Pentax Optio 550 Camera High Image Noise sign now

To Pentax Customer Support;

We have long been loyal Pentax customers, with the utmost regard for Pentax's record of building quality products for a reasonable price and for service and support. With much anticipation we eagerly awaited Pentax's entry into the digital camera market with their own products, and rejoiced when Pentax entered the market just over two years ago with the Optio series cameras. We believed that Pentax would bring a new level of innovation to the digital camera market and this has come to pass, first with the Optio 330 product, to the sophistication and capability of the current incredibly competitively capable *1st D DSLR, the Optio S/S4, 450/550/555, and many excellent lower level consumer products.

The digital camera market has become ever more knowledgeable and demanding, and we are happy to see that Pentax have been able to react to those requirements. Pentax has been able to deliver increased resolution, improved responsiveness and focusing, advanced photographic features, zoom capability, low size and weight, and ease of use, all to meet the needs of us grateful consumers. At the same time, Pentax have also been one of the best camera manufacturers to correct deficiencies in the firmware of their cameras to bring them up to acceptable standards.

As consumers in an increasingly complex technological world, we have become accustomed to the products we buy being replaced by new models or versions with increased capabilities and features, often for a reduced price in reaction to market pressures. However, we have learned to recognize those companies who support their customer base as those who offer free firmware or software upgrades for those increased capabilities that can be added through this means for at least the first year of the model's life, which is the accepted normal model product cycle. Especially, we would expect a company that supports its customers well to provide these upgrades when the product in question had a parameter that was much worse than many competing products in the same capability range.

When we knowledgeable and perceptive consumers purchased the Optio 550, we recognized that the camera had a noise parameter that was up to twice as bad as some competing products with the same resolution, and was much worse than any of them at sensitivity settings of ISO 200 and 400. We purchased our cameras and did not return them in spite of this, both recognizing the superior design and capabilities of the model and believing that Pentax would solve the problem for us as it has solved other problems in the past. The problem has been identified as firmware over-sharpening without a properly set noise rejection threshold so that the noise is being amplified by sharpening.

Pentax has now introduced a new Optio 555 to replace the Optio 550 after only about a six month product life. It is our observation that this new camera has absolutely no mechanical changes other than a new front cover/face plate, a different order of modes on the mode dial, and a possible change to the lens extension motor(s), although improved startup and response speeds may be just through streamlined firmware routines. There is a strong possibility that there are absolutely no electronics changes whatsoever, and that the very limited number of new features are all implemented through new firmware. New features seem to be limited to the following: reduced startup time and lag times for increased responsiveness, increased maximum exposure time from 4 to 15 seconds, the additional Play Mode features of being able to rotate and convert images to filtered modes (including a new Bright filter), and new PictBridge and Print Image Matching 2 interfaces to print directly to printers. None of these seem important enough to rush out a new model after such a short time; we thus suspect that the main reason for the short product cycle of the Optio 550 is due to the noise problem that was its least competitive parameter. Having now reviewed actual Optio 555 images at various ISO sensitivities, we find that the over aggressive sharpening of the Optio 550 has been reduced and refined in the Optio 555 and that the resultant image noise has been reduced by a factor of two or more.

Although we acknowledge that Pentax may have marketing reasons for introducing a new model and that there may be mechanical improvements in the Optio 555 model to improve speed that can not be retrofit into the Optio 550 model, we believe that a company that supports its customer base would offer at least the most important updates in the form of a firmware upgrade to the Optio 550. Of these, the most important is the improved sharpening algorithm to reduce noise. This is followed by improved speed and responsiveness (if possible without mechanical retrofits) and the 15 second time exposure, which are each about equally desirable.

There is a large on-line community that is watching to see how Pentax responds to this issue. It seems obvious that your response to this issue will have an enormous impact on how current and prospective customers view Pentax. In this world of instant electronic communication, companies that respect and support their customer base generate the goodwill necessary for growth and increase in market share. We hope that Pentax chooses to give us this respect and support.

This letter as been posted on the Pentax forum at:

It seems to us that the Pentax Company we believe we know would at least offer a free firmware upgrade to solve the essential high noise problem. Are you that Pentax Company in which we believe?

Optio 550 Owners respectfully petition you:

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Goal reached !
550 / 100

Latest Signatures

  • 23 December 2015550. Laurie L
    very frustrating feature of an otherwise great camera - please provide support to your loyal customers
  • 14 December 2015549. Jonathan Cg
    I support this petition
  • 06 December 2015548. Thomas K
    I support this petition
  • 23 November 2015547. Alexis L
    I support this petition
  • 19 November 2015546. John C
    Pentax... do the right thing.
  • 16 November 2015545. David S
    This really would be helpful
  • 16 November 2015544. D G
    After seeing the noise level in my firend's pictures, I feel bad for having recommended a Pentax to him.
  • 06 November 2015543. Brandi V
    another s4i firmware update please
  • 02 November 2015542. Ryan Yates
    Strongly agree with this petition (owner of Pentax Optio 550)
  • 11 October 2015541. C M
    I support this petition
  • 02 October 2015540. Robert W
    I support this petition
  • 13 September 2015539. H Z
    I support this petition
  • 08 September 2015538. Ateeq T
    I support this petition
  • 08 September 2015537. Geeraert K
    I support this petition
  • 07 September 2015536. Laurens L
    Why can I get constant updates (with new features) for my 250 euro videocard (even after new models have appeared on the market) and nothing for my 500 euro Pentax?
  • 12 August 2015535. Marc A
    I support this petition
  • 05 August 2015534. Mikael E
    I hate the noise but love the rest of the camera. I've been using Pentax all the way from the Spotmatic via the SFX and Espio to the 550 and I would like to continue...
  • 29 July 2015533. Olivier B
    I support this petition
  • 23 July 2015532. Aron T
    Great camera in all respects but noise which is SERIOUS problem. Please, please fix
  • 21 July 2015531. Heribert K
    I support this petition
  • 13 July 2015530. Mark D
  • 28 June 2015529. Niels P
    I support this petition
  • 23 June 2015528. Srinivas K
    Pentax Optio 550 Owner
  • 22 June 2015527. Magnus J
    I support this petition
  • 20 June 2015526. Richard D
    Many grainy photos!
  • 20 June 2015525. Youhong G
    I support this petition
  • 14 June 2015524. Chris D
    I bought my 550 in July 2003. I bought it on the sales pitch that Pentax were one of the best film camera manufacturers, so their digital cameras must be of a very high standard. So I bought one! Then I saw the photo's my Brother in Law's Sony and Canon w

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Earl MckeeBy:
Petition target:
Pentax Corporation


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