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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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Interesting that this comes on the heels of the report that Panasonic's digital camera operation, along with other parts of the company, will be "dismantled" or "restructured", depending on the translation you happen to read:

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Panasonic-takes-out-scalpel-again-as-profits-falter

Uh... Panasonic just re-organized their digital Imaging business product line. Cameras are now appliances.

Buyer beware.

"The recent article featured on the Nikkei regarding Panasonic’s Imaging business was not announced by Panasonic and refers to a change in our internal organizational structure. Integrating all consumer electronics divisions, our consumer Digital Imaging business will move under Panasonic Appliances Company and is not being dismantled. The aim of this change is to further deepen our relationships with customers, strengthen our product capabilities, and continue to firmly develop and promote our business."

For many of us with an investment in a few cameras and the lenses that fit them, shooting video without having to start over is an increasing need. Stage productions, sports, or just things around us that move and make noises, none of which are fully captured in a still image. Our "market" (the rest of the family) has been spoiled by YouTube. Over at Kirk Tuck's VisualScienceLab.blogspot.com he documents his clients' transition to nearly half video, and he shows how he is approaching it with minimal equipment and a crew ranging from just him to maybe three people.

4K resolution 3840 pixels × 2160 lines (8.3 megapixels, aspect ratio 16:9) is already on offer in mirrorless cameras from Sony and Panasonic, which have long sold video cameras, but also from Fuji X-T2, Olympus M1 mark ii, and Leica SL. Fuji and Leica make operations simple, as all the shooting controls are external. Just set exposure as required, slide the program control to the little movie camera, the camera changes to a video codec, check levels and off you go. P, A, and M exposure control are all available and the Leica even has a nice "L-Log mode" (as do Sony, Panasonic) which compresses the dynamic range to 8 bits before recording, compressing highlights and lifting shadows. This piece of professional pre-processing requires use of an editor to undo afterwards, but provides a sort of poor man's raw file recovery power. Olympus has the best image stabilization in-body of all the cameras mentioned, but because all of its exposure controls are internal and electronic, some menu-diving is required to extract them before you start up the video codec.

The most impressive small-camera video I have seen recently is from Ming Thein's video team at https://vimeo.com/206415629 , shot at a teeming Hindu festival with two M1 mark IIs. The stabilization is a key contributor to the quality of the result. And the crowding was such that access with any larger video gear would have been impossible.

Hey Mike,

Be interested in your take whether 6K Photo foreshadows the end of still photography. And/or makes the "decisive moment" concept obsolete.

Sorry you didn't get to Cuba this year with Peter. I am heading back with him again next week. This time to Santiago. My third trip to the island in three years (two with Peter). Absolutely fantastic locale for people photography and hanging out with him let's you maximize shooting opportunities.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers, Dick

Good to see Panny continuing to release new products. I know the GH5 has been eagarly anticipated and I am confident that there are many videographers awaiting the release of the GH5. But at 2 large, it's expensive, comparable in price to the new Oly EM-1 MkII. Here we have two M4/3 products that are notably more expensive than comparably specified APS-C offerings from Fuji or Sony.

Panasonic Corporate, though, is dealing with major issues around ROI, with business units being given marching orders to hit their 5% ROI targets. The camera division is one of those being targeted, and Thom Hogan at SanMIrror reports that the camera business unit will be scaled back:
http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/panasonic-hints-at-changes.html

What this tells me is that mirrorless digital has turned a new corner. Just look at the continually back-ordered Fuji X-T2, X100F, GFX 50S, Oly OM-D E-M1 II. These manufacturers literally cannot build these products fast enough to meet demand. Good luck trying to buy an X100F right now; I've been calling retailers for weeks. It's become a market that is increasingly filled with many less expensive offerings that are as well, or in some cases, better specified than Panasonic's, who, ironically, find it tougher to remain competitive in a market they helped to invent.

Now I gotta figure out time differences.

For me, video has become increasingly important and not for casual videos, but as a way to make money. So a decent camera for it will likely be my next camera purchase. And it will have to be a good one---no video crippled camera like the Panasonic GX7, nor any that Fuji has put out to date. The Panasonic GH4 and GH5 seem to be a couple of the best for video, so I'll have to watch this if I can.

As usual, not a lot of love for Panasonic among photographers. The GH5 is also expected to not meet initial demand. I find the generalisation that the Panasonics are out-specified to be laughable especially. Differently-focused, perhaps.

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