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Old Jul 28, 2004, 11:10 AM   #1
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I'm interested in buying the new Panasonic DMC-FZ20 when it comes out in Sept. 04, but there is quite a bit of negativity towards Panasonic for not releasing as of yet, a firmware upgrade to fix, what some people are calling bugs in the current model (DMC-FZ10). My question is, when deciding which camera to buy, how much weightshould someone put towards a company's willingness to provide firmware upgrades to fix software bugs or even improve software features OR do all cameras have their + / - and improvements should be expected with new camera models?

I really like the features expected with the new FZ20 (5 MP, 12x optical zoom, great lens, quick shutter lag and so on) all for under $600. Are there other cameras I should consider?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 2, 2004, 8:06 AM   #2
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Hi I havegot an S1-is which has recently received 2 significant improvements with its first upgrade.Whilst I appreciate the upgrades I wonder if the ability to improve soft ware post release is allowing manufacturers to release products that simply are not as good as they should be and then patch them up later (ie everything microsoft ever released!).There has been speculation that as the S1 uses the same Digic chip that other canons use that an update to include RAW format could be in the wings and that features are being suppressed for product differentiation reasons.A 5mp S1 with decent autofocus,flash hotshoeand RAW would pinch a lot of Canons 300D sales .

I am glad that faults can be fixed without having to buy "S2" and I cant afford to buy a new digicam every 12 mths anyway.

I hope that in the next few years Digicams will be as mature as 35mm SLR where you can buy a camera and know that you will get 5years service without it being hopelessly out of date!!(Unrealistic but I can dream!)

The only reason I did not consider panasonic cameras were that they were a bit above what I could afford and quite rare at the time.love the idea of 12x ,Lecia lens and image stab(flash hot shoe as well?)

I am wary about a lot of claimed faults with some cameras ,people either have not read the manual,have unrealistic expectations of what a particular style or price point of camera can acheive or simply given up after only 3 or 4 days!Some cameras are less than perfect ,S1 included butI am sure they are not as bad as the net would have people believe.

Good luck with your purchase Brendon

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Old Aug 2, 2004, 11:12 AM   #3
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I would say this is more of a personal philosophy question than a camera one.

That the company doesn't patch their cameras is a bad sign that the company doesn't stand behind their products. Support costs money and it rarely makes money. If they don't value their current customers enough to fix flaws in their product, then they risk driving them away.

I, personally, don't support companies that don't value their customers and treat them well. If they had said that the problem can't be fixed, then that is honest communications and I would have to believe them and work around it.

But all cameras have their +/-. Heck, everything, person, place, or thing, has its +/-. That includes digital cameras and digital camera companies. You have to decide if you are willing to risk buying a camera from a company which is both known to have (on occasion) bugs in their camera firmware and the history of not fixing it.

To give an example, back in the early days of Linux, ATI did not give what it considered propritery information to the Linux driver community so they could write a driver for a set of ATI's video cards. They treated the people badly and it turns out the info wasn't really propritery as it was found that using certain elements of Matrox drivers got the ATI driver to work. I have not purchased an ATI card in about8 years because of this. In the last 4-5 years or so, they have treated customers better... so I will consider them again in my next video card purchase.

The absolute best way to get a company to listen is to not purchase their product and tell them why.

Eric
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Old Aug 2, 2004, 3:38 PM   #4
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Well, I've got mixed feelings on it.

I've owned cameras that the manufacturer supplied user upgradeable firmwarefor, and I've owned models that the manufacturer did not supply user upgradeable firmwarefor.

I've even owned one model that the Manufacturer offered a firmware upgrade for, but required you to send the camera into them for the upgrade (an Olympus C-2500L). If memory serves, there was a small charge for the upgrade.

Yes, it would be nice if all manufacturers supplied firmware upgrades. However, I would never assume that an upgrade will be forthcoming to fix something I didn't like about a camera's behavior (even from a manufacturer with a good history of providing them).

So, it's a good idea to buy a new model from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy. Then, give it a real good workout -- in as many conditions as possible, to make sure it will meet your needs, in the conditions you'll be using it in.

If it has some "quirks" that you simply can't live with, then return it for a refund.


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Old Aug 2, 2004, 5:27 PM   #5
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I think Panasonic's philosophy is that they will provide firmware to fix actual bugs. I have an FZ10 and there are a few things that could be improved, but nothing I didn't know about before I bought it. Also nothing that is actually a bug. It works pretty well the way they designed it to work.

The only firmware upgrade I have made on my 4 cameras is one for my Minolta D7i. It fixed some obscure bugs I hadn't actually run across myself. They came out with another firmware upgrade and I didn't even do it because there was nothing that applied to my use. Minolta made the kind of firmware upgrade for the D7 that owners want for the FZ10. It brought it up to near D7i, but they charged for the firmware because it was a camera upgrade and not a bug fix. I don't think they have done a major upgrade through firmware since because so many people griped that it wasn't free.

Wait for the reviews and comments from owners for the FZ20 and decide whether it meets your needs. Don't plan on coming up with a bunch of gripes about the way it was designed and expecting an upgrade from Panasonic.
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Old Aug 2, 2004, 6:02 PM   #6
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I think that you need to base your decision on whether or not you buy a particular manufacturer's camera based on whether or not the camera fits your needs.

Have you evaluated a camera's strengths and weaknesses and decided that for your style of photography any weaknesses that are present are ones that you can live with? The reason I ask this is because if those weaknesses are not bugs but just the level of design of that particular camera (the specs for that camera), don't expect the manufacturer to give you a firmware upgrade with enhancements. It'd be nice if they did, but don't expect it.

OTOH, if there are demonstrable problems in the functions of the camera, not meeting the spec for the camera, and the manufacturer won't make good on fixing those bugs on firmware upgradeable cameras, steer clear.

It is not clear whether or not the current controversy surrounding the Panasonic policies are due to an unwillingness to fix problems via firmware or whether or not the problems people are complaining about are just not able to be fixed by firmware. The fact that these issues are still unclear is however a red flag from my perspective - Panasonic should just be upfront and say "we could not fix these weaknesses except via a hardware enhancement".

Another aspect of Panasonic shortcomings is their non-support for RAW format. Is it that their output image format is hardwired in silicon (hard for me to believe, but possible) or perhaps that to offer a RAW format implies theneed formore support than the company is willing to commit to? (RAW means you need a facility to translate RAW to something useable and therefore the developer resource to create that and support it)

Finally, let me say that I also may purchase an FZ20 or FZ15, but only if I've decided that the features existing at the time I buy it will be sufficient for my needs at this time. For me, the camera would be just an interim soluttion until such time as I've decided to buy a dslr.

We all obviously have too much money to spend, don't we? :-)
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Old Aug 2, 2004, 7:11 PM   #7
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geoffs wrote:
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We all obviously have too much money to spend, don't we? :-)
I'llvolunteer to help out! To make it easy for you, I'll be glad to send you my paypal account info, mailing address, etc.-- whatever is easier for you to help you get rid of some of it (ifyou have too much to spend).

Sorry, I couldn't resist.


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Old Aug 2, 2004, 7:26 PM   #8
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JimC wrote:
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I'llvolunteer to help out! To make it easy for you, I'll be glad to send you my paypal account info, mailing address, etc.-- whatever is easier for you to help you get rid of some of it (ifyou have too much to spend).
Get in line Jim! :-)

Let's see, first in line is my wife and myself, then my children (even if they are grown up), then my favorite charities. Hmmm, after that I'll gladly consider you..., but by that time I definitely won't have too much left.
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