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Panasonic interview: New entry level S camera is coming and new MFT products too!

The french website Photorend interviewed Yosuke Yamane, Director of Imaging Business Division at Panasonic:

Panasonic has 10% market share in the $3,000 camera segment:
These three models are offered at more than € 3,000, which has enabled us to obtain more than 10% of the market for full-size mirrorless (for the range of devices over € 3,000). It is in line with expectations and we are satisfied with the results.

Best selling S cameras:
among our three models, the S1 is the one that sells the most (in terms of quantity), because its price is affordable. However, S1H sales are higher than expected due to its significant appeal to the video and film industry. The S1R sells less than the S1, but allows us to mark our intentions for the industry, especially for professional photographers. Rather than chasing numbers, we would like to convey the message of our determination in the development of photography.

2020 market forecast:
The full-size hybrid market will experience greater growth this year. Compact or SLR cameras will be on the decline.

MFT and FF:
There are two categories of users: one who appreciates mobility and the other who wants to have the best photo and video quality. These people are divided between the Micro 4/3 and the full format. The Micro 4/3 is still a very important format for us and we must continue to promote it for now.
The basic requirements of a camera for a photographer are its small size, lightness and mobility. These needs will not go away for camera users and we are trying to strengthen our advantage in the global market. For this purpose, we want to energize the Micro 4/3 as much as possible.
Regarding size, if a full-frame hybrid camera is smaller, combined with a lens, the total size remains large. On the other hand, the Micro 4/3 allows lenses and a whole much more compact than in full format. We will improve the functions and the quality of our Micro 4/3 ecosystem, please wait for future developments.

More affordable full-format device:
we would like to expand the product line, and you should wait for the next announcements from Lumix cameras.

French market goal:
we want to become number 1 for full format hybrid cameras on the French market.

APS-C L-mount camera is not coming:
our strategy is very clear: we will strengthen the Micro 4/3 mounts and the L mount in full format. A small L-mount sensor could cause confusion on the market. We have two sizes of sensors. If we have three, this could cause confusion, so we will not develop an APS-C version of the L-mount and will focus on the full screen.

Panasonic considered making the L-mount compatible with m43 lenses:
Sony’s E-mount supports both APS-C and full frame, but we don’t expect a large number of users using large, full frame lenses to turn to small Micro 4/3 sensors. A common Micro 4/3 and full format system therefore makes little sense.
We understand this request and we seriously considered the issue when we developed our full format cameras to offer a unified format for full format and Micro 4/3 sensors, but we decided not to do it because we think it would does not bring great added value for the user.

Covid 19 effects:
we are trying to minimize the damage caused by the Covid-19 [Response dated March 5, 2020. Editor’s note]. We have a production site in China, but near the eastern coast, towards Taiwan, so the damage is not as great as in other cities; 80% of the employees have already returned to the factory, but some suppliers still have difficulties. In these circumstances, we try to minimize the damage. Camera factories in China are starting to operate again right now.

It’s clear that on paper Panasonic is fully committed to develop both the FF and MFT systems. Still, I do think it will be inevitable that one day they will make APS-C L-mount cameras too..

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