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10-06-2016, 07:34 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Pentax Firmware updates vs Mobile App

Raising this post for more broad discussion and in hopes Ricoh takes note.

I participated in a recent poll promoted here on PF where Ricoh solicited user interest in various features that can be added to its camera bodies via software ie. firmware updates, icluding for Eg. focus stacking. Readers might have also noticed Fuji has just released focus stacking and full electronic view shutter as firmware updates. So this could be the start of a new trend.

I don't support putting too much new functionality including focus stacking into Pentax Firmware because it adds development, complexity and maintenance costs to features only a narrow user base would benefit from. Rather this feature and many others should go into a mobile app which can have a much faster development and release cycle and if there's a bug in the software it won't brick your camera.

I envision a future in which Pentax camera bodies are WiFi enabled and a part of the IOT. Users can wirelessly connect to camera with their Pentax App and command a sequence of operations that will automatedly deliver a focus-stacked final image. And if an improved algorithm is later found or the user wants to tweak the process this can be safely done by the user or by app update.

Really appreciate your taking the time to read, commenting to give support, and if necessary rewriting and reposting to give this idea more airtime, thank you again.

10-06-2016, 08:36 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I pretty much agree- they should do an app competition for DSLRs just like they did for the Theta, and minimally publish the API for the wireless functionality.

Doesn't seem like feature-enhancing firmware updates are particularly frequent though. We've only gotten a handful, ever.

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10-06-2016, 09:18 PM   #3
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I don't think its the best idea. I want to use my camera without an additional computer/tablet/phone. There is no need do add additional complexity. And the main tasks must be implemented in firmware, you can't use the the app to do something if not the api and the functions are implemented in the camera. For thew focusstacking you need additional api functions to enable this. I wan't to use the camera during longer a walks outside without bothering wether the wifi will eat up the accu's of mobile or camera.

This means not that I didn't ask for a better remote app. There are situations there is a need for remote triggering the camera, specially when the camera is mounted in position where I can't get a glimpse on the OVF or Monitor - a high tripod, or put against a wall or on the floor

A magic lantern solution would be perfect. No external device and lots of improvements for the camera. If there is a possibility to get an external to connection to the camera it would be nice. But thats a big difference to a app solution on a mobile or tablet.

Last edited by joergens.mi; 10-08-2016 at 12:55 AM.
10-06-2016, 10:17 PM   #4
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While we are on the topic... magic lantern is part of why Canon is so well liked for video. Pentax could revise their firmware model to permit sideloaded add-on firmware and release specifications and tooling to permit others to develop for the camera. Nothing would push innovation as fast as having an "open source" firmware load model. Even if they kept the secret sauce core secret the ability to add-on functions in a non-destructive way that goes away every boot (like Magic Lantern) is very powerful stuff.

10-06-2016, 10:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by joergens.mi Quote
I don't think its the best idea. I want to use my camera without an additional computer/tablet/phone. There is no need do add additional complexity.
The suggestion wasn't to add the complexity to everyone's camera operations, as each user would simply add what they wanted, and not add something they don't have a need for. Why would you wish to deny others the ability to do so, simply because you wouldn't use it?

Another possibility may be to use the second SD card in the K-3 or K-1 bodies, to store the app, rather than rely on a mobile link.
10-06-2016, 11:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by joergens.mi Quote
I don't think its the best idea. I want to use my camera without an additional computer/tablet/phone. There is no need do add additional complexity. And the main tasks must be implemented in firmware, you can't use the the app to do something if not the api and the functions are implemented in the camera. For thew focusstacking you need additional api functions to enable this. I wan't to use the camera during longer a walks outside without bothering wether the wifi will eat up the accu's of mobile or camera.

This means not that I didn't ask for a better remote app. There are situations there is a need for remote triggering the camera, specially when the camera is mounted in position where I can't get a glimpse on the OVF or Monitor - a high tripod, or
Not quite sure if I understand you. The OP said that functionality would be implemented in Your smartphone's app and NOT in Your camera. Since you're free to use it and since you can turn off WIFI why would You bother? Concerning the api/focusstacking I think it would be possible to let the camera do the shooting and process the pictures on Your smartphone.
10-06-2016, 11:50 PM   #7
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Original Poster
...
QuoteOriginally posted by rullrich Quote
And the main tasks must be implemented in firmware, you can't use the the app to do something if not the api and the functions are implemented in the camera.
I understand and agree to this point. The functionality must exist in the firmware, to be accessed and commanded via a published API as some others have said.

Its a finer point but it is generally less risky and less complexity to separate the interface logic (smartphone app) from the implementing logic (firmware). So the smartphone app would be making API commands to the camera. Providing your API is rock solid and secure, should not be possible to make inappropriate commands to the camera via the app and also should be possible to improve on how commands are sent by the app so that better results are obtained from the same firmware.

Separately I assume WiFi can be switched off anytime. But there's this also -- you can do things faster in an app than in firmware like rolling out an in-app tool that saves battery life or uses less power to do the same commands or speeds up the process to save time and battery, etc etc etc
10-07-2016, 12:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pewter Quote
...

I understand and agree to this point. The functionality must exist in the firmware, to be accessed and commanded via a published API as some others have said.

Its a finer point but it is generally less risky and less complexity to separate the interface logic (smartphone app) from the implementing logic (firmware). So the smartphone app would be making API commands to the camera. Providing your API is rock solid and secure, should not be possible to make inappropriate commands to the camera via the app and also should be possible to improve on how commands are sent by the app so that better results are obtained from the same firmware.

Separately I assume WiFi can be switched off anytime. But there's this also -- you can do things faster in an app than in firmware like rolling out an in-app tool that saves battery life or uses less power to do the same commands or speeds up the process to save time and battery, etc etc etc
Hi Pewter,

it was joergens.mi who said that tasks must be implemented in firmware, not me :-) But of cause this is true, even if it depends on the degree this has to be done. Concerning focusstacking it would also be possible to let the firmware only do the collection of images You would like to send to your app and let then do the rest by your app.

10-07-2016, 01:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I pretty much agree- they should do an app competition for DSLRs just like they did for the Theta, and minimally publish the API for the wireless functionality.
I would give it a try.
Wired and wireless API - if they publish it (improve it via firmware update, if necessary) - they'll find some experienced developers around here
10-07-2016, 05:44 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
The suggestion wasn't to add the complexity to everyone's camera operations, as each user would simply add what they wanted, and not add something they don't have a need for. Why would you wish to deny others the ability to do so, simply because you wouldn't use it?

Another possibility may be to use the second SD card in the K-3 or K-1 bodies, to store the app, rather than rely on a mobile link.

I added something to my post to clarify. A magic lantern solution would be perfect. I don't like a solution where you need an additional device to handle with your camera.

concerning post #8 The camera must be commanded to do the single pictures to get stacked - move focus get picture... -. Therefore I need commands for the api to do that. This must be implemented in firmware and I don't like to send hundreds of commands over a ''instable'' wifi, to do a task.

A magic lantern solution will have a type of macro to define start, end, number of steps, change per step and a possibility to trigger the series. This works standalone even in a harsh electronic environment. I can simply start it by a remote trigger. I've no problem to transmit the parameters by an app and start it by an app as an additional option - but the work should be done in camera only. The stacking can be done much, better on a computer. I don't want to transfer 40 to 50 raw pictures (2 GB Data) over a slow wlan connection to mobile and waiting hours for a result. I want the full capacity of raw development that is available on a fast computer. Stacking is in my opinion post processing, same as panorma-pictures (Hugin, PS CC).

In a lot of enviroments you've problems to have a stable wifi connection - I don't want loose a set of pictures because of wifi.

Last edited by joergens.mi; 10-07-2016 at 06:20 AM.
10-07-2016, 03:34 PM   #11
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OK. Thanks for the clarification. I understand what you're saying, and I can see that something like major focus-stacking could be quite tedious if done in-camera. In any event, I should have thought that the processing power available, and the amount of memory, might have limited what could be done in this way.
10-09-2016, 12:33 PM   #12
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Hmm. A feature that requires another device to do a function that should have been core.

Better yet let's ditch the DSLR altogether and use clippy lenses on the smartphone, less to carry around.

It's teh future!

Personally I will continue to cling to the past for a while longer. I stand out better with my DSLR than the guy shooting his picture from a full blown iPad.
10-09-2016, 04:49 PM   #13
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Phone cameras are all well and good, except for their limitations. What the rest of the phone (or tablet) brings to the process is a bigger, faster CPU that is, unhappily, also another source of heat generation, and therefore unwelcome in a DSLR body. Until a new generation of CPUs can address that problem adequately, processor-intensive operations like focus or exposure-stacking are going to continue to be done in another (external) device.

However, for those who like to do such things, I haven't yet heard a good argument against the OP's notion, just "I don't want it, so I don't see why anyone else would", or "I'd do it another way". The latter is always preferable to the former in constructive debate, so, if it doesn't interfere with what you want, why not? Negativity isn't helpful to anyone. There's a good reason why critique (the former) isn't allowed in brain-storming, but idea-building (the latter) is.
10-10-2016, 12:04 AM   #14
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Your ideas has great merit, but unless Ricoh can develop a decent wireless app it just won't materialize.

I love my K-70, but the image sync wireless app is so bad, I use the button for a different function than enabling WiFi. If customers would rather use a USB cable or simply remove the SD card rather than the built-in WiFi then it's got a log way to go before all the extended features materialize in a camera firmware API enhancements app.

If it wasn't for that experience, I would be really enthusiastic about your ideas. I think you are right, but Ricoh has a long way to go. Let's hope they get there and realize your vision.
10-10-2016, 06:05 AM   #15
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In practice after trying an eyefi, a flucard, Panasonic, and Samsung wireless with android and iOS I have found the reliability and functionality pretty poor. The best was my Samsung but it was fraught with clunky times where the Stars had to align before working. When each solution worked it was reasonably useful.
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