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Old Mar 8, 2004, 9:54 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Panasonic
I believe a more objective way to write a product review is to rate the performance of each feature a product does offers. In the conclusion, note that it would have been nice if the product had the following features, though a lack of any one feature should not significantly skew the results.
Unfortunately, Bob, it does not work this way.

If we apply the same line of reasoning to the automotive industry, can we expect a hypothetical vehicle that comes without airbags to get positive reviews based on the features it does include?
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Old Mar 8, 2004, 10:54 PM   #22
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Default Suggestions to Panasonic about improving the FZ10

Here are two suggestions for Firmware-level improvements to the FZ10 that I think will improve the FZ10's usability, the quality of some of its pictures, the reviews, and consequently, the sales:

1.The viewfinders should not go dark unnecessarily...

A. In particular, when in full Manual mode, the darkness is due to guesswork on the part of the camera, not to the actual lighting conditions: with aperture f/2.8 and shutter at 1 second, the viewfinder may be very bright, but if the shutter is reduced to 1/1000, the viewfinder may become completely black, even though the aperture has not changed;

B. If the user is planning to use a flash (internal or external), there is no justification for darkening the viewfinder and making it impossible to compose the shot. The camera cannot know how much illumination the flash will throw on the subject, and in the absence of that information, it should not darken the viewfinder;

C. When in Manual mode, the camera currently shows a horizontal EV bar, indicating by how much it thinks the image will be under/over exposed. That is a sufficient warning to the user, and darkening the viewfinder only serves to make the camera unusable.

2. Implement a higher-quality level of image storage. Here are several alternatives:

A. add a third jpeg level that is 97 or higher;

B. offer just two levels, but let the quality of each one be user-selectable from 1 to 100, through a new entry in the SETUP menu (this would be my personal preference);

C. RAW (but this would require a computer-based software decoder and would be useful only to people with sufficient expertise to understand how to take advantage of this kind of data);

D. don't bother with TIFF.
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Old Mar 8, 2004, 11:56 PM   #23
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I've been using my FZ10 for the last couple months and absolutely love the camera. That said, I think the two largest complaints for the camera are the lack of RAW mode and lack of some sort of enhanced external flash capability/foucs assist lamp. The limited hotshoe is a MAJOR improvement compared to the closest competitive camera (Canon ), but it could have taken the camera to the next level if an external flash with focus assist and through the lens flash control were added.

I've been a senior firmware engineer for an electronics company for quite some time, after a career as a hardware design engineer. I understand how difficult the SQA (software quality assurance) process might be and how difficult it can be for a company to zero in on the features customers desire, and more importantly how to balance those requests with new development for future products. Panasonic has done an excellent job spec'ing this product overall.

However, I refuse to believe that a major corporation like Panasonic does not have a process for submitting feature requests to revist a product to extend the product life (and useful selling period for the product). I understand you can't go back and add an enhanced hotshoe since the hardware is on the market although this might be a consideration for a future device.

However, it just doesn't make sense that a RAW option could not be added through a firmware upgrade. I also think users who want RAW capability would be willing to sacrifice features such as burst mode or shot to shot time while shooting in RAW format (since you'd be talking about a large file write to SD and Panasonic has made this choice in the LC1). I understand the processor is probably optimized to process JPEG images, but don't think users who want to shoot in RAW necessarily demand speed in processing. The data for a RAW image exists at some fundamental level before in camera processing is applied. The requirement would be for that data to be saved to the SD card as a file and for some sort of reader capable of using this data to reproduce an image in a popular image processing application. Furthermore, someone at Panasonic is familiar with RAW since it is supported in the LC1. I'd be surprised if the firmware developement for a RAW mode in the FZ10 isn't closely related to the feature in the LC1.

As a user, RAW is far more flexible to me than say a less compressed JPEG mode. White balance, sharpening using a PC during post processing, and image clarity are but a few of the advantages RAW could provide. As a business model, Panasonic could offset some of the development cost by charging for a RAW plug-in for Photoshop (if you had to). Furthermore, I believe Panasonic generates some royalty revenue from the sale of SD cards and larger files imply increased demand for those accessories. It's the kind of feature that shows the customer Panasonic is dedicated to the digital camera market and greatly extends the value of the FZ10. It also addresses one of the features where your closest competitor has a slight advantage. I'm also relatively certain you could find an appropriate number of test users in these forums that would be willing to give you development feedback.

Thank you for contributing to these forums and sharing our comments!
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 6:40 AM   #24
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Bravo, Bravo....well said that man!
I totally agree that Panasonic COULD easily afford to develop Firmware improvements to placate and extend the longevity of this camera (FZ10) and that most here and DPReview (where I tend to congregate) would be more than willing to supply ourselves as beta testers.
I also concur with the fact that RAW data exists at some point in the process, and extracting that can't be THAT much of an ordeal.

I don't want to belittle PansonicBob's comments and whatnot, but the distinct impression I get is that Panasonic Japan just don't give a....... and they'll carry on regardless, in the knowledge that some, if not most, will buy the FZ11/12/20 or whatever it's decided to be monikered, which will have a fully functional hotshoe (TTL?), SuperFine JPEG or RAW output, larger buffer, and one or two custom config. buttons for easy reach of certain setting you like to have access to quickly. Oh, and perhaps AF assist and auto LCD/EVF gain for low light shots.

Actually, this one aspect has totally baffled me - why did they design the LCD/EVF to 'guess' what the resultant image would be like? Surely since the camera is digital, and has manual settings and compensation settings in other modes, then simple trial & error will allow you to get the right picture if the LCD display stayed at the same level. That's what the playback feature is for (and the delete button), not to mention the setting in the menu that allows you to see the image for a 1 sec, 3 secs, or not at all.
Daft! Surely it makes MORE sense to allow the image to be seen and captured, and the photographer to decide if it's a keeper or not, rather than have the camera display nothing because it 'thinks' the result will not be worth keeping. In other words, the user should be the final judge of whether an image is good enough, and since the displays (in certain circumstances) show nothing, how can this ethos be adhered to.
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 8:38 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Guerito
Which magazines are you refering to?
What Digital Camera, which gave the most favourable review.

Digital Camera Magazine, a rather strange review. The reviewer raved about the camera's lens, saying how it would cost thousands on a DSLR, but then he said that the feature set was very basic and wasted the advantages. It scored very highly, 90+ on most areas, but then got a "relatively" low 80 on value.
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 9:21 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by ZoomFan
However, I refuse to believe that a major corporation like Panasonic does not have a process for submitting feature requests to revist a product to extend the product life (and useful selling period for the product). I understand you can't go back and add an enhanced hotshoe since the hardware is on the market although this might be a consideration for a future device.
I think they do have such an avenue...if you're a customer in the Japanese market. That's where everything is designed, researched, tested, and in some cases solely released. Basically, the rest of the world gets what Japan wants, and only if they decide to release it outside of Japan.

I'm not really bashing Panasonic -- this is true of most Japanese namebrands. In their defense, you don't see Ford asking Japan what they want to see in the next pickup truck, do you?

Basically, I personally feel that our input won't count for squat, and PB has pretty much stated that in the past. I'm sure there are links on the Japanese site that allow you to leave feedback that is actually read and used, but I don't think you'll ever find that on the US (or other) website(s). I think we should all just be thankful that our friends in the Japanese market seem to know what they want in an excellent digicam. Your best bet is to get a Japanese pen-pal, and get them to give Panasonic your feedback!
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 9:50 AM   #27
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Default My suggestions mirror the ones made by others ...

1) A less compressed JPEG option or a RAW mode (personally, I'd vote for the less compressed JPEG route).
2) Elimination of the EVF going dark in manual mode.

and one the others haven't suggested.

How about a 640x480 mode for the video?


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Old Mar 9, 2004, 10:53 AM   #28
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At one point or another everything I stated was said, though it may have been before you started to participate. Some requests such as a third or perhaps a lower compression setting would not be justified right now because in the global picture we aren't seeing complaints or service problems with the current design. Granted, it would be an improvement and you all will welcome it, but there is no actual problem to address. You're asking for an enhancement and given the present schedules, it's not currently scheduled.

[quote="Guerito"]So why in the heck didn’t you say that in the first place Bob? Are you saying this now just to pacify us, or have you actually succumbing to our line of reasoning? Do you even realize the conflicts that could have been avoided had you said this in the first place? Look, no one wants Panasonic (or brand X for that matter), cameras to perform better than the people who have spent their hard earned money on them. That’s why we have been trying to suggest ways of improving our cameras, while you have been defending Panasonic‘s decision to do things the way they did. Nearly everything we have suggested can be done with a firmware upgrade, just like was done for the FZ1 in Japan. The participation in this particular forum may be small, but there are hundreds of people through the web who desire the same improvements, and perhaps thousands who do not participate in these groups. As I've pointed out from the start, and has since been confirmed in nearly every single review I've read, both domestic and abroad, the FZ10 needs a higher capture quality level. I sincerely hope your change of heart is not just to silence the masses.
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 11:49 AM   #29
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So what you're saying Bob, is that Panasonic prioritises and separates the wishlist from the fixlist - understandable really, but why can't they do both alongside one another. Surely the implementation of a reduced compression ratio/factor could be easily amended and included in any firmware update released to rectify any problems that are being addressed.
In fact, since you imply that, I'd be eager to learn what 'fixes' are being looked into? Off top of my head, I can't see anything that needs fixed as a matter of service problems or complaints that fall outside of the improvement field! All criticism laid at Panasonic's door is that of improving what they've offered us.
It's only after a certain period of time has elapsed and we've become familiar with our new acquisition that we can really feel comfortable about picking at it's flaws, and are sure about raising the issue, in case we embarrass ourselves by making comment on something that's of our own doing - like not reading the manual or mis-setting something in the menus.

The way I see it is, as was mentioned in a previous reply, we are ambassadors for Panasonic in lieu of a high visibility marketing campaign. In other words, our recommendation to others to consider a rank outsider is based largely on whether we feel we're happy with what we've got, and whether we feel that we're valued as customers and treated as such. The FZ1 update fiasco, which it definitely was, is a case in point - there'll be untold damage as a result from once happy customers, who've now become disgruntled and vow never to buy another Panasonic product again (by way of protest - I'm one such person regards Philips and the way they treated me with a product of there's!), which affects both the DC market Panasonic's trying to make headway into, as well as domestic appliances.

Suffice it to say, I fully appreciate and understand that once the FZ10 was signed off on, that focus and attention was placed on the roadmap planned for future models. But, this is short-sighted and, as has been amply described by others, other DC manufacturers have instilled in their customers that they aren't all out to take every penny they have by releasing a new model that has one or two minor improvements over the preceeding one, but rather is a marked improvement.
That and the fact they offer to release updates for their cameras as they know not everyone can afford the latest and greatest - some stretched themselves for the previous model at the time and it'll be another model or two before they are able/need to go again. But at least they'll buy their brand again, all things considered - a bit like the mindset of most Nokia mobile phone users. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't!
Bottom line, Panasonic won't crash out of the DP game, but they could endear themselves if they showed something more than contempt and with this stupid staggered markets release policy - the UK/Europe is only now (5 months, nearer 6 by the time it's fully rolled out) getting the FZ10, the USA never had the FZ2, and the price of the same camera in Canada as the USA is an abomination quite frankly.

It's things like these and the poor/lack of marketing prowess that really scuppers any chance of Panasonic being taken seriously in this arena other than the saving grace of the Leica branded lens. Without that, I know full well I and others would've spent considerably more time deliberating whether to take a gamble on almost a non-entity.
At some point, Panasonic WILL have to wake up, wise up, and learn that consumers matter as much as the £, $, ¥, and €'s.
Treat us right, and we'll be the best advertising you'll ever have - perhaps you've heard of that before - it's the advertising you CAN'T buy!

Just out of curiosity, who exactly decides on what features these cameras get? Is the a think-tank of engineers and marketeers? Is there a survey conducted of potential users via online or magazine reader survey cards? Is there a consortium of manufacturers where you all decide on a roadmap for DC's/DP and what you are all prepared to offer this year, next year, etc with your own variations on the design to distinguish you all from one another?
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Old Mar 9, 2004, 11:59 AM   #30
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Yes there's alot of info here, but no where near the volume our Call Centers get. Typically we can take in 250,000 calls per week. That's a lot af data mining!

As far as what data that is captured, it's simply not possible that I could document that - not enough time. The responses I receive are internal communications and can't be shared. The data goes in and the results are seen when the next generation is introduced. As far as direct correspondence, with "signatures", it's a nice idea to petition the city councel but not here. The overall process is too global.

While I was on DPREVIEW I kept track of the people who participated in the forums. On any given day at least 50% of the people were outside the U.S. Recall that there were a few issues where Phil wasn't able to get a sample he could review. Phil was inthe UK so my ability to assist him was virtually non-existent. When the FZ10's came out I made sure to put a good word in. As I understand, Steve got one fairly easy. Steves location in the US positions me to more easily assist him.

And as for numbers, those numbers can be very misunderstood. If a person stumbles in a web site and check out a few pages, they still contribute to the final number. Some page counters tally each time a page is loaded, and reloaded and reloaded. The number of actual of people actively engaged in a discussion is the real number you can guage activity. Check out AVS Forum - it's probably one of the largest and most recognized consumer electronics sites inthe world. Their discussions favor high end equipment and it's not uncommon to see 200-300 people in one forum. Steves is a very comfortable place where the the numbers are manageable and the users respresent a nice mix of DSC users. Currently I'm lurking in about 6 forums, but posting only here.

Originally Posted by alexo
> Hi Alex,

While I appreciate your work, there are a couple of problems with the process. Nothing that cannot be easily fixed but still...

The number of suggestions on this forum is huge. We have no idea which ones you pass on and which you filter out. Plus, we never get any feedback. No "interesting idea, we'll consider it", no "in your dreams", not even "thank you for participating".

It would really help if you could do some of the following:

1. Deliver a message to Panasonic Japan. Perhaps there should be some minimum amount of "signatures" on the letter for it to carry any weight but hey, this forum supports polls!

2. Tell us which ideas you already passed to Panasonic Japan. That way we can avoid beating dead horses.

3. Tell us whether the response to each idea was positive, neutral, negative or none at all.

> This is one reason why it's more meaningful for me to be on a
> North American based forum (as in Steves vs DP Review).

Bob, I really don't understand this. What difference does the physical location of the server (or, for that matter, the forum administrator) make? The Internet is global.

But you know what? Let's play with numbers just for fun.
Steve's Digicams generates half a milion impressions per months. DPReview generates about 60 millions impressions per months.
If we look at DPReview's statistics (same link), we'll see that about 60.9% of the sessions come from the US, 6.7% from Canada and only 5.6% from the UK (2001 figures but I doubt that the ratios changed much). So DPReview is only nominally "UK based" and most likely has more US visitors than this site.

Best wishes,
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