I’ve grown very tired of camera companies trying to force cameras on us with proprietary connectors. Case in point, the Olympus EP-1. It’s actually a better camera than I thought it would be and has image quality you might not expect from a 4/3 camera. Unfortunately, it’s crippled by the need for a proprietary connector and a perfect example of why I generally tell people to stay with the big names.
While 99% of the cameras I own or test will allow you to update the firmware via a memory card, the EP-1 requires that you connect the CAMERA (not the card in it) to your computer and run a proprietary software program which will update the camera firmware for you. Forget about the fact that this is silly and byzantine, it is – there’s no reason copying the firmware to a memory card for offloading into the camera shouldn’t work. It’s all made worse by the fact that the USB cable you need to use to connect the camera to the computer is proprietary. The camera ships with this cable, but what happens when the cable gets lost, or in my case, becomes defective? You can’t just run to Radio Shack and buy this cable. It’s not a standard USB cable. So I’m stuck ordering a $30 cable (yep $30 for a USB cable PLUS shipping) if I want to upgrade the firmware.
It’s time that the manufacturers started thinking about complying with basic standards. Cameras that run on widely-available batteries, memory cards and that sync with standardized cables like USB or Firewire should be the norm.
In our reviews of all future cameras, no matter who makes them, if they require proprietary cables, Photofocus will withhold our highest recommendation. It’s silly to require the customer to jump through all these hoops just to create a new revenue stream that will force people to buy $30 cables. This strategy has been tried before by several of the computer companies. SGI filed for bankruptcy in 2006 – this was one of their gimmicks – and it helped put them out of business in my opinion. Perhaps the camera manufacturers should take a look at making life easier, not harder for their customers. Unless they think they don’t need customers. Let’s see how that works out.