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frank_filippone

Would you pay for a FW update with some added Features?

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For what this is worth my thoughts are that Leica has done well with M8 firmware upgrades over the life of the camera - making it better with each FW update - including new features. Better than most if not all other camera makers...

 

I suffered the shutter fault problem (by accident) and Leica NJ insisted on charging me for the repair - happily now this problem is fixed with this FW so others won't have this problem going forward. I feel in my own way I paid for this particular firmware upgrade as I am sure may others did. My guess is if my M8 camera had been sent back to Leica Solms I would not have had to pay for the repair, but even an appeal to some sales functionary by the name of Brian Bell of Leica USA didn't help sadly.

 

My M8 and M8.2 continue to function well and if I wanted to have M9 features I would think it logical to buy an M9. I am not convinced adding the much discussed lens menu to the M8 is possible, maybe it is maybe it isn't we can only speculate.

 

Thank you Leica for 2005 but I wouldn't buy a firmware update for the M8 with the lens menu should it be offered. I have already payed about 400$US dollars for the current firmware which fixed a bug and that is plenty enough.

 

Terry

Edited by terrycioni

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In regard to the manual lens selection options, Stefan Daniel addressed this in the Luminous Landscape interview on the M9 10 months ago. (may be slightly paraphrased).

 

"I can explain why you did not see that on the M8 because it was simply a question of money... So here starting from scratch with the development it was easy to put it in upfront. But to put it into an existing firmware was not that easy. On a finished product/project to put it in was not that easy"

 

Leica could put most of our minds a rest with a notice that states the facts and their position on this issue in a email/posting on their website to the M8 owners - Maybe a they could issue a notice similar to their announcement of a perpetual upgrade program on 31 January 2008 - "FAQ Leica M8 Upgrade Concept" - a document that has conveniently disappeared from the Leica site...

Edited by sfokevin

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Leica’s statement that they’ve tried and it cannot be done still stands, unfortunately....

I can't seem to retrieve this Leica's statement that it cannot be done, Michael. Would you have a link by chance?

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This thread is good market research for Leica, but not a good thing for us consumers. The answer is yes, if Leica charged for features, people would pay, as Leica consumers generally are used to paying through their teeth.

 

Is it right fo them to charge for such software enhancements? Absolutely not, and this thread may just give them ideas if people even hint at saying "yes"

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I think some of this has gone off the topic I originallly proposed.... It is not a debate on the (non technical ) feasibility of the project ( will it fit? Is it possible?).

 

I am proposinng that some feature enhancements ( I also proposed specifically the lens selection menu, but I am sure there are other desires out there) be included for some future FW update to the M8. That that feature improvement would be charged for ( not free). This is not to turn the M8 into an M9; it is not to swap sensors; it is not to fix FW bugs; it is only an improvement in the useability of the camera.

 

Realising that the M8 is discontinued, and that further enhancements to products are rarely ( if ever) done for free, I have proposed to pay for the enhancement. If enough of us paid for the enhancement, it would have a positive cash flow to Leica ( simplified, they make a profit).

 

At $300 for an enhancement, we would not need to code our lenses ( at $175 or more each; or purchase outside machinist work ( $45 each); or purchase specialized $50 LTM to M adapters) and for every 1000 of us that pay $300, it would generate $300,000 in adidtional revenue to Leica. Increase that to 3000 users, and you have a tidy $1M in revenue.

 

All for a bit of SW work and a bit of testing.

 

Is this more clear now?

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I don't think many people understand the amount of work that goes into software/firmware development. Putting in new features and getting it to work is not rocket surgery but getting something to work flawlessly in every possible situation usually takes up 95% of the resources used in product development. There's a lot of testing, debugging, more testing, product verification, redesign, more debugging, more testing, product verifcation again... you get the point.

 

Oh yeah, and software/electrical engineers are expensive. eg. 5 engineers x $1500/week/engineer x 8 weeks (this is not a lot of time to really test anything... by the way) = $60,000. Plus you still have overhead costs for test equipment, worker benefits, lab/office space, etc... which usually ends up costing nearly the same amount as the worker salaries.

 

Plus, there's always a trade off in allocating resources. The time that skilled people are spending in upgrading a 4 year old product is taken away from the development time of new products (eg. M10). This is probably the biggest limiting factor. For a relatively small company like Leica, I don't expect them to have that many people on the product development team. 20 people would be a large number. Using 5 engineers would mean losing 25% of your team to supporting legacy products. So the question comes down to... do you want a new menu in your M8 or do you want a more reliable and full featured M10?

 

From a technical standpoint, with regards to hardware, I'm pretty sure the M8 processing capabilities are more than sufficient to support an added menu. However, when you start looking at the internal software interface, because the features on the M8 are fixed (meaning that Leica users would probably commit mutany if Leica released a new firmware where you actually LOST features), things can't be changed that much. Also, any new features added would require backwards compatability with the existing software architecture and internal interface. That is, unless you rewrite the entire firmware from scratch. In which case, it will cost you a whole lot more and will tie up your product development team for even longer. Leica simply cannot afford to do this.

Edited by beewee

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Andy - a few people have asserted this (without any evidence).

 

As far as I know, the camera must use a look-up table to match the 6-bit codes to an internal list of known lenses. With my somewhat limited experience of programming, I'd say a modified menu item should actually be a relatively trivial affair: switching the selection to user-defined input instead of camera-read codes.

 

I'd be frankly dumbfounded if adding a menu-selection to the user interface was beyond the capacity of either camera or programmer. It is the simplest type of list, with trivial processing: each table entry will have a simple identifier, and each menu item would be mapped to that identifier (probably a single integer).

 

As I said elsewhere, I'm not personally invested in this issue anymore, but I fail to see how it's in Leica's interests to disappoint so many loyal customers in this way. The firmware was such a long time coming that (sometimes unrealistic) expectations were allowed to flourish unchecked.

 

But in all fairness, this one issue of lens coding should always have been available as a manual input imo. It was conceived as a means of extra revenue generation, and having outlived that purpose it would surely have been seen as a gesture of goodwill to remove the inconvenience for those who still have uncoded lenses, or lenses that simply can't be coded, like the OP.

 

Instead of this, the company generates a new set of grumblers instead - some of them off to buy Canikons, no doubt, if only out of spite.

 

It's an issue of managing and nurturing your brand, rather than software development.

I agree with this assessment. I've done my share of programming and their programmers can most certainly do it. As for the camera resources, it would probably take a small amount of memory to code the text for the lens names and the menu addition but if they're that close to the limit, they're already in trouble.

 

No I think the misguided attempt to generate more revenue originally and the inflexibility to admit that was a mistake are the real problems.

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I don't think many people understand the amount of work that goes into software/firmware development. Putting in new features and getting it to work is not rocket surgery but getting something to work flawlessly in every possible situation usually takes up 95% of the resources used in product development. There's a lot of testing, debugging, more testing, product verification, redesign, more debugging, more testing, product verifcation again... you get the point...

 

Seriously, if adding an extra menu item to your product's firmware needs 5 engineers and months of testing, then your programming is wrong.

Good, object-oriented programming should mean that you have built your software in a modular fashion, where simple items like menus can be extended and added without major (or any) modifications to other discrete parts of the architecture.

 

I doubt whether Leica allocates more than one software engineer, even part-time, on M8 development.

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... simple items like menus can be extended and added without major (or any) modifications to other discrete parts of the architecture.

 

....

 

I'm not a software engineer, but there has to be a lot more to this than just adding a couple of lines to a menu. When clicked on, that menu item actually has to be programmed to do something - to talk to some other code in the operating system, presumably.

 

In this case, if people are asking for manual lens coding, each lens in the list has to tell the OS how to process the lens anomalies. Some of these will, presumably, be already coded via the 6-bit lens codes, but all these hooks have to be made and tested etc.

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I'm not a software engineer, but there has to be a lot more to this than just adding a couple of lines to a menu. When clicked on, that menu item actually has to be programmed to do something - to talk to some other code in the operating system, presumably.

 

In this case, if people are asking for manual lens coding, each lens in the list has to tell the OS how to process the lens anomalies. Some of these will, presumably, be already coded via the 6-bit lens codes, but all these hooks have to be made and tested etc.

 

If it took over a year to fix a small bug like continuous shoot, I suppose it is like Andy says.

I also suppose Laica engineers are caring after the M9 firmwares, so anything is ok the way it is. I always have my Sharpie.

Anyway, a good night of sleep softened my delusion.

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I'm not a software engineer, but there has to be a lot more to this than just adding a couple of lines to a menu.

 

I didn't say it was 'a couple of lines' of code. What I said was that adding menu items to an existing menu architecture should be a relatively trivial process - if the programming has been planned and implemented in an efficient way from the beginning.

 

If my guess is right that the processing and functionality is already in place for lens identification in the form of a simple look-up table (the most straightforward form of processing chunks of information), then mapping these to manual input shouldn't be beyond the skills of a professional programmer.

 

But obviously I have no idea how Leica have implemented all of this - anymore than anyone else here. However, let me put it this way: this menu change is not comparable to writing and testing the software that flies our planes.

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Can I ask, as I don't keep up with new lens releases to avoid temptation, are there any new lenses not in the M8 series firmware that could/should have been added in this release ?

Leading to the question will new lenses be supported in the future on the M8 series ?

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I think some of this has gone off the topic I originallly proposed.... It is not a debate on the (non technical ) feasibility of the project ( will it fit? Is it possible?).

 

I am proposinng that some feature enhancements ( I also proposed specifically the lens selection menu, but I am sure there are other desires out there) be included for some future FW update to the M8. That that feature improvement would be charged for ( not free). This is not to turn the M8 into an M9; it is not to swap sensors; it is not to fix FW bugs; it is only an improvement in the useability of the camera.

 

Realising that the M8 is discontinued, and that further enhancements to products are rarely ( if ever) done for free, I have proposed to pay for the enhancement. If enough of us paid for the enhancement, it would have a positive cash flow to Leica ( simplified, they make a profit).

 

At $300 for an enhancement, we would not need to code our lenses ( at $175 or more each; or purchase outside machinist work ( $45 each); or purchase specialized $50 LTM to M adapters) and for every 1000 of us that pay $300, it would generate $300,000 in adidtional revenue to Leica. Increase that to 3000 users, and you have a tidy $1M in revenue.

 

All for a bit of SW work and a bit of testing.

 

Is this more clear now?

 

 

...forgive me if I sound short, Frank.

 

The M8 has had its fair share of problems, but by and large, it functions as advertised - even the armchair CEOs and über-programmers agree on this point.

 

Leica is a small company with well documented issues ,and it is struggling to survive in these trying times. If the company thought that offering M9 features for the M8 was technically possible *and* economically feasible, we would not be having this discourse. And I am not insensitive to those who feel let down by Leica, having had my fair share of disappointments in my 30-odd years with the company (despite my wish list).

 

The M8 is an outdated and discontinued model, but Leica continues to support (not enhance) it, as it does some other outdated and discontinued models. If you want M9 features, please get an M9. If you elect not to go down that route, very well - your M8 functions perfectly well without said desirable M9 features.

 

Welcome to the digital world. Viva Leica.

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Guest jarski

Realising that the M8 is discontinued, and that further enhancements to products are rarely ( if ever) done for free, I have proposed to pay for the enhancement. If enough of us paid for the enhancement, it would have a positive cash flow to Leica ( simplified, they make a profit).

 

software tends to be public property after its leaked from anywhere to Net. so for such feature updates, people would either have to send their cameras to Solms for the update, or Leica would also have to include some protection and registering mechanism in order to keep people having to buy new firmware updates, not just sharing them in the Net.

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armchair CEOs and über-programmers agree on this point.

 

Oh well - I see this thread has now degenerated into the traditional jibes and personal ridicule. Personally, I find the blind faith in everything Leica says is the most interesting facet of the discussion.

 

Never mind, as I've said so many times, I'm not personally invested in the upgrade: I'm pretty happy with the camera as it is, and it's never malfunctioned. (And film is so much better than all digital).

 

But adding lens selection doesn't give the M8 "M9 features" - it allows the owner to do what should have been possible from the very start: correct hardware shortcomings in the camera without needing to pay a hefty extra fee to Leica, with an accompanying inconvenience of time without the affected lenses.

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But adding lens selection doesn't give the M8 "M9 features" - it allows the owner to do what should have been possible from the very start: correct hardware shortcomings in the camera without needing to pay a hefty extra fee to Leica, with an accompanying inconvenience of time without the affected lenses.

 

Couldn't tell that better.

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Oh well - I see this thread has now degenerated into the traditional jibes and personal ridicule. Personally, I find the blind faith in everything Leica says is the most interesting facet of the discussion.

 

Never mind, as I've said so many times, I'm not personally invested in the upgrade: I'm pretty happy with the camera as it is, and it's never malfunctioned. (And film is so much better than all digital).

 

But adding lens selection doesn't give the M8 "M9 features" - it allows the owner to do what should have been possible from the very start: correct hardware shortcomings in the camera without needing to pay a hefty extra fee to Leica, with an accompanying inconvenience of time without the affected lenses.

 

 

...steady, plasticman - I am an armchair CEO and über-programmer myself. I also do not own a single Leitz/Leica product that scores 100% on *all* fronts.

 

Please re-read my post and let me know which parts you do not agree with. As far as I am aware, the M8 does exactly what it says on the tin. So does the M3, even though it could be argued that an enhancement (such as a built-in meter?) would improve its overall functionality.

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Can I ask, as I don't keep up with new lens releases to avoid temptation, are there any new lenses not in the M8 series firmware that could/should have been added in this release ?

No.

 

Leading to the question will new lenses be supported in the future on the M8 series ?

Probably.

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I never said that the M8 did not do what it was advertised to do.... The implication of paying for a feature not incuded in the specs is an admission of that fact. I want it to do something that is not included in its current feature set, and I am willing to pay for that feature.

 

As far as resources go, Leica can figure this out on their own, but contract SW engineers are available, the menu code already exists ( it is the same menu code as the M9, with some pointer differences) and the built in 6 bit coding hardware coding to lens correction SW is already there. There is little new to actually write.

 

There is a fair amount of testing ( which I mentioned originally, and which someone else pointed out as well) to be sure nothing goes wrong but which is not exactly difficult work to do.

 

Overall, the manual lens selection function is relatively trivial project to adapt from the M9 to the M8.

 

There was a question over what lenses Leica makes currently but did not incllude in the past FW updates.... The answer is that the M8 does have FW support and lens corections for the 18mm lens, which I think is the last lens Leica introduced. I think it was included in the 2.004 FW update.

 

Back to the original question... How much would you pay for this type of enhancement to your M8? $100? $200? $300? More?

 

Expectations of Zero are not included because it does not allow for Leica to have incentive to work on a now discontinued produict, the M8.

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