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11-11-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
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Should Pentax open-source the firmware for old DSLRs?

Just wondering, should Pentax open-source the firmware for old DSLRs like *ist, K100D etc. It can give opportunity for people to create alternate refined firmware and interesting possibilities out of those old cameras. Also, cameras are old enough for Pentax to lose on any specific IPR.

Just trying understand, will it help Pentax?

11-11-2011, 03:21 AM   #2
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Very good idea. I hope they can be open... Don't know if that can help pentax.
11-11-2011, 03:24 AM   #3
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I'd love to see it open sourced, but it seems unlikely they own all the rights. So in other words they probably can't.

What they probably could do (for new cameras even) is make it easier to hack (only trivial "encryption", leave symbols in the firmware image, ...), and turn a blind eye to it. (Look at CHDK for an example, and the reason I have a Canon compact.)

They could even give us officially supported scripting support. I'd love for Ricoh to make Pentax the hacker friendly camera choice.
11-11-2011, 05:20 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by drougge Quote
I'd love to see it open sourced, but it seems unlikely they own all the rights. So in other words they probably can't.

What they probably could do (for new cameras even) is make it easier to hack (only trivial "encryption", leave symbols in the firmware image, ...), and turn a blind eye to it. (Look at CHDK for an example, and the reason I have a Canon compact.)

They could even give us officially supported scripting support. I'd love for Ricoh to make Pentax the hacker friendly camera choice.
I don't know if it is a result of "hacking" but at least I am very fond of the PK_Tether for my K200D........

11-11-2011, 06:52 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Just trying understand, will it help Pentax?
While it would definitely be nice, I don't think something like that would give Pentax the "kick" they need...plus, there is probably a lot of proprietary code in there that they don't want to share.

Adam
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11-11-2011, 08:32 AM   #6
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Adam: I fully agree.
What I'd like to see is a SDK like Nikon's and Canon's. And, of course, better software support (tethering, anyone?).
11-11-2011, 09:11 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Just wondering, should Pentax open-source the firmware for old DSLRs like *ist, K100D etc. It can give opportunity for people to create alternate refined firmware and interesting possibilities out of those old cameras. Also, cameras are old enough for Pentax to lose on any specific IPR.

Just trying understand, will it help Pentax?
In my view that could create a disaster for Pentax.

What about all the Pentax DSLR's with hacked and now non-functional firmware that would become available on e-bay and elsewhere in short order (users offloading their failed attempts...). Worst case even with the firmware upgrade capability ruined.

Pentax would be blamed - not the user who created the firmware.

Some sort of authorization/certification/testing/approval process would be required and that's too expensive to set up for this small market.
11-11-2011, 10:36 AM   #8
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Won't happen, for reasons already mentioned. Too much proprietary code, too many trade secrets, too much product liability. Some astute nerds might reverse-engineer the codes; have fun.

11-11-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
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I believe it is entirely possible, but the tricky bits would be separated from the user designed functions

I can see a graphical interface that would allow programming functions to buttons, modifying exposure curves, even building functions like press green button, meter, stop down, meter again to calculate the difference between open metering aperture and shooting aperture for P-TTL flash, as well as programming maximum aperture and aperture activation motion to make k mount lenses work in Av mode, but I can't see changing raw processing or other functions, these would be black boxes
11-12-2011, 12:03 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
Just wondering, should Pentax open-source the firmware for old DSLRs like *ist, K100D etc. It can give opportunity for people to create alternate refined firmware and interesting possibilities out of those old cameras. Also, cameras are old enough for Pentax to lose on any specific IPR.

Just trying understand, will it help Pentax?

One major problem is that firmware code is used over and over again. If you WERE to get a look at the source code, I'll bet that you would find that at least 50 percent of the firmware in a K-5 is identical to that in an *istD.

So, giving out the source code of even old, out of production cameras, would carry a very grave risk of divulging trade secrets.

As often as this subject comes up on this and other forums, I doubt that more than a fraction of one percent of the Pentax dslr user base wants to muck around in the firmware of their cameras. So, there's really not a real business case to be made.

Some people asking for open source firmware are quick to point to the success of the iPhone and its apps. Apples (no pun intended) and oranges. The iPhone was written from the ground up to allow for third-party or user-written apps. But, Apple does not make the source code for the operating system available, even to app developers. They provide an app compiler and documentation about how to interface with the OS. Apple absolutely does not allow users to change the OS.

The firmware on a dslr was not written with end-user mods in mind. It is probably written in assembler language for whatever processor they use. Its not like Linux, where almost everything is written in C or C++.

And, Lowell, I agree that its entirely possible, at least from a technical sense. Pentax COULD provide a developer kit that would run on a Mac or PC. However, in order to do it right, the OS would need to be completely rewritten, with this in mind. I agree that it might be a neat thing, but I can't really see any upside for Pentax, the company. As a programmer for almost forty years, I have no desire whatsoever to mess around with the firmware in my camera.

As for old, obsolete cameras, there's even less of a business case. I don't think that it would be a good idea for Pentax to simply throw the code out onto a website somewhere and say "have at it". There's absolutely no money to be made.

With new cameras, there's a risk of divulging trade secrets and creating warranty claims. You know that, if someone messed up a K-5 or a K-7 still under warranty, that some people would try to send it in for warranty repair. If they refuse, they've created ill will. If they comply, they've caused themselves an unnecessary expense.
11-12-2011, 02:46 AM   #11
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Just a quick note - it's perfectly possible to write firmware in C (and I'd bet that's what they're doing, since it's so much easier than in asm, and - to a point - portable as well). Fujitsu's Softune comes to mind...
11-12-2011, 05:08 AM   #12
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I think we need to split firmware into what it is, real firmware that is embedded to make the box of bits a camera, and an applicative layer that programs buttons functions of how you want the camera to work, like noblepa, I have no desire to get into making the camera functions work differently, but there are a lot of user functions that I would love to change
11-12-2011, 06:09 AM   #13
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Probably at the bottom of their priority and for sure not even in a long range radar
03-13-2012, 11:55 PM   #14
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Here is good link Welcome to Pentax Hack There isn't K-r support there

(For Canon users Magic Lantern Firmware Wiki)

PS: Thanks to minhtri247 for the links
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