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Panasonic Abandoning M43

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All resent discussions about the future of m43 after the announcement of  the L-mount alliance keep on making a couple of mistakes IMHO:

1. Ignoring the advances in computational photography now mainly driven and available to users in smartphones but sure to come in full to consumer and pro cameras

2. Being usually to or even fully stills centric. Today as back in the film days, which are actually still alive in filmmaking, film negatives or sensors are usually smaller than common formats in still photography. And m43 has a very strong position there

3. Focus only on specs or the sake of specs. E.g. a Nikon D3s is still a perfectly usable and money making professional camera, thus a fully professionally usable sport and wildlife m43 camera would need to catch up with a D3s in ISO and dynamic range, not the latest models including an a9

4. Overestimating the issues Panasonic will have to maintain two camera platforms. Actually now, after the announcement of Panasonic's entry into 35 mm equivalent sensor sized cameras, Olympus is about the only camera company supporting only one interchangeable lens camera system. Even Hasselblad and PhaseOne have more than one platform, Leica has three mounts, so has Canon while Nikon, Pentax and Fuji each have two live ones

5. No, m43 is smaller than "FF" and APS-C. AND IF the cameras, for example, are large, like mainly the GH5 and GH5s they DO something with that size other cameras and formats cannot do, namely leading in body stabilization (at least the GH5) and most of all dissipating heat from unlimited 4k filming

There was also a remark about m43 not being seen abroad in shops, I guess abroad is outside the US. I am from Germany and live now in Singapore. In both countries, m43 gear is a standard part of any camera store. Earlier this year I went to Bandung in Indonesia and the leading camera store and photo studio, Jonas Photo, prominently featured Panasonic cameras in its store

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On 11/8/2018 at 11:24 AM, arndmartin said:

All resent discussions about the future of m43 after the announcement of  the L-mount alliance keep on making a couple of mistakes IMHO:

1. Ignoring the advances in computational photography now mainly driven and available to users in smartphones but sure to come in full to consumer and pro cameras

2. Being usually to or even fully stills centric. Today as back in the film days, which are actually still alive in filmmaking, film negatives or sensors are usually smaller than common formats in still photography. And m43 has a very strong position there

3. Focus only on specs or the sake of specs. E.g. a Nikon D3s is still a perfectly usable and money making professional camera, thus a fully professionally usable sport and wildlife m43 camera would need to catch up with a D3s in ISO and dynamic range, not the latest models including an a9

4. Overestimating the issues Panasonic will have to maintain two camera platforms. Actually now, after the announcement of Panasonic's entry into 35 mm equivalent sensor sized cameras, Olympus is about the only camera company supporting only one interchangeable lens camera system. Even Hasselblad and PhaseOne have more than one platform, Leica has three mounts, so has Canon while Nikon, Pentax and Fuji each have two live ones

5. No, m43 is smaller than "FF" and APS-C. AND IF the cameras, for example, are large, like mainly the GH5 and GH5s they DO something with that size other cameras and formats cannot do, namely leading in body stabilization (at least the GH5) and most of all dissipating heat from unlimited 4k filming

There was also a remark about m43 not being seen abroad in shops, I guess abroad is outside the US. I am from Germany and live now in Singapore. In both countries, m43 gear is a standard part of any camera store. Earlier this year I went to Bandung in Indonesia and the leading camera store and photo studio, Jonas Photo, prominently featured Panasonic cameras in its store

You do realize that the D3s only has 10.7 stops of DR. And that is in Photo mode. I think m4/3 are past that now even in Video mode. Newer cameras now have gotten better by leaps and bounds compared to the older stuff. They are a heck of a bargain when you really looks at the specs.

Stats toward the bottom of the article.

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3S/D3SIMATEST.HTM

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On 11/9/2018 at 5:24 AM, arndmartin said:

4. Overestimating the issues Panasonic will have to maintain two camera platforms. Actually now, after the announcement of Panasonic's entry into 35 mm equivalent sensor sized cameras, Olympus is about the only camera company supporting only one interchangeable lens camera system. Even Hasselblad and PhaseOne have more than one platform, Leica has three mounts, so has Canon while Nikon, Pentax and Fuji each have two live ones

 

Arguably Nikon & Pentax are supporting 3 (or even 4) each.  

Nikon: DX / FX / Z
Pentax: 645 Digital / FF K / APS-C K Mount

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On 11/9/2018 at 5:24 AM, arndmartin said:

5. No, m43 is smaller than "FF" and APS-C. AND IF the cameras, for example, are large, like mainly the GH5 and GH5s they DO something with that size other cameras and formats cannot do, namely leading in body stabilization (at least the GH5) and most of all dissipating heat from unlimited 4k filming

Plus MFT has the potential to go smaller if they want. 

For instance there is the extremely tiny GX850, it doesn't have all the features of a GH5, but the GX850 + 20mm f1.7 + 8mm f4 is a super ultra compact street photography mini kit that no other camera system can match in such a small footprint. 

Not just compact bodies, but compact lenses too. 
Consider a Panasonic G9 + Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 vs Nikon D500 + Nikon 200-500mm f5.6
The Panasonic is much lighter weight! And cheaper. And has a zoom which is both significantly wider, and a bit more reach too. 

And of course the comparison is even worse for the larger sensors if we go further up in size from DX to FX or MF. 

On 11/10/2018 at 1:23 PM, webrunner5 said:

You do realize that the D3s only has 10.7 stops of DR. And that is in Photo mode. I think m4/3 are past that now even in Video mode. Newer cameras now have gotten better by leaps and bounds compared to the older stuff. They are a heck of a bargain when you really looks at the specs.


I think that is exactly arndmartin's point?

That MFT has improved and improved to the point it is now "as good" as top flight (and still relevant ish for even today's pros in 2018, there are plenty of pro photographers around the world who are still using their D3S bodies on a regular basis) full frame bodies of the past. So now that MFT sensors no longer suffer from that performance penalty of the past, because they've "caught up", do we really need to keep on pushing for bigger and bigger sensors?

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I don’t see Panasonic abandoning m43 anytime soon, they have a complete lens lineup and by all accounts the GH line and others have exceeded sales expectations.

What I do see is something similar to Sony with aps-c, new bodies and few new lenses over the next 2-3 years. Panasonic pretending PDAF doesn’t exist isn’t doing them any favors either, but that’s another argument.

Where m43 fails is at the $2k+ price point, especially on the stills side. CaNikon still dominate with 3/4 of the market and they’re still heavily focused on the photo side of things. 

M43’s strengths are size and stabilization. Once you move into high end m43 with fast zooms and primes, you can easily go with a larger sensor in Fuji or Sony, and build a similar size/cost kit that delivers superior IQ.

IMO m43 still has a great future, but trying to push upmarket with a small sensor is a losing proposition. People do cross shop and compare things like DR and IQ, they’re clearly choosing other options. Mirrorless is the future, but casual ILC buyers are shrinking, that’s why we’re seeing so many new bodies aimed at more advanced shooters with higher price points. 

Chris

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14 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Plus MFT has the potential to go smaller if they want. 

For instance there is the extremely tiny GX850, it doesn't have all the features of a GH5, but the GX850 + 20mm f1.7 + 8mm f4 is a super ultra compact street photography mini kit that no other camera system can match in such a small footprint. 

Not just compact bodies, but compact lenses too. 
Consider a Panasonic G9 + Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3 vs Nikon D500 + Nikon 200-500mm f5.6
The Panasonic is much lighter weight! And cheaper. And has a zoom which is both significantly wider, and a bit more reach too. 

And of course the comparison is even worse for the larger sensors if we go further up in size from DX to FX or MF. 

I couldn't agree more. 

If Panasonic puts an APS-C sized sensor in a GM sized body that has similar dynamic range and to the top end Nikon APS-C along with good PDAF (not in terms of price, since they have similar sensors to the entry level D3400 series), it will have a serious winner. It may require a few lenses to be designed specifically for it. It could be Marketed as the most pocketable high end Mirrorless camera, and if battery swapping isn't a concern, it could easily compete with some top end sports APS-C cameras. One doesn't have to carry point that shoot cameras that don't have good low light or can't do sports photography (the RX100 v seems to be excellent with sports photography though, especially in bright light). I am sure if it could pull 14 Stops of Dynamic Range like on many of the Nikons (even the $500 D3400 does 13.9 stops) and has fast and accurate autofocus, people could easily shell out $1500 for a travel camera that is a real work horse. It could, more importantly, go where many DSLRs may not even be allowed. Think about it. 

Here is a size comparison between the D3400 and the GM5:

http://j.mp/2T2yimW

https://camerasize.com/compare/#570,681

 

I am also curious why Panasonic doesn't have more pancake lenses on the lines of the 20mm f1.7. That one's a superb lens, especially for the tiny size. Or have a roadmap for smaller cameras like the GX85 and GM5 with IBIS and PDAF. I can't think of one good reason why travel photographers wouldn't want a more capable travel camera. 

I guess we could all agree that the missing PDAF is arguably the biggest downside of the Panasonic Cameras.

 

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Somehow I get the feeling that Panasonic is loosing interest in all of the m4/3 cameras, especially the smaller, cheaper ones. Look at what little effort they put into the LX100 mk II. Why even bother. I think they must see the hand writing on the wall or something, and this FF thing is their future they think. I am pretty sure there will be a GH6, but after that hmm.

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5 hours ago, sanveer said:

I am also curious why Panasonic doesn't have more pancake lenses on the lines of the 20mm f1.7. That one's a superb lens, especially for the tiny size. Or have a roadmap for smaller cameras like the GX85 and GM5 with IBIS and PDAF. I can't think of one good reason why travel photographers wouldn't want a more capable travel camera. 

They have the Panasonic 14mm f2.5, but yes I agree, I wish they had more pancakes!

 

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9 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

Somehow I get the feeling that Panasonic is loosing interest in all of the m4/3 cameras, especially the smaller, cheaper ones. Look at what little effort they put into the LX100 mk II. Why even bother. I think they must see the hand writing on the wall or something, and this FF thing is their future they think. I am pretty sure there will be a GH6, but after that hmm.

I couldn't agree more. The LX100ii is such a piece of crap. I really don't know what they were thinking. I am also noy sure how the GX9 (or even GX85) is not vastly superior to the LX100 ii and actually eating into its market. 

Also the GX line has shown that there is a serious issues with the naming scheme and feature set on certain Panasonic lines. The GX8 was this 600 pound gorilla after the GX7 with enormous shutter shock (so much so that they had to change the entire shutter mechanism, giving a huge boost to Panasonic's shutter improvements across most of its cameras after that), and much larger body. Also why the GX line doesn't have a mic in is another strange question. The GX9 is what the GX8 should have been.

 

8 hours ago, IronFilm said:

They have the Panasonic 14mm f2.5, but yes I agree, I wish they had more pancakes!

True, but it's over a stop slower. Which seems a lot for a camera system which doesn't have very high ISO capabilities. 

 

The way I see this, is that M43 system started out as this extremely innovative way of handling smaller bodies and newer technologies from getting rid of the mirror; to touch focus, to focus and exposure and other stacking options (improving dynamic range, exposure, creating wider depth of field etc);  Live Composite Mode and other similar modes On the Olympus and thay new compositing mode on Panasonic that merges many images into a single where a person or thing is shown performing an action (sequence composition?)

etc. The are SO MANY feature sets, both in Hardware and Software, but they have just not been fine tuned and advertised and polished enough. Like the Touch to Focus has been around for the longest, in both photo and video, and yet the focus in video has been terrible since the GH1 (in 2009?). It's like the different between Apple and a lot of Android phones that aren't doing too well. Apple mostly doesn't create any new tech and has so many hardware and software glitches. But it fine tunes many features almost seamlessly, from opening its API for video Apps, to fine tuning colour accuracy on its screens, to having that superb FaceID unlock etc.

The way I see it, M43 is not thinking ahead of the competition, like it used to. It was the first with IBIS, 10-bit video, Mirrorless and touch screen functionality, super tiny ILC form factor (the Panasonic 4/3 sensor GM1 was smaller than the Samsung NX1 which has a 1inch sensor, and which lacked an EVF and had less buttons too) etc. It it hasn't fine tuned it's feature set. 

 

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6 hours ago, sanveer said:

Also the GX line has shown that there is a serious issues with the naming scheme and feature set on certain Panasonic lines. The GX8 was this 600 pound gorilla after the GX7 with enormous shutter shock (so much so that they had to change the entire shutter mechanism, giving a huge boost to Panasonic's shutter improvements across most of its cameras after that), and much larger body. Also why the GX line doesn't have a mic in is another strange question. The GX9 is what the GX8 should have been.

Nope, the GX9  is an upgraded GX85, far from being the "top rangefinder" from Panasonic like the GX7 was on it's time.

The perfect GX9 would be an improved GX7 body, or a little smaller GX8 body, with the G9 internals (I could live without the top LCD), with a 1000-1100 price tag. Had bought it in a heartbeat.

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In my opinion, you are dreaming.
I hope I'm not wrong, maybe put a s35 even on a gh5 would be fine.
He would already have a buyer here.
Panasonic will never make an Aps-c or S35 sensor, in cheap cameras ...
It will make expensive Full Frames ... because it makes economic sense, business ...

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I think Panasonic will definitely focus more on full-frame and cinema cameras moving forward. The S1 and S1r look great and an upgraded EVA-1 with L-Mount would be awesome. 

Where MFT will exist and thrive is in Panasonic's ability to put more advanced specs with this sensor size. For example, they were the first to really get IBIS down (Olympus MFT too), the first to offer 4K internal for a high-end hybrid camera (GH4), first to offer 4K 10-bit 422 internal (GH5), first to offer 4K 60p (GH5) and the first to offer a quality XLR adapter for a hybrid camera. 

So, I think Panasonic will continue to use the less processing power it takes to read a MFT sensor and also add in advanced video features to the GH6 and GH6s, namely:

  • 6k or 8k internally (or via HDMI)
  • 120fps or 180fps in 4K
  • Internal ND filter (rumored to be in the S1 anyway)
  • Better XLR adapter for high quality audio
  • Great battery life, like in GH5 - which is leaps and bounds better than Fuji X-T3, EOS R, and Pocket 4K (I hear Sony A7III does well too, but my A7rII ate through batteries).
  • Improved IBIS and low light - perhaps matching the GH5 IBIS with the GH5s low light

If they can do these things, while also adding lenses like the 10-25mm f1.7, MFT will be strong for awhile. They could also help it out by offering a small EVA-mini with MFT sensor, IBIS, and 96-120fps in 4k.

 

 

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MFT will die when people cease buying MFT cameras and lenses. People will stop buying MFT when it no longer has benefits over larger sensors. 

I'm invested in MFT and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I think it will continue to lead the way in video features, will continue to offer better stabilization, and will continue to improve on its weaker points, like low light and auto focus. 

I'm keeping an eye on full frame, of course, but even if a full frame equivalent of the GH5 came out tomorrow I have no real need to upgrade. It's just not that important to me and I don't really get why it is for everyone else. 

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I can't speak for other brands FF wise, but the ability on the Sony a7xx series cameras to have a s35 crop mode, and to have the Clear Zoom thingy with hardly any loss in quality, not counting better low light, DoF out of the box is pretty hard to beat once you have one. And the bodies are really as small as most m4/3 bodies. Particularly the older ones.

I would go back for BiF, Sports stuff for the small long lenses, but that is pretty much the Only reason I would. I must admit I am spoiled by the Sony bodies and the FF look. Even the color science has gotten damn good on the newer ones. Not counting used they are cheap as heck.

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The bodies may be as small / light as MFT cameras but the lenses are totally different. A GH5 with the 12-35 is about 2 pounds total and my G85 with the 12-35 is even less. Heck the weight of most E-Mount lenses are almost as heavy as the G85 and 12-35 are combined! The weight of both cameras with lenses on them would only slightly weigh more than one Sony A7 III and lens!

When you've gotta carry a bunch of gear around, often by yourself, one of the key benefits of MFT becomes obvious. I have zero interest in shooting a 3-5 hour pro wrestling event with a heavier camera and lens after using MFT for so long. 

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26 minutes ago, newfoundmass said:

The bodies may be as small / light as MFT cameras but the lenses are totally different. A GH5 with the 12-35 is about 2 pounds total and my G85 with the 12-35 is even less. Heck the weight of most E-Mount lenses are almost as heavy as the G85 and 12-35 are combined! The weight of both cameras with lenses on them would only slightly weigh more than one Sony A7 III and lens!

When you've gotta carry a bunch of gear around, often by yourself, one of the key benefits of MFT becomes obvious. I have zero interest in shooting a 3-5 hour pro wrestling event with a heavier camera and lens after using MFT for so long. 

That's the strength of m43 and where Panasonic and Olympus are failing. They're trying to take on FF with large $2000 bodies and bigger/faster lenses that cost far more than FF when you factor equivalency - this is enthusiast territory and FF is the $2000+ standard. Stabilization and class leading video specs, an advantage m43 had for years, is no longer enough when everyone else now offers the same. Plus FF is really pushing the envelope for mirrorless AF, m43 is sorely lagging behind. Personally, with FF, I carry lighter zooms because DR is just so good with the recent Sony sensors. I use fast primes for shallow DOF stuff and with Sony I carry the a6300 as a cheap/light backup. 

Chris

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There is a TON of old FF MF Minolta, Pentax, FD etc. lenses that are small as heck. And now there is a lot of Chinese cheap, small lenses out for the a7 bodies covering FF. So those are a way to go and stay small and light. And Sony has a few cheaper primes that are really small for FF.

I have owned a Lot of 4/3, m4/3 camera bodies of all sorts, and only the newest Olympus bodies with their excellent IBIS interests me at all. But they are not so hot for video.

 

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3 hours ago, Trek of Joy said:

That's the strength of m43 and where Panasonic and Olympus are failing. They're trying to take on FF with large $2000 bodies and bigger/faster lenses that cost far more than FF when you factor equivalency - this is enthusiast territory and FF is the $2000+ standard. Stabilization and class leading video specs, an advantage m43 had for years, is no longer enough when everyone else now offers the same. Plus FF is really pushing the envelope for mirrorless AF, m43 is sorely lagging behind. Personally, with FF, I carry lighter zooms because DR is just so good with the recent Sony sensors. I use fast primes for shallow DOF stuff and with Sony I carry the a6300 as a cheap/light backup. 

Chris

Everyone offers the same? There are still things that none of these full frame cameras can do that the GH5 can. But yes, cameras released nearly 2 years after the GH5 should have most, if not all, of the same features as a nearly 2 year old camera. And no FF stabilization is as good as MFT and is unlikely ever going to be. Things like DOF can be easily attained with MFT with a little effort if I need it. 

Given E-Mount lenses alone weigh about as much as most MFT cameras with a lens do, I'm happy with the weight difference. With any luck it'll get even better. 

As I said before, when I'm shooting 3-5 hour pro wrestling events I'm quite happy only having to carry a camera and lens combo that weighs 2 pounds, has excellent stabilization, doesn't have recording limits, and all the other advantages the GH5 still has 2 years after release. Better AF or not, I have no desire to use a camera and lens combo that's almost double the weight as my GH5 set up and will require repeated synching in post because it can't record longer than 30 minutes, especially if I have to stop and start recording in a match that goes longer than 30 minutes. And I'm happy that I can hand a second shooter my G85 and all they really need to do is hit record after I set it up for them and let it roll. 

If the GH6 doesn't continue down the same road the GH4 and GH5 have paved then maybe it'll be time to look elsewhere. But as long as they remain ahead of the curve on the features that are important to me I'll be happy. 

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