Panasonic Firmware Unlocking For A Price – Pay To Play Model

Today we discuss the Panasonic PAID firmware update coming in July. If you decide to pay Panasonic to unlock your S1 via this firmware update, this is what you’ll receive:

4:2:2 10-bit 4K 24p/30p internal video recording
4:2:2 10-bit 4K 60p HDMI output
Full V-Log recording

Will this pay to play model become the norm in the industry with other camera manufacturers following Panasonic’s lead or will this simply be an outlier?

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46 thoughts on “Panasonic Firmware Unlocking For A Price – Pay To Play Model

  1. Today we discuss the Panasonic PAID firmware update coming in July. If you decide to pay Panasonic to unlock your S1 via this firmware update, this is what you'll receive:

    4:2:2 10-bit 4K 24p/30p internal video recording

    4:2:2 10-bit 4K 60p HDMI output

    Full V-Log recording

    Will this pay to play model become the norm in the industry with other camera manufacturers following Panasonic's lead or will this simply be an outlier?

    After watching, add your thoughts to the mix and join the conversation in the comment area below the video!

    As always if you enjoy the video please give it a BIG THUMBS UP, SUBSCRIBE and click the NOTIFICATION BUTTON!

  2. It is a bad business. Let people get to enjoy your product and create the buzz. Panasonic should advertise that they are the ones to beat and if you buy by a certain date for a limited time it’s this price after that the price goes up. You get your product in people’s hands and then if it’s that good, you have built up the good will and reviews and have a hit. Don’t do what Nikon did and charge over two hundred dollars for an adapter that they are now giving away for free. Nikon should have offered the adapter for free for early adopters and then either keep it free or charge 99.00 like Canon. Fuji is putting Companies on notice that through firmware that the old ways of gouging won’t be tolerated.

  3. Hi JC. This is s tough one. I subscribe to the notion you tally the total cost base of the product upfront and no hidden charges post release.
    The question is what price do you put on it when you decide to sell it used?

  4. Nobody enjoys additional payments to unlock features but I fear more manufacturers might look at doing this in future as many camera processing chips are now significantly powerful and can be easily updated rather than replaced with new models. As profits decline from the industry due to continued phone development and competition the cost of R&D for new models will become more difficult to justify and even Apple look today to keep profits going by finding new rental or subscription services which is more and more the way to keep revenue flows going. Hardware sales will decline as it gets harder to get people to part with cash when the new costs are so high if you can have more from your S1 with a additional payment and this means that you get additional useful features that matter to you and allow the life of the camera to increase before requiring the S2 , 3 etc down the road then they will get happy customers. If Fuji and others continue to have a policy of free upgrades then I can’t argue with you that existing users will stay happy and are unlikely to switch to others once a member of a happy family. The second hand market will also benefit from a growth in this pay to upgrade system.

  5. I see and agree to your point. But I asked myself if I was prepared to pay (let’s say) 2800$ straight and have these features from start. S1/R are already packed with features. Have 422 and log included could not be profitable for Panasonic. It’s a strategy. That’s how I see it. It could be followed by other manifacturers in the future. I don’t like it but this is how it works in many other markets. Think of cars. They can already be fitted with leather seats but you have to pay for them. Next step I see the sale of bundle packages together with single features

  6. Pay to Play .. Goodbye and the camera goes back for a full refund. Apps are one thing we have come to accept but in the camera game: no way. I've been a Nikon shooter since 1963 and am currently a D850 and Z6 shooter. If Nikon ever pulled this, I would never, ever spend one penny with them again. But I'm sure Nikon is way too smart to ever even consider it.

  7. You know, I was pretty ambivalent about it until you mentioned the Gen 1 product release and I think you are right. Do it for free and make it up by creating a loyal customer. I pre-ordered an S1 but I’m a stills shooter who will occasionally add video so this doesn’t have me up in arms or anything. One thing I can say, is these Panasonic cameras are way more feature rich off the bat than the Canon and Nikon counterparts. So we have to give them credit for that.

  8. "Full Frame without compromise" – Panasonic.

    Firstly, let me say that I agree with you in that I feel the firmware update should be FREE, as a thank you gift for folks purchasing their Gen1 FF camera. Having said that, it appears as if Panasonic will not be interested in providing any discounts on their camera tech, for at least another 12-18 months, so those who want to play now, will indeed have to pay.

    I too found it odd that Panasonic would state that the Lumix S models, are stills-oriented cameras, yet are above average video cameras—and based on some of the video tests I've seen from the S1 thus far, they may be magical after the V-log update becomes available. I believe that Panasonic knows that the video quality is superior to what is currently available on the market right now, and if folks want that quality and capability—-they will have to pay for it.

    Again, I do not agree with this approach, but I can understand why they would choose to go this route. Only time will tell how the market will respond to this, but if the video is really magical, I believe folks will find the extra $$$ to get the update.

  9. Obviously they released the product before it was ready for market. They used a price to enter a very competitive market. They will not entice converts and in fact will alienate many existing users. It smacks of a very poor miscalculation by the accounting department.

  10. I am not remotely interested in a company that plays games,especially that cost ME.Let's say you spend the $3700 for the top Panasonic.Now that's in the same price region as the Nikon D850,and not that far from Fuji's GFX50R,yet the focusing on the Panasonic is not as adept as the Nikon D850,nor a camera like the Sony A9.It's bait and switch,and maybe a few might go for it,yet i would not.Just about everyone is giving free updates,and so should Panasonic,especially since this is their first full frame mirror less offering.That's a really shady,bold,and rude move,for a company that's nowhere close to the top 3.For all that,i will get the full out EVA cinema camera and just use that..

  11. They will probably float it out there and see how it goes. Didn't Canon force folks to buy their lens adapter at first then decided to include it with the body?

  12. I don't like restrictions and paid updates like this but coming from the software business, I'm pretty much used to this. It is possible to sell one package with everything for everybody or you split the product into parts and the customer pays for the functionality he actually needs. For example, I didn't bought the V-Log update for the GH5 because I don't need it. If the camera is less expensive because of this – great.
    In this case, I think the 10bit 4:2:2 should be part of the base package. I see this as an driver update that should be free. If you have to pay for V-log or ProRes or things that actually cost a license fee, it's still painful but I can live with it. It also depends on how many people buy the camera for high end film production. If you use the camera for photos, you don't need the upgrade and real film people are used to pay for every grip, screw, viewfinder, peace of software, luts and so on.

  13. Sony A9 don't even has 10 bit vlog for $4500.

    Certain feature requires a licensing fee that not everyone willing to pay or need.

    Canon has pay to play Canon 5DIV log. Sony in their cinema line.

  14. I spoke to the Panasonic rep when they us play with the S1 and S1R at my local camera shop and they said they were photographers cameras not videographers cameras. Photographers cameras in Panasonic world are cheaper than hybrid shooters. So if a hybrid shooter wants the features they pay for them. Not saying I agree but that is how Panasonic seems to work.

  15. I think if it would make it so canon cameras were more competitive and it was announced at launch of the camera it would be OK (not great). People were happy to pay for canon log with the 5d IV and then non vedilo people saved the money. They didn’t have to pay for a feature they didn’t care about. Like an early Tesla that was software limited. So for canon it would have all the stuff they want to give consumers, whatever they think they need to be competitive in the market and then you could pay for AF In 4K, full-frame 4K, etc etc. I agree it’s not ideal but if it would make a canon camera possible more functional I’d like that.

  16. I completely agree with you on this.

    From a business perspective, there are two options – one is to include updates for free; the other is to charge less for the admission price and then charge for the updates. Disney World has made a science of the second option.

    From the accountants perspective the pay extra model makes perfect sense. It is a pretty safe bet that the marketing and sales department is appalled at this approach. Which in turn tells you who is running the company – the accountants. My observation over many years is that companies run by the accounting department go belly-up a whole lot faster than their competition. A major problem is that the accounts are never blamed for a company failure – they can readily prove they acted sensibly. But accountants should serve management – NOT control it.

    I will be quite surprised if Panasonic actually goes through with this – I am sure they will get a hugely negative response for this – as it deserves.

  17. Pay to play will be a huge fail unless every camera maker incorporate it (very hard to imagine), it will be better to make a modular camera and sell different sensors and different modules with features! I think Fuji is looking into the modular thing.

  18. I'm a Canon shooter too for almost 2 decades and last couple of years started using Nikon too was slowly switching over and for the last 6 months or so really looking into Sony especially the A9 and A7R3 for the way they give what they have for example the latest firmware update for A9 could quite easily have been the A9mk2 if Canon were managing it even then they would have left a bit for the A9mk3 features just milking it. Anyone looking to get into a system needs to look at the way the company works Panasonic has got to be joking.

  19. First, the A7III is $2000 and the S1 is $2500 so a $500 total difference. The S1 appears to compete in low light, has better color, a professional body.., Panasonic can justify the cost difference over the Sony and Nikon. No need to even discuss the R at $2300 dollars, it's solely for Canon locked shooters, Canon is already the most handicapped camera so if they wanted anyone to pay ANYTHING to get something they would have more than enough reason to be mad. If you are making money with these cameras $500 dollars for a piece of equipment that you will use for years is nothing. The biggest thing will be the price of the upgrade which we just don't know yet and what you get from it in the real world. The GH5S already competes with most everything in its price range for video quality and it is M4/3. The V-Log on a Panasonic FF camera could be magical and put it superior to several of Canon's C-Line cameras as well as some of the Sony video cameras (not to mention Red and Alexa). I think their sights are set on bigger fish than just the Z6 and A7III, in which case this is still cheap by comparison. It also really helps that their AF looks to be much better and many pros still don't care about AF at all. In general, I think we are still at the wait and see stage for everything Panasonic, something that will hurt them in the short run is there is not a single "kit lens" for the system, hoping Tamron/Sigma/Tokina will jump in there and make a fortune. I really think their goal was to keep it close enough to compete with other FF mirrorless cameras on price but their target is really the dedicated video market.

  20. Apple did that once for the first iPhone / iPod touch, and what was their excuse? "legally they couldn't give away the update for free" REALLY?! give me a break here. it's not like they're licensing the software from the third party? After they got some bad PR, Jobs came back and said they found the way to "incorporate" the cost of iOS updates So yeah Panasonic needs to stop play games, They're not the app developer. I'd not be surprised if some hackers or disgruntled employees might crack the code or let the key to be leaked. Problems with these Japanese companies are they make wonderful hardware but they falters on the software side .

  21. I think it's a great idea. Something like a new car approach. If you want leather seats it costs more over the cloth seats. If Canon did this with the RP, for example, they could add features up to the price of the "base" R. But not all the features of the R. Then the next upgrade for the RP would be to buy the R.

  22. Canon shooter too (weddings). I've stuck because of their glass and colour science but absolutely detest the way they do business with their software based crippling. I've stopped buying new Canon gear now and will only buy used because they dont deserve my money. The way i see it, it's a tool that gets the job done.
    Now have an X100F and an X-T2. Once Fuji improve battery life and Adobe fixes the worms, it'll be good enough to shoot weddings, then it's switch time.


  24. 🤣🤣🤣 If Panasonic decides to go along with this silly idea that is not only going to get Panasonic clients upset, it's going to make Fujifilm a better company to buy a camera from.
    note: beware of hackers.

  25. I don't like it.. but it's not necessarily some wild idea that extra functionality should cost money.

    It's untenable now, just bc nobody else does it.

    There's also a potential path forward where major firmware updates COULD replace incrementally updated hardware, in which case maybe pay for play IS the best model.

    Like if I Nikon were to release the Z7s right now, after I already bought a Z7.. I might be mad. But let's say Nikon just release "S" firmware, and charged me $200 for it, instead of me having to dish out another $3500 for a new camera. Obviously I'd prefer that option.

    So idk.. it depends on the scope and implementation.

  26. There are a few issues here. If Panasonic are charging for this update what sort of message does this send. If Fuji are doing all the amazing updates then why cannot Panasonic. And finally what will stop someone putting this Firmware free on the internet for everyone to download unless there is some sort of software stopping this type of use.

  27. I'm 100% agreeing with you Joseph.

    It seems to me that Panasonic treats its customers with disrespect.

    I am currently a Canon shooter, but if it did the same as Panasonic, I would switch to Fuji in a second!

  28. It depends upon (1) the original price, (2) how long since the camera was released, and (3) the extent of the update. I have no problem with a significant increase in functionality a year or more after release of the camera in a camera that is lower price, giving the option to the user if the functionality is desirable. For example, I do not shoot video and would rather have a lower price camera without the option. The problem with Panasonic's decision is the camera was expensive compared to others and only recently released.

  29. Ps … by Fuji you get it for free. No one will really need the S1 or S1R …not for this price. (Only if you are Leica User with a lot of lenses)

  30. I was SOOOOO thinking this! This is NOT the way to launch an expensive camera system. They should've factored all these upgrades into the price from gate. You hit the nail on the head! It really pissed me off! They should NOT have held this back! Most people can't justify full frame video at the S1 price with the GH5S and A7III out there. Since they know people would have to buy lenses and everything that makes a complete system… They should have made the body give the best that they had and surpass everyone from birth. But no… They "Canoned" us and made us pay.

  31. hey Joseph love your talks however i think you are looking at history with a unique set of spectacles . here is how i analyse thi s: pay to play is currently the thing in technology / app related payments, so are all tech companies mobsters ? 😉 i dont think so. think about apps that offer in app purchases, and believe me many people are accustomed to this model, also phtogs . panasonic has enjoyed tremendous sales of the GH5, and they have released many a feature update for the gh5 as FW updated free of charge, but they always had the pay to play option of vlog for the gh5 as an extra payment. and guess what – people still bought the gh5 abd those who needed vlog paid extra (instead of raising the price for everybody). also in the case of gh5 the vlog module was developed after gh5 was released but that is not relevant, for example the gh5s comes with vlog included but osts 500 usd more…. so there is something to be said about flexibility and pay to play and the future of products

  32. This is a really interesting question and you have given a great industry wide perspective on it. I'm not interested in Panasonic's full frame cameras because they chose a crop frame sized mount. But I agree that a pay to play model is not going to give customers warm feelings. On the other hand engineers and software coders don't work for free (close to free compared to other professionals) and Panasonic needs to get paid for it. So do they jack up the initial purchase price or charge for upgrades later? As a photographer who doesn't shoot video I kind of like the option of not paying for it either way since it is all apparently video features.

  33. Nothing but it doesn't matter…after last Panasonic unhelp and worst quality problems I will not longer use thier equipment. I will buy the new Sony A8s 10k / 97mpx…😍

  34. It's a step in the right direction and I wish every other manufacturer can adopt this method. I am a Canon shooter and i own couple of Canon cameras like EosR, m50, 5dm3 and 5dm4 and I only use them for photography. I've been shooting for 7yrs now and I haven't had need for video thus haven't used the video features of these cameras for a second. I wish I would have the option of buying a camera with the ability to shoot video upgradable by choice. There by making the base model more affordable. Meaning that 5dm4 can easily have a start price of $1500 and EosR like $850. They should give us the customers a chance to decide what we want and go for it. Thanks

  35. I can see both ways in the future maybe. I could see companies giving free performance upgrades to top of the line pro bodies and then charging for lower end bodies to upgrade performance.

    So maybe whatever Canons pro mirrorless body will be they are free but maybe they would charge to unlock more focus points or some video capabilities in something like the RP.

    But I don’t think this is going to be good for Panasonic, like you said first generation ff body they should be giving it for free.

  36. Don't be ragging on the Godfather! Favorite Mother's Day movie of all time!

    Yeah, I totally don't like the pay to play model. Even with my GH4, I need V-log L, but $99 upgrade is, well go look at the comments on B&H. Everyone is saying the same thing: It should have been included in the camera.

    Fuji, Canon even Nikon busted out the RAW. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k. They come with everything or the upgrade is free. Blackmagic even upgraded all their old USRA Minis with Blackmagic RAW. Even my little Ninja 2 recorder came with DNxHD upgrade, it had to unlock it, but the unlock was totally free!

    Z-cam's E2 is the same way. They never promised ProRes or Raw. It was h.264/265 only. Then they got the ProRes license and upgraded everyone's camera for free! Now they're working on their own RAW format. They've also provided LUTs for color grading. All that was extra added after they started shipping the camera. Free!

    So I'm already looking elsewhere for a camera, probably change in 2020 if I can raise the funds.

  37. I totally agree. Panasonic's FF is DOA using this businessplan. The key is COMPETITION. You have to be up to par with what your competitors are offering at a comparable price. Canon charged extra for C-log on the 5DIV I think and because of the hard competitive environment they had to include it in the R.
    People like an all included price. No surprises down the line. Like Photoshop and Lightroom monthly fee BS. I want to purchase it once and it should be mine for ever to use!

  38. What is to stop the Camera manufactures from giving you a stripped down camera and making you pay for all the cool extra features. The average consumer will probably pass up a camera if they have to pay for features that other manufacturers are giving you. How can they think of charging extra when they’re trying to generate new customers . They should just produce the best they can offer and rise to the top the market

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