Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Panasonic Pulls Head From Ass

In a recent interview, a Panasonic rep has said that the company will be refocusing on the higher-end. The reason they gave is that the margins are higher. Good course, stupid reason. I'm embedding their press conference, even though it's painfully bad.

I love when companies admit that the past three years have been a disaster, but do it in terms like "well, we could have continued on as before if we wanted to, but it's just so dreary!" No, Panasonic. I don't buy it. You weren't catering to the amateur market, you were catering to the "soccer mom" crowd. There's a big difference. Your margins didn't suck, they didn't exist at all. No one was buying your cameras.

Regardless, I guess, Panasonic is making the right choice. The only people interested in ILC systems are pro-thusiasts. That's why Sony served them their own ass on a platter. Sony delivered compact, mirrorless cameras with exceptional image quality, and control schemes and designs loaded with pro-thusiast touches, all at a low price. That's why the NEX 5 and 5n were huge hits. Neither Panasonic nor Olympus had anything like that. They had crap for cheap, or decent stuff for high prices. Or as with Oly, crap for high prices.

Then, Olympus releases something like Sony (and partially made by Sony), the E-M5, and it's a gigantic hit! Shocker! Only I... and four million other photography enthusiasts knew that would happen. Somehow, the actual camera companies were some of the few who didn't understand that.

The prices of the new X lenses indicate that Panasonic has gotten greedy. Granted, the company has a history of doing this. They think that they will simply be able to start selling in this market and command the massive premiums that other systems have. Sorry guys, you won't. The GH3 is going to be a huge hit. The lenses, I'm not so sure. Especially now with focus peaking, I suspect that many pro-thusiasts will choose other lenses.

This level of stupid arrogance is beginning to drive me insane. It's like cell phone companies producing a flagship, and then pricing it high and expecting to sell iPhone levels (actually, Panasonic did precisely this with the Eluga). No. That doesn't happen. You need legacy, history, and loyalty.

It's the kind of blind greed and abject idiocy that drove Sigma to price their SD1 at over $9,000 at launch. Sigma won't admit anything, but considering that every, single dealer I know, and every dealer network with which I have contact, not a single SD1 was sold leads me to believe that global sales in the first few months were measured in the single digits. The SD1 still doesn't have any reviews on Amazon.

As I said, unless these new X zooms have fantastic video characteristics, I suspect that Panny will be highly disappointed with the sales. The 12-35mm is overpriced, the 35-100mm is very overpriced. Panasonic needs to take a page from Olympus's 75mm playbook and release world-class glass for less than the competition.


  1. Very interesting post and very well written, or in photographic terms, very well composed!

    However I beg to differ on Pany prices over f/2.8 lenses, they are expensive but the price bring you very compact lenses with exception IQ and build quality, that only matches at FF lenses but without the weight and size.

    Having said that, I also hope price fall on 12-35 and 35-100 atleast as kits in GH3.

    1. Did you read the Photozone review of the Panasonic lenses? The corner and edge resolution is a big disappointment, and it's not surprising since the distortion at 12mm is huge.

      And while the Nikon, Canon, and Sony full-frame 24-70mm lenses have some similar resolution drops, Panasonic doesn't have the excuse of a large sensor. It is MUCH easier to design optics for the smaller m4/3 sensor.

      If we compare the Panasonic to APS-C cameras, the Panasonic looks much worse. At Photozone, the Canon 17-55mm outperforms the Panny by a wide-margin, is on a larger senser, and is cheaper.

      The Nikon 17-55mm costs about the same, but again, outperforms the Panasonic by a wide margin.

      If Panasonic drops this lens to $999, I wouldn't have too much to complain about. But even at it's newer price of $1,099, I give it my squinty-eyed look of judgment.


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