Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 21/06/2012

Any umbrettas, any umbrettas to mend today?*

It would appear that Canon are about to release some new firmware for their aging 7D camera.  Whilst this wouldn’t normally interest me, not owning a 7D, I was struck by the list of changes that are proposed for the software update.  Having had a digital SLR of one form or another for over 10 years, I’ve seen updates come and go – they’re usually released to fix a couple of minor issues that the camera might suffer from – and for each announcement I read the documentation to see whether I feel it will fix any issues I’ve been experiencing (with the camera, Dear Reader, with the camera!). So far, I’ve not had to apply anything to any of the cameras, not through fear but because the kit I’ve owned has never experienced any of the listed issues and as such there would be little or no benefit applying the code.  Canon’s new release isn’t so much a bug fix as a list of feature enhancements and the list is quite comprehensive.  Let me start at the beginning (though I won’t go through all of the list – you can obviously go read that if you’re really keen (or just want to avoid my blog)).

First and foremost, the developers seemed to have managed to get a quart into a pint pot – without the firmware installed, the camera’s maximum burst rate is 15 raw files before the buffer fills.  Amazingly, with the the firmware applied the camera is then able to handle not just one or two more images, but a further 11 images before the buffer is unable to handle any more information.  That is quiet astounding, it’s not as if the camera has had a hardware upgrade to achieve this increase which would have been more understandable, it’s down to the way the brains of the device is able to write from buffer out to available storage.

Apparently there will be some in-camera RAW conversion which will allow you to “post-process” images once taken; of course the camera already has this capability when it produces JPG images from the sensor, however the ability to apply numerous picture styles to the image without the need for a computer certainly sounds like it could have it’s own application.  I haven’t shot RAW for a number of years now, as I’m more than happy with the final photos, however if this were available for the 1D, I might well go back.

The final enhancement, which is apparently available on a couple of the newer cameras already, is the ability to mark an image with a star rating, from 1 to 5.  This is essentially what I do using Google’s Picasa, after I’ve uploaded a batch of photos to my computer.  To do this quickly in camera could potentially save a lot of time… either that or it could lead to eye strain, as I squint at the screen on the back of the camera – rather than my computer monitor.  Actually, thinking about that, perhaps I wouldn’t use this which is a good job, as it’s not available for my camera anyway.

* Scopus umbretta, the latin name for the Hammerkop


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