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05-30-2009, 02:13 PM   #1
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Should K20 owners see a firmware upgrade...

... After the K-7 ships!

With all this talk about the K-7 and what great features it has compared to everything released before it, I thought that it was time to look at what you are really getting and whether or not any of the new features could be backported to the K20D.

As everyone here is aware the K20D is not being immediately discontinued once the K-7 starts shipping. So there is still a lot that can be done with this baby. Here is a very short list of what I believe are firmware only tweaks that could come from the K-7 back to the K20D.
  1. Remote Control F behavior. Right now bulb exposures tire your finger as you have to hold the button down for the entire bulb length, claimed K-7 behavior is one press it opens the shutter, second press it closes it.
  2. Long exposure NR, the black frame exposure used by the K20D on long exposures is annoying and could be eliminated or minimized with a firmware tweak.
  3. Compressed DNG. This might be much harder to implement as it requires processing power besides re-writing the algorithm. The K-7 might just have a faster processor but no one has specifically said that, as I recall.

Yhe above three were obvious to me, there are of course other firmware items that could be addressed that would require more programming resources. If you can think of anything that couild simply be backported mention it here. Maybe Pentax is listening and maybe, just maybe we will see some continued interest in K20D development.

05-30-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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Totally agree with you on point 1 & 2.
IR remote and bulb mode behaviour is very odd on the K20D.
Not having full control of the noise reduction makes long exposure stack imposable.
Compresses DNG would mean it's not a DNG any more, that's what PEF is for.
05-30-2009, 03:52 PM   #3
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Nice thought but they won't. All the previous cameras were basically abandoned after a new release.
05-30-2009, 06:39 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Nice thought but they won't. All the previous cameras were basically abandoned after a new release.
Except in this case it has been expressly mentioned that the K-7 is not a replacement for the K20D and that the K20D will continue to be sold for a period of time. That coupled with the fact that Pentax did not likely change processor instruction sets means that they already have the code to implement some of these features.

I also doubt they will do any more firmwares but it doesn't hurt to ask and get K20D owner opinions.

05-30-2009, 06:45 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dom Quote
.... clipped ....
Compresses DNG would mean it's not a DNG any more, that's what PEF is for.
Abode has compression as part of the DNG specification and the K-7 implements one type specified by that specification. It's still a DNG and it's compressed.

As I mentioned to Peter, the code is already written it just needs to be included in the K20D code base.
05-30-2009, 06:59 PM   #6
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One more thing that jumped out at me was the inclusion of Copyright information in the image EXIF. It could be done.
05-30-2009, 08:29 PM   #7
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Yes! Copyright info in EXIF would be very nice.
05-30-2009, 09:55 PM   #8
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My vote would be for Copyright info feature on the K20D as well.
How can we rally together for something like this from Pentax?

05-31-2009, 03:43 AM   #9
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To be honest, I don't really think we will see any more support for the K20D after the K-7 ships. I think I have fallen into the same trap everyone else has, Pentax says the K-7 is not a direct replacement for the K20D but rather a new direction. I think what that means is that they may never be a replacement to the K20D, it will just be discontinued and everything will move toward the K-7 form factor.

JCPentax on DPReview gave a very marketing oriented answer to why you won't see code ported over mentioning that the processors are different and some other internal hardware is different also. Technically speaking I highly doubt that Pentax software engineers write in machine code and I doubt even more that the Prime II and Prime I processors are so different that the code base is not compatible, but rather that the Prime II has an instruction set that is a superset of the original Prime processor. Look at AMD and Intel who have much more experinece building processors (not just CPUs) than anyone in the world, each iteration is built on the one before and wider data paths do not mean a completely new instruction set.

Anyway, I was thinking out loud when I wrote this and wondered if anyone else had similar thoughts. It doen't hurt to think outside of normal marketing parameters and do something nice for the customer rather than limiting yourself to just doing what is required to get by.
05-31-2009, 06:15 AM   #10
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Yeah, I suspect that K20D owners will have at least as much firmware support as we K10D owners saw... i.e., none. I'm convinced that the only reason for the v1.3 "upgrade" was to add SDM support simply to sell more lenses. This belief was further reinforced (to my mind) by the removal (or at least the hiding) of the "debug mode."

Maybe this is standard practice among DSLR manufacturers...but even if it is, it seems to me that longer/better firmware support is one way Pentax could help differentiate themselves from N and C for a fairly low cash outlay.

Better still, if the firmware is heretofore unsupported, I'd love to see Pentax "open the code." I'm sure the Internet community could do some amazing things with it, given the chance.
05-31-2009, 11:27 AM   #11
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Remote control F behavior would not be high on my list of important things to fix or improve on the K20d!
How about upgrading the autofocus algorithms to at least K-M level, if it can be done.
I figure it ain't ever going to happen since Pentax is so obviously desperate for us K20d owners to upgrade to the K-7.
That attitude isn't going to change after the K-7 ships.

Last edited by jeffkpotter; 05-31-2009 at 11:55 AM.
05-31-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by WheresWaldo Quote
JCPentax on DPReview gave a very marketing oriented answer to why you won't see code ported over mentioning that the processors are different and some other internal hardware is different also. Technically speaking I highly doubt that Pentax software engineers write in machine code and I doubt even more that the Prime II and Prime I processors are so different that the code base is not compatible, but rather that the Prime II has an instruction set that is a superset of the original Prime processor. Look at AMD and Intel who have much more experinece building processors (not just CPUs) than anyone in the world, each iteration is built on the one before and wider data paths do not mean a completely new instruction set.
ARM systems (common in the embedded world) are a bit different; they have a more modular design. There's the core CPU, various standard optional components, and the ability to add non-standard coprocessors with a standard path for accessing them in the instruction set.

What tends to happen is that intensive tasks, such as compression algorithms, get built in hardware which are added to the system as coprocessors. (Sometimes as actual separate ASICs, but due to the way ARM is licensed, it's common for everything to exist on the same physical chip.) Some assembly-level work is then required to access them, even if it's just a relatively small change to the compile toolset.

Apart from that, internal hardware differences are a big deal in the embedded world, since you often aren't working at the same high level of abstraction as your average OS on PC hardware. Of course you design software with some level of abstraction just for personal sanity, but every now and then a major change needs to be made which will touch a lot of code, even if you aren't working at the machine code level.

I don't know anything about the PRIME internals or the firmware architecture, but there very well may be solid technical reasons why the code doesn't work across revisions, as opposed to the company just not wanting to spend time updating the older models.
05-31-2009, 01:58 PM   #13
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I am happy if they come out how to make the camera ALWAYS fire the flash.
05-31-2009, 03:28 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Duck Dodgers Quote
...clipped...

Better still, if the firmware is heretofore unsupported, I'd love to see Pentax "open the code." I'm sure the Internet community could do some amazing things with it, given the chance.
Wouldn't that be a hoot! Could you imagine any camera company, say for example 2 or 3 years after a product sunset, releasing the firmware code into the public domain. What a concept.
06-01-2009, 07:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WheresWaldo Quote
... After the K-7 ships!

With all this talk about the K-7 and what great features it has compared to everything released before it, I thought that it was time to look at what you are really getting and whether or not any of the new features could be backported to the K20D.

As everyone here is aware the K20D is not being immediately discontinued once the K-7 starts shipping. So there is still a lot that can be done with this baby. Here is a very short list of what I believe are firmware only tweaks that could come from the K-7 back to the K20D.
  1. Remote Control F behavior. Right now bulb exposures tire your finger as you have to hold the button down for the entire bulb length, claimed K-7 behavior is one press it opens the shutter, second press it closes it.
  2. Long exposure NR, the black frame exposure used by the K20D on long exposures is annoying and could be eliminated or minimized with a firmware tweak.
  3. Compressed DNG. This might be much harder to implement as it requires processing power besides re-writing the algorithm. The K-7 might just have a faster processor but no one has specifically said that, as I recall.

Yhe above three were obvious to me, there are of course other firmware items that could be addressed that would require more programming resources. If you can think of anything that couild simply be backported mention it here. Maybe Pentax is listening and maybe, just maybe we will see some continued interest in K20D development.
on point 2... we should lobby pentax to give us control... after shooting a storm tonight... well.. lets put it this way... having to wait for as long as i exposed for meant i lost a whole heap of shots and the 2 nikon owners next to me didnt..

Thanks

Steve

Last edited by 5teve; 06-01-2009 at 07:33 AM.
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