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Phase One support for enthusiasts and prosumers?

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8 comments

  • SFA
    Boris,

    The upgrades, every 2 years or so, have traditionally cost less than the first licence.

    How much was your K3? And it didn't come with software you considered acceptable?

    I upgraded from 6 to 7 and then 7 to 8 for less than the cost of a tank full of gas each time. Much less. I know people who pay more each month for their TV service than a Cap 1 upgrade costs.

    I see no reason to differentiate (or try to) Pro or Amateur products. It adds to the development and support effort and will never satisfy the market.

    Highly specialised archiving and extremely esoteric colour accuracy stuff may be a different matter requiring a different approach for a limited market. Then it's commercial pay time.

    Perhaps our concerns right now should be more abut the size of the market to support the available products.

    With camera sales falling (some might say "off a cliff") will there be enough of us around to keep the image development software industry alive and vibrant for a few more years? And if we decide there is no reason to change our equipment we can work with existing software with no need for further expense ... unless Apple or Microsoft make that impossible or we are signed up to a subscription model.

    A few thoughts for what they are worth.



    Grant
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  • Boris Sheikman
    Grant,

    Thanks for the reply! 😊

    I bought my K-3 bundle from Adorama last month for $904. In addition to the body the bundle included a lens, battery grip, and FluCard. A couple of us on PentaxForums jumped on this deal. Every Pentax comes with SilkyPix. Some people like it and I read somewhere that it is fairly popular in Japan. I gave it a try. It's not bad but it didn't resonate with me.

    Filling up my Hyundai Accent from empty to full costs around $25. I have a feeling any update to Capture One will cost significantly more than that. πŸ˜‰

    Differentiating between pro and amateur products can make a lot of sense. For example, imagine if Capture One v9.0 comes out and the only major difference is a significantly redesigned tethered shooting experience. I see that a very pro oriented update which would have little value to me. I suppose I could skip on that update. Now Capture One v10 comes out with a brand new image processing engine. Awesome! 😎 I want in! But ... Since I skipped v9 would I still be eligible for an upgrade deal or do I need to start over with a new $300 package? Ouch! ☹️ In this case I would not be the target audience for the product. I could complain, pound sand, and cry (a lot πŸ˜‚ ) all to no avail because I am not the targeted user.

    You're right. The market is changing significantly. I dont know the ratio between selfie snapping photographers pumping out JPGs vs. enthusiasts filling up their SD cards with DNG files. I feel like we have more tools at our disposal today than even 10 years ago but those tools are shifting around a lot. It would be nice to have a feeling of stability and support. Maybe my recent experience with Apple has left me feeling a little paranoid and raw. ❓
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  • SFA
    Hi Boris,

    Sounds like a good deal for the K3. And your tank of fuel for the car. One of the benefits of living in a low cost country where the amount of tax added to the fuel price does not make it incredibly expensive. Potentially of course the same argument could be applied to the cost of your K3.

    The problem with trying to differentiate between Pro and Amateur products is that everyone seems to have different needs and so a different opinion of what should be included and excluded. I rather think that there are a relatively large number of non-professional users who make use of tethering but possibly very few Pros who use Printing - for example.

    In effect the economies of scale and product management afforded by including everything in one package if possible is likely to be a better more controllable and more commercially appealing proposition than trying to create and support a building block approach for this size of software.

    That is probably why the "Subscription" licence model has become popular with vendors.

    I can't comment on future marketing decisions but so far, in my experience, Phase have always offered decent upgrade opportunities and enough new functionality that is of interest to me to justify the upgrade cost. The move to V7 was costly as my older computers were not really of a suitable specification for running 64bit Windows ... but then it really was time for me to upgrade anyway for additional reasons and the experience has been worth the cost.

    Were I running LightRoom I could have survived on 32bit for another year or two but I see the next release of that will require 64bit so the respite would have been brief (and performance slow during that period.)

    Meanwhile I and I suspect others are tempted to buy all sort of small items, sometimes inexpensive software, that looks intertesting and potentially useful at the tome but is never (or hardly ever) used. Gadgets too from vendors with whom we will have no long term relationships.

    For those vendors with whom we expect to have a relatively long term relationship it makes sense for us to try and support their efforts. Without support they will disappear - another reason behind the Microsoft/Adobe/Apple et al subscription models.

    Sometimes they hook you, reel you in and get you deeply embedded in, say, a Catalog concept before shutting the door. That was something I was not fond of with LightRoom when it first came out. Bought once but I never found the upgrades to be of interest despite some aggressive and attractive pricing options back in V2 and V3 times.

    Ultimately any business has to look at what it is offering and make sure it still has relevance to where one is trying to market it. If something happens in the camera marketplace that is entirely disruptive to the potential for marketing to enthusiasts and semi-pro photographers then suppliers may well be forced to review their existing policy about product positioning and market support.

    It's ten years since digital photography technology become generally cheap enough to break the analog market. Digital matured quite quickly using fairly commonly deployed technology. The next step may be a new battle for next generation technical advances and domination. That may well mean that whatever is important today becomes utterly meaningless in the course of the next decade. But for the time being one has to have some faith that all suppliers, Phase included, will generally wish to continue to support customers and provide continuity for as long as that is technically and fiscally possible.

    Customer retention is much more cost effective than the need to find new clients all the time.

    My thoughts, for what they are worth.



    Grant
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  • Boris Sheikman
    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for the reply and the dialogue! 😊. It seems like you have been thinking about this before. 😎

    I understand your point about making a product as universal as possible vs. having a distinction between pro and amateur. It allows you to have the development team focused on a single path rather than splitting them and scattering them. The big questions are, and you touched on them a bit, is how does the development team decide what to include, who the target audience is, and how will the marketing team sell the product to that audience. This is what I hope to hear from Phase One. Of course, I understand that this is a loaded question for any company to answer. Besides protecting IP and trade secrets, nobody wants to divulge or say something that could be misinterpreted. This is why Apple says nothing and does everything without much warning. When they abandoned Aperture they did it quickly and somewhat suddenly. There was no warning and there very little left to the imagination about the announcement.

    So I guess I am asking my original question as if I were at a trade show and saw the Phase One booth running a demo. I am impressed with what I see on the display and I walk up the table. After a sincere compliment and introduction, I ask the question... 😊
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  • SFA
    6BQ5 wrote:
    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for the reply and the dialogue! 😊. It seems like you have been thinking about this before. 😎

    I understand your point about making a product as universal as possible vs. having a distinction between pro and amateur. It allows you to have the development team focused on a single path rather than splitting them and scattering them. The big questions are, and you touched on them a bit, is how does the development team decide what to include, who the target audience is, and how will the marketing team sell the product to that audience. This is what I hope to hear from Phase One. Of course, I understand that this is a loaded question for any company to answer. Besides protecting IP and trade secrets, nobody wants to divulge or say something that could be misinterpreted. This is why Apple says nothing and does everything without much warning. When they abandoned Aperture they did it quickly and somewhat suddenly. There was no warning and there very little left to the imagination about the announcement.

    So I guess I am asking my original question as if I were at a trade show and saw the Phase One booth running a demo. I am impressed with what I see on the display and I walk up the table. After a sincere compliment and introduction, I ask the question... 😊


    Hi Boris,

    A few decades ago in the Business Software world (for Service Management - so even more specific to the software support aspects of development) I came to understand some of the problems of managing application development from a fragmented starting point and satisfying the ever changing focus of the user and their perceived needs.

    We were lucky, back then, in that it was unlikely that a major shift could occur quickly in a technology we supported and on which we relied for our marketplace. No sudden introduction of an X-Trans processor and quite rapid adoption for us! No issues with manufacturers launching new products that suddenly introduced demand for specialised support even before the production versions had reached the distribution centres.

    Even so we needed to gather all of the suggestions from users (and prospective users), attempt to co-ordinate them or make them more generally useful by broadening the scope and then work out what was technically feasible and practically applicable throughout the modular suite of products. One way to do that was to give them a price tag. It was amazing how many "must haves" became "don't needs". Equally it allowed us to create functionality with fully funded development resource. We learned to try to carry the benefits of the developments throughout the user base using regular user group meetings - but that was basically a regular private meeting club where we could share things confidentially without the exposure of public forums.

    Despite the good things that came out of the controlled process a very large proportion of the developments were never used by their requesters as far as we could tell though other clients might use the functions in ways that were not as originally intended. There is a sating in software - you may now this - that 90% of developed functionality is never used and the 10% that is used is probably not used in the way intended at conception. I suspect that is as true today as it was when the statement was first made.

    For a small company (back then we were 80-100 people most of the time) being fairly sure that you are using your resources as effectively as possible and not chasing attractive but ultimately pointless objectives is very important. You don't usually have resources to spare. Large companies with complex products can play a different game - many do.


    More recently I have been involved with a different type of business application which, as a desktop based product running on Windows, is more like a Capture One development than the multi-user, multi-module systems running on Mini-Computers (remember them?) that I referred to previously.

    About 8 years ago the developers adopted some suggestions about how some commonly and repeatedly used tools (lets call them presets or styles to provide a cross reference to Capture One) could be created to be shared by multiple users and so make some complex requirements simpler, allowing inexperienced users to be smarter, whilst providing control for consistency and auditing requirements. The solution was flexible and adaptable to local requirements and could satisfy all the design criteria. As with all things partly aimed at procedural matters it required a small amount of induction training and some job function to oversee and administer development and use. Typically not a big task once established yet offering potential for great improvement in efficiency at many levels.

    5 versions later the entire functionality has been dropped from product (at least at this time) because no one found any evidence of it being used at all by more than a handful of individuals. In the meantime the original development resource cost has been increased by the need to ensure the functionality was carried forward through development using new core database products, development tool changes and 2 significant UI re-writes.

    It's just not easy to pick the winners as all the ideas flow in. And if you commit publicly to doing something and then don't do it, no matter why that should be, there will be plenty of people ready to shout and scream about broken promises. Ask any politician, though they, of course, don't have a business to run other than for their own success.

    The thing is if you can't trust the big boys to provide long term commitment even when everyone knows they can easily afford it then is it asking a bit much of far smaller operators to do what the big player will not?

    Likewise asking what will be provided in the future. Product plans in the pipeline today may be blown away by something that is announced before they can be implemented and released.

    All of these points are only part of the overall picture.

    What if, say, a product that was the complete twin of Creative Suite (or whatever that is now called) suddenly became available on all platforms as Open Source and a free download with a team of internet based fans around the world providing support functions 24/7? How disruptive would that be for the photo editing market at the enthusiast/prosumer and even Pro Studio level? Would the effect on RAW converison software and photo editing in general be similar to the effect that smart phone use seems to have had on compact camera sales?

    Right now I would suggest that Sony's adoption of C1 as a recommended RAW convertor indicates at least 2 things.

    Sony are keen to enhance their credentials within the Pro market and Phase are committed to providing products to the enthusiast and Pro-sumer market for the foreseeable future.

    How long "foreseeable" might imply is, in the current age, anyone's guess but that's about as good as we can expect.

    All just my opinion of course.



    Grant
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  • Paul Steunebrink
    6BQ5 wrote:
    I understand that Phase One is built around and for professional photographers. What is Phase One's outlook on the enthusiast and prosumer market? Does Phase One have a long term plan or road map for non-professionals?

    I am a bit surprised by this question, but do not question its validity. Note that for a reply from Phase One you should contact them directly.

    I make a distinction between the Phase One brand and camera/digital back product on one hand, and the Capture One software on the other hand. The Phase One part is aimed at the professional high-end. The Capture One part is aimed at both the professional and the prosumer market. That is my take, how I understand it.

    As a user I can not comment on the support of specific camera models.
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  • Grant Hodgeon
    Paul_Steunebrink wrote:
    6BQ5 wrote:
    I understand that Phase One is built around and for professional photographers. What is Phase One's outlook on the enthusiast and prosumer market? Does Phase One have a long term plan or road map for non-professionals?

    I am a bit surprised by this question, but do not question its validity. Note that for a reply from Phase One you should contact them directly.

    I make a distinction between the Phase One brand and camera/digital back product on one hand, and the Capture One software on the other hand. The Phase One part is aimed at the professional high-end. The Capture One part is aimed at both the professional and the prosumer market. That is my take, how I understand it.

    As a user I can not comment on the support of specific camera models.


    This is the fallacy/downfall with Phase One from a support/user perspective. The support process with Capture One is janky at best. I hate to use a term like 'janky' but little really sums up the experience better.

    I've had countless issues even getting to the point of being able to submit a support ticket. Worse yet the support channel only uses the term 'technical' support. Which to prosumers can feel like a bit of a dead end if they have questions outside of a technical avenue. I've even had support tell me that I'm messaging the wrong person w/ regards to an issue then backtracking when I asked where I should direct it to, then... Because this was the only place to submit feedback.

    Further, there's more reasons to contact Phase One than trying to ask a technical support question. We could be submitting feedback, bug reports, feature requests, appreciation, etc. The fact that this all goes into a vacuous black hole gives little confidence to those putting the effort into submitting these kinds of tickets. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there needs to be a restructuring with regards to support.

    I think Phase One do a fantastic job and they're a hardware AND software manufacturer which adds many layers of complexity but there is huge room for improvements if they believe the current scenario is conductive to newer users and people that aren't used to blunt answers and a tinge of humanity.

    I hate to bark on because this forum does degenerate quite often into bashing particular crew members. But there should be an area to voice negative experiences or areas of improvement. Folks here tend to make it very clear this is a user-to-user forum but if we have user-to-user grievances with Capture One it's often shut down by the staff. This isn't cool. Either allow us the freedom of being able to openly criticize (within fair reason) and hold true to the fact that you'll only offer official support through your private channels, or allow other people/volunteers to take care of keeping threads on topic/moving them to their respective forums or closing a topic entirely.

    There just needs to be a clearer identity with Phase One's support channel, I know they mention often to get support through your dealer but not everyone bought a digital back and has a dealer to get support from.

    My main interest is the continued success and use of Capture One. It's fantastic software and the more it grows and the bigger the user base, the more finances Phase One can put into areas such as support and such.
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  • Boris Sheikman
    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for your reply and your insight! 😊

    I have to agree with you in that I see Phase One as a singular entity with a hardware product line and a software product line. The product lines together ought to compromise a complete photographic solution. With this in mind, I see Phase One as a company that primarily markets itself to professionals. Professionals who make a living off of the products are prominently featured in all the marketing material and most of the products are priced accordingly. However, it seems that some prosumers and enthusiasts discovered the Capture One software and latched on to it. I don't know if the prosumer installed base is larger than the professional one. Is it big enough that Phase One will start actively marketing to or are prosumers really just caught in the wake of the company producing great products for professionals?

    Apple's marketing machine is a textbook example. Their big "why?" is empowering people with as much technology as possible because it helps bring out the best in people. This includes bring "pro tools" to the masses. Granted, they were simplified for a broader user base and the prices charged are just high enough before too many people would say its too expensive. Apple's message is that they are all about you, the user. No matter what you want to do Apple can be there for you.

    Thomas Edison is another classic example. He wanted to enhance people's lives with electricity because he believed in a better life if it were electrified. That is why Thomas Edison started General Electric and got into all things electric - components, appliances, clocks, generators, etc.

    The tag line for Phase One's MF cameras is "Medium format camera systems for the world's best photographers". That's very inspiring but I know I'm not the world's best photographer. I mean, I want to be 😊 but that probably won't happen in this life. Maybe in my next life. πŸ˜‚ That's OK, I'm not personally looking for a new camera system since I'm a happy Pentax user. Ricoh's tag line is "imagine. change." While not as snazzy as Apple's, I can live with that. I'm an imaginative person who wants to work hard to change the world around me for the better. Their campaign of "5 Reasons to Choose Pentax" is kind of cheesy too but it accounts for everyone "Whether youÒ€ℒre an entry level photographer or a seasoned professional". Ok, good! I fit somewhere in there.

    The tag line for the Capture One software is "The Professional Choice in Imaging Software". I'm not a professional since I don't use my photography for income. But, if the software is good for a professional then it ought to be good for me too, right? Hold on though ... this stuff can't be cheap though. A quick search on eBay for "phase one" shows camera systems costing in the thousands. Remember the pro pricing? There it is. Then I check the price for the software and it's $300 or $10/month. Wait, what? πŸ€“ Really?! That's perfect for a middle class family with two kids driving two economy cars who work hard in saving for college and retirement while leaving a bit of money for fun too. That's me! πŸ˜„

    So now I have to ask myself how do I reconcile the message of products targeting professionals with prices for software that target prosumers? I suppose the snarky response would be for Phase One to raise the price of the software and say to me, "This isn't for you so we price it out of your market." I don't think Phase One would do that. πŸ˜‰ I'm just thinking out loud here. Phase One would probably be very happy to increase their user base by one and have another advocate in their midst. 😎 Actually, make that two when I convince my father to jump from Adobe LR. 😊

    I think the message is a little mixed so that is why I am bringing up the question. It's not an exercise in sass but I am really and genuinely interested in Phase One and how I can fit in with it. 😊

    P.S. I understand that Phase One has a route for direct communications through their technical support channel. The service I have received in my two support tickets has been exceptional, especially for someone who is running their software on a trial license. However, I can't believe that someone from Phase One doesn't read this forum. There's simply too much good opportunity here to listen to their customers. ❗️
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