It’s fair to say that Panasonic has had a pretty rough time of things since they entered the Full Frame camera market. The Panasonic S1 and S1R are not bad cameras, but they have failed to capture the imagination of many photographers because of their price points. During a recent interview with Yosuke Yamane, Director of Imaging Business Division at Panasonic, Yamane told his interviewer that Panasonic wants to expand its product line with more affordable cameras. This statement covers Micro Four Thirds and also includes a possible entry-level Full Frame Panasonic Lumix S. Join us after the break to see why this excites us.
A recent article on Mirrorless Rumors shed some light on an interview Pansonic’s Director of Imaging, Yosuke Yamane, had with Phototrend. The interview provided some insight into what Panasonic is planning for their Micro Four Thirds cameras and their somewhat new Full Frame S series cameras. The most startling remarks in the interview came when Yamane was asked about a more affordable Panasonic Lumix S camera, and his answer made our ears perk up.
“If Panasonic can carry over a few key traits from their current Lumix S line to a much more affordable Full Frame camera body that can rival the very well priced Canon EOS RP, then Panasonic will likely have a winner on their hands.”
So, What is Panasonic Working on? Not APS-C!
“On the other hand, Canon and Sony see APS-C as a great market for vloggers; and they’re not wrong. But something else could be done about image quality of APS-C cameras and sensors to make them stand out more from full frame.”– APS-C Sensor Cameras Aren’t Dead, They Just Need to Evolve
In many a meeting, companies have told us that the APS-C market is shrinking despite contradicting options from others. It seems like Panasonic indeed wants to stay far away from APS-C. The format, which is treated by Sony and Canon as something more for vloggers, isn’t needed by Panasonic when they’ve got the Micro Four Thirds market. Fujifilm continues to be the only company that fully champions APS-C because of the advancements they’ve made with the X-Trans sensor. But, that sensor’s advantages dwindle as the megapixel count goes up–or at least that’s what we’re told.
According to the interview, Panasonic wants to become the leading manufacturer of M4/3 cameras. Panasonic plans on doing this by improving the functions and the quality of their cameras and their lenses. They’re going to have to step up a lot: they have been left behind by Olympus. Panasonic likely took their eyes off the ball when it comes to Micro Four Thirds thanks to dipping their toes into the Full Frame market. However, they remain committed to “energizing the Micro 4/3 platform as much as possible.”
Admittedly, Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds lenses are stellar. Panasonic has also called time on speculation that they are looking to break into the APS-C market. Simply put, Panasonic has said they do not want to cause confusion by having three different sensor sizes on the market, so there will not be an APS-C camera that can use L mount lenses.
When it comes to Panasonic’s Full-Frame Mirrorless offerings, you might be surprised to hear that their best selling camera is, in fact, the S1H. This is due to the amount of interest in the camera from video makers and the film industry. This does not surprise us one bit. While both the S1 and the S1R are solid cameras, they are priced far too high to make any sort of significant dent in the Full Frame market. The S1 when on sale is still more expensive than the beloved Sony a7 III, and the S1R costs more than the 61 Megapixel Sony a7r IV. At these prices, these Panasonic Lumix S cameras simply don’t stand a chance.
“Panasonic needs to be the market leader when it comes to entry-level Full Frame cameras because people are not going to jump feet first into a system where the cheapest camera costs just under $2,500.”
An Entry Level Panasonic Lumix S Would Be Well Received
The most exciting news to come from the interview surrounds the remarks about an entry-level Full Frame Panasonic Lumix S series camera. When asked about the possibility of a more affordable Full-Frame camera, Yamane said Panasonic is aiming to expand the product line and that we should be on the lookout for future Panasonic Lumix S announcements. While he didn’t go into further detail, we can’t help but get excited about such a camera.
We have been quite impressed with the current lineup of Panasonic Lumix S series cameras. Panasonic’s autofocus systems have been improved a lot thanks to firmware updates (though there is still some way to go). We have been really happy with the images the cameras can produce when paired with Sigma and Panasonic lenses, and the build qualities of both the S1 and S1R are phenomenal. If Panasonic can carry over a few key traits from their current Lumix S line to a much more affordable Full Frame camera body that can rival the very well priced Canon EOS RP, then Panasonic will likely have a winner on their hands.
We can just imagine picking up a Panasonic Lumix S series camera for $1,000 to $1,500 and pairing it with lenses like the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8, which we recently reviewed and adored. The key for Panasonic is to get people hooked into the system so that they can grow with it and the L mount Alliance. To do this, Panasonic needs to be the market leader when it comes to entry-level Full Frame cameras because people are not going to jump feet first into a system where the cheapest camera costs just under $2,500.
We are truly excited about this, and we hope Panasonic puts their best foot forward when it comes to developing such a camera. The Mirrorless market needs more cameras in the entry-level category, and an affordable Full-Frame camera from Panasonic might just spark a little more competition in this space. What do you want the entry-level Panasonic Lumix S to look like? What specs must it have? Let us know in the comment section below.