This blog is my attempt to keep track of some of the things I learn along the way, with my Canon 7D, G12 and accessories. All images copyright Brad Calkins, not to be used without permission (or purchase). I do not attempt to monetize my blog, other than to promote my stock photo portfolio on Dreamstime.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is a software feature free?

© Boris Kocis

In reading various blogs and reviews it often comes up that a manufacturer is being mean spirited by 'crippling' low cost cameras by taking out features that are software only (like mirror lock up, RAW storage, etc.). The original Canon EOS Digital Rebel was missing key features of the 10D that were later added back in via software hacks and the like.

Why do people think that adding a software feature is free for a manufacturer? For sure there is an element of not hurting sales of more expensive models by keeping some features out, but there ARE costs to adding a software feature beyond the obvious:

1. Testing! If you add a feature it must be tested. Testing the feature in another body/product does not mean you can skip testing in the new product.
2. Documentation. You must document every feature in a camera - this adds costs to the product when you have to pay someone to document it.
3. Support. More features means more support costs. Ultimately there is someone who can't figure out how to use the feature that needs help. While a tech support person who has used a feature in one body would know how to use it in another (without additional training) it does increase costs if you have teams dedicated to a product line...
4. Firmware releases. The cost of releasing a patch or update to correct a problem goes beyond testing and distributing the patch. You must also include the cost of bad press. So if you do add a feature 'for free' and then have to patch it you've really lost the bonus of that feature.

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