Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Sometimes, a firmware update is in order

28th February 2011

After a recent trip to Oxford, I have started to mull over adding a longer lens (could make more distant architectural detail photos a possibility) to complement my trusty Sigma 18-125mm f/3.8-5.6 DC HSM zoom lens that now is entering approaching its third year in my hands. While I have made no decision about the acquisition of another lens, there are some tempting bargains out there, it seems. However, the real draw on my attention is the lack of autofocus with the aforementioned Sigma and I now find it hard to believe that I was blaming the manufacturer for no keeping up with Pentax when it really was the other way around. A bit of poking around on the web revealed that all that I needed to do was download a firmware update from the Pentax website. While being slowed down by the lack of autofocus cannot have done bad things for my photography, I still wonder at why I didn’t try updating the camera for as long as I have.

In the file for updating my K10D, there was a README file containing the instructions for carrying out the update with the included binary file that was set to take the camera from version 1.00 to 1.30 (hold down the Menu button while starting the camera to see what you have). In summary, both files were copied onto an SD card that was inserted into the camera and it turned off. The next step was to power up the camera with the menu button held down to start the update. To stop erroneous updates, there is an “Are you sure?” style Yes/No menu popped up before anything else happens. Selecting Yes sets things into motion and you have to wait until the word “COMPLETE” appears in the bottom left corner before turning the camera and removing the card. Now that I think of it, I should have checked the battery before doing anything because the consequences of losing power in the middle of what I was doing would have been annoying, especially with my liking the photographic results produced by the camera.

Risk taking aside, the process was worth its while with HSM now working as it should have done all this time. It seems quiet and responsive too from my limited tests to date. Even better, the autofocus doesn’t hunt anywhere near as much as the 18-55 mm Pentax kit lens that came with the camera. The next decision is whether to stick  with my manual focussing ways or lapse into trusting autofocus from now on though my better reason is to stick with the slower approach unless the subjects are fast. Now that I think of it, train and bus photos for my transport website have become a whole lot easier as have any wildlife photos that I care to capture. Speaking of the latter brings me back to that telephoto quandary that I mentioned at the beginning. Well, there’s a tempting Sigma 50-200 mm that has caught my eye…

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