Truthfully, I have never really taken Panasonic digital cameras seriously. Yet, when I was offered this review unit, my curiosity got the best of me. While I heard a lot of good things about the Panasonic GX7, I’ve always had reservations about the Micro Four Thirds. The technology has improved a lot in the recent past, though. So let’s see what Panasonic has done with this camera. [click to continue…]
It’s not every day that you get a non-announcement, but today is such a day. According to recent reports, Panasonic may not introduce new G and GF-series cameras this year. Why is that worth noticing, you may ask? Well quite simply because so far, both Micro Four Thirds camera series have had update cycles of about a year, and the last two models–the G6 and GF6–were both introduced a year ago in April 2013. That would make about now the time for an upgrade.
But according to this report over at 43rumors, Panasonic might not upgrade either series this year, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. For one, they recently introduced the GM-series which kind of replaces the GF-series as the small entry-level Micro Four Thirds offering. That is, apart from its higher price tag. And instead of introducing a new G7 model, Panasonic will simply continue to offer the GH3 alongside the new GH4–at a discount. Which will basically make it the mid-level model.
Furthermore, considering that Panasonic has failed to make any profits from its photography business in the past years, it makes sense that they would try to streamline their portfolio. After all, the company is serious about axing divisions that fail to make any profits by next year, and unfortunately its photography business looks like a candidate for that. By streamlining its portfolio and concentrating on the existing models instead of investing in the development of new models, Panasonic’s AV department can save money which will have a positive effect on its earnings report later on.
Let’s pray that this strategy–provided the 43rumors report is accurate–works out and there will be Panasonic cameras and lenses in the future.
The photography industry has had a hard time in the past years, seeing overall sales decline thanks in part to the worldwide economic crisis, but also due to camera-equipped smartphones eating into the point-and-shoot market. And while the overall sales are stagnating, if not even continuing to go down, some niches such as mirrorless cameras are on the up again. Panasonic, maker of Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses, states in its latest financial report that it is finally generating profits again–but unfortunately not from its photography business.
Compared to the previous fiscal year, Panasonic claims to have raised its overall sales by 6% in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2014, from JPY 7,303bn to JPY 7,736.5bn. Responsible for the rising sales, according to the company’s fiscal report, is in part the slightly depreciated Japanese Yen, but also the overall global economic recovery. At the same time, the company is still committed to eliminating unprofitable businesses by next year, which may also include its photography branch.
Sales of Panasonic’s AVC Networks segment, which includes the photography business, continued to decline unfortunately, by 3% as compared to the same time a year ago. However, the profits of the segment rose by 159%, thanks to the previous termination of unprofitable parts of the segment. For the fiscal year 2015, Panasonic hopes to be able to increase its overall profits by a further 2%.
As for the company’s photography business, we can only hope that the new GH4 Micro Four Thirds camera will generate sufficient sales for the business to make a profit again. After all, it is currently the most affordable 4K-capable system camera, and Panasonic has a very solid and well-performing lineup of Micro Four Thirds lenses. It would be very sad to see the company’s photography business go down the drainpipe next year.
One-and-a-half years ago, when we visited photokina 2012 in Cologne, Germany, we came across a couple of prototype Micro Four Thirds lenses at the Scnhneider-Kreuznach booth. At the time, the lenses were still under development, and upon inquiry later that year Schneider quoted us a late 2013 release date. Unfortunately, it appears they had some issues with the lenses, as they were then postponed again for an unspecified 2014 release.
Now 43rumors has got word that the lenses might indeed arrive in their final form for photokina 2014, two years after they were first showcased. As a reminder, Schneider-Kreuznach has been working on a 14mm f2 Super-Angulon, a 30mm f1.4 Xenon and a 60mm f2.4 Makro-Symmar lens. The main reason for the delay, according to the 43rumors report, was that Schneider has only limited production capabilities and wanted to focus on their cine lenses first.
When their Micro Four Thirds lenses arrive, they’ll all feature autofocus just like the lenses from Panasonic, Olympus and Sigma, and unlike the Voigtländer offerings. However, with Schneider having a long history as a manufacturer of high-quality lenses for professional demands, we can assume their Micro Four Thirds lenses to be of superior optical and build quality. Whether or not there were some changes to the original designs, as 43rumors suggests, will be seen when (if) they arrive at photokina.
We’ll be covering the show in Cologne this year (again), and should the lenses truly be exhibited in their final production form, we’ll make sure to get some hands-on time with them.
Samyang, the South Korean company whose lenses are sold under the Rokinon brand name in the US, have recently teased a new product announcement for April 28th. Thanks to a video report from the Photo & Imaging Show that has been held in Seoul over Easter, we now have a pretty good idea of what is going to be announced that day.
Besides two new cine lenses, Samyang will very likely announce a new 35mm f1.4 for Canon EF-mount which, for the first time, will sport electronic contacts that allow the use of auto-exposure modes such as program and shutter priority mode. The two other lenses that Samyang is said to announce are a cine version of the 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye lens for Micro Four Thirds, sporting a T3.8 speed rating, as well as a cine version of the recently announced 12mm f2 lens for APS-C mirrorless systems.
Unfortunately, despite many customers asking for it, Samyang will not introduce any autofocus lenses soon, according to an interview with the website DicaHub. This is mainly due to licensing issues, but also the amount of information available on each camera system’s AF. Our guess is that the major player such as Canon and Nikon won’t just give away for free all the secrets of how their respective AF systems work.
Considering the lenses mentioned above have been shown off at the P&I show recently, it is safe to assume that they’ll be officially announced soon. Whether or not one or all of these will be announced next Monday, April the 28th, remains to be seen. Stay tuned!
Via Canon Watch
Some people think that when there’s a Leica badge on a lens or camera, it must be good. Others claim that anything carrying the famous red dot is really just overpriced technology from yesterday. The truth is somewhere in the middle. On one hand, Leica does invest a lot into the development of its lenses. On the other hand, its rebranded Panasonic cameras really aren’t worth the premium price by a long shot. But what about the Leica branded Micro Four Thirds lenses?
Those as well are made by Panasonic, but are officially sanctioned by Leica to bear their name. While the DG Elmarit 45mm f2.8 macro didn’t get a lot of people excited, the DG Summilux 25mm f1.4 was an instant hit. Reviewers all over the web praised for its great image quality. Just recently, DxOMark tested the new DG Summilux 15mm f1.7, and it turned out to be a rather mediocre lens despite the Leica badge.
But now they also tested the new DG Nocticron 42.5mm f1.2, and here it seems we finally have another lens deserving of the Leica branding. The Nocticron showed one of the best performances of all Micro Four Thirds lenses ever tested by DxOMark, and is seconded only by the brilliant M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8. With an initial aperture of f1.2, the Nocticron is a super-fast portrait lens, and one that begs to be shot wide open.
DxOMark’s sharpness test does indeed confirm that the Nocticron performs very well even at its widest aperture, which is what you’d expect from a lens that costs over one and a half grand. But it also fares very well in terms of distortion and vignetting, and only in chromatic aberration it is slightly behind the M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8. We would’ve loved to see how the lens holds up to the Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f0.95 in DxOMark’s comparison, but unfortunately they didn’t test that lens.
So, if you were eyeing this lens for portaiture work, don’t worry. From what it appears, you won’t regret the purchase. That is, provided you can afford the lens in the first place, without selling your family into slavery …