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Firmware update for NEX-5 and 3

Sony has introduced a firmware update, allowing consumers to shoot in 3D on the a NEX-5/NEX-3 interchangeable lens cameras.

The free download from the Sony Europe support site (//support.sony-europe.com/dime/DSLR/DSLR.aspx) adds several performance enhancements including 3D Sweep Panorama. This exciting new technology means it is now possible for consumers to capture dramatic panoramic images in 3D, all with an extra-wide field of view.

3D Sweep Panorama is simple to use; activated simply by pressing the shutter button and sweeping the camera from one side to the other. The NEX-5 and NEX-3 shoot a high-speed burst of frames that are automatically combined inside the camera to create a seamless panoramic still image containing depth information. Sweep Panoramas can be enjoyed in 3D when the camera is connected to a 3D BRAVIA or any standards-compatible 3D TV.

The update also offers other enhancements for the NEX-5/NEX-3. These include:
· Improvement of ‘normal’ 2D Sweep Panorama shooting;
· Decreased power drain when the camera is switched off;
· Quicker start-up in low-light conditions.

The update is only needed for NEX-5/NEX-3 cameras with Version 01 firmware currently installed. Cameras shipped with Version 02 firmware or higher are already updated with the new features. Owners can find out what firmware version they’re currently running by selecting [MENU]/[SETUP]/[VERSION]. NEX-5/NEX-3 owners who have registered their product with Sony will be advised of the update via email.

*System requirements [PC]: Windows XP SP3 (64-bit and Starter editions not supported); Windows Vista SP2 (Starter edition not supported); Windows 7
[PC/Mac] Hard disk space: min. 200MB / RAM: min. 512MB.
Upgrade requires USB cable connection between computer and NEX-5/NEX-3.

Editor’s comment: there is no reference to any improvement in Alpha mount adaptor performance, or the addition of other functions that have been requested from the launch day onwards such as remote flash triggering, interface changes or reassignment of button functions, manual microphone gain control. There are two firmware files in the NEX, one for the BODY and one for the LENS/MOUNT ADAPTOR. This upgrade leaves the LENS/MOUNT ADAPTOR firmware version still at 1.0, only the BODY is upgraded to 2.0.

This software is region-specific. Do not install the European upgrade on any other than a PAL 25/50 European market NEX. There are similar upgrades now on the Japanese and US sites.

WARNING: this is a pretty clunky PC-0nly upgrade method. There is no Mac version, and it does not work by copying files to a memory card – it works only by running an .exe installer on a PC (and not every PC either, see above, and not Macs despite their reference to Mac in the press info). I had not used my netbook for three weeks, and I had not connected the NEX to it before, with the result that the installation process was hampered by constant pop-ups windows including a string of demands from Norton that I pay for their anti-virus software (I’d rather chuck the netbook off a bridge, and intend to find out how to clear this rubbish off the system for good), and a Windows XP update to handle the ‘new device’ it had detected (the camera). Some of these windows were modal dialogs and could not be closed without action, or moved to the back of the installer window. So, before installing, first let your PC do its dance with Windows updates, Norton and any other intrusive processes – or turn off your internet connection entirely to prevent interruption. But, if you have just acquired a new NEX and wish to upgrade it, first connect the camera normally and let the PC install its un-necessary ‘drivers’ if it thinks it really needs them (the NEX conforms perfectly to USB Mass Storage, and in fact the PC does not need anything installing or updating).

Overall marks for friendliness and functionality: around 5 out of 10. It works, but the instructions do not include any warnings about the potential for disruptive behaviour from your PC during the process.

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