Canon P&S shooters have CHDK, Canon film makers have Magic Lantern, and GH2 shooters have pTool. All are unofficial firmware updates, developed by the community, that provide additional features in the camera firmware.
A Nikon firmware group was started a while back, but it has seen very little progress.
Sometimes those are features developed by the dev team, like scripting, or HDR time-lapsing, but some features are simply unlocking camera capabilities that are enabled in hardware but are blocked by the firmware. Sometimes camera manufacturers develop a platform and disable certain features on specific cameras depending on marketing needs. (This is similar throughout the silicon industry and is not limited to camera, it is a way to save on R&D, tooling and manufacturing).
This is why this post over at 43rumors is a really interesting one. An anonymous hacker claims to have hacked the Olympus OM-D EM-5 claiming it is capable of features like clean HDMI output, focus peaking and 1080p@120. This is great news for Olympus shooters.
Here is what anon hacker said on 43rumors:
“Just to keep you informed. The debugger mode is available. The OM-D has a clean HDMI 4:2:2 ! but locked by Olympus. I saw that the OM-D have also a locked focus peaking functionality (beta feature revision probably, they should add on the next firmware revision not sure about it). For the rest… the OM-D is clearly more powerful than the GH2 and maybe the GH3, that the image processor can calc more information. For example the OM-D can easily support a 1080p120p ! i wonder why they blocked the OM-D to 30p…
No one is really sure about the validity of this mail, and 43rumors states that: “I don’t know yet if what he tells me is correct or not but I hope other hackers or sources can confirm or deny this“
This way or other, the directory mentioned in the hacker’s mail with the raw Olympus firmware files (/OLYMPUS_MASTER/FIRMWARES/) is now locked, so it seems Olympus does not like hackers peaking its guts.
Back to the title of the post “Will Olympus OM-D EM-5 Be The Next Camera To Get Community Firmware?” – I sure hope so!