Panasonic rumors 2021
Panasonic brought a triple threat of powerhouse performers to the market in 2019, in the form of its full-frame trio: the Panasonic S1, Panasonic S1R and Panasonic S1H. According to an interview last year, the company has achieved a 10% market share with the two stills-oriented systems, and sales of the video-focused S1H have exceeded expectations.
Since then it has given us the lovable Panasonic S5 – yet the cameras that brought it to the party, such as the Panasonic GH5S, have been left very much unloved. Still, the company has stated that it remains committed to the smaller Micro Four Thirds format where it has a much stronger foothold – and confirmed that it has no place to enter the APS-C territory that could cannibalize both.
So, what can we expect this year from the first manufacturer to make a mirrorless camera certified by Netflix?
Mid-range and entry level L-mount cameras
In an interview with DP Review, 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."
A mid-range and entry level version of the Panasonic S1 is an intriguing proposition – particularly if the physical size of the cameras can be reduced. However, don't expect an APS-C sensor to be the answer to either of these points…
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!"
Panasonic GH6 and GH6S
Despite focusing its efforts on its full-frame cameras, Panasonic remains committed to the Micro Four Thirds format that brought it such prominence in the market – and it has confirmed that a new body is coming this year.
A Panasonic GH6 / GH6S seems to be the obvious choice – especially since it recently gifted virtually all of the GH5's key selling points to the Panasonic G9 (thanks to a natty firmware update), leaving the GH line without any killer USPs of its own. So it's time for an upgrade!
The rumblings are that the GH6 will possess a 41MP sensor, improved image stabilization, 4K and 6K RAW, and a "new generation AF system" – which we can only hope means the end of Panny's contrast-based DFD autofocus.
8K from Panasonic in 2021?
The Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 are 8K cameras that are already on the market, and the Sharp 8K Video Camera 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 last year, in response to questions about its plans for 2020. "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 Sharp, 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]."
• Read more: What is 8K?
The Panasonic verdict
After throwing its eggs firmly in the full-frame basket in 2019, Panasonic is due a few more upgrades. We were hoping for a GH6 or GH6S in 2020, but it looks like we'll be getting that this year instead. The real question, though, is whether the company will finally give us the phase detect autofocus system that its cameras so desperately need, or whether we'll once again have to put up with herky-jerky DFD technology…