Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital Cameras (Point and Shoot) > Panasonic / Leica

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Feb 18, 2004, 6:00 PM   #31
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 272
Default

Hi Bob, I hope you donít think weíre beating-up on you, Iím sure everyone here appreciates your participation in this forum. As such, I know you donít participate in Philís forum anymore, please try and understand our side also. I feel that EffZeeOne has made some good points that speak for many FZ10 users. Iíve seen several Internet posts asking why people bought the FZ10. The majority of the people answer ďBecause of the 12x Leica OIS lensď. Itís almost never because of the feature-set or quality of the pictures. As you know, there are many, many supplicated users that have complained about obvious, Iíll call them ďhandicapsĒ, of the FZ10. Some include, but are not limited to, focusing problems in low light, the EVF going dark in manual mode and noisy pictures at ISOs above 100. My guess is that these all could be addressed in a firmware upgrade. In your response to me regarding the quality issue, you said ďFile size alone is not an accurate indication of quality. The type of compression used will determine the amount of artifacts.Ē Unless Panasonic is using a proprietary compression scheme, which would require a dedicated decoder, I have to assume that they are using one of the standard JPEG forms of compression, otherwise, we would not be able to open the pictures in applications like ACDSee or Photoshop. It has been my long-time experience that the more a picture is compressed, the more artifacts are introduced. These artifacts lead to, among other things, a lack of detail. This lack of detail can be found in hundreds of my photos. I would tend to doubt that the lens is the limiting factor when the file size at the cameras minimum compression setting is comparable to my 3MP camera. Your claim that the FZ1 firmware upgrade did not include an additional compression scheme is contrary to everything Iíve read, so I must repeat myself that someone at Panasonic must have thought the picture quality could be improved with less in-camera compression. Let me reiterate, overall, I am quite pleased with my FZ10, but as EffZeeOne pointed out, itís the customer who determines the market, not the manufacturer. Customer loyalty is largely determined by how well a company responds to its customers wishes. It would behoove Panasonic to listen and react to customer input as this is really who determines the success or failure of a product. Again, thanks for your participation.
Guerito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 8:02 PM   #32
Senior Member
 
alexo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 232
Default

Bob,

I understand that it is hard to see your company take flak and I am sure that your attempts at defending Panasonic are noble but ultimately self defeating because:
1) They are perceived as damage control.
2) You do not have access to the complete information.
3) You do not officially speak for Panasonic.

Nobody can blame you, really. You're an engineer, not an executive (by the way, Bob, can you tell us what kind work do you do at Panasonic? Tech support manager perhaps?)

I really would not like being in your shoes now but if I were, this is what I would do:
Inform the brass that "the natives are restless".
Ask for an official response, post it here if given.
Bite my tongue, take 10 deep breaths and wait for the commotion to die.

Now, regarding the issues mentioned, a brief summary:

1) The prevailing opinion on these forums is that Panasonic is out of touch with the customers. Most other companies offer free firmware upgrades that address customer concerns, Panasonic downplays these concerns and has an upgrade policy that befuddles and aggravates the customers.

2) The fact that you participate in these forum is appreciated. The fact that Panasonic does not seem to take our concenrs into accout (especially in light of having a "representative" here) is not.

3) Telling the customers that there are reasons, factors, decisions, situations and conditions without elaborating can be seen as patronizing, telling a customer who complains of excessive compression that your pictures are fine cen be seen as condescending.

4) The opinions of people in these forums carries more weight than you think. We make purchasing recommendations (read "decisions") for our families and a lot of our friends, who go on to recommend the models we suggested to their friends, etc.

5) The compression of the FZ series is high, your marvellous picture notwithstanding (we all know that one anecdotal evidence does not a statistic make). Try taking a low-light picture at ISO 400 (the "auto" setting will choose that often) and cleaning it up with Neat Image or Noise Ninja. Compare it to the same picture taken with a different camera that compresses less aggressively and you'll find that the result does not flatter Panasonic. Consider this: noisy images are harder to compress so if an ISO 50 picture is similar in size to a noisier ISO 400 picture it means that a lot of detail has been lost.

6) Due to some of the reasons above, Panasonic's customers do not feel overwhelming brand loyalty.

7) The FZ series had a leg over the competition with the OIS. With the recently announced Canon S1 and the rumored Olympus C-788, other companies begin to get into this niche. Your market is on longer secure.

More opinions here.

Best wishes,
Alex.

P.S.
Bob, if you're still following this thread, grab your head of marketing by the neck, stick his/her head in this thread and hold it here until he/she achieves enlightment
alexo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 8:34 PM   #33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 272
Default

Wow, this is the best post I've seen from you Alexo. Very nicely stated. I would redirect the people at Phil's to this thread if he would give me an account
Guerito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 8:45 PM   #34
Senior Member
 
fmoore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,116
Default

Bob, thanks for your continued interest in our search for perfection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
Understand that my reason for being here is to respond to technical issues
Tecnincally speaking (not warranty), what is the risk of upgrading the US version of the FZ1 with the firmware intended for the Japanes version of the FZ1? A number us FZ1's have been upgraded with the Japanese firmware with no reports of any problem whatsoever, only kudos for the upgrade. Does something go wrong later? What is it?
fmoore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 9:45 PM   #35
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 272
Default

Talk about synchronicity, this just popped into my mailboxÖ

The mark of a truly successful company is one that is sincerely interested in the customerís experience. Samís Club is one of those companies. Shopín Chek and Samís Club have now partnered together for over 7 years to measure the level of customer service offered in Samís Club locations and to report this information back to Samís Club.
Guerito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 10:40 PM   #36
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 253
Default

Quote:
The customer should decide the design of the camera. If Panasonic isn't listening to its customers, why not?

<RESPONSE>
Chris-
When I say that the market influences products, "market" does not necessarily represent the requests of just those in this forum. Case in point...

Read the initial feedback on the DMC-LC1. On this board virtually all dozen or so people feel it's priced too high. In contrast, I spoke with well over 200 people at PMA who, after seeing and using it, had absolutely no issue with price.
This is where I get a little confused. Exactly how many Panasonic customers does it take to equal a "market"? People who are avidly seeking out Panasonic related forums, forming their own Yahoo Groups, posting pictures clearly advertising they were taken with a Panasonic digicam, etc. -- if Panasonic isn't going to listen to them, who are they going to listen to?

I think Panasonic (and all companies) need to do something similar to Dell -- create a forum on the Panasonic website(s), pay employees to monitor those forums (for information in regard to future marketing, support issues, potential problems with current models that could require a fix, etc.), and then Panasonic would have a much better connection to their customers.

Quote:
FYI, Virtually all DSC manufacturers have some models that are not sold worldwide so your idea of one world market is not realistic in all cases. I won't pass judgement on what experience you have, but if you worked for any large consumer electronics company you would be aware of the issues that must be considered.
My idea that this is world market was only stated in regard to the FZ1 upgrade. The FZ1 is pretty much distributed worldwide, but the firmware upgrade was only distributed to one rather small market out of all the world market available to Panasonic. If North America is a good enough market for a particular camera, then it needs to be be a good enough market for upgrades, accessories, etc. Otherwise, you're alienating your customers. My emphasis on a world market is more that Panasonic and other companies need to know that we customers are more aware of the entire market and what has been released where than we ever have been. They're not going to be able to pull something like the extremely limited release of the FZ1 firmware ugprade and not have us know about it. If they think we won't, then my comment about Panasonic basically thinking we're naive or stupid applies.

Quote:
Understand that my reason for being here is to respond to technical issues, and not to respond or explain marketing policies. When I'm able I have no problem doing so but I tend to avoid such issues because they always see to end up right where we are now. I do so, often at night on my time so as not to interfere with my promary responsibility.

To suggest that we regard our DSC users as "uneducated" or "unimportant" is absolutely ridiculous. The fact that I am here and the fact that I was at PMA talking with end users clearly shows our willingness to listen and respond when possible. Please let me know which other manufactures are doing this?
Well, the PMA is just for that purpose, isn't it? So I'm sure plenty of companies were represented there and talking with end-users. About you being here on this forum, I want to emphasize that I truly and sincerely appreciate it. YOU are going above and beyond for your customers, but Panasonic as a whole is not. An official forum on a Panasonic website would be an example of Panasonic going above and beyond.

Please do realize that regardless of how we beat you up from time to time, we really do appreciate you being here, and do realize that this is not in your job description or considered a factor in your paycheck!

Quote:
You have to understand that while opinions expressed here may be valid, they don't necessarily agree with or represent what the rest of the market is doing. Is it realistic that the 10 or so people participating in this thread represent the entire market?
Yes. I believe it is realistic. Until you or someone at Panasonic can tell me where they're getting their marketing information/research, then I would have to say that places like this are probably your best source for market research/feedback.

I think Panasonic also needs to understand that they are not being taken seriously as camera manufacturers at this point. I am frequently told "Really? I didn't know Panasonic even made cameras!" when showing off my FZ1. So, if Panasonic is going out "cold" and getting feedback from people off the streets (who don't own Panasonic cameras) in an isolated market (like probably Japan), they're not going to get accurate or realistic feedback about their cameras or what the market really wants. They do need to consider "cold" feedback, but they also need to consider feedback from current customers, who have extensively used their products probably more than any tester did during the test phase of production. We like these cameras, but we do know how they could be made better , and I pretty much feel that any feedback I provide on this type of matter is worthless because it's falling on deaf ears since the apparent rule at Panasonic is that customers don't dictate design or changes.

Quote:
I do enjoy participating in these discussions and helping you guys out. I'd like to try and stay focused on assisting you with operatonal issues.
We enjoy your participation in these forums, too, Bob! I appreciate your daring to tread in the sticky marketing issues as well, but I realize that it will probably be a nasty venture for you, and I don't blame you for running back to safety of operational issues! I would!
EffZeeOne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 11:01 PM   #37
Senior Member
 
Panasonic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 321
Default

Hi Bob, I hope you donít think weíre beating-up on you, Iím sure everyone here appreciates your participation in this forum.
<RESPONSE>
Iím aware of that, but the group has to realize that any opinion expressed here doesnít necessarily express the entire DSC market. While most of the suggestions are very good, itís virtually impossible to propose them without being able to justify them at several levels.

As such, I know you donít participate in Philís forum anymore, please try and understand our side also.
<RESPONSE>
That decision I made was based on the fact that this site is U.S. based and in some cases I may be able to lend assistance that Iíd otherwise not be able to do with Phil being in the U.K. I still read all the mail and respond when itís something I can contribute to. Nice bunch of people there also!

I feel that EffZeeOne has made some good points that speak for many FZ10 users. Iíve seen several Internet posts asking why people bought the FZ10. The majority of the people answer ďBecause of the 12x Leica OIS lensď. Itís almost never because of the feature-set or quality of the pictures. As you know, there are many, many supplicated users that have complained about obvious, Iíll call them ďhandicapsĒ, of the FZ10. Some include, but are not limited to, focusing problems in low light, the EVF going dark in manual mode and noisy pictures at ISOs above 100.
<RESPONSE>
In contrast, the feedback we received at CE and PMA did not indicate either of these issues to be dominant or contributing to a decision not to purchase the camera. As I review the comments I have to wonder why the opinions differ so greatly? My test photos are shot at ISO 100 (locked Ė not Auto) and they results are fine at 11x14 and 12x18 Ė no visible noise.

Seeing such results, I have to admit that there has to be some variable that is being overlooked. I sincerely wish that there was one or more participants who were in our area so that they could review the print quality I am getting Ė consistently.

Even Bruce Daleís prints shot with the FZ1 at 2 MP looked gorgeous at 11x14 with no artifacting. At our press conference we had dozens of journalists commenting on the quality.


Your claim that the FZ1 firmware upgrade did not include an additional compression scheme is contrary to everything Iíve read, so I must repeat myself that someone at Panasonic must have thought the picture quality could be improved with less in-camera compression.
<RESPONSE>
This afternoon I did a quick test using an FZ1, FZ2 and an updated FZ1. Side by side photos at the low compression showed a total file size difference of less than 35K. Try this Ė Take a photo out the window and take one of a white wall with perhaps a hanging picture. The file size will of course vary do to the content. So, unless you have the means of taking the exact same photo, switching firmware versions back and forth, it would not be very accurate to conclude that the compression changed. The documentation I have does not indicate any change in compression so that has been the basis for my response.


Let me reiterate, overall, I am quite pleased with my FZ10, but as EffZeeOne pointed out, itís the customer who determines the market, not the manufacturer.
<RESPONSE>
To some degree, but the ďmarketĒ cannot be accurately represented by reviewing the comments within a few discussion groups. All feedback has to be considered and those issues that appear in several markets, from our Call Centers, dealers and end users are issues that warrant immediate attention. Lesser issues are placed on ďwatch listsĒ
Panasonic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 18, 2004, 11:41 PM   #38
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 253
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
This afternoon I did a quick test using an FZ1, FZ2 and an updated FZ1. Side by side photos at the low compression showed a total file size difference of less than 35K. Try this Ė Take a photo out the window and take one of a white wall with perhaps a hanging picture. The file size will of course vary do to the content. So, unless you have the means of taking the exact same photo, switching firmware versions back and forth, it would not be very accurate to conclude that the compression changed. The documentation I have does not indicate any change in compression so that has been the basis for my response.
The following website:

http://panasonic.jp/dc/fz1/

Specifically mentions "Picture quality improvement of 1600◊1200 mode" as a feature of the upgrade, and then goes on with a chart that shows the that pictures in the 1600x1200 mode will be larger after the upgrade. It also has a footnote that says the the subject can have an affect on the size of the picture file.

For those who cannot stumble through some Japanese, look at the "Compressed Bits Per Pixel" field in the EXIF info of an upgraded FZ1 photo compared to a stock FZ1 photo -- the upgraded FZ1's CBP is 4.0 whereas the stock FZ1's CBP is 3.4
EffZeeOne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2004, 12:24 AM   #39
Senior Member
 
alexo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 232
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
Hi Bob, I hope you donít think weíre beating-up on you, Iím sure everyone here appreciates your participation in this forum.
<RESPONSE>
Iím aware of that, but the group has to realize that any opinion expressed here doesnít necessarily express the entire DSC market.
Neither are opinione expressed at the PMA...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
As such, I know you donít participate in Philís forum anymore, please try and understand our side also.
<RESPONSE>
That decision I made was based on the fact that this site is U.S. based and in some cases I may be able to lend assistance that Iíd otherwise not be able to do with Phil being in the U.K. I still read all the mail and respond when itís something I can contribute to. Nice bunch of people there also!
Just to make sure, you are aware that the majority of Phil's readership is from the US, right?
I don't understand what significance does the physical location of the server have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
I feel that EffZeeOne has made some good points that speak for many FZ10 users. Iíve seen several Internet posts asking why people bought the FZ10. The majority of the people answer ďBecause of the 12x Leica OIS lensď. Itís almost never because of the feature-set or quality of the pictures. As you know, there are many, many supplicated users that have complained about obvious, Iíll call them ďhandicapsĒ, of the FZ10. Some include, but are not limited to, focusing problems in low light, the EVF going dark in manual mode and noisy pictures at ISOs above 100.
<RESPONSE>
In contrast, the feedback we received at CE and PMA did not indicate either of these issues to be dominant or contributing to a decision not to purchase the camera. As I review the comments I have to wonder why the opinions differ so greatly? My test photos are shot at ISO 100 (locked Ė not Auto) and they results are fine at 11x14 and 12x18 Ė no visible noise.
At the PMA you have people that are shown a carefully selected handful of pictures, taken by experienced photographers under conditions that emphasize the camera's strenghts specifically for that purpose.

On these sites you have a vast number of amateures shooting away under less than ideal conditions and comparing the experience to their other cameras.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
Seeing such results, I have to admit that there has to be some variable that is being overlooked. I sincerely wish that there was one or more participants who were in our area so that they could review the print quality I am getting Ė consistently.

Even Bruce Daleís prints shot with the FZ1 at 2 MP looked gorgeous at 11x14 with no artifacting. At our press conference we had dozens of journalists commenting on the quality.
What is your target market for the FZ series, journalists? If so, more power to you. If not, why do value their opinion so highlly over those of people who use your cameras every day?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
Your claim that the FZ1 firmware upgrade did not include an additional compression scheme is contrary to everything Iíve read, so I must repeat myself that someone at Panasonic must have thought the picture quality could be improved with less in-camera compression.
<RESPONSE>
This afternoon I did a quick test using an FZ1, FZ2 and an updated FZ1. Side by side photos at the low compression showed a total file size difference of less than 35K. Try this Ė Take a photo out the window and take one of a white wall with perhaps a hanging picture. The file size will of course vary do to the content. So, unless you have the means of taking the exact same photo, switching firmware versions back and forth, it would not be very accurate to conclude that the compression changed. The documentation I have does not indicate any change in compression so that has been the basis for my response.
The web page of the upgrade explicitly says that the picture quality of 1600x1200 shots will improve at the expense of picture size. A 8MB card will hold 6 pictures (previously 8) at fine quality and 13 pictures (previously 16) at standard quality. The corresponding numbers for a 64MB card are 64 (from 74) and 125 (from 149).
These numbers can also be verified by reading page 43 of the FZ1 Manual and page 44 of the English FZ2 manual (not available online) or page 53 of the Japanese FZ2 manual.
alexo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 2004, 10:12 AM   #40
Senior Member
 
Panasonic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 321
Default

I understand that it is hard to see your company take flak and I am sure that your attempts at defending Panasonic are noble but ultimately self defeating because:
1) They are perceived as damage control.
2) You do not have access to the complete information.
3) You do not officially speak for Panasonic.
You're an engineer, not an executive (by the way, Bob, can you tell us what kind work do you do at Panasonic? Tech support manager perhaps?)

Alex,
Last night after reading your post that I quoted from above, I was amazed that youíd have the chutzpah to make such statements. At very least, they are irresponsible statements that demonstrate you donít have a clue to the complexity of how a consumer electronic company operates. Many of my responses have to be pre-approved before you see them, so have no doubt that I definitely speak ďofficially.Ē I responded to you in a PM but so far you havenít replied. Did I hit a nerve?

My credentials are not what are being debated, but as the Sr. Product Engineer for our Digital Still Cameras, DVD Recorders and IP Products I believe my accrued expertise spanning 24 years with the company gives me a slight edge on people like you who mount a virtual pulpit and do a marvelous job quoting others and cross posting to other web sites. I have no idea what your professional career may be, but what you donít say speaks much louder than what you do say. Itís obvious you enjoy serving as the groupís motivator; constantly requesting information that Iíve diplomatically tried to explain cannot be discussed in these forums. Certain aspects of the productís design are deemed proprietary. Donít you realize that the competition is reading this? To reinforce my point on Feb 6 another forum participant told you:

ďI really want to rant here but I'm biting my tongue. IMHO you are being a pain about this. To be plain and simple, and civil, your question was answered the only way Bob can answer it, and you have read the manual and the Panasonic stated warranty.Ē You still donít seem to get the point.Ē

And yes, Panasonic may not yet have the stature of Canon or Olympus at this time, but in just two short model years we have gone from perhaps the bottom of the list to an aggressive manufacturer of digital still cameras who has definitely captured the attention of our competitors and the DSC market. Our cameras now offer features that are unique to Panasonic, and Iím sure there will be more surprises. In part those advances are due to the constant analysis of direct customer feedback that we share with our design teams. Itís impossible to implement every suggestion we receive and Iím aware that every customer feels their suggestion is more valid than most. In the end it comes down to prioritizing the issues and using them where you get the most benefit. And for the record, I was told at PMA by Canon and Olympus that no one from their engineering groups was officially attending the show. Whoís not listening? As for the photos we use to demonstrate what our cameras are capable of, they are just that. Largely it is the expertise of the individual photographer that creates the finished product. Knowing how and when to use each feature articulates the products capabilities. Without that expertise and knowledge no camera, at any price, will produce the pristine results you seem to be in search of. In the art world masterpieces have been created with rudimentary materials, so donít be quick to blame the tool for the user's unfamiliarity.

You know, in the past forty-eight hours Iíve received several e-mails from others who have been reading this discussion. All were very supportive and one offered some good advice; in part it said, ďBob, we appreciate your participation here in the Steveís Digicam discussion groups. Every group has an ďAlexĒ, heís the Jerry Springer wanna-be with more time on his hands than actual knowledge. This type of person is entertaining to us but we really donít take them seriously. Ignore him and heíll hopefully go awayÖ.Ē It would be very unfair to the others if I were to say ďto hell with all this commotionĒ I enjoy being here and I believe that everyone is gaining something from it. If my insight into how the industry operates is not to your liking, itís a big Internet and another haunt is but a click away. Maybe the new Olympus C-788 will be more to your expectations, youíll buy one and, well, you can fill in the ending.

This discussion is officially ended as far as Iím concerned, so can we please move on and stay focused on why Iím here?
Panasonic is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 3:58 PM.