Camera Firmware Updates, A Good or a Bad Thing?
Thomas Fitzgerald

It’s an interesting discussion, but I have to think this has more to do with practicality than strategy. Building features is hard, time-consuming work.

If they waited until every possible feature was done, they would need another two years to release the camera. Modern technological upgrade cycles don’t allow for that. Fujifilm and Olympus are already pushing the envelope by updating individual models only every few years. They stagger model releases to keep a fresh market presence instead, buying themselves time to work on the features.

It’s like software development. They most likely have a roadmap of what they want to build into a certain camera, then they decide which points take priority and build those out for the release window. Then they keep working on the rest and release them via firmware updates (as compared to Sony who essentially takes everything that didn’t hit V1 and moves it to the next camera model, releasing updates primarily to fix bugs).

The fact that companies like Panasonic are now making that roadmap public is positive to me. It’s an admirable degree of transparency.

Fujifilm is interesting in that they’re almost creating unreasonable expectations. By always spending so much post-launch effort on existing cameras, they poach some of their attention from their next cameras. It’s a good strategy because it keeps people invested in their system happy, but it also makes it harder for them to sell their new cameras since people expect that whatever they already own will keep getting major updates.

I appreciate the Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, etc. approach, personally. I like the feeling that my feedback is heard and that what I’m investing in isn’t just on the market to fund the next model.

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