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FS100/Amphibico Genesis Gain Control Issues


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#1 SimonSpear

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 01:16 PM

Hi all

After receiving a couple of PM's I thought I should explain this issue in a little more detail than I have done in the FS100 MWB thread running at the moment. Here goes:

I received a Amphibico Genesis housing for my FS100 last month and with one exception I have been completely over the moon with it. Upon initial (dry) test I found that I was not able to access the Gain controls through the pistol grips. The housing uses lanc controls to gain access to the inner workings of the camera and all controls should have been accessible. I actually thought I had received a housing with defective electronics and immediately emailed Amphibico regarding the problem. The response I got was surprising to say the least. To paraphrase the FS100 has two versions of firmware. In v1.0 full access to all the controls via lanc is possible, however in v2.0 it is not possible to access the Gain controls as this was removed by Sony in the firmware update. As I had just literally updated the firmware in anticipation of receiving the housing it is fair to say that the air around me turned a very deep shade of blue.

Not to be deterred I contacted Sony Europe about a solution and over the last few weeks we have been going backwards and forwards between Sony Europe and Sony Japan for some answers. Again I will paraphrase the answer I received. The v2.0 firmware contains lots of additional goodies and there apparently just wasn't the space in the system to keep all the old control options with the new controls. Someone, somewhere in Sony Japan decided that the Gain control would have to go and hence it was axed from the v2.0 firmware. No notification of this was given by Sony, but apparently they have a get out of jail free card here because accessing these controls via lanc is not 'officially' supported. Fairly thin ice in my book, but I'm not about to go legal with Sony over it!

Solutions? Well it is unfortunately impossible to roll back the firmware. You can however have some components within the camera replaced and get back to the v1.0 firmware via that route. The cost of the parts are not astronomical (around £30), but as yet I have no firm commitment for labour costs. Sony have refused to foot the bill as it is not a function 'officially' supported so when they removed it they removed something that 'officially' should not have been there anyway.

The turnaround quoted for the 'repair' of my camera is optimistically 6 weeks and as I am using the FS100 constantly I just have not had a window where I can spare the camera for that long. I may have one coming up over the Christmas break so in theory I should be able to get it done then, however that is also when everyone else is off work so no idea how this will affect the 6 week turnaround.

My current work around is to use the housing with auto Gain ON but limited to ISO 3200 and to then adjust the iris to get the best compromise. As the FS100 is incredibly good in low light and will give super clean images at ISO 3200 (and useable beyond ISO 6400) this has worked surprisingly well. However I've been used to shooting in full manual for years and it takes a bit of getting used to going back to auto controls. I'm just waiting for that really big screw up at a critical moment so in my opinion this is not a permanent solution.

Cheers, Simon

P.S. FYI this issue should affect all housings that access the FS100 controls via lanc so it is not just a problem with the Amphibico Genesis housing. It was however a known issue when I bought the housing and I most sincerely wish that someone had let me know before I purchased it.....

#2 Davide DB

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 02:03 PM

P.S. FYI this issue should affect all housings that access the FS100 controls via lanc so it is not just a problem with the Amphibico Genesis housing. It was however a known issue when I bought the housing and I most sincerely wish that someone had let me know before I purchased it.....


Given that this combo is aimed at professional users, it's a severe omission.
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#3 Drew

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 02:15 PM

Thanks Simon. Let's hope people researching this will read this before buying V2.0 FS100s for the Genesis housing. Good luck with the retrograde and please update us on the viability of such a fix.

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#4 jonny shaw

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 07:17 PM

What a pile of pants..... no way you can set an assign button to iris or such?

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#5 CheungyDiver

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:13 PM

Wot? Removed gain by Firmware. What is Sony up to by removing that? Talk with Joe in Amphibico and see if they could hack into the original kernel program and restore manual gain. best of luck.

Proprietor of Scubacam, Singapore. Commercial videocameraman. Also shoot digital stills. I modify and built stuff. I love technology. Camera: Red Epic/ Scarlet and soon Dragon

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#6 Drew

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 11:57 PM

David, as Simon said, the program memory is limited and SOny wanted to add new stuff, so out goes gain control under the lanc protocol. The thing that confuses me is whether new FS100s come with V2.0 firmware installed or v1.0. There's nothing written on Amphibico's page and it still lists manual gain as a control. I've notified Joe about this thread.

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#7 CheungyDiver

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 12:43 AM

I see. Simon's camcorder is new and firmware updated to V2. I find it confusing as to why Sony need parts replaced in order to retro- upload V1 unless Simon's FS100 is fitted with a new board? Confusing.
I have a similar problem with XR350. It was refitted with a new AV socket and I think Sony also replaced a I/O card. Now the L&M Bluefin Oled is not working with it. asked them they say they have taken out the the normal data with video. So now I need to have the Oled back re-programmed.

Sony has made some strange decisions lately and the worst one is taking out the Lanc/video and data out in all the new consumer camcorders and replaced it with a NEX type user inteface. It is worrying that this company is also in in financial trouble.
Simon I hope you get the MGain back. I would be very interested in how it will all turn out.

Proprietor of Scubacam, Singapore. Commercial videocameraman. Also shoot digital stills. I modify and built stuff. I love technology. Camera: Red Epic/ Scarlet and soon Dragon

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#8 Davide DB

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:33 AM

Despite of the fact that Sony removed a unofficial feature what scares me is that housing manufacturers sold expensive and allegedly professional tools relying on unsupported features. This fact is more serious because it seems that housing manufacturers knew of this problem.

Edited by Davide DB, 23 November 2012 - 02:22 AM.

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#9 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:52 AM

Yes, Sony is stuck with being a big company without the ability to react like small companies. Look at its entry into the POV cam market. Just as the Action Cam comes on the market, GoPro comes up with the HD3. F5/55 comes out, Red cuts prices by 40%. Specialist companies are too dynamic and can hit the big boys faster. Panasonic and Sony are both in trouble. The greatest irony is that Sony is so big that its own divisions are selling parts to the competitors, which are squashing their big earners in digital imaging and mobile phones! LOL

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#10 SimonSpear

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:04 AM

Hi all

I've had the FS100 since last December so it had the v1.0 firmware. I can't exactly remember when the v2.0 firmware came out, but I'd say it was 3 or 4 months ago.

The camera has turned into a bit of a workhorse for me for above water filming and as I was looking to replace my 7D for underwater use I decided to go for the Genesis housing rather than buy a new 5Dmk3 and housing. The housing for the Ninja is an especially interesting option and I was waiting for firm details on this before I ordered, but as it has been delayed with the Ninja2 introduction I pulled the trigger and purchased the housing in October. I have a lot of underwater filming planned for next year and I wanted to get the chance to familiarise myself with the housing in non critical situations.

To be honest I'm gutted, but it is hopefully fixable. I generally don't update firmware until a little while after release so all the crinkles can be ironed out. I did exactly the same with the FS100 firmware and only actually updated it AFTER I had ordered the housing. If I had not updated to the v2.0 firmware it wouldn't have been an issue so yes there should definitely be some warnings displayed to make purchasers aware!

It is a real shame as the housing itself is an absolute dream. It's about the size of a DSLR housing which makes it very compact for travelling. The controls (minus gain) are all easily accessible and in the water the housing handles as close to perfectly as I've ever used. Apart from this issue it is an amazing bit of kit.

Cheers, Simon

EDIT: Almost forgot, for anyone who needs to go back to the v1.0 firmware you need to have the VC board replaced, part no A1826363A. When it is replaced you need to make the engineer completely aware of why you are doing it and make sure that he is not ultra helpful by updating the camera to the v2.0 firmware after it is 'fixed'!!

Edited by SimonSpear, 23 November 2012 - 03:08 AM.


#11 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:17 AM

Thanks Simon. I've emailed my Sony suppliers to see if V2.0 is shipping now in the US and Asia. It'd be a good thing to know.

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#12 Davide DB

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 06:48 AM

EDIT: Almost forgot, for anyone who needs to go back to the v1.0 firmware you need to have the VC board replaced, part no A1826363A. When it is replaced you need to make the engineer completely aware of why you are doing it and make sure that he is not ultra helpful by updating the camera to the v2.0 firmware after it is 'fixed'!!


Hi Simon, I'm really sorry for you.

I hope you will solve it asap.

PS

Given that you are a proud FS100 owner just keep an eye on this website:

http://nex-hack.info...mware-decrypted

Some of them are the same guys who works on GH1/GH2.

http://nex-hack.info...rmware-unpacker

FS100 2.0 firmware can be already decrypted and partially extracted. Maybe in a short future they will be able to solve some problem.

Good luck
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#13 Video-Joe

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:24 AM

Its unfortunate but we have no control over the discussion of Sony, as we never were advised of this issue when updating the firmware, we now have an FS100 camera with firmware 2.0! This being said we have found a work around solution. The housing does offer full menu control access, so simply enter the menu of the camera go to the gain control and select desired level. I do agree it requires further menu sequences but bottom line it is achievable. Unless Sony decides to fix this issue with a new firmware update. We will inform our customers if Sony does come out with it.


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#14 SimonSpear

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 01:16 PM

Hi Joe

Yes it is possible, but by my count it takes at least 6 steps (button presses) + 1 step for every 3db of Gain to change the settings. That really isn't anywhere comparable to the pistol grip control over lanc and in fast changing situations it could mean the difference between getting the shot and missing it entirely. I'm still finding my feet with the housing but so far I've found this aspect extremely frustrating to say the least.

Cheers, Simon

#15 Drew

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

FYI, one of my suppliers just got back to me and told me his stock of the FS100 has V1.00 and another told me his latest stock has V2.0 (she thinks!). So it is still possible to buy older V1.0 firmware FS100.

Joe. wouldn't it be wiser to update the webpage to note the V2 incompatibility somewhere on the product page? Then obviously people planning to buy a camera with your housing know what to look for vs finding out the hard way like Simon did.

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#16 jonny shaw

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:40 PM

Simon,
Can you lock exposure? Does that also lock the gain? How have you found the FS100 with regards to banding with in camera compression?

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#17 SimonSpear

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 01:02 PM

The only way I know of locking exposure is to lock iris/gain/shutter speed manually. Good point though so I'll dig out the manual and have a look!!! :)

Not seen any banding so far, but I've not really pushed it too far yet. I may not be able to give it a really run out underwater until end of Jan, so at the moment I'm just getting used to the controls and handling.

Cheers, Simon