The NX series, which was a major hit upon its release last year, has won high praise from users to journalists of camera magazines. For the compact system camera, the lens is an essential product. Aren’t you curious about how the Samsung lens came to life? What about the planning, designing, and marketing work that happened behind the curtains to develop such a widely hailed product that promises an excellent value for your money? Here is a sneak peek into how the Samsung NX lens came to life and the behind stories.
1. Where does lens planning start from? Do you follow market demand or do you focus on technology?
Youngbae Kim (Director, Product Planning Group) : The NX lens planning is driven by the market and consumers. We identify consumer needs and define the lens specification based on their needs, and figure out how to match the spec with the NX camera.
Jayong Koo (Manager, Product Planning Group) : Our planning is focused on the consumers. We analyze various sales data, survey and interview the consumers to build sophisticated understanding of their needs, and match that with our technology to come up with a lens that the market is looking for.
2. What channels do you use to gather consumer demands and reactions?
Youngbae Kim : It’s simple. We analyze market data, sales data, and conduct consumer surveys to segment the customers by age group/type and decide the lens specification for each.
3. What made you develop the i-Function lens in the first place?
Youngbae Kim : I made a lot of effort trying to understand consumer needs and their usage behavior, and it led me to the i-Function lens. I thought very hard about how to make photo shooting easier and enjoyable. Lens until now had increasingly better quality but that was about it. If existing lens were reactive, following what the body ordered, I wanted to develop a lens that has buttons on the lens that can give directions, and the outcome was the i-Function lens.
Jayong Koo : An innovative idea on a lens that is the i-Function lens. If a former lens was part of the body that moves reactively at the body’s control, the i-Function lens, in contrast, controls the body, ensuring a new innovative and convenient UI.
4. Where did you focus in order to differentiate against competitors products?
Youngbae Kim : We will continue to focus on performance and features, just like the i-Function lens which has brought about a breakthrough in features.
5. What is your outlook on mirrorless cameras and the future of the i-Function?
Youngbae Kim : With such an entrenched DSLR market and mirrorless camera at only its initial stage, many uncertainties exist. Nonetheless, I think that the ability to fulfill the consumer’s need to capture a beautiful scene is more important than mirror versus mirrorless. It’s true that the mirror camera was able to better satisfy the consumers because it had better technology and performance; however, I think that the transition from DSLR to mirrorless is a natural path towards digitalization.
Jayong Koo : The compact system camera is an innovative camera that combines the benefits of existing DSLR and point & shoot camera, and I think the compact system camera market will grow. As a differentiated function of the NX, the i-Function lens will be continuously upgraded and made more convenient.
6. Do you personally enjoy taking pictures?
Youngbae Kim : I recently had a late child and have taken a lot of pictures of the baby.
Jayong Koo : I’ve been in the camera business for about 10 years and have taken lots of pictures, which has been a great learning experience. These days, I take pictures of my children using the NX100.
7. Can you say a brief sentence about the lens you are currently developing that will be revealed later?
Youngbae Kim : We plan to launch lenses for different purposes such as for macro shooting, lens fit for video, and lens for portrait among many others.
1. Can you describe what a product manager does?
Howoung Lee (Senior Manager, Product Marketing Group) : A product manager is responsible for the whole process from its inception to mass production. Other responsibilities include, when, where, and how much of the product will be launched, how to compete with competitors, and what benefits to offer the customers.
2. How is marketing for cameras and lenses different from that of other electronic products?
Howoung Lee : A camera is a product that has both digital and analog attributes. The emotional aspect of the camera helps to connect people with other people and deliver my own story.
3. What do you highlights the most when trying to promote the excellence of the NX lens compared to existing SLR cameras?
Howoung Lee : In marketing, there is a terminology called POP and POD. POP stands for ‘Point of Parity’ and POD ‘Point of Difference’. In terms of POP, we made a high resolution lens to strengthen the attribute of the lens. In terms of POD, we introduced the unprecedented i-Function to differentiate against competitors.
4. Do you personally like to take photos? If so, what is your favorite camera and lens?
Howoung Lee : I was a sales man in the past and there was this one time when I took a photo of a customer on a heavy snow day, which facilitated the negotiation. became even fonder of photos then. I like light lenses that work best with family photos.
5. Do you have any words of advice for those aspiring to become a marketer or working in a camera related business?
Howoung Lee : Because camera portrays the heart and philosophy of people, I think you need to have a warm heart to do camera marketing.
1. Can you briefly talk about the lens design?
Kyunghan Noh (Senior Designer, Design Group) : A lens designer thinks about what value and benefit the lens should offer to the consumers when it comes out. These thoughts impact the shape and composition of the lens.
2. I would think that the lens would be limited in outer design compared to the camera body. What do you think? What is the most important about outer design?
Kyunghan Noh : The lens is an ultra precision instrument with size issues, so it’s true that it has limitations in design. Defining a unique image group is important.
3. I hear that designers often have a hard time being stuck between the developers and planners. What process do you go through to coordinate?
Kyunghan Noh : In the past, the designers had a little role to play, but the mindset has shifted towards creativity, so now people come to ask for our opinions.
4. Bluering is a key feature of the Samsung NX lens. How did this come about?
Kyunghan Noh : We borrowed blue, the color that represents Samsung, to express Samsung’s unique identity through the lens as well.
5. A self-evaluation of the i-Function lens?
Kyunghan Noh : I think the i-Function lens redefined the paradigm of interchangeable lens. If the existing cameras were not able to control the function looking at the object, the i-Function lens is able to do so, which is a clear differentiator.
6. What kind of lens do you want to make in the future?
Kyunghan Noh : Our plan is to strengthen the premium lens line-up. We will also continue to develop upgraded versions of previously launched lenses. I also want to make a lens than can control the whole body from it.
7. Do you have any words for those who want to become a lens designer?
Kyunghan Noh : A lens designer should first have ample experience in taking pictures. If you take a lot of pictures, you start to see improvement areas as a user, so for those who want to become a camera or lens designer, I recommend you take a lot of pictures.
In the two series, we met with the lens developers, the NX lens planners, marketers and designers to talk about the key features of the NX lens and how the i-Function came about. We were able to see that the NX lens was created to meet the needs of the users in a convenient way, which was made possible through unsparing effort of experts in their respective fields. I look forward to how the NX lens evolves and develops in the future!
Here is the link to the source: http://www.samsungimaging.net/2011/05/17/how-the-nx-lenses-are-launched-into-the-world-part-ii-the-nx-lens-planners/