of the gear you just purchased even faster. It’s the digital/computer model of business. Always chasing the next thing.

  • Mathieu

    Yes, they seem to prepare a big firmware update every year now and that’s a good thing. The E-M1 is now more than 2 years old but sill up to date.

  • Mathieu

    If it is real uncompressed 14bit the files should be even larger than 50mb, probably around 75/80mb.

  • Larry Cross

    Speaking as someone from Australia, the 25p video was sorely needed on the flagship! Should never have been released without it. Look forward to further improvements, Olympus are offering a lot more improvements and updates to there cameras these days and as a customer, I appreciate this.

  • Turbofrog

    One must always, always, always buy a camera assuming that it gets nothing new from that point forward. Remember that your E-M10 is no worse a camera now than when you bought it. If you weren’t bothered before, why be bothered now?

    And to be fair, the E-M1 does cost twice as much as the E-M10. You can probably expect a little bit more professional support for such a camera.

  • walnut186

    I will really appreciate the 14-bit lossless format as I’m noticing banding in my BW conversions. Unfortunately I think it will probably slow things down a bit but I can live with that as I am not a sports/wildlife photographer. And I assume we will also need to get used to larger RAW files, probably on the order of 50MB. Hard drives are cheap.

  • Andy Stacey

    I was hoping for some firmware for the Mk 1 OMD EM10, I have owned mine for less than a year and it is pretty much an out of date camera already.

  • soundimageplus

    I agree that minor menu tinkering is a poor second to a decent video offer for Olympus.

    As far as Sony is concerned announcing lenses is all very well it’s what they are and when people can actually start using them that’s important.I’m no longer impressed by the ‘Hang on, don’t leaves us, we’re coming up with what you want, honestly we are’ approach. I decided some time ago that life’s too short to wait for Sony to come up with the FE lenses I would want to see at a price, size and weight that i would find useful. I doubt any upcoming lenses will tempt me back. Particularly since they probably won’t be available for at least a year.

  • Mathieu

    Thanks, I appreciate your comment! 😉

  • Wing Yip

    I see, thanks for the info. Also. Like all your reviews, articles and videos. I find them all very informative, interesting, helpful and relevant to the things that interest me. Keep up the good work!

  • Mathieu

    Actually disabling the manual clutch isn’t a bad idea as I often find my lens switched to MF accidentally. I didn’t use the OVF simulator in the E-M10 II, I prefer to have the real time exposure on the EVF. The live view boost will give you an optimal exposure according to your scene while the OVF simulator will match the real light on your scene.

  • Wing Yip

    I am happy to here the Olympus firmware updates. Too bad they can’t cover sooner. Not sure why one would want to disable the manual focus clutch and snap shot focus feature? I really wished they would upgrade the firmware to include af track pad feature found on the EM-10 mkII in this upcoming firmware, however. Maybe in a subsequent firmware update shortly after this one?

    Lastly, not sure if use the optical viewfinder simulator much as the evf live preview and update is one of many advantages what makes mirrorless awesome. Also, doesn’t the current live boost feature essentially perform the same function as ovf simulator?

    I appreciate Olympus trying to give more serious considerations to their video features. I know there could be more and better, but definitely looking forward to flat movie profile on the em-5 mkII and see how that may improve video quality output options.

  • Mathieu

    I hope they will update all the A7 cameras.

  • lux

    Why not 14 bit for all the a7 series cameras!? Also sLog3 for a7s!

  • Mathieu

    Let’s hope so! :)

  • Mathieu

    I agree about the video, i think Olympus need to improve the pixel readout.

  • Marcio K

    Don’t know why the focus stacking was not implemented in the E-M5 II – probably to give something exclusive to the E-M1 users (the most benefited with this new firmware). But since focus bracketing is there, it’s ok.

    The flat picture mode for movies in the E-M5 II is interesting, but is very far from resolve the movie quality problems in the E-M5 II (aliasing, huge moiré, lack of sharpness – what was needed is a complete revamp of the video system, which I suspect that it is not only a firmware update issue).

  • Klorenzo

    Now we’ll finally discover if the RAW compression was really causing weird artifacts or not. I always had many doubts about this question.

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