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Old Mar 3, 2004, 1:29 PM   #1
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Default I just read the entire "firmware upgrade" thread .

I don't wish to reignite the entire issue but I feel that I need to make a few comments:

Let me preface this by saying that although this is my first post on this particular forum I have been active on the dpreview Panasonic forum since I purchased my FZ-10 in late November (I'm guessing this makes me one of the first US owners of the camera). Let me also say that I love my FZ-10 and think it is not only the best digicam purchase I've ever made but probably my all-time favourite piece of electronic equipment.

That said, I must sadly admit that after reading the "firmware upgrade thread" my opinion of Panasonic as a company fell by several notches.

I understand that Panasonic Bob is an employee who is bound by the confidentiality policies of his company and that he can't always give customers the information that they request. I also understand that Panasonic has every right to market their products in any manner they see fit. If they chose to sell a firmware upgrade in one market only, for a price of $50, that's their choice. Customers may not like it, but their only fair recourse is not to purchase other Panasonic products.

However, a number of the statements made by Panasonic Bob in that threat are quite obviously factually incorrect. When the company website clearly states that the firmware upgrade for the FZ1 is designed to improve picture quality yet Bob repeatedly tells us that this upgrade has nothing to do with picture quality that leads to only one of two possible conclusions. Either the upgrade fails to do what it is designed to do, and hence the company is selling it under false pretenses, or Bob is not telling the truth about what the upgrade does. There is no other logical possibility. Now it may well be true that when one compares a pre-upgrade to post-upgrade image most people can't tell the difference (which Bob seems to imply repeatedly) but that's not the point. Either the upgrade is designed to X or it is not. HOW WELL it does X is an altogether different issue.

Also very disturbing to me is Bob's repeated use of statements such as "you don't understand the way a large electronic company works" and "you may think so but people in <some other forum, conference, area> think otherwise". These statements are no doubt true, but the only thing they accomplish is to alienate the customers that are HERE, expressing their concerns. To use an analogy, if my ACME brand car is making a funny noise that annoys me, it may well be the case that I don't quite understand how the car works, or why the car was built in such a way that it must make that noise, or even that people in other part of the world don't mind the noise, but if an ACME representative tells me "Your car is supposed to make such a noise, you just don't get it, live with it" the only thing this will accomplish is to reduce the chances that I will ever buy another ACME brand car!

The long and short of it is, although I still love my FZ-10, I must say that after reading this thread I am less inclined to buy another Panasonic product. I am also less inclined to recommend Panasonic products to friends. To Panasonic Bob, I would suggest the following: if you can't truthfully answer a question because company policy forbids it or because you don't know the answer, please just DON'T ANSWER IT. By making things up or telling people "you just don't understand" you are hurting your company.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 1:40 PM   #2
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Quite well put, Christopher.

I can't agree more with the fact Panasonic has the 'right' to not offer an upgrade (hard- or software) of any sort to whatever markets it doesn't want to. However, this is begging to have piracy start, if it's software updates, which on the surface, makes consumers look like bad guys, but they just want the option to make the decision for themselves. If an alternative is not offered, whose fault is that?

I have to admit, I'm both surprised and impressed Panasonic would allow, maybe even encourage, an employee to participate on any forum, so I can understand there are likely going to be some strange conflict-of-interest issues. At least they're trying...but you're right, I don't like being told "that's just the way it is".

I'm only on day three of my FZ1, but have started carrying it with me, as it's small enough to do so. Might even have to explore the software CD which it came with, now...
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 4:40 PM   #3
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If I may clarify certain points...

While I am an "employee", I'm also directly responsible for engineering aspects of our digital cameras. My primary purpose for participating is to gather direct customer feedback and share it with several branches of the company. Compared to other companies, I believe we are more proactive in this respect.

While I'm here, I try to assist customers with technical operating problems or questions they may have. From time to time I have, and will continue to try and explain certain policies or issues, though too often they stray into marketing issues that I'm not directly connected with. And yes, often questions are asked that I'm not able to comment on. Such situations might include question about products that have not been officially released.

As for the FZ1 - FZ2 firmware upgrade issue, officially Panasonic is not offering it inthe U.S. at this time. There are extenuating circumstances that are delaying the release. Beyond that, I cannot comment on at tis time.

I'm very much aware of what the Japanese web site states about the firmware. My testing shows that when I compare three cameras, an FZ1, FZ2, and an updated FZ1, photos from the FZ2 and FZ1 (updated) are slightly larger, though the amount the the increase is not significant enough that I would call special attention to it. My honesy on that point alone leaves me quite puzzled how any of you would suggest I'm not giving you an honest answer.

As a consumer I'm sure that many decisions we make may appear illogical to many of you. I can understand that and I won't try to justify any particular example. As someone who is involved in the entire process there are many factors that you all are nor aware of. Understanding those issues that would put things into a proper perspective.

I enjoy being here, and trying to assist all of you. I understand the frustrations that are voiced here from time to time and I'm sorry I can't always provide the response you want to hear. All I ask is your understanding and consideration, and to realize that I have boundaries that must be followed. For those of you who accept these situations we can move on. To those who can't, I can only offer my sincere apology.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 6:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
If I may clarify certain points...


I'm very much aware of what the Japanese web site states about the firmware. My testing shows that when I compare three cameras, an FZ1, FZ2, and an updated FZ1, photos from the FZ2 and FZ1 (updated) are slightly larger, though the amount the the increase is not significant enough that I would call special attention to it. My honesy on that point alone leaves me quite puzzled how any of you would suggest I'm not giving you an honest answer.
To further clarify:
The virgin fz1 has compressed bits per pixel of 1.7 and 3.4 for standard and fine quality, respectively. The fz2 and upgraded fz1 have 2.0bpp and 4.0bpp, respectively. The difference in compression represents about an 18% increase in file size. Your call on whether that is significant.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 8:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fmoore
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
If I may clarify certain points...


I'm very much aware of what the Japanese web site states about the firmware. My testing shows that when I compare three cameras, an FZ1, FZ2, and an updated FZ1, photos from the FZ2 and FZ1 (updated) are slightly larger, though the amount the the increase is not significant enough that I would call special attention to it. My honesy on that point alone leaves me quite puzzled how any of you would suggest I'm not giving you an honest answer.
To further clarify:
The virgin fz1 has compressed bits per pixel of 1.7 and 3.4 for standard and fine quality, respectively. The fz2 and upgraded fz1 have 2.0bpp and 4.0bpp, respectively. The difference in compression represents about an 18% increase in file size. Your call on whether that is significant.
Yup, that sounds like it would be more that the 35k difference we keep hearing about. Look, plain and simple, everyone, (well, almost everyone), knows that the more you compress an image, the more data you loose forever. I don't understand why Panasonic chose to include only a low and medium quality setting on the FZ10. I tried to reason this out with someone, but got nowhere with it. Many people don't know the difference between sharpness and detail. Sharpness is easier to compensate for than detail, but detail is what makes for a good picture. It's mostly the newbies and first time buyers that don't notice the difference. A $600 camera should have a better compression scheme. I can work around the cameras other short comings, but you can't easily remove compression artifacts or add detail. Also, more compression can mean more noise.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 9:14 PM   #6
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We can debate numbers , though that won't change anything and I really see no point in going in circles. When the software was released to us, file size was one of the first tests I did. Had I seen a significant increase in file size or in quality I would have mentioned it. Print quality at 11x14 didn't show any apparant differences either. I don't think anyone is denying that the more you compress a file, quality in some way will suffer. However, when the compression is slightly decreased, "slightly" may be significant to one person and insignificant to another. Each person should form their own opinion.

As for the question of why the FZ10 only included two levels of compression, I'm not aware of what decisions led to the final design. The design is decided in Japan and we join in once a sample is provided. That procedure is pretty standard for most of the industry.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 10:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
As for the question of why the FZ10 only included two levels of compression, I'm not aware of what decisions led to the final design. The design is decided in Japan and we join in once a sample is provided. That procedure is pretty standard for most of the industry.
What other camera in this price range offers only two levels of quality?
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 10:18 PM   #8
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You misunderstood, what I was trying to explain. Our participation begins when the first working sample is made, not during development.
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 10:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panasonic
You misunderstood, what I was trying to explain. Our participation begins when the first working sample is made, not during development.
OK, I see what you meant to say, but really, I haven't checked them all, but generally "better" cameras offer at least 3 quality levels.

Bob. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here, but since I started this whole mess, I've noticed many other posts at other sites that have also mentioned they regret Panasonic's decision of not including either an uncompressed setting or a less compressed setting, so I'm not the only one to notice the effects. Professional reviewers have also mentioned this. I like my FZ10, but if it can be made better with a firmware upgrade like the FZ1, why not do it? Look at some other consumer products. Take the TiVo or ReplayTV for example. For years now they have continued to improve their products with free upgrades. There are other digital cameras that have also had free upgrades to improve the product. Why not the FZ10?
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Old Mar 3, 2004, 10:52 PM   #10
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Any modification, feature set upgrade or firmware change requires us to repeat the entire product evaluation and certification. Itís a very time consuming process not to mention costly when you consider the man hours. For anyone who has not worked in the consumer electronics industry, comprehending all of this is next to impossible. Please donít conclude that we arenít interested in addressing every customers needs. Thatís not the case but with thousands of customers and the volume of feedback we receive itís a matter of prioritizing the issues. I don't dispute your logic, but it's not in the cards right now.
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