You know, I don’t know what’s going on with us recently. Not only do our latest products have some rather serious issues, but competitors like Nikon are kicking our asses with their latest products. That new Nikon D5000 is going to make short work of our 1000D and even the 500D/Rebel T1i/Kiss X3 (AKA the EOS Whatever). And if my sources are correct, the Nikon D400 is going to really give us problems. I don’t even want to think about the D800.
You’ll note that I’m late with this month’s Tech Tips at the Digital Journalist, and the reason for that is just that I am not very motivated these days when I look at our current state here at Canon. I sat down last week to think about why this is happening to us. We used to kick so much ass just 2 years ago. And I’ve speculated in the past that perhaps karma was catching up with us now. This is what I said back then:
Later tonight when I head for home, I’m going to stop by the local church first and take a little time for myself, maybe pray for guidance and help in these tough times. It just seems like there’s some kind of curse on Canon right now. I have no other explanation for it. How else can you explain all of these events happening so close to eachother? It’s just not natural. And now, we can’t even seem to be able to do the very thing everyone has come to expect from us: Deliver great image quality. The 50D failed, the G10 failed, and now, our flagship body for image quality is failing. Maybe it’s just Karma. Maybe we’re getting paid for delivering all those backfocusing lenses to people, or the bodies (even the overpriced 1Ds) and L lenses that won’t work out of the box, or for screwing people out of their warranty, or for letting them send in their equipment to service centers countless times without fixing anything and wasting their time. Sigh… I don’t know.
And more and more I’m getting convinced that this is what’s happening to us now. Karma is catching up with us. And the thing is, we’re still going on with misleading people. The latest example is the video feature on the 5D Mark II which I briefly discussed in the previous post. I mentioned a discussion thread there, and really, if you read that whole thread it becomes so obvious how we’ve set ourselves up with all this bad karma as a company over the years, and are now continuing to do so. Have we learned nothing? Are we that blind as a company? Even I get dragged into the whole mess and see myself lying about things trying to bend reality to our advantage. I gotta admit this, because frankly it doesn’t make me sleep at night. Many of our users and customers, fellow photographers, are out there who admire me for all I’ve done for them in the past, and I feel like I am letting them down now. Just look at the following comment:
Chuck, your explanation about the lack of aperture control on the 5D Mk II is total BS and you know it. You might fool a few amateurs with this explanation but everyone else is starting to lose all respect for you. I can understand that in your official capacity you have to make use of lies and deception to avoid a class action lawsuit, but I don’t expect to see it on this blog.
So please just tell us, how did this fuckup happen? Was aperture control originally included? Was it a last minute decision to remove it and you then forgot to update the white paper? Who’s idea was it to cripple the camera even more (beyond what you already did with the outdated AF system)? Please don’t tell me it was Maeda again…
Oh, and your apology for being insulting, is insulting.
This comment alone caused me to isolate myself in my office for 3 days last week so I could think things over. I don’t think I ate much during those days either. But after those 3 days, I knew I had to change the way I handle these problems. The way I’ve been doing it is just making matters worse and setting Canon and even myself up for a lot of bad karma. And the consequences are going to be a lot worse in the future if we don’t do something about it.
So yes, we’ve been putting out a lot of bullshit regarding the lack of aperture control on the 5D Mark II in video mode. I know the white papers also make you reasonably believe this control is there on the camera. We’ve been hyping up the video feature so much it just went out of control. Badly out of control. We should have waited with introducing video and have spent more time improving the sensor in the 5D2 and the AF system. I believe that would have given us a better return on investment, not just financially, but also in terms of customer satisfaction and related areas.
Emails keep pouring in about the pattern noise and banding issues on the 5D Mark II and even the 50D. We’ve just released a new firmware update for the 50D that’s supposed to fix the banding problem there, and are still looking into the problem on the 5D Mark II. This is another area where we’ve failed to deliver. The sensor in the 5D Mark II was supposed to be even better than the one in the 1Ds Mark III according to our marketing, but instead it is failing to deliver with some serious noise even at ISO 50 and ISO 100. Just look at what Lloyd Chambers is saying here:
These examples are from ISO 50, but results are similar at ISO 100/200/400 and beyond. Crops are shown downsampled to Nikon D3 (not D3x) resolution, actual pixels results are even more obvious, but harder to compare directly.
A striking difference in noise is evident in the very dark areas: the 5D Mark II is noisy even at ISO 50. Wedding photographers take note: noise is not an issue in a bride’s white gown, but a groom’s black tuxedo will be much easier to manage with the D3x.
And you just have to see the difference in image quality with the D3x:
Details and more images can be seen on Lloyd Chamber’s site. To be honest, that’s just very bad. I would expect to see this starting at ISO 400 maybe, but ISO 100 should essentially be as clean as on the D3x, as you would reasonably expect. There’s also a thread on DPReview discussing this problem right now.
In addition, it appears the black dot problem on the 5D Mark II isn’t really fixed. I’ve gotten some emails from people claiming that the black dots reappear in the images taken with the 5D Mark II when making HDR images and when stacking images.
I don’t know what they’re doing in Japan, but things have really gotten bad for us when it comes to sensor design. We used to be lightyears ahead of the competition. Now Nikon is beating us where we were the unbeatable champions. I can only explain this as one of the consequences of bad karma which we have accumulated over the years. I know I’m beginning to sound like John Harrington, but I can’t help it. Soon I might even start writing about Getty on this blog.
The thing is, those arrogant fucks in Japan really don’t like to listen. When I give them good feedback to consider and other advice, they end up doing what they want anyway. I told them recently to just put the 1D3 AF system in the 60D, and instead they’re developing a new 11 point AF system. I can’t stand their mentality of holding back features like this. This is one of the reasons why Nikon bodies are so much more advanced compared to ours right now. Nikon put their pro level AF system in lower camera models, so why can’t we do that? Had we put the 1Ds Mark III AF system in the 5D Mark II, instead of lying about why we didn’t, we wouldn’t be having all the shitfuckery with AF issues and soft images on the 5D Mark II right now! Now people are getting 21 megapixels of blur, in addition to the pattern noise. Fucken A.
When I look at the specs of the next 1D camera that we’re going to launch in a few months, I have every reason to be excited. Internally we’re calling this camera “The Terminator.” Those of you who have recently signed our NDA’s know what I’m talking about. But when I look at all the issues we’ve been having, I just can’t be very optimistic. Many of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning know how excited I was when the 5D Mark II was launched. Then the issues started and I got disappointed badly. So now I’m just going have a different approach to things and try to be more realistic.
Anyway, I’m off to work on my tech tips for April.