Remember when Apple used to charge money to update your iPhone? While we’ve gotten rather used to free mobile updates over the past couple years, the trend is as strong as ever with our cameras. Should this still be the case?
The GH5 is making big waves after CES last week, and it’s duly deserved. What’s unusual about the launch is that the camera will only (and I realize how ridiculous that sounds) come with 8 bit 4K at 60fps. The update for 10 bit will come later in 2017. Not only do we have to take Panasonic’s word for it, we’ll also need to pay for another update if we want V-Log. $100 for a software feature makes you stop and wonder why it’s not included in the first place.
It’s nothing new, of course. The GH4 before this had the same paid upgrade. In fact it’s riddled all over the industry. Canon’s C100 received a $500 auto-focus update, and Sony’s entire pro-video line is filled with these upgrades. Want raw output on your FS5? That’ll be a cool $600.
Should it be assumed that significant firmware upgrades come at a cost? After all, these manufacturers have to pour time and money into making the software packages. We also remember when we forked out for both Windows and Mac updates; it’s still a hefty $200 to Microsoft for that one. We can't say that it's alien to pay for upgrades.
However Panasonic is definitely blurring the line here. They can hardly say that the GH5 is not aimed at their pro-video customers. The camera is touting its video features furiously – even boasting a full sized HDMI port on the side – so it’s difficult to say that V-Log is too “Pro” to be included in the box. In fact at least the GH4 had an excuse, under the guise that they spent more time developing it after the camera had been released. This was backed up by the European-only GH4R coming with V-Log preinstalled.
So it seems odd that Panasonic is asking for the customer to pay for this feature. V-Log is already working just fine with the GH5. In fact Neumann Films is offering a download link to anybody that wants to try it out. So it’s not as Panasonic are spending extra money to R&D after the camera has been released, they’re simply asking for money. Are they going to do this with every camera they release?
What do you think? Is it an understandable cost of the huge innovation in camera technology, or are some abusing that very cost?