Panasonic has released a firmware update for various DMC-FS and Travel Zoom series cameras that will prevent the use of non-Genuine Panasonic batteries in the camera. Panasonic claims this is necessary for the protection of its customers due to some aftermarket 3rd party batteries not meeting its safety standards against overcharging, internal heating and short circuiting.
According to its notice page about this firmware, updated firmware will be made available for its micro 4/3 DMC-G1 and DMC-GH1 cameras soon, although no estimated date has been given yet. Besides this new restriction, the updated firmware does not appear to offer any bug fixes or other new features.
While Panasonic may claim this is a safety move, it looks more like a move similar to chipped Inkjet cartridges to force consumers into buying the manufacturer’s own high priced accessories. Sure this move may reduce the risk of someone using batteries that could potentially leak, self-destruct or damage their camera, however, I’m sure there are far more people who get personal injuries from taking photos in dangerous areas or risky conditions than from the odd 3rd party battery that overheats!
Those who are concerned about the use of 3rd party batteries and would like to prevent non-genuine Panasonic batteries being used in their Panasonic camera (which this firmware covers) can get the firmware update here. It’s quite likely that newly manufactured cameras using these chipped batteries as well as upcoming Panasonic cameras will feature this firmware before leaving the factory, so those interested in getting a new Panasonic camera should beware of this if they are interested in getting additional batteries for it.