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Camera company staff dramas on GlassDoor


Andrew Reid

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These staff comments give an insight into what it is like work for the camera companies and for those who stayed many years, how their career prospects fared.

For Blackmagic and Canon around 40% of the reviews are very poor.

Some real horror stories here...

Blackmagic

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/Blackmagic-Design-Reviews-E967090.htm

"Not worth the free lunches"

"The CEO boasts of running an efficient company thanks to its lack of middle-management, but from what I saw during my time there this is a lie. The department sits idle the majority of the time, paralysed due to the CEO's lack of time, and refusal to delegate any decision-making to the department heads. Projects are worked on in a completely linear, unconnected way due to his intractability, and inability of department heads to use their own experience to push work through. Despite having 30+ staff in the department, there is nothing on the walls, no brainstorming sessions, not even magazines or books to look through for inspiration. Competitor research is banned, and ideas are meant to just appear out of thin air. No market research, metrics or measuring of campaign effectiveness is done. Results are graded purely on the CEO's gut. Anyone with talent is marginalised in favour of the "old guard", which means nothing modernises or changes with regard to working practices or efficiencies. I saw this company repeatedly fire (sorry, "make redundant") their most productive and liked staff members without any explanation, plan or even apparent realisation of how integral they were to both the actual work and the working environment. God, the way they let them go was appalling too - so little respect or even understanding of what a redundancy process requires. Public floggings of reputations after staff have left the buildings are common, alongside grandstand speeches from the CEO which display his clear lack of knowledge of the departments day-to-day reality. They have no HR department, so mistreatment and inappropriate actions by senior staff are commonplace. Complaints cause much consternation within the management 'cabal' but really go nowhere as they aren't empowered are trained on how to deal with them. Promotions are really on the whim of the old guard, who will build a human shield around them that they can blame for their own failings. I know this sounds like the rantings of an incredibly bitter former employee, but I've waited a long time to write this review to ensure it wasn't written in the heat of the moment. If you're an Industrial Designer, then you'll be on a good wicket at BMD - that department is well resourced, well run and well respected within the company and by the CEO. But if you're unfortunate enough to be in the Marketing department, you will be the company whipping boys. Worked to the bone during tradeshows and product launches, and left to languish the rest of the time."

Other reviews of Blackmagic follow similar lines:

"Blackmagic Design has no HR department. Many young woman have been bullied to the point of quitting by their direct manager with no repercussions despite it being a known fact by other staff."

... On autocratic leadership:

Very little opportunity to progress your career. You will sit at your desk and be given little chance to use your talents. Management motivated by self interest rather than shipping great products. Except for the CEO who is a talented product visionary but poor manager that rules with an iron fist. CEO can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If there is a problem somewhere, the rest of the company sits idle waiting to get decisions made.

... And complaints of a lads club culture:

"Morale level of many people is rock bottom a lot of the time. If you're 'one of the lads' or 'one of the girls' then you stand a fighting chance. Definite lads club culture"

... And complaints from the sales office too:

"Newer products not as innovative as they used to be. Wasteful of money. Sales offices being squeezed hard on margins. Most lower level employees complain of low salary."

... A member of staff in Singapore where Blackmagic manufactures the Pocket Cinema Cameras:

"If you're younger and more capable the old vanguard will reduce your role and have you fired and ask you to quit... Good place to retire and leech money."

... A senior engineer in Melbourne complains:

"I worked at Blackmagic Design full-time for more than 5 years... [Blackmagic has] a CEO who does not know how to manage a company and is a bit full of himself, now focused on solving "old" problems in media (albeit successfully.) There are a whole host of new problems upper management fails to see. Salaries are not competitive to industry standards (far low-end)."

Canon

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/Canon-Reviews-E3522_P6.htm

Like Blackmagic, Canon has an overall review rating of 3/5 stars meaning that nearly half (40%) wouldn't recommend a job there to other people.

A complaint that comes up at Canon time and time again is how slow the company runs, which perhaps explains their camera release strategy of the last few years.

"If you don't want to get anything done in a hurry then this place is for you. There is a lot of red tape, unnecessary hoops to jump and inefficient meetings. HR don't protect employees so trust is a big issue here and need to be challenged... Pros - Working hours are good as you can leave at 5pm.

... Although the hours are typically 9-5 in the US at Canon, this review from the Melville, NY office complains of a lack of flexibility:

"Working moms dropping off kids at daycare and need five minutes of flexibility? Forget it. Work from home ? Forget it? Take a late lunch so you can leave early? Nope. Ten minutes late due to a personal problem? You are on a LATE LIST subject to disciplinary action. Wanna take a coffee break? Nope---better be back in five minutes or less! Sandals in the summer? Better not show your toes! Wanna take a walk to stretch your legs? Nope. Considered AWAY FROM YOUR DESK and SUSPECT. Ridiculous rules from the 1950s."

... And there are complaints of a stubborn, risk averse culture:

"Too conservative and stubborn. Unwilling to take risk, afraid of taking new challenges."

... But it gets far worse:

"No core values. Fire you if you report sexual harassment. No loyalty from Company and you are treated as just a number."

"Boys club at the top. A company that believes it's logo deserves respect."

"Extremely cold environment and I’m not just talking about the air-conditioning. Stifling environment."

"Worst company I have ever worked for!"

"Pros: Good quality product in the camera division! Cons:

- Poor senior leaders!
- Poor Culture!
- Very poor employee engagement!
- Top Heavy!
- Stuck in the past and still think they are market leaders!

"Terrible creative thinking environment. Extreme hierarchy."

"Camera company should be more creative and flexible to think about the next gen of photography market. The equipment itself is not important at all because more than 80% of people already have a camera on their hands in this era. To be survived, Canon should transformed more to be a photography and platform service company, not just a camera maker."

... But perhaps the most revealing review of Canon comes from their main US headquarters in Lake Success, New York:

"Remember in college when the white kids and the black kids and asian kids all sat at different tables in the cafeteria? Well, here at Canon it's exactly like that. The Top Management Japanese congregate together, speaking Japanese. They are imported from Japan (expats) and get better benefits, pay, etc. They even have a separate benefits package. They email each other in Japanese and are even sat in the same cubicle areas together.

"There is a Japanese side and American side.

"All the lower employees are American, thus creating an atmosphere of gossip, backstabbing and jockeying for recognition from the Japanese. Middle Management try to secure their positions by limiting your access to upper management. Management tries to encourage an atmosphere of cooperation, all new employees are subjected to a week long brainwashing orientation, encouraging kyosei, teamwork and team spirit. Great philosphy, but you find that once you get back to your small cubicle, that other employees are not buying it.

"Work load is tremendous and at the same time HR sends out numerous mandated online course requirements, with deadlines and even encourages you to complete them on your off time at home. In fact, certain courses are not allowed to be completed during work hours!!!! and you are not paid for this. Also, imagine working for a camera company and not being able to buy one for a discounted price?

"They run "camera" sales for only certain models at only 1 -2 times a year for 2 weeks. However, the Spring sale was cancelled unexplained.... I needed a camera and bought a Nikon.

🤣😂

"How stupid of management not to promote their camera through their employees. Big lost opportunity. Also Japanese renegs on the "rewards". About 100 people given rewards for outstanding performance with a trip to Japan, but after a month, half were told that they couldn't go and perhaps they would go next year.... huh? What if you're not here next year! Bogus. Cafeteria closes sharply at 9am! and 2pm to encourage you to go back to your desk. Arcane software that was written by Canon for their operations in 1982 and is still being used. Original programmers from Japan was called back 2008 to "retool" the software because of its bugs, redundancies and basic uselessness. Advice to Management: Stop importing your top management with Japanese expats. They don't know the culture, speak the language well enough. New expats rotate every 2-3 years so you have lower management training top management all the time, causing resentment and ineffectiveness.

Of course not all the reviews are poor for Blackmagic and Canon...But the figure of 40% very poor reviews doesn't reflect well at all.

When spending such a large amount of money regularly on these brands, I want to know it is going to support an ethical workplace where staff are treated with respect.

A LOT of room for improvement, I think.

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Newsflash: Almost every large company is run like this. Once a company achieves a certain scale, old school management principles come into play. A strict hierarchy is established and innovative minds

These staff comments give an insight into what it is like work for the camera companies and for those who stayed many years, how their career prospects fared. For Blackmagic and Canon around 40%

when i joined the forum all the talk was about the  p4k. Stylish was not a word that came up often,  but that didn't bother me. i came from dslr's so the p4k design didn't seem to dissimilar from a ds

Posted Images

None of this is surprising.  This is what you get when you have narrow minds at the top.  Hope the employees are not suffering too much.

 

It's obvious that BM's CEO has one of those typical personalities that adores "ID" -- which means that he has a pedestrian view of design and that his company puts stylishness/form over function.  That attitude shows in their cameras, as almost every model has at least one major functional design blunder.

 

We've seen this malady in other organizations, such as Apple.  Stylishness can certainly sell products regardless of functionality (or regardless of the lack of functionality), but sometimes stylishness isn't enough (AJA Cion).

 

Of course, the fact that BM's cameras are priced lower than their competition doesn't hurt their sales.  There's no question that, performance-wise, BM cameras are one of the best values in the market.

 

The BM CEO (and other manufacturers) need to realize that function should rule completely over stylishness in the professional camera market.  Is the Alexa Mini stylish? ... how about the Sony F35?  ... the Panavision Millennium?  None of these cameras would be highlights at fashion shows, yet they all function well and can produce exquisite images.

 

Let's say that BM offered a second version of the BMPCC6K with a non-stylish, blocky,  but more streamlined form -- like the Kini-Mini.  Both versions have the same capabilities, except that the second, blocky version also featured a shallow, interchangeable lens mount (with EF lenses performing just as well as on the original BMPCC6K).  Both cameras have the same price.   Now, which would you prefer:   the original stylish BMPCC6K;  or the second, blocky but more streamlined and versatile version?

 

By the way, the BM CEO boasted that his company produced the BMCC because none of the camera companies would listen to their requests in camera features.  Ironically, BM exhibits more hubris and "NIH" syndrome than any other camera company that I have encountered.  They are dismissive and condescending regarding outside suggestions, and they don't take criticism very well.

 

In regards to Canon, who would have thought they were steeped in corporate BS?  /s

 

Go to the Canon booth at a trade show and see how one of their sales people react to the mention of MagicLantern promoting their brand by unlocking amazing features in their cameras.  I have heard nothing but hostility from Canon regarding ML.

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I'd rather not feed that (tag 'childish' and my name and you'll easily find it though), hence that trailer... ; ) title's not innocent either ; -)

 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : Hey, you ever ridden in a time machine before?

Phillip 'Buzz' Perry : [shakes his head] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : Well sure you have, what do you think this is?

Phillip 'Buzz' Perry : A car.

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : You're looking at this thing bass-ackward, this is a twentieth century time machine. I'm the captain,

[taps Phillip on the head] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : your the navigator. Now out there that's the future

[points out front windshield] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : , back there,

[taps on the rear view mirror then points out the back windshield] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : well that's the past. If life's moving too slow, you wanna project yourself into the future just step on the gas right here,

[steps on the gas pedal] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : see?

[giggles] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : If you wanna slow her down, well hell you just step on the brake here and you slow her down.

[car comes to a stop] 

Robert 'Butch' Haynes : This is the present Phillip, enjoy it while it lasts.

 

E : -)

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24 minutes ago, Emanuel said:

I'd rather not feed that (tag 'childish' and my name and you'll easily find it though)

I think that I found the post, but I am not sure exactly what is going on.  I went back a couple of pages to see what preceded the post, and I still can't figure it out.

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15 minutes ago, tupp said:

I think that I found the post, but I am not sure exactly what is going on.  I went back a couple of pages to see what preceded the post, and I still can't figure it out.

You'd need to go back to the brand's course on these boards. Precedent Andrew's episode too. There's back story also from my own experience with the brand itself crossing their different sales channels, marketing and B2B departments. Petty's as well. I actually recognize much of those remarks on their business policies. Reason why I wrote it here. Invariably not so much well received by the clientele because we tend to want to ignore the stuff which bothers us. As usual.

I agree with your post and the content you wrote there BTW, matches my feeling and perspective.

AFAIK their support service is stellar though.

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Every company needs to listen to the staff, and nip problems in the bud. Unfortunately there is more butt covering than nipping going on.

Imagine the cameras Blackmagic and Canon would be making if they solved the issues raised above!

In the end everyone would benefit.

Including even the customers, not to mention the staff!

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Newsflash: Almost every large company is run like this. Once a company achieves a certain scale, old school management principles come into play. A strict hierarchy is established and innovative minds tend to get pushed to the bottom. Companies are run by MBAs, not by camera nerds. Small start-ups can run a bit leaner and display truly innovative and disruptive behavior. But that only lasts until it's sold off or becomes a key player in the industry. Then the dogs start chewing at each other.

About Black Magic, I appreciate the image quality on both the Pocket 6k and the Ursa Mini. But the so-called "industrial design" is pretty atrocious and the build quality still leaves a lot to be desired. They would do well to charge a few thousand more and equip their camera with fully aluminum bodies, so that they stand up better to on-set use. And the Pocket has the worst form factor of any camera on the planet. No amount of cages, rigs or battery plates can turn it into a functional piece of cinema equipment. It's like a camera designed by an ancient Egyptian who'd only seen a camera in hieroglyphs. 

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Things have always a mid term. I can't surely agree with that one.

One thing is to somehow second tupp's input, the other one is to infer I can't praise and take advantage of BMD's Pocket series form factor or be able to easily manage it... C'mon, give it a full break : ) Otherwise, it's even totally unfair!

I don't mind if this sounds contradictory, the same to me.

Love mine BTW. Not only output, but their design, without mention their camera interface: the best you'll ever find for many years to come, my best bet ; -)

 

There's no perfect world out there... count on it first time spermatozoon sees the light : -)

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Almost every camera company will have ex-employees willing to say something bad about their former employers.  What else is new?  Red, sony, panasonic, etc.. There will be negative comments.

 

Instead of rumors and speculation, what I look for is real evidence.  What have they been sued for?  Who won. What are the facts? Were there laws broken? Etc., etc...

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12 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

"They run "camera" sales for only certain models at only 1 -2 times a year for 2 weeks. However, the Spring sale was cancelled unexplained.... I needed a camera and bought a Nikon.


Smart man!
 

  

1 hour ago, BrooklynDan said:

About Black Magic, I appreciate the image quality on both the Pocket 6k and the Ursa Mini. But the so-called "industrial design" is pretty atrocious and the build quality still leaves a lot to be desired. They would do well to charge a few thousand more and equip their camera with fully aluminum bodies, so that they stand up better to on-set use. And the Pocket has the worst form factor of any camera on the planet. No amount of cages, rigs or battery plates can turn it into a functional piece of cinema equipment. It's like a camera designed by an ancient Egyptian who'd only seen a camera in hieroglyphs. 



Haha, that analogy is hilarious! I like it

Anyway, you're right those changes would make the BMPCC4K/6K better for working on film sets. 

However you forgot there are many many people who are buying Pockets for casual shooting or youtube etc

They're not rigging it up and working with crews. The DSLR-ish form factor of the Pocket works better for them than an Arri Mini / RED "box".

And then you've got "film sets" which barely justify the name, small indie stuff with just a few people. The kind of shoots which were using a 5D/60D/etc before BMD came along. 

Same there, maaaybe they'll add an external monitor and an external battery. The DSLR-ish form factor works for them. 


 

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5 hours ago, tupp said:

Go to the Canon booth at a trade show and see how one of their sales people react to the mention of MagicLantern promoting their brand by unlocking amazing features in their cameras.  I have heard nothing but hostility from Canon regarding ML.


I wonder how many fewer cameras Canon would have sold to filmmakers if not for MagicLantern?

Half?

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48 minutes ago, Video Hummus said:

Uh, most large, older companies are filled with this kind of crap...

Exactly. Have you guys ever worked in a company? Jealousy, self-protection, courting the directors, powerless HR, burnt employee and tyrannic managers, division between services, regions and department, etc. That's business as usual for most company. And the more competition, less revenue there is, the worst it gets.

 

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4 hours ago, IronFilm said:

(...) for working on film sets. 


However you forgot there are many many people who are buying Pockets for casual shooting or youtube etc

They're not rigging it up and working with crews. The DSLR-ish form factor of the Pocket works better for them than an Arri Mini / RED "box".

And then you've got "film sets" which barely justify the name, small indie stuff with just a few people. The kind of shoots which were using a 5D/60D/etc before BMD came along. 

Same there, maaaybe they'll add an external monitor and an external battery. The DSLR-ish form factor works for them. 


 

Of course, other than that doesn't make any sense... This idea that everyone needs is actually my needs is purely BS, no other.

Pockets came to fulfill a market segment. What's the problem of some people? Their projects have no run to some other capture devices form factor, more expensive? Is that so? Ends to condescendingly criticize the DSLR/SLR-like or mirrorless movement? What are we doing exactly here on these boards BTW?

What comes next? That "I refuse myself" to take a photo with a smartphone because it's not heavy : D or I personally don't like the ergonomics or yet the customer will struggle to pay me a higher quote so it must be crap??

 

Frankly, I have no patience for certain arguments, I simply have not. I'm sorry. Especially when there's a Z cam version for under than a grand, today.

: -)

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15 hours ago, tupp said:

 

Let's say that BM offered a second version of the BMPCC6K with a non-stylish, blocky,  but more streamlined form -- like the Kini-Mini.  Both versions have the same capabilities, except that the second, blocky version also featured a shallow, interchangeable lens mount (with EF lenses performing just as well as on the original BMPCC6K).  Both cameras have the same price.   Now, which would you prefer:   the original stylish BMPCC6K;  or the second, blocky but more streamlined and versatile version?

 

 

when i joined the forum all the talk was about the  p4k. Stylish was not a word that came up often,  but that didn't bother me. i came from dslr's so the p4k design didn't seem to dissimilar from a dslr . Imagine that, a cinema camera that looked a bit like a dslr, something i could relate to. I would speculate that bm pitched it like that to sell a few more to mum and dads and other potential new users. must of worked, i preordered 😁

 

11 hours ago, BrooklynDan said:

About Black Magic, I appreciate the image quality on both the Pocket 6k and the Ursa Mini. But the so-called "industrial design" is pretty atrocious and the build quality still leaves a lot to be desired. They would do well to charge a few thousand more and equip their camera with fully aluminum bodies, so that they stand up better to on-set use. And the Pocket has the worst form factor of any camera on the planet. No amount of cages, rigs or battery plates can turn it into a functional piece of cinema equipment. It's like a camera designed by an ancient Egyptian who'd only seen a camera in hieroglyphs. 

if your relying on hieroglyphs then your in luck, probably the easiest ui to interpret would be the p4k. 😉 Can you point my to a link where industrial design is specified ? I have reread the box and all the brochures i can find but it seems bm made no claims of industrial design apart from carbon fibre in the body ?

if it were $2000 more, a whole bunch of us wouldn't have bought it, myself included. I personally think that it fulfills a niche and so far its done all i have asked of it . i can't claim it on tax so i personally prefer to treat it like a camera rather than a football. my precious !!! muuArh haha.... cough, cough.

smeago1.jpg

 

edit : it should come as no surprise how some companies behave been my experience the bigger they are the more refined they are generally, smaller ones, the boss tends to have a misplaced god complex. if you haven't experienced this then be very very grateful.

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10 hours ago, IronFilm said:


Out of curiosity, I quickly looked up Nikon / Panasonic / Fujifilm / Olympus, they're all around 3 or 3.5 stars as well. 

 

Out of curiosity, I ask myself why, if Blackmagic is here at the first place with exclusively exhaustive elaboration from psychological portrait of CEO down to the ground, title is not more in a line with content.

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