An interview with Vitaly Kiselev, the GH1/GF1 hacker!


Tester13 (Vitaliy Kiselev) is the hacker that patched the GH1/GF1 camera software. He is active on DVXforum.com and Pentax-hack.info.
Mirrorlessrumors had the privilege to have a small talk with him!

MirrorlessRumors: A personal question…how old are you?
Vitaly Kiselev: More than 30 and less than 40. Not a young hacker.

MR: What’s your job?
VK: I am a freelancer, teacher and UX designer. All in one.

MR: Why did you start to hack the GH1/GF1?
VK: In fact the project started as a TZ5 hacking project (I own the TZ5). The main complaint is the 8KHz sound. Saving SD card space, you know. :-) It was not my intention to do hacking myself. Only provide guidance. The problem is that this approach does not work in reality. :-) It appears that people who can do it are very rare, as it requires some knowledge plus a bunch of time.

MR: Why didn’t you stop with the TZ5?
VK: I just made a simple stripper for TZ5 firmware and saw that firmware uses the same format and the same processor (as GH1 and ).

MR: What motivated you to work hard on the GH1 hack? Was it the DVXuser community?
VK: Generally speaking, yes. I would especially like to say a big thanks to Dvxuser admins and Barry Green personally. Next thing that motivated me: the enormous GH1 potential.

MR: What do you mean by “potential”?
VK: I mean that Panasonic amazingly lost the VDSLR battle to Canon, having a much better camera. :-)

MR: How was that possible?
VK: You just need to remember the history: 2009.

MR: Why?
VK: Do you remember? You had the GH1 announcement and. oops. from nowhere ML (Magic Lantern) for
the Canon 5D MKII appears Canon 5D MKII appears…and the threads about mud in 1080p24.

MR: Why is the GH1 a better camera…and why did Canon win the battle?
VK: GH1 is just one step ahead. A good viewfinder, screen suitable for video shooting. AVCHD is not limited in length. In reality they had to win all. They just made three main errors. And I am worried that they can do it again with the GH2.

MR: And the errors are?
VK: 1) They sell kit only. With high priced kit lens it is a bad decision. People do not have options.
2) They did not do any tests for its AVCHD encoder. Even 24Mbit setting (and this is within standards) could be much better. This is a software only error, easy to fix.
3) They did not understand who opinion makers are. They spend millions on marketing for average Joe, but average Joe reads specialized forums and opinion makers.
They must make features and have people to deal with opinion makers. Canon did exactly this. Not from the start, but they started moving.

MR: In some countries (like UK) body only option is available. Maybe what we miss here are more “dedicated” video lenses.
VK: As for body only version. UK is a bad example with very high prices :-)

MR: Why do you think Panasonic will repeat the mistake with the GH2 (or GH3)?
VK: From my sources (this is not a high level management), they all think that as soon as they reveal GH2, all problems will be solved. Instantly. No need to ask for things the users need, no need to deal with opinion makers. No. They know better. Normally this is good sign of a disaster.

MR: So you think Panasonic has to work on their marketing more than on their camera features?
VK: Generally they NEED to focus on specific users and their needs. Not average Joe. And I really do not like the word “marketing” in its modern meaning.I think that they need one thing – feedback. And feedback means both product features and direct work with people. This is what marketing has been before all this MBAs.

MR: Did you ever have contact with Panasonic?
VK: I have contact with a few guys, but they all wanted to be anonymous.

MR: Stupid question: Do you not believe that Canon has the edge with the fullframe sensor?
VK: No. In reality I think that Canon will lose this battle. And all this FF stuff. People need to realize that lenses are bigger, and for average Joe this is no-no. So FF will have nich, of course. But you better hire a good focus puller. All this FF fans really need ideas for their films, not shallow DOF. :-)

MR: I do agree :)
VK: I really forget to mention lighting. :-) So, VDSLR does not mean any revolution. It just means that about 10-20% of the equipment is now much better and affordable.

MR: VDSLR, do you plan to “hack” more cameras?
VK: Maybe.

MR: And what about cameras?
VK: We’ll see. If Sony is smart enough they’ll realize that it is very good to have free software marketing :-) Look at GH1. From my calculations these guys sold at least 1000 of GH1 additionally because of all the buzz :-)

MR: I have some people asking me why you don’t hack the Olympus cameras. I guess the answer is you don’t have enough time to hack everything :)
VK: Exactly. If they really want to help, we have one guy trying to hack Olympus camera at our development sub-forum at dvxuser.com

MR: Back to your current GH1/GF1 patching project.
VK: Important thing is that we are opening an IDA database, the AVCHD part is already available. Looking at the results I’ll open more, MJPEG parts, low level stuff, menus, file operations, etc.

MR: Any details about your nearest plans?
VK: You can see all targets and known problems at http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=218790

MR: What are your main goals?
VK: The main goal has been to become an official project. Not hacking, but to create SDK to allow you to adopt camera for small niches. Astronomical, HDR lovers, indie filmmakers. Anybody. Big corporations can’t do it on their own. They finish firmware and move almost all developers to the next model.

MR: Do you think it is possible to make the project “official”? Why Panasonic should listen? Do you mean they
must adopt Apple model?

VK: Look slightly behind Apple. Many years ago Palm destroyed all this producers of memory pads (including Apple :-) ) They made good SDK, support. I had some relation to portable development in that time. It always happens with mature products. In phone market it had been Microsoft (before Apple, and may be after :-) )

MR: Do you think mirrorless cameras are more suitable for video than DSLR’s? Or do we still need that “bulky” optical viewfinder?
VK: We’ll see. Sony is the key player here, not Nikon or Canon. And EVF will win, of course. The Sony A55 could be a real hit. But we need to know about encoder, audio and EVF use.

MR: Do you believe contrast autofocus will become fast enough?
VK: Contrast detection will replace phase detection very shortly. It is already fast enough in niche markets. Phase detection requires calibration and tight manufacturing. This is not good. Maybe we’ll see focusing by moving sensor itself.

MR: So, what keeps you motivated to spend a lot of time on hacking cameras?
VK: Just a hobby :-) It is much more interesting than playing games :-)

MR: LOL
VK: Best computer game pale in comparison, as in reality you play against other people – developers.

MR: Are you “excited” about the new camera announcements? What do you expect from the camera makers?
VK: This year we’ll see a major camera market shakeup. As for excitement, no. It is just interesting to see smart people making good products. And I see almost no bad products in VDSLR camera market.

MR: Why shakeup? What’s coming?
VK: Sony is coming. It will supply sensors to Pentax and Nikon.Plus its logistic is much better in Japan, Asia, Russia, and maybe Europe. In Russia for each 10 Sony cameras you can find 2 Canon and 1 Nikon, and 1 Samsung. I think they’ll surprise Canon as the leader in VDSLR segment in a year. This is my prediction. 7D and 550D played a bad game with Canon. They made good cameras with very good margin without investing seriously in VDSLR and getting feedback. But lenses it key part here. I think that the next winner will be one that makes real adapters for their EVF cameras. With full autofocus and aperture control. It is not that hard. Not easy, but not that hard. Like a $50 adapter with AF and aperture control for any Canon lens. And, boom. Canon lost many-many body buyers.

MR: I don’t know if that will ever happen.
VK: I am sure that some of the companies are working on this.

MR: Novoflex-…or the big companies?
VK: It’ll happen. Law of capitalism. Give them 200% profit and they all would even sell their mom :-) Do you understand how big the current Canon and Nikon owners base is? Plus all protocols are already available for such companies. All they need is to solve a few construction things. I really hope that Samsung can do this. They are not a Japanese company, and they do not have that good personal relations. And personal relations are the only thing that can prevent this from happening. Japanese mentality :-)
But they need good influence first. And their EVF is really bad. The sensor is struggling to output good video.

MirrorlessRumors: Thanks Vitaly for giving us the interview!
Vitaly Kiselev: It has been a pleasure!

For our readers: Feel free to comment the Interview. if you have some questions feel free to contact us at mirrorlessrumors@gmail.com!

Panasonic m4/3 takes the most sexy pictures on the web ;)

Let’s have a little bit of fun :)

Oktrends analyzed photography from a numerical angle. They collected the data from the dating site OkCupid, one of the largest, and most interesting, datasets on the web. This article aggregates 11.4 million opinions on what makes a great photo. Their goal was to see how to take a photo to gain “attractiveness”.

And yes, you have more chance to get a nice picture of you using Panasonic MicroFourThirds cameras! LOL

Source: Blog.okcupid.com

The mirrorless 3D battle begins! Panasonic announces the first 3D lens!

Sony calls Panasonic answers! The 3D battle is getting hot and today Panasonic announced a new 3D lens which will work on all current $loc = $_SESSION[‘geoip’];

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{?>MicroFourThirds } ?> models! You just need to make a firmware upgrade…that’s it! Sadly, the the lens is expected to be sold by late 2010 and the price has also not be unveiled. The question now is what will work better? The software based 3D form Sony or the optical based 3D from Panasonic? We have to wait to get the answer.

Press release:
ThePhoblographer
DDay (italian)
Gizmodo
dpreview
engadget

Fujis Hybrid AF: A way for mirrorless cameras to catch up the AF speed of DSLR cameras?

As you all now fast autofocus is one of the main advantage of classic DSLR cameras. This because a phase detection focus usually works faster than contrast autofocus. But with the release of the F300EXR and the Z800EXR Fuji just introduced a new tecnology called Hybrid AF that will interest many of our MicroFourThirds readers! Fuji found a way to implement phase detection directly on the sensor!

You can find more information on Fujifilms website: http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/f/finepix_f300exr/features/

Hybrid Auto Focus System NEW!
One of the disadvantages of longer zoom compacts is relatively slow auto focusing. Typical compacts rely on Contrast Detection, which works by fixing the focus by searching for contrast differentials. Some expensive cameras, including many DSLRs, use two focusing systems in tandem to improve the time taken to auto focus. Phase Detection AF works by dividing the incoming light into pairs of images and calculating the phase difference to find if the object is in front focus or back focus position. Contrast AF is generally better in low-lit scenes, while Phase Detection AF is extremely responsive in good light. Having both systems on one camera is perfect. The FinePix F300EXR uses both Contrast AF and Phase Detection AF to offer auto focus speeds as good as, or sometimes better than expensive DSLRs. To achieve the incredible AF speed of 0.158*1 seconds, Fujifilm engineers placed pairs of phase detection sensors on the EXR sensor, which work exactly like external sensors on DSLRs. The FinePix F300EXR automatically selects the optimum focus system, by measuring the amount of light or contrast in the scene. The benefit for the photographer is immediate and obvious: an almost instantaneous capture of the subject in the viewfinder, with no missed shots or subjects half out-of-frame.

New Ricoh GXR firmware (ver. 1.18)

The new firmware is available here http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/download/firmware/gxr/

Changes:

Version 1.18 (2010. 07. 15)

No. Model applied Details
A12 S10 P10
Modified the following phenomena.
1 applied applied applied In case of attaching the cable switch (CA-1), when half-pressing the shutter release button of the CA-1, it may turn off the camera.
2 applied Macro AF Distance Limit option (On) may be disabled (Off) in some conditions like; replacing a camera unit from the A12 to the other one.
3 applied Even if a shutter speed is changed, the aperture value will not vary in case of the conditions below; S mode, AE locked.
4 applied Noise sound may be recorded into movies when the electrical viewfinder (VF-2) is attached.
Revised or corrected the following.
5 applied applied applied Revised the ISO sensitivity range conditions when shooting with the combination below; S mode, Shutter speed Auto Shift On, and ISO Auto/ISO Auto-Hi.
6 applied Corrected the display of focus distance as 19mm when the conversion lens (DW-6) is attached.
7 applied Revised the upper limit of the ISO sensitivity range as ISO 3200 when shooting in S mode.