Upgrading the Firmware in Your '5060

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

All or most of the past Olympus Camedia cameras could have the firmware upgraded by the user, except that it was kept as a secret. With the '5060 Olympus did the right thing and officially released the new version to the camera users, also listing the changes made. Finally, they got it right, or almost right.

(Well, maybe not quite. While this is true of the "official" version 756-81 upgrade, the latest v756-84 is not documented, or even mentioned, by the manufacturer. Also, the installation process in v756-81, although simple, is not as safe as it could have been, se my note below.)

What is firmware

To read a brief explanation what firmware is, click here. If you don't need it, keep on reading.

The latest version

The latest firmware version officially available from Olympus is 756-81, available here on the Olympus Europe site, together with a description of changes, and with installation instructions. This is a self-installing (Windows only!) executable; you run it from your PC, following the on-screen instructions. As Olympus expressly forbids uploading this software, I cannot post a copy here. If you decide to use this one, see my installation notes below.

There is a newer version 756-84, floating around on the Internet, including a number of sources I trust. The zip file, requiring simple, manual installation, can be downloaded from here. From my experience, this version seems to be entirely kosher, and you can install it regardless of Windows.

The original version included with the camera when it was released in November, 2003, was 756-76; I have also received reports about other versions, up to 756-83, being included with late batches sold.

Installation of Version 756-84

Version 756-84 can be installed on top of any previous version in the camera.

Detailed instructions, together with the appropriate disclaimer, are shown in my C-5050Z firmware article; click here to get there.

What is new in v756-84?

There is no official word from Olympus on this. From what I've read, the release corrects a number of problems when the camera interacts with computer applications written with use of the Olympus Software Development Kit, a problem with file transfers using Lexar 4 GB CF card, and, most importantly, possible underexposure under bright light conditions. I am repeating these changes after the Polish HSLAB site, where you may check the listing for yourself; I haven't tried to verify any of these changes.

Some users also report more responsive autofocus and some decrease in noise levels, but this is just anecdotal evidence.

Still, if a new version was released, it was obviously needed.

What was new in v756-81?

The changes are listed at the download location shown above, but I'm going to reprint them here, annotated with my comments.

(1) "Improvement in the quality of RAW image data (lower noise level) in CAMEDIA Master. (There is no problem in original RAW image data taken by a camera.)"

This is quite unclear. I could understand that the old version was somehow misguiding the Camedia Master into decoding the raw data is a somewhat less-then-optimum way.

(2) "Shutter click is set to sound twice in BULB shooting: when pushing the shutter button and when you release your finger from the button."

A minor glitch, but it is nice to have it fixed. With the old firmware, the sound would go off only when the shutter was closing, and I found it misleading.

(3) "Changed the camera's default resolution setting in movie mode to HQ (320 x 240 pixels) as described in the instruction manual."

Who cares? This is a mass-market feature anyway. Give me time-lapse photography instead in the next model.

(4) "Revised the display of shutter speed in detailed shooting information."

I've tried to find out what was wrong with the "old" display, to no avail, despite trying both the Dial Control Panel, and the regular information overlay (as the statement above can be understood in two ways).

(5) "Revised ALL RESET in the camera. When you power off the camera while the AF target is displayed on the monitor, the next time you turn on the camera, the setting is retained, so only the AF target is displayed on the monitor."

I found this small glitch, indeed, a bit annoying, and I'm glad Olympus corrected it. (The write-up is misleading: this has nothing to do with the All Reset feature.)

(6) "Revised Frame Assist templates."

The best revision would be to take the stupid thing away at all.

(7) "Corrects the occasional problem of distorted view of the trimmed images in the index display."

Cropping images in-camera is not a good idea anyway; another mass-market feature we could do without.

I can bet that the Olympus programmers also fixed a few dozen of minor bugs: these happen even in the best software (and I consider the Olympus firmware, at least the part I can see, as good as they come).

After the upgrade I was really able to confirm only Items (2) and (5). I was not in a position to do anything about (1) and (4), and all others were not worth wasting time for, being related to features of tertiary nature. But, of course, everything works just fine...

Installation of Version 756-81 — Warning!!!

If you want to stick to the latest "official" version, it will be 756-81, downloadable from Olympus. While Olympus includes full instructions, there is a caveat here.

The process requires the upgrading program to be run on your PC while the camera is connected to it (unlike the "unofficial" procedure for v756-84, which only requires copying a file to your memory card). If your computer suffers a power failure during that time, your camera is as good as dead.

Just recently (March, 2006) I received a horror story from an European user who experienced exactly this. His local Olympus service center can reinstall the firmware at a price of about €250 (that's $300!). Enough said.

This is why my recommendation is to use Version 756-84, where the installation procedure is simpler and safer, as long as your batteries are freshly charged (if they are not, the "official" process will also fail, so this way is safer anyway). If you insist on v81, then using a laptop will protect you from a similar surprise.

Another warning, this time from Olympus, regarding the upgrade application for v756-81: the program may have problems when the camera is hooked to your computer via an USB hub (you know, the little box acting as a splitter, or similar functionality included in a keyboard, monitor, or another peripheral). To quote from the Olympus Japan site:

NOTE: Use of a USB hub during the update is not supported and may result in damage to the camera and the camera's firmware.

Now, isn't that special? This simply means that the USB code in the upgrader is not quite USB-compatible, period, and the programmers can't fix it. Worse, depending on the motherboard in your computer, all USB sockets provided may actually go through an internal hub, and you will never know. One more reason to stay away from this version, and jump straight to 756-84.

Should you do it?

The upgrade process is foolproof and (almost) risk-free, so why not? Although it is unlikely that you will see any significant changes in the camera behavior, you will at least know that your camera is 100% up-to-date.

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

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Posted 2004/03/13; last updated 2006/04/16 Copyright © 2004-2006 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak