Thursday, June 26, 2014

Firmware V1.01 Update

Today I feel somewhat vindicated.  Sigma just released firmware Version 1.01 for the Canon mount 120-300 f2.8 Sports lens citing "improved the Auto Focus speed of “Standard” and “Speed-priority” modes" and (DRUM ROLL....) " improved the focus accuracy when it is mounted on Canon EOS-1D Mark III or Canon EOS-1D Mark IV".  WOOPIE!!!

I just finished updating the firmware in my lens and everything seems to have gone well.  When I plugged in the USB dock with the lens mounted and launched the Sigma Optimization Pro software I got the following screen:

Clicking on the "Detailed information" launched my web browser and displayed the following:

Funny that it only mentions the improved focus accuracy on the 1D Mark III and Mark IV though.  Clicking on "Yes" begins the update process that first displays the following "Caution" screen:

Clicking on "Agree" starts loading firmware update into the lens:

I didn't think to time the actual update process, but it only took about a minute or so.  When the update is finished the software lets you know:

Clicking on "Close" brings you to the main screen for the Optimization Pro software, where the "Lens Information" section should display the firmware as "Version 1.01":

So does it work?  My next post will have full details of my findings after I do a complete re-calibration of the focus, along with some field tests, so please check back soon.  However, here are my initial impressions.  Since I first got the USB dock I have been using the lens almost exclusively in the "Speed-priority" focus mode. As soon as I put my Mark IV up to my eye and activated the auto-focus I noticed immediately that the image "snapped" into focus faster than I am used to.  I can't put a quantitative figure on just how much faster it is, but it's enough that I took note of it immediately, that's for sure.  The lens also seems to be doing a lot less of the constant back-and-forth focus error-checking that it has always done when focusing on a static subject with the camera in "AI-Servo" focus mode.  It feels more like the Canon 300 f2.8 IS now in that regard, this is good.  As I said, I have not re-calibrated the focus or done any real testing yet, but with the zoom set in between 200mm and 300mm the focus does "appear" to be more accurate than before.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my extensive testing will prove that this firmware update is everything I need it to be, especially if the new firmware allows the same focus calibration settings for the 1D Mark III, Mark IV and all the other models too.   I do wish Sigma gave the option to save out the original firmware in case things do not go as expected, but I guess that's asking too much any more these days (how many of us wish we could roll our iPhones back to iOS 6 but can't?).  It's great that Sigma has released this update.  Too often camera and lens manufacturers claim to be "listening" to their customer's input, but never follow up on common complaints.  I have mentioned before about the fantastic service I have gotten from Sigma, and this just seems to fall in line with that.  Stay tuned...