Panasonic rumors 2022
Having missed its 2021 release window, the Panasonic GH6 (opens in new tab) is finally here. The manufacturer's new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera certainly delivers on the rumored specs and horsepower – though it leaves the recently released Panasonic GH5 II (opens in new tab) feeling a little wayward a proposition.
The very quiet 2021 led to a number of less than optimistic Panasonic rumors to start swirling, with major outlets like Nikkei stating that (opens in new tab) the company has reached a "critical moment" (with its mirrorless market share collapsing from 95% in 2008 to just 8% in 2021).
So, what can we expect this year from the first manufacturer to make a mirrorless camera certified by Netflix (opens in new tab)?
Mid-range and entry level L-mount cameras
In an interview with DP Review (opens in new tab), Panasonic confirmed that it is working on different tiers of L-mount systems to compliment its high end (not to mention high price) S1 series.
"Initially, we really wanted to appeal to high-end users, to show that we could make those high-end cameras, to prove the quality of our cameras," said Yosuke Yamane, director of Panasonic's Imaging Business Division. "In the future, we’re going to introduce mid-class, and different ranges of cameras."
"Overall, we’ve had a lot of appreciative comments from high-end users. What’s hindering us in the lower-end segment is size, weight and price. So we need to understand those obstacles, and we’re considering the development of new products in order to penetrate into a wider market."
Panasonic was true to its word, producing the excellent Lumix S5, a full frame hybrid camera that offers exceptional features at this price point.
So has Panasonic achieved its mid-class ambitions, or will there be more to come?
No APS-C Panasonic cameras
In the same conversation, Panasonic confirmed that it will be sticking to full-frame and Micro Four thirds cameras – it will not enter the potentially overlap-casing APS-C arena, which might lead to cannibalization of one of both lines.
"As of now, we have no plans to enter the APS-C market, because we know that Micro Four Thirds and full-frame can coexist without any cannibalization. If we moved into APS-C, there might be some overlap between Micro Four Thirds and APS-C, and between APS-C and full-frame, so I don’t think we’ll go in that direction."
In short, while Panasonic intends to introduce an entry level L-mount range, it will not be APS-C. "Two different [L-mount systems] would be too much for us!"
8K from Panasonic in 2022?
The Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab), Sony A1 (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z9 are 8K cameras that are already on the market, and the Sharp 8K Video Camera (opens in new tab) is supposedly still set for release – but it looks like Panasonic will be following a 'better late than never' strategy.
"At this time, the only 8K camera we have planned is for the Olympic games, which is only a few months away," said the company (opens in new tab) in 2020, ahead of the delayed Olympiad. "Our feeling is that the 8K era is a little bit delayed. But we want to catch that opportunity and we haven’t given up our pursuit of 8K cameras."
Much as it must be irritating to be gazumped by Canon, Sony and Nikon, Panasonic will be waiting a bit longer to bring 8K to the masses. "We will be ready for 8K soon, but we can’t tell you the timing. We need a little bit longer before we can introduce 8K cameras. It won’t be [in the very near future]."
We think Panasonic has waited too long. If and when it does introduce an 8K camera, it's hardly going to make a splash, not when almost all of its chief rivals got there first.
• Read more: What is 8K? (opens in new tab)
The Panasonic verdict
We've finally got the GH6 – but Panasonic is still employing herky-jerky DFD technology instead of the phase detect autofocus system that its cameras so desperately need. Will this new flagship be a shot in the arm for Panasonic and the Micro Four Thirds format, or will the dogged refusal to embrace reliable autofocus tech continue to spell trouble for the manufacturer?