Why a new Firmware would help Canon make more money

April 17, 2009

Campaigns, Comments, EOS 5D Mark II

Comment by Robert Ruffo on April, 2009

” In case Canon reads this page – which I suspect they do on occasion – here are some points to bring up in the conference room.

Why Canon would make more money if they de-cripple the 5D and give us a manual video mode:

1 – You will sell a lot of L-glass. I am waiing to see if the firmware make L-glass useable for video. If it does, I will buy many thousands of dollars worth. If not I will buy Nikon/Zeiss/etc. Your loss, too bad for you.

2 – You will DOMINATE the high-end 1080p under-$15 000 market. If we love the 5D, and stop scanning the internet for other brands and models in the hopes they will finally give us what we want (manual control, and to a less dire extent (because of Twixtor) 24/25p) we will settle-in to a trusting relationship with Canon, and wait for the new Canon models to come out.

Since, with a manual firmware we will be buying lots of L-glass, we will have much more of a motivation to do this than if our shelves are lined with Nikons lenses.

You cannot put a price on the value of a once-satisfied customer. This customer will return for more much more quickly if you give him a lot now and make him truly happy, than if you try to skimp on what you give him, in the hopes that his dissatisfaction will “create a need for new products”. This need quite likely not be met by YOUR products, as you have broken the goodwill relationship with him.

Why are people excited about a possible Scarlet from Red? Because their first cam was as good and as innexpensive as they could make it, and they created a ton of goodwill around their brand.

3 – People are saying lots of cynical and angry things about Canon right now, about how Canon delibreately crippled the 5D out of raw irresponsible greed. These thoughts going around the world is not very condusive to people trusting Canon with much of their money in the future. A firmware upgrade would silence all these voices instantly, prove them all completely wrong, and make your claim that the 5D had a weird video mode because it was rushed or you wrongly guessed how people would end up using it entirely credible, in my own opinion and I’m sure the opinion of many others. At any rate, a happy user is highly unlikely to gripe against the source of his happiness.

4 – Someone will hack it anyway – and then it will be too late for you to save face. You will look far better in the eyes of your customers if you are the ones to fix it, rather than some hacker in Russia or Montreal (is that a hint about what we are doing here in Canada? Hmmm…. If you look up my name you’ll see I have been involved in cinema software dev. so… I’m not telling. ) Let’s say I’m only guessing when I say your firmware is difficult/time consuming but not at all impossible to crack.

And some responses to naysayers in that conference room.

Naysayer: But we will canibalise sales fo our other video cams…
Response: 5D for video is not within the same market/use at all as other Canon camcorders. 5D users must adopt a highly planned, cinema-like approach to get professionally acceptable results. The 5d, with no video-friendly auto-focus, no power zoom, no easy handheld formfactor, no flipable lcd etc. is not really a run and gun cam like other Canon video cams. The 5D competes with RED, maybe the new GH1 and a future Nikon 1080p cams. I do not do run-and gun shoots, live events, etc., but if I did I would never consider buying the 5D for that – I would still just as likely buy another Canon camcorder, regardless of any functionality added to the 5D via firmware. At a pro level the 5D is for features, commercials etc., using rails, tripods, Steadicam/Glidecam, etc. At an amateur “birthday party” level a manual firmare won’t make any difference anyway as these folks tend to use auto-everything, and besides would be unlikely to spend this much on a cam.
By the same token, although they are great products for certain styles of shooting, there are no other Canon video cameras that I would use, as I do the 5D, to film commercials, high-end music video and fiction. You are basically losing nothing by empowering my 5D (except lens sales for Nikon), and I am sure I am not alone on this.

Naysayer: We can sell them an upgraded 5D MkIII
Response: There are still many remaining key problems that cannot be addressed by a firmware upgarde, and many other truly meaningful features that could be added. A main one is a removeable optical low-pass filter to shoot without moire in 1080p. Even better would be to shoot in full 21mega-pixel and nicely downres to 1080p or even 4K on the chip before recording to the compact flash card- that would be truly awesome, and it is totally understandable that it is simply not possible with current technology (although if you released a low-pass filter I could snap on somehow to my 5D now, I’d happily pay you major $$ for it). We need a fold-out lcd, for some (not me, but I think many users would like this) a video-useable auto-focus system, and we need HDMI to give us a clean out so we can record on hard-drives in raw. Usb data-out is another idea, along with auto-restart when the 4gig file size limit has been reached, maybe a custom way of formatting large CF cards to remove that limit? All these things would be great features, and certainly features we don’t expect on the 5d (unlike manual control/movie-mode de-crippling) and would be willing to pay for happily, rather than begrudgingly, in a new model. You still have lots of room to offer us new features that justify an upgrade. It doesn’t have to all be about us no longer having to use Nikon lenses to get the best results from our Canon 5D, as is the case now.

As a last note….

Your behavior toward us, at present is much like this: You go to a restaurant and the chef makes an amazing, delicious soup he charges you $10 for – but he spits in it as he brings it to the table. He then announces that to have the same soup without spit you must pay for the $20 upgraded soup. Would you go back to that restaurant? Do you think that restaurateur is practicing a wise approach to his market and building clientele? Don’t be like him – you have the choice.

Besides, I don’t think many people here would pay for a MKIII if it’s only real benefit were a de-crippled firmware, out of principle if nothing else. In fact, if you don’t upgrade the firmware, this user will do everything he can to quit his loyaty to Canon products

I mean, sorry but… I curse your company name every time I fudge around with video mode and its ridiculous crippling – do you really want people cursing your company name for any reason!?

I’m sure I’m not alone in any of this.


Robert Ruffo “

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