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barjohn

M8 Frequent Updates?

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Prior to release 1.107 there was much speculation that it would include not only many bug fixes but also some requested new features/enhancements. We were told by Leica's spokes people (as they were informed) that the new firmware would provide significant solutions to the problems we have all seen. Then, when 1.107 was released and we all struggled to figure out just what had been fixed we all discovered no new features; however, we were told that this new release heralded a new direction with improved refactored code that Leica understood and that it would be followed with frequent updates.

 

Given that release 1.107 took 4 months to release with few if any visible improvements and still many of the same bugs previously identified, it made me wonder what caliber programmers they have. I manage a team of programmers doing software development and I would expect much more from any competent programmer. I have to assume they have more than one programmer and with a small team of 2-4 programmers I would have expected all of the identified bugs fixed plus many of the easy enhancements (yes we programmers go for the low hanging fruit first). I am at a loss to understand their poor level of productivity and management at Leica's willingness to accept such. From what I have seen of Russian programmers, Leica may want to consider hiring some of them as they can crank out very good code.

 

My question is what do they mean by frequent updates and what should we expect?

 

P.S. Yes I know it can take great pictures in spite of its flaws, this isn't about the camera's abilities. It is about getting a camera that doesn't have the idnetified flaws and does have the identified enhancements.

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This is all speculation.

Originally Leica farmed out the writing of the software/firmware to run the M8. Now since they have had a break with that company Leica has taken on writing the firmware themselves, supposedly.

Could be they (Leica AG and whoever they hired) did not understand how the code was originally written. So they Re-Wrote the firmware to what there present programmer, or team of programmers, understands and the 1.107 firmware was the start of that. Not really fixing anything with this release but allowing them to go on from here.

Also it could be that the orignal set of firmwares were copyrighted in some way and they couldn't use that code anymore. If they did they would need to pay royalties to the original company.

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My guess is that the code they inherited has to be re-factored over time. It is crucial with firmware to get things right, since otherwise the cameras can stop functioning, without any way to revert. They are presumably re-factoring and re-writing as they go, but it will take time before the entire code base is in a shape they can work faster with.

 

I wonder how many lines of code are in such a firmware?

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Based on what we got and the fact that they supposedly fixed stuff under the covers, I am not surprised that it looks this way.

 

If they made a bunch of changes to the infrastructure, it would look this way. I upgraded -- and did a shoot over the weekend -- and am pleased that it works like a charm. We are, after all, beta testers to some degree.

 

So, they didn't bust anything. Way to go, Leica!

 

We also know that there is more stuff on the way. BTW, during my shoot this weekend, the AWB worked very well for me. That is, no funny changes of color when I shot several pix in a row.

 

This was a head shot for a dancer (happens to be the bride, so the criteria are even tougher than for a mere client). During the shoot, I filled the buffer many times. I don't detect any funny AWB shots. This occurred about 5% of the time before this firmware version.

 

Did I say, "Way to go, Leica!"?

 

I've been hauling this tool around since December and couldn't be more pleased. In fact, I recently looked at some pix from my first shoot and they are really good images (technically, forget the photographer). This camera kicks ass.

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What's wrong with 1.107 and why should I want more-frequent firmware updates? I have taken several thousand photos to date with the M8 and have had no significant problems. Latest firmware updates have added IR filter support, seem to do white balance better, and speed up certain operations. Should I be clamoring for something else?

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The litany of bugs has been stated on numerous threads so I won't rehash them here; however, a $5K camera should have damn few. If you don't mind the bugs and there is noting you would like improved that is fine by me. I do want them fixed and I want some improvements. For me the option to record in 14 bits or 16 bits and improve highlight dynamic range would be a welcome feature. Having a lens selection menu as an alternate to coding is another feature I would welcome. Faster and better EV compensation also comes to mind. None of these with the possible exception of the higher bit recording should be very hard to add. Adding to EXIF the estimated appeture would be nice too. Many others have been suggested but hey..if you don't want or need that's ok.

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We don't really know who does or who did what; I'm not even sure the role of Jenoptik was ever confirmed. Leica do need to understand that the firmware represents as great a store of IP as do the more tangible elements of the camera and it needs to be developed and nurtured in-house, not farmed out to a sub-contractor. My guess is that the Imacon experience has shown this very clearly.

 

Right now, Leica should be focussing on building their firmware development skills, concentrating on code re-usability so that the M8 and R10 (assuming it exists) share a common code base which can itself be migrated forwards to allow the use of new processors and sensors in the future.

 

We've seen an improving situation with less reports of sudden death, better AWB, new IR filter handling and we're looking forward to improved JPEGs. I don't think we should necessarily expect feature creep - lens menus, delayed shutter winding, fast access to ISO and EV and the rest - because Leica's priority should be to get the camera "working as documented" while looking to the future revenue new models will bring.

 

I'm pleased with Leica's progress because fixing the M8 has been and remains high on their list of things to do. Enhancing the functionality beyond what we bought into when we purchased the camera probably does not.

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We also know that there is more stuff on the way. BTW, during my shoot this weekend, the AWB worked very well for me. That is, no funny changes of color when I shot several pix in a row.

 

This was a head shot for a dancer (happens to be the bride, so the criteria are even tougher than for a mere client). During the shoot, I filled the buffer many times. I don't detect any funny AWB shots. This occurred about 5% of the time before this firmware version.

 

Bill,

 

I am afraid that the AWB fix was a big disappointment for me. Seems to work fine one time and be absolutely hopeless the next. After two days I went back to my Expodisk and manual WB. However the write/play seems a bit more consistent and faster for DNG's.

 

It is the usual case of poor news/expectation management by Leica. If Leica had said as they released it "Firmware update coming out - this is mainly rationalising the way the firmware is coded, so you will not notice any great changes or improvements. However it is essential to get things right for the future improvements." We would have all said "we quite understand" instead of complaining about lack of improvements.

 

Wilson

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Just one thing to add. What looks like a simple and easy change to make to a user, can sometimes be a nightmare to code. It all depends on how the original code has been written. This can happen even if the code is very well written if the change is something that the original analyst or programmer hadn't considered.

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Guest guy_mancuso
We don't really know who does or who did what; I'm not even sure the role of Jenoptik was ever confirmed. Leica do need to understand that the firmware represents as great a store of IP as do the more tangible elements of the camera and it needs to be developed and nurtured in-house, not farmed out to a sub-contractor. My guess is that the Imacon experience has shown this very clearly.

 

Right now, Leica should be focussing on building their firmware development skills, concentrating on code re-usability so that the M8 and R10 (assuming it exists) share a common code base which can itself be migrated forwards to allow the use of new processors and sensors in the future.

 

We've seen an improving situation with less reports of sudden death, better AWB, new IR filter handling and we're looking forward to improved JPEGs. I don't think we should necessarily expect feature creep - lens menus, delayed shutter winding, fast access to ISO and EV and the rest - because Leica's priority should be to get the camera "working as documented" while looking to the future revenue new models will bring.

 

I'm pleased with Leica's progress because fixing the M8 has been and remains high on their list of things to do. Enhancing the functionality beyond what we bought into when we purchased the camera probably does not.

 

 

Well said Mark and pretty much in tune with what is going on but features are something they want also too.

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From what I have seen of Russian programmers, Leica may want to consider hiring some of them as they can crank out very good code.

 

one reason (maybe even the main reason) Germans buy Leica and pay a otherwise unjustifiable price is because they want to preserve jobs in GERMANY not Japan, South Corea, Russia or elsewhere.

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one reason (maybe even the main reason) Germans buy Leica and pay a otherwise unjustifiable price is because they want to preserve jobs in GERMANY not Japan, South Corea, Russia or elsewhere.

I have to disagree with that statement. I think the only reason anyone buys Leica is for the supposed quality of the camera and the lenses. If for some reason a Japanese company like Canon or Nikon had the same quality in the same size package and was established as the Defacto Quality leader for so many years Germans and all of use would be buying them.

What you think no one in germany uses a Canon/Nikon/whatever brand camera.

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Well, I am not a German, but I do agree with T.R.

 

Part of the reason I could accept the high cost of the camera and the system is simply knowing that German labour is expensive but good. For the same reason I found the R-D1 overpriced.

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Guest guy_mancuso

i completely agree Ed. Sorry TR but that is a lame comment.

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In defence of T.R. he did say that it was one of the reasons, not the only one.

 

Certainly if there were two broadly similar articles, one made in Europe and the other in the US or far east, I'd buy the European one every time.

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It seems that Europeans partly buy Leica because it is European, and Americans object to this notion

Not a big surprise. Americans who have forgotten that they do the same thing should take a quick glance at the state of the American car industry, which did not have to compete on equal terms for way too long, due to patriotic support, and now is caving in under its own weight. An example which is identical but works in the opposite direction would be Apple computers, which are so good that I buy them over a European PC.

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An example which is identical but works in the opposite direction would be Apple computers, which are so good that I buy them over a European PC.

 

Hummm... Apple motherboards (as VAIO) are made by ASUS

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Hummm... Apple motherboards (as VAIO) are made by ASUS

 

Yes, and Apple computers sold in Europe are made in Ireland, but it is still an American product.

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Carsten,

 

To set the record straight, American trucks and SUVs sell well in the U.S., but not American cars, which have stagnated for years. Japanese (in particular) and European cars account for more than 60 percent of the car market here. However, to be fair, some of the latest American cars are very competitive with the imports in every respect. (For the record, I drive a Japanese car.)

 

Larry

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