Be Careful Lumix Lens Firmware Updates On Olympus Bodies

Posted May. 10th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

One of the many benefits we have shooting the Micro Four Thirds system is the ability to mix and match our lenses with either Lumix or Olympus camera bodies. That can be a convenient option but unfortunately it has a downside.

Both Olympus and Panasonic have been very active at keeping their respective camera and lenses updated with improved software and firmware. That’s a huge plus since we all get new features that at one time would have required the user to buy an entirely new camera. But the danger of getting those firmware updates installed, when it’s an Olympus body to Lumix lens, is what this post is all about.

Here I’m using the Lumix GH4 with the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens, a Panasonic Lumix body with an Olympus lens. At one time, before Lumix had long, professional telephotos and zooms, I used the 40-150mm a great deal. Today, due to the Leica 100-400mm, I’ve not used Olympus lens much.

Panasonic’s firmware update process allows us to download the newest firmware updates directly to our computers. Once we download the file, we can then place that file on the SD card which we then insert into the camera and install with the menu update process. Doing it this way allows the file to be downloaded in full before we install it into our cameras or lenses. The video below was shot using the Lumix GH4 with the Olympus 40-150mm zoom.

Olympus has a different process which requires your camera be connected to your computer via a USB cable. The file is then downloaded from the Internet and imported directly into the camera, as it’s being downloaded from the Internet. Unfortunately, this can be very dangerous, since, if the Internet connection stops, for even a split second, which we’ve all experienced, the downloaded file can become corrupt or create corruption.

There are numerous posts across the web of photographers having their connection die while downloading a firmware update for Olympus. Several photographers that experienced this issue find that often their camera or lenses are damaged to the point of needing repair. The reason for this post was an email I recently received from an Olympus user that experienced firsthand this frustrating issue. I’ve copied his email below:

Hello Daniel, I found your email in the Blog regarding Panasonic lens firmware. I need some help. I own OM1 Mark II with Panasonic lens 12-35. I upgraded the firmware on the Oly with the lens. At the end, the camera is working fine, however, the lens doesn’t work. I tried it on different camera but the lens doesn’t work. Black display black viewfinderAny suggestion?

Sincerely
Alik Kornecki/Canada 

I emailed one of my contacts at Panasonic, the US Lumix head engineer, to see if there was anything we could offer. Unfortunately,  the response was basically the lens will need to be repaired. Here is the exact quote, “Oly updates firmware via an Internet connection. During that process, if the Internet connection is lost or interrupted, the update will not be installed correctly. It “bricks” the lens – the memory board in the lens usually needs to be replaced.”

So the moral of this story is be very careful when updating a Lumix lens via the Olympus camera body updater process. There are many great reasons to shoot all or mostly all Panasonic lenses and bodies. The difference in how each camera company issues their firmware updates might just be enough to make you choose one brand over the other. Obviously, you would have to decide how important this difference is. I love the fact we can mix and match cameras and lenses but nothing is ever perfect. Just an FYI.

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There are 8 comments on this post…
  1. Glen FoxOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Thank you for this Daniel, even though it is a bit un-nerving. I’m about to update the firmware on my new EM-1Mkii and 4 Oly lenses. I see that the latest firmware for P-L 100-400 includes a fix for “the instability of autofocus when the focus switch is set to [5m – infinity] using Oly.Corps OM-D EM-1 mk II”. So I presume I have to load that update into the Oly body using the Oly update system. What do you think? Maybe some of your readers have done it all ready. I’d appreciate some advice or wisdom. Thank you for all that you do for the m4/3 community.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Thaks for the kind comments Glen. Yes, the 100-400mm AF issue has been fixed. Unfortunately, don’t have any experience updating a Lumix lens with an Olympus camera. Hopefully one of our readers can give you some feedback. Let’s get this out there and see if anyone responds.

  2. Andy MilesOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    I’ve used Panasonic cameras and lenses since the G1 and the firmware updates have always been easy. Recently I purchased an EM1 MK2 and hearing about bricked cameras it was with some intrepidation I upgraded the firmware. However, the update software did “appear” to download to the Mac/PC prior to flashing via USB. Reading reports some people believe it is the USB to camera link and power management settings that is causing the problem. It would be good to get a response from Olympus on it.

    I’ve since seen this which could be a safer route for updating Olympus body firmware via SD card:
    https://lightsnowdev.com/Olympus/index.html

    Looking forward to your review. There are so many choices in micro four thirds now, love the GX8 and GH4. One thing I miss on the EM1 is the ability to look through the EVF with the screen folded out.

  3. Rich BallOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Wow – Awesome video.

    Dan – Are you planning a user review of the GH5 for stills work? Most everything about the GH5 is about it’s video capability in all of the reviews. Video is just not my interest or I suspect that of a lot of other folks. It would really be great if you and your fellow luminaries discussed what all it will do for the photographer interested in stills. Yes it has a 6k photo mode and a fine burst capability. How about some discussion on auto focus, and any other features that set it apart from other cameras.

    Tnx – Rich

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Hi Rich, Yes, I’m currently working on a review of the GH5 based on what I mostly use it for, still photography. As you seem to now already, it’s getting amazing reviews on its video prowess. I can tell you, like the GH4, the GH5 is an amazing stills camera as well. Good news is that it’s even better in almost all ways over the GH4. The review will probably be at least two weeks out. However, hopefully next week I’ll be posting Predictive AF tests I’ve been doing, that I want to release ASAP and will be separate of the overall review, that I think will surprise many Micro Four Thirds enthusiasts. I shot AF tests with the GH5, G85, Olympus OM-D EM-1 Markll and a Nikon D500. Can’t wait to share the results. Stay tuned.

    • Rich BallOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      Thanks for the very quick response Dan. I would appreciate if you make some tests with low contrast lower light kinds of subjects. I have found these to be difficult at times especially with busy backgrounds.

      Rich Ball

  4. Dennis LindenOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

    Daniel, I have just had my first experience with the lens dock from Tamron. Sigma also has a USB dock to permit lens only updates to firmware. I am certain that Lumix lens engineers are aware of this tech. If you have any influence, please ask them to consider developing such an option as my experience has been good. It also makes it easier to theoretically update a few lenses in sequence rather than having to repeat the process for each lens individually.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 10th, 2017 (3 months ago)

      The lens dock is a good idea. Will mention this to the folks I work with although I will say that I’ve had very good luck with the update process that Lumix uses already. I appreciate you adding your voice to the conversation.

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