A recent update for the GoPro Hero5 firmware (v01.55) makes the camera unable to use batteries made by other manufacturers. This is troublesome because 3rd party or off-brand batteries are typically much cheaper than a manufacturer’s batteries. Of course, the off-brand batteries often don’t last as long as the OEM units, but they are still cheaper per use than the OEM. On the other hand, many camera manufacturers include smart technology in their batteries that allow them to communicate status with the camera beyond how much power is left. Whatever the reason, when GoPro announced the new update, there was no mention of this function in the release notes (in fact, this may be the only reason they made an update) and many users are understandably upset.
**Please note, this update ONLY affects Hero5. Other models remain unaffected.**
Richard Harrington, Photofocus.com owner, is an avid GoPro user. I’ve been to his studio and shot with him in the field, and I can’t even count how many GoPro cameras he has, not to mention batteries (many of which are off-brand). Here’s a shot of Richard using the Hero5 with a Platypod Pro during our recent photowalk in NewYork City. It was really cool that it had a voice command shutter release.
The Big Surprise
Normally, a person who buys an off-brand battery in this situation would simply be out of luck and the investment in batteries would be wasted. This is why so many consumers are upset, not to mention all the dealers who carry inventory who also received no notice of the update. However, Richard received an email from Wasabi Power, one of the most popular off-brand battery manufacturers (in fact, I have several of their batteries for my other cameras). In it, they offer several solutions.
“1) Do not update your firmware at this time. Your camera will still work as usual, and your Wasabi Power battery will power your camera.
2) If you have already updated your firmware to v01.55, you can downgrade your firmware to the previous release. Please email us for instructions.
3) If you have already updated your camera’s firmware to v01.55 and you prefer NOT to downgrade to an earlier version, then we can offer you 2 options: a) You may contact us to arrange for a return and refund. b) You may contact us to arrange for a replacement of your Wasabi Power batteries with OEM batteries.”
WHAT??? Wasabi Power are offering to refund the batteries or even replace them with OEM batteries? That’s an incredible offer. Previously, I thought they were just one of many off-brand battery manufacturers, but with this statement they have solidified their place as my preferred battery manufacturer. Any company who puts the needs of their clients at the forefront like this deserves a big hand. Way to go, Wasabi Power!
Furthermore, Wasabi Power has put together a resource guide including instructions for how to downgrade to the previous firmware version. I’m really glad they have because I have had the hardest time trying to find the previous version on GoPro’s site. They’re using their facebook page to keep people updated, too, so be sure to like that page so you can stay apprised.
Although GoPro have completely blindsided their customers with this firmware update, Wasabi Power have stepped up and set themselves apart with exemplary customer service. Here again are useful links: