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Panasonic inspected DIWA test lab

Dennis Hissink
PMA 2010 Report
Sunday 25th, March 2007
Posted by: Dennis Hissink

Internet is packed with websites that do more or less trustworthy product tests. Often, pure coincidence decides which products will end up as winners and losers, obviously annoying both manufacturers and consumer organisations. Therefore, Panasonic pay visits to many testing facilities around the world, to see if their equipment and testing procedures meet a satisfying quality level. This week, Panasonic representatives paid DIWA member DigIT a visit. DIWA Labs is located in Norway. For more information about DIWA Awards.

DIWA Awards test lab

Panasonic at DIWA test lab
All manufacturers with respect for their reputation have their own testing laboratories where they make extensive analysis of own and competing products. Therefore, they know the strengths and weaknesses of the various models and which should be winners and losers in a product test. Far too often, the ranking gets completely different when unqualified media donít have the expertise nor the equipment required. Obviously, unexpected test results can mean large financial loss to the manufacturer, but more worrying is the fact that the results may be random and coincidental. The winner in one test may be the loser in another. In some cases, advertising budgets may determine the result list, in other cases simply incompetence or lack of testing equipment. Mr. Michiharu Uematsu at Panasonic expresses concern over this development. Any unqualified product review or test may be devastating for manufacturers and consumers alike, and creates more confusion than guidance. To get a picture of the situation, Mr. Uematsu has visited numerous testing facilities for camera performance, all over the world, investigating their working methods, testing equipment and qualifications.

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DxO Analyzer
For three years, DigIT has used DxO Analyzer v.1.0 and v.2.0 for testing optical performance. When Mr. Uematsu came for a visit, he was most surprised to learn that we already have received the new, far more advanced version 3.0. This is certainly among the most comprehensive (and expensive) software for analysing the performance of optics, image sensors and signal processing. Panasonic also uses DxO Analyzer, men have not yet bought v.3.0. At DigIT, we have had the new version for about a month to get acquainted with its new functions, making the required calibrations and to equip our test lab with the hardware needed to make full use of its capacities. Most of the equipment is now installed, but we are still waiting for the remaining two test charts for testing dynamic range, resolution, real focal length and absolute ISO speed. They are expected in a couple of weeks and when in place, we will be able to make the most comprehensive and detailed camera tests available.

DIWA Labs
Our investment is a cooperation between DigIT and DIWA Awards to establish a optimised test lab under the name of DIWA Labs. Exact measurements for image quality will be available to all DIWA members, while they themselves will evaluate and test elements like user friendliness, speeds, performance and functionality. It will also be possible for other publications to buy specific measurements from DIWA Labs.

DIWA Awards test lab

Test bench for image stabilisers
All camera models from Panasonic are equipped with an optical image stabiliser. Therefore, Mr. Uematsu was particularly interested in seeing our new device for testing the various technologies on the market. The unit is constructed and made by ourselves, entirely based on own photographic and technological expertise and experience. The model we showed Mr. Uematsu is our third version of a working prototype. We were just as excited as Mr. Uematsu and were most pleased when he expressed enthusiasm and approval of our design. The testing rig has 18 selectable patterns of movement, all with adjustable speed, and it moves both vertically and horizontally. On the current prototype the camera may be positioned for landscape or portrait shots, but the next (and hopefully final) version will have a rotating camera fixture. Available speeds and movements exceed the limitations in the cameras with a large margin, whether they have optical or mechanical stabilising system (movement of optical elements in the lens or the image sensor in the camera). As soon as our test bench is fine tuned and the optimum settings are determined, a detailed description of the device will be published, followed by an extensive test of various cameras with either image stabilising system.

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The PMA show, or Photo Marketing Association, continues its yearly tradition of maintaining a network of photo imaging as well as the experience and know-how of the industry. The PMA represents 20,000 members from over 100 countries, who are all active within the imaging industry. As a reflection of the changes in the market, the PMA organization has also changed and has become more diverse. Nowadays, the member group consists of representatives coming from photo retail, manufacturers, commercial photo labs, professional sports and news photography, in addition to small album print suppliers and photo processing centers. The PMA 2012 Trade show focuses on an industry which is heavily affected by the unstable situation of the global financial economy. However, whether the latter will also stand in the way of the innovation and product introductions, remains to be revealed by the PMA International Convention & Trade Show in Anaheim Convention Center (California, US).