Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Why Do Camera Manufacturers Make Flawed Products?  (Read 2847 times)
dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1169


« on: March 26, 2012, 10:03:17 AM »
ReplyReply

Is there any background to this quote that can be mentioned?
"Certainly we all know that camera makers bring their new cameras to market very quickly after finalizing the design and commencing manufacturing."

The only camera that I'm aware of for having any real idea of design to market time is the Canon C300, which I estimate to be about 2 years (from when Canon released the new firmware for the 5D2) and for which Canon said it was one of the quickest camera products that they've designed and delivered. So that has given me pause to wonder about the lead time for delivery of at least Canon's digital camera products.

On the car front, I'd recommend watching various episodes of "Top Gear" - the episode where they went to Romania comes to mind. There was one model of Ferrari California where once the bluetooth phone was paired with the car, it would randomly dial someone. Then there was the machinations with the actual pairing in one of their three cars and the Lamborghini Gallardo's SatNav didn't know anything about Romania at all (the entire country was missing.) All very expensive cars and all getting basic user interface bits wrong. I don't know if there were recalls or something to deal with any of this but it just goes to show that they're not as immune as you might think from getting the user interface wrong.

What can I say but "+1" to getting more photographers involved in the design of the user interface from the very start of the firmware. And don't be afraid to throw out the current firmware and start over. One of the more annoying restrictions I've run into with various compact cameras is that in some preprogramed modes, it is all but impossible to activate the flash for the fill-flash role (the most recent "please take a photo of us" was another instance of this - the shot demanded that fill flash be used but they didn't have the patience for me to dig this out of their camera's bowls.) Who makes up arbitrary rules like that? Sigh.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 08:42:14 PM by dreed » Logged
OldRoy
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 407


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2012, 10:50:33 AM »
ReplyReply

Short answer - as already implied in the piece - inadequate end-user testing.

My own experience in relation to this is two-fold. In a diverse career I have had experience in R&D, design and manufacturing of both hardware and software. In the former case I started a company that both designed and manufactured, on a modest scale volume-wise, professional (analogue) video signal processing equipment. Part of our distribution was through a major Japanese manufacturer for whom we were a niche supplier of equipment that wasn't in direct competition with their core products; I say this by way of validation that we were modestly successful - technically at least.*

From my own experience and my observation of my contemporaries' similar businesses I can say that the cost of fully testing first production-run examples of new products - at least at our scale of manufacturing - was completely prohibitive. So, unfortunately, the early adopters ended up doing the testing for us. This entailed some additional costs to keep our clients happy, but not nearly as much as full-blown production-prototype testing. I suspect, in this instance, that the camera manufacturers' financial strategy is similar.

At a later stage in my life I was responsible for testing and implementation of custom production software in the newspaper industry. This is an environment where you don't last long if the software fails unpredictably in an environment ruled by incredibly tight serial deadlines. Most of my working life was spent testing, frequently in parallel runs, and feeding back the results to programmers and production managers. Even so we still found that only when in the hands of the end-users in a live context would some additional quirks and bugs turn up.

I don't know how much this experience can be related to the photographic industry but I think it's not far out. For that matter I've found innumerable instances of domestic appliances that exhibit ridiculously deficient design. I have a juicer that belongs in a design museum's chamber of horrors. That said, some of the recent atrocities committed by camera manufacturers would only seem explicable by deliberate, wilful, crippling of products in order to maintain and feed the "upgrade" cycle. Some of the recent basic ergonomic blunders defy any other interpretation. Insert your own examples.

* My company was vandalised by banksters at the very moment it had started manufacturing a range of products that had had a 3-year development schedule: 24 years later this still baffles me, even if it's mildly gratifying to have my homicidal opinions endorsed by recent events Sad. Never mind; I have a product leaflet headed "Hitachi" to show for 7 years' work... In the aftermath it took me 10 years to just be flat broke again. Ho hum.

Roy
Logged
MarkL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 329


« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2012, 11:09:24 AM »
ReplyReply

Because they can and will get away with it. Unlike the car industry, most people have investments in lenses, flashes and accessories that dwarf the price of a new camera body and I feel that many slr camera manufacturers are very arrogant because of this and it is very much a case of "you get what you are given" plus no one every died from a badly designed camera. It is maddening that products are released again and again and within hours users are complaining about the same things wondering if at any point in the testing cycle someone who actually photographed used the product rather than engineers creating and following test scripts. I wish camera companies would look at the popularity of cameras like the contax 645 and see even if the feature set is not class leading on paper a camera that is great to use can have a huge following.

The company that immediately springs to mind to me is fuji who despite releasing very innovative cameras have for 3 cameras in a row now released products with massive oversights and in two cameras the hardware problems are extremely serious (X100 sticky aperture blades and X10 'orbs'). The logic in their software and design choices after reception of previous products is unfathomable. Even with new firmware bizarre decisions are made (see X100 firmware 1.2).

I become more and more convinced that supplying well known pros with pre-release cameras is purely to drive internet hype and not to listen to what they have to say from real world testing.
Logged
Isaac
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2331


« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2012, 12:43:20 PM »
ReplyReply

What Do You Get When You Cross a Computer with a Camera?

Logged
mondeo
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 22


« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 02:08:55 PM »
ReplyReply

Because .......

Marketing create and specify features without due thought to all use cases
Developers estimate the time taken and are told to reduce estimates as the answers to big
They then reduce them and start work and suprise suprise it takes longer and costs more

Marketing then change their minds on cost points and add new features (based on what they think the competition are upto or whats going to give a better revenue / margin)

Marketing also chose a show to launch the product and wont budge. They think this makes engineers work harder and better!

The testing that comes after the development and before the commitment to production gets squeased.

The result is that a lack of testing means more bugs in the field and features pulled at the last moment.

Its the same the world over unless a multi million dollar law suite (aka Motor Industry) is comming if somebody gets killed as a result of a bug
Logged
jjj
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3078



WWW
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 03:43:43 PM »
ReplyReply

Short answer - as already implied in the piece - inadequate end-user testing.
Though sometimes it is experienced user testing that causes the problems. On enquiring why a particular piece of software was designed in such an poor way [I can't be specific as Beta testing info stays under NDA], I was told it was directly due to feedback from pro photographers. The issue was that fundamentally it was a new working paradigm which the photographers didn't have the vision to see how dramatically their workflow was going to change further down the line and their suggestions laid poor foundations for future development.
Logged

Tradition is the Backbone of the Spineless.   Futt Futt Futt Photography
Jos van Eekelen
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 2


« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 04:25:42 PM »
ReplyReply

Perhaps Apple is not the best example. If I had a choice I would never have installed iTunes. It's about the most user unfriendly software I have ever seen but unfortunately it is/was necessery to get the iPad up and running. Worst of all it is incompatible with most common virus scanners.
The iPad is another example, in fact - how good it may be - it's flawed in a few ways. Just look at the number of OS upgrades. The battery is not user replacable and it will definitely wear out in a couple of years. Obsolence is built-in. It will be just a matter of time before the latest OS versions and corresponding apps can't be installed anymore.
Don't think that I'm anti Apple. I really like the iPad but perfect? Not yet. In fact, I expect my EOS 5D to outlive the iPad (both mk1 versions).
Perfection? Not in this world I'm afraid.

And now I look at it more closely, even the title of this thread is flawed  Cheesy
Logged
dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1169


« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2012, 09:21:53 PM »
ReplyReply

And now I look at it more closely, even the title of this thread is flawed  Cheesy

That's what you get for late night surfing Wink

iTunes is a piece of software, not a complete device as, say, your iPhone or iPad is.

The software in the iPad/iPhone is focused on letting you achieve something.

In comparison, camera firmware is nearly all about giving you control of hardware and letting you change this or that. Very little of it is results based or when it is, most professional photographers ignore it (consider that this is what portrait, landscape, etc, modes attempt to be.)

But I wonder whether or not professional photographers would welcome the Apple i-approach to photography. For example, if focusing were done by selecting which points on the live view LCD you wanted in focus and having the camera work out which combination of aperture and lens focus achieved that, who would opt for that rather than "just let me set the aperture myself."?

Thus i suspect that the problem isn't only that software engineers have too much control over the user interface for cameras but that photographers themselves are too often fixated with the mechanical details rather than the end product.
Logged
Don Craig
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 2


« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 09:58:13 PM »
ReplyReply

Things reflect the organizations that build them, and cameras are no different. Nikon's relatively recent management reset was reflected in their next (and next) generation of cameras. If a company gets big enough, clever things can come to light by accident like the EOS 5D II. A really good, totalitarian individual in product management or engineering can drive things forward, but, like Steve Jobs and Apple, their character flaws are reflected in the final product - think Red Epic and its closed workflow. I admit it would be nice if Canon had a mirror lock-up (does the 5D III?), but I've long since adapted by using Liveview. At least there's always room for a better product, given some of the bonehead stuff out there today. And we can only dream about the ergonomics of the Leica S2. #ReichmannRantidote
Logged
Tony Jay
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2029


« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 12:27:40 AM »
ReplyReply

Confused here!

Every Canon DSLR I have owned has a mirror-lockup facility.
Are their any Canon DSLR's out there that do not?

(Acknowledged that this is somewhat off topic)

Tony Jay
Logged
francois
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6432


« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2012, 02:19:34 AM »
ReplyReply

Confused here!

Every Canon DSLR I have owned has a mirror-lockup facility.
Are their any Canon DSLR's out there that do not?

(Acknowledged that this is somewhat off topic)

Tony Jay

Correct, every Canon DLSR has MLU but the original Michael's rant was about a MLU-dedicated button.
Logged

Francois
dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1169


« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 03:18:33 AM »
ReplyReply

Correct, every Canon DLSR has MLU but the original Michael's rant was about a MLU-dedicated button.

Yes. I've never quite understood this because whenever I'm shooting with MLU enabled, it isn't something that I want enabled for "just the next shot". It'll usually be several minutes or more of shooting with MLU enabled. (I have MLU as the top option in "My Menu".) I've never quite understood the request for an MLU button - I suppose after pushing some button you would then need to do something else to turn it on/off? Similarly, that would then require a bit of the LCD status panel to tell you if it was on/off.

Count me amongst those for whom live view has almost made MLU redundant, especially since I can get a good idea of not only how the image is composed but also how it will expose when I push the button on the cable.
Logged
Isaac
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2331


« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 12:37:11 PM »
ReplyReply

Because camera users will buy them.
Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 7443



WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 01:49:15 PM »
ReplyReply

Because camera users will buy them.
+1.   Wink
Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
BJL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5079


« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2012, 02:18:46 PM »
ReplyReply

The iPad is another example, in fact - how good it may be - it's flawed in a few ways. ...The battery is not user replacable and it will definitely wear out in a couple of years.
This complaint is an unintentional illustration of why even good design decisions are sometimes considered as flaws by people with different priorities that those addressed by the design, and the quixotic futility of asking for perfection: design trade-offs and the much maligned but usually necessary compromises. It is often inevitable that improving one aspect hurts another, so that a dreamt-of device that is "state of the art" in one aspect is very sub-optimal in another. Apple's move to non-replaceable batteries has the benefit of allowing more battery to be squeezed into a certain amount of space, improving the trade-off between battery life and device size and weight, but it achieves this at the cost of it being more difficult or expensive to fix a failed battery. (FYI, Apple swaps the whole iOS device for a refurb. in that situation, so it not quite forced obsolescence ... but bad luck if you had the original engraved!)

In the jargon inspired by economist Pareto, a design is only truly flawed when it is not Pareto optimal, not just because it does not perfectly match your own priorities.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:41:50 PM by BJL » Logged
theguywitha645d
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 970


« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2012, 03:01:33 PM »
ReplyReply

So that is the problem, flawed cameras for perfect photographers...
Logged
Wayne Fox
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2738



WWW
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2012, 09:56:43 PM »
ReplyReply


The iPad is another example, in fact - how good it may be - it's flawed in a few ways. Just look at the number of OS upgrades. The battery is not user replacable and it will definitely wear out in a couple of years. Obsolence is built-in. It will be just a matter of time before the latest OS versions and corresponding apps can't be installed anymore.

OS upgrades aren't about flaws, but evolution (yes I know, I"m stating the obvious). Certainly some .x upgrades (or service packs for windows) are more about resolving issues, but the evolution of iOS has been remarkable, and it's on a pretty standard cycle of about once a year, nothing too weird about that.

as far as the battery, that's an assumption everybody made, based on familiarity with conventional batteries.  But it seems Apple has really pushed the envelope with Lithium-ion polymer batteries.  I don't know the technical details, but I do know 5 generation 1 iPads being used throughout my family on a daily basis still have a battery life about the same as when they were new ... 10 hours.  I assume they've slipped a little but certainly not far enough to notice.

As far as your last statement, that's been pretty standard for anything in the computer era.  At some point the technology evolves to bring us better/new/faster (hopefully), and supporting old stuff becomes economically unfeasible.

I think the comparisons with Apple might be missing the point why Apple really is (maybe was, we'll see) different.  Reading Jobs biography and his pathological obsession for simplistic design, Apple became a company where that reigned supreme.  The engineers had little say ... their job was to implement the vision of the designers.  Only the few engineers who shared his obsession were involved in the design, and which led to only 2 (Jobs and Ivie) which led to a single person who had 100% of the say of what was to be created, Jobs himself.  Not a typical role for a CEO.

So applying that to cameras might be possible and it might work, but then you would almost need a person like Jobs, and there aren't many companies that wouldn't throw someone like him out on his ear.  His unique qualities, both great and terrible, and the evolvement of him and Apple through his life really created something that may be difficult to duplicate intentionally.

Logged

dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1169


« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2012, 03:01:53 AM »
ReplyReply

I think the comparisons with Apple might be missing the point why Apple really is (maybe was, we'll see) different.  Reading Jobs biography and his pathological obsession for simplistic design, Apple became a company where that reigned supreme.  The engineers had little say ... their job was to implement the vision of the designers.  Only the few engineers who shared his obsession were involved in the design, and which led to only 2 (Jobs and Ivie) which led to a single person who had 100% of the say of what was to be created, Jobs himself.  Not a typical role for a CEO.

So applying that to cameras might be possible and it might work, but then you would almost need a person like Jobs, and there aren't many companies that wouldn't throw someone like him out on his ear.  His unique qualities, both great and terrible, and the evolvement of him and Apple through his life really created something that may be difficult to duplicate intentionally.

Would the Apple approach work for photography?

If Steve Jobs designed a camera, would it be anything like a DSLR or MFDB in terms of controls/user interface, or would it be more like what we get with an iPhone?

If it was too different, would it even get reviewed well, considering that it would be unlikely to do anything the way photography's grey beards expect/want/are used to?
Logged
tom b
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 857


WWW
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2012, 03:15:13 AM »
ReplyReply

The Apple QuickTake.

Cheers,
Logged

Wayne Fox
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2738



WWW
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2012, 04:26:28 PM »
ReplyReply

The Apple QuickTake.

Cheers,
steve jobs wasn't at apple when that was introduced, and what apple was in that period of time almost killed it. It's certainly not representative of what Apple is like today.

I agree, whether his philosophy and management style could translate to other types of devices ... hard to say. A camera designed by Jobs might make moms happy, but offer nothing to photographers as we think of them. 

On the other hand, could using Apples philosophy and passion for design and simplicity result in a better camera?  Probably ... certainly reinventing ergonomics, menu commands, all the little things that seem so cumbersome with most cameras - how many don't have something they just "hate" about their favorite camera, despite how much the "love" it, especially when it comes to menus/buttons, etc.  That's what led to the article ..

Would be interesting to let Ivie design a good dSLR and see what he might come up with.
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad