1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

warning RANT! Why don't manufacturers improve their existing range.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Gyles, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Gyles

    Gyles Mu-43 Veteran

    265
    Feb 15, 2012
    Sunny Norfolk, UK
    Travelographer and self confessed Hexaholic
    My question to you is this, why don't manufacturers seek to improve their current line ups as opposed to developing entirely new ones?

    It seems that they churn out a new body to offer the latest tech and lose much of what was good about the previous model. Do you think that they intentionally design in faults so that they can be improved with the next model in some kind of marketing conspiracy? I hear the OM-D has cheap unresponsive buttons (don't know this as a fact),but don't you think with olly's experience and product testing they would have picked up on this. Bet they sort it on the next new model.......but that will have it's "new faults".


    Look at the evolution of the GF series. GF1 with weather sealing, IBIS, 16mp and improved firmware anyone? Why not, instead of the lash up that followed?


    And another thing why doesn't Panasonic improve the 14mm pancake??? Not a bad lens but it could be a legendary one with some development. Sure there's others too.

    Are they worried the they might produce something so perfect that you'll never buy another new piece of kit again?

    Discuss.
     
  2. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I think you have raised a very interesting argument. It sort of reminds me of the conspiracy theory that batteries that never run dry already exist, but if it were marketed to the public, all battery manufacturers will run out of business...

    Emotionally, I tend to agree with you that the camera manufacturers are holding something back for the next generation product, but, logically, I think it is mostly due to commercial concerns:
    1) Manufacturers need to come up with new products frequently enough to attract consumer interest and maintain market share. If they take their good old time to develop the so-call "perfect" product, someone else might have gained market share, and you know it is somewhat difficult for one to switch system if they are invested in another system;
    2) Technology evolves all the time. The 12MP 4/3 sensor of the GF1 probably presented the best cost/quality balance for Panasonic at the time of its launch, and probably the best cost/quality equation for the consumer as well. Can you imagine someone spending $1,200+ on a completely new camera format with no proven track record? Even Fuji tested the water with their X100 before launching the X-Pro1;

    Having said that, I am sure Olympus could have come up with better buttons on the E-M5, but decided to cut corners to get better profit margin...
     
  3. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    375
    Apr 20, 2011
    Manufacturers like to have a models that fit into a 'range'. You can see that the current Panasonic offerings start from the GF5, then the G3/GX1, then probably the G5, then the GH2. It's very notable that the GF5 has almost no improvement in image quality (at least when shooting RAW, I presume the JPEG engine is vastly improved) from the original GF1. It is at the bottom of the range though. It is more there to compete with compact cameras than the likes of Sony's NEX range.

    So yeah, they absolutely cripple models or leave out features, so they fit into their product line. Why cannibalise their own sales? There is a much higher margin on the top end products.
     
  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I was just thinking about this this morning ... Imagine if Oly spent the time to CDAF optimize their existing 43 lens lineup. I am sure it takes less resources to do that compared to developing a new lens. Yes, the lenses would be big (and expensive), but m43 would be able to compete with any system out there, and they would get more cash flow to then develop and release "native" products.
     
  5. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    In many cases the improvements are subjective. For example, the reason the buttons are the way they are, from my understanding, is due to the waterproof nature of the camera.

    To me, this is about as bad a buying a car. For example, I found a car that had a nice interior silver trim I really liked, but I wanted power seats with cloth. I couldn't get it. The only way I could get power seats was with leather and the silver trip was replaced with ugly faux trim in the car.

    Similarly, I wanted to really like the E-P3, but they didn't put a flip screen on it. Sometimes its more about differentiating the product than it is about giving us the kitchen sink.
     
  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hahaha....

    They've taken a page from consumer electronics... disposable, quick obscolence, snazzy gimicks to keep interest == sales. Can't blame them... they are just trying to compete.
     
  7. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    OM-D buttons = weathersealed, and I'm curious what you'd like to see changed with the Pany 14/2.5 ... it's a tiny lens, fast AF, etc. Giving it a faster aperture wouldn't be so much an "improvement" to the lens as a complete redesign (not that that's a bad thing, but with other focal lengths and zooms missing from the lineup it might make more sense to keep working on things like the new 12-35).
     
  8. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    While I believe manufacturers often leave out features on low-end and mid-range bodies simply to differentiate between them and higher-end products, I don't think they routinely leave out features simply so they can add them to later generations. If Panasonic could have put a high quality 16 MP sensor in their first generation m43 cameras, and sold them for a competitive price, why would they not? They would have cleaned up in the market. The reality as that a 16 MP sensor, at that time, would have been both prohibitively expensive and noisey.

    The GF progression is a different issue entirely. Panasonic wasn't trying to "improve" the GF1, they were trying to appeal to a different market segment. Rightly or wrongly, Panasonic concluded that a simpler, less expensive camera would sell better to the demographic that buys small camera without EVFs. I suspect they were right. Given recent price cuts, it doesn't seem the GX1 (the real successor to the GF1) is selling all that well.

    In general, I think camera manufacturers do attempt to improve things with each new generation of a camera. The G5 certainly looks to a be an improvement in almost all respects compared to the G3. The GH2 was certainly an improvement (albeit not a huge one) over the GH1, and I don't see that it went backwards in any real way.

    Part of the problem is that what one person considers an improvement another person might not. Many people complained about the grip (or lack thereof) on the G3, so Panasonic improved that on the G5. But there are some people who prefer the smaller body of the G3. You can't please everyone, no matter what you do.

    On the buttons issue, though: There are plenty of weather sealed cameras that have much better button actuation than the OM-D. The EOS 1 line (from the first film version all the way up to current models) comes to mind as but one example. Why Oly used the buttons they did only Oly knows, but I suspect cost played a role.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I'm not sure it's working so great for them. They have to unload a lot of unsold stock for peanuts every time they introduce a new model that 'obsoletes' an old one.

    By contrast, Canon and Nikon stick with slower product cycles, and still manage to sell year old products for near MSRP. There's none of the mad discounting at the end either.

    DH
     
  10. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I think Canon and Nikon turn over their low-end gear just as often as Panasonic or anyone else. The higher you go in the lineup, the less frequent the updates. That's true whether you look at Rebel, xxD, xD, or GF, G and GH.
     
  11. Liamness

    Liamness Mu-43 Veteran

    375
    Apr 20, 2011
    Is is true that low-end models are often refreshed just for the sake of refreshing them. Would you rather have a GF2, a GF3, or a GF5? They're pretty much the same tbh. Probably the main difference is that the manufacturing process has gradually been simplified.
     
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Each one has a slightly tweaked JPEG engine, an update to the AF system and a fancier screen.

    I think the point is that they could have done this all in 1 or at most 2 updates, not 3.

    DH
     
  13. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Well, you could simply run your own camera company and find out what it is like.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That's not how it works in business in regards to the relationship between retailer, manufacturer, and competitors.

    PS> I see no evidence that canon and nikon are more profitable due to slower product cycles. I don't even see slower product cycles.
     
  15. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    In a high tech world like the camera industry, it is always better to hold back your technology. That way when your competitor releases something better, you can make a lot more money selling last year's tech. Or something like that. Fortunately, it is really cheap to invest in all this technology.
     
  16. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    The corporate mind is a mystery to me. All I know is that I don't feel obliged to update everytime Olympus (the bodies I prefer) decides the make a "new and improved" model. Shooting an E-P2, I did not get the E-P3 because it didn't seem enough of a difference to justify the expense -- for ME. I was waiting for something like the E-M5, which I love, and the buttons of which seem just fine to me. Are they holding back? I assume that design teams are told to bring in a product with specifications a, b, and c, that can be manufactured for X and get a price of Y, and to do it with whatever they can find to accomplish the task -- by a certain date. There will inevitably be compromises to fit the desired product into the requested parameters.

    Then when it's released, we get to decide whether or not to buy it, and to rage against whatever we consider it lacks -- like not taking into account my two right thumbs, for instance, or my big nose or small fingers.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    which maybe could be done through a firmware update ... I wonder if people would pay for performance improvement firmware upgrades and keep all the extra bodies out of the landfill
     
    • Like Like x 3
  18. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    424
    Dec 13, 2010
    Chicago
    I, for one, would.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    Best explanation so far, IMO!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. humzai

    humzai Mu-43 Veteran

    410
    Apr 17, 2012
    I think once Olly or Panasonic make an aneroid based phone with an app store we'll see aftermarket firmware.