S-R2060 Development story
1 : Creating a completely new standard zoom lens that befits the needs in a new era
Date : 2021.06.16
Hi, my name is Kotaki, and I took part in planning the new lens, S-R2060.
We develop products with the aim of establishing LUMIX as a brand that supports a diversity of creators endeavoring to create masterpiece photographs and videos as their trusted partner.
The S-R2060 introduced in this blog is no exception.
I will describe our passion and efforts in planning and creating this lens, which is also a kit lens for the DC-S5.
When planning a new product, we place the most importance on the customer needs. For the S-R2060, we reexamined the customer needs multifacetedly and dug further into their wants and needs.
We started off by listening to the voices of various customers in the global markets and analyzing various kinds of pictures and videos posted on social media and video-sharing sites. The results of our survey revealed the following issues and potential needs.
• Selfies and vlogs have become common. For those applications, use of a currently available standard zoom lens makes the subject’s face appear too big and the background hidden behind the subject.
• Users are used to smartphone cameras with the focal length extended toward the wide-angle side, so they feel the fields of views of their standard camera lenses are narrow.
• Users often trim images during editing for posting on social media platforms or other websites, so they want to capture a wider field of view.
• Since users often record long videos, such as vlogs shot while walking, the demand for lighter and smaller cameras and lenses is increasing.
• Users want to capture a wider field of view and get closer to the subject for new photographic expressions known as wide-angle macros and wide-angle portraits.
• There are increased situations where users shoot both still images and videos freely, so they want not only better still image performance but also improved video performance.
• The number of video creators who shoot videos for cinema applications is increasing, and higher levels of video performance are demanded.
It was obvious that improvement of a conventional SLR camera would not be able to respond to those issues or needs. We became strongly assured that a new standard zoom lens was required in the age of mirrorless cameras. An ideal standard zoom lens designed and developed to meet the emerging needs of the time would enable a wider range of camera users including professionals and amateurs to express their intentions in pictures and videos. That was the objective of our planning of the new lens.
The new user needs included one that was obviously different from the specifications of conventional standard zoom lenses. That was the focal length at the wide-angle end. We found out that users were not quite satisfied with the mainstream focal length of 24 mm and wanted an ultra-wide angle. I tried a wide variety of standard zoom lenses available in the market, and I experienced a lack of performance in using the 24-mm focal length in many situations. The focal length of 16 mm offered by a wide-angle zoom lens, however, resulted in an overemphasized depth perspective, so I felt instinctively that the field of view was too wide for general use. After repeated examinations and discussions, we concluded that 20 mm would be the best. Compared to 24 mm, 20 mm offers a 10 degrees wider field of view with 20% less magnification, and would practically eliminate the unnaturalness of images resulting from the overemphasis of perspective.
I asked our optical designers why there was no standard zoom lens with a starting focal length of 20 mm on the wide-angle side. They said such a lens developed using conventional technology would be large and expensive. That did not deter me, however. I argued heatedly with the optical designers and ask them to rework the design repeatedly. And finally, we were able to create a compact standard zoom lens with a starting focal length of ultra-wide-angle 20 mm.
Next, we focused our attention on the focal length at the telephoto end. If the starting focal length was 20 mm on the wide-angle side, the zoom magnification would become too large when the focal length at the telephoto end was set to ordinary 70 mm. This would also make the lens larger. We were faced with a dilemma again, but the analysis we conducted at the beginning of the project gave us a clue to the solution.
For instance, the analysis of pictures shot with a standard 24-70mm zoom lens indicated that the 70-mm telephoto-end focal length was used very frequently and that the focal lengths of 60 to 69 mm were used much less frequently than others. You may have already noticed that users used the focal length of 70 mm frequently simply because they took pictures at the telephoto end of their lenses and that users probably did not selected 70 mm intentionally. Based on this notion, I began thinking that the telephoto-end focal length did not have to be 70 mm but 60 mm would do the job. There is practically no difference between 60 mm and 70 mm in terms of field of view and magnification, so the difference of telephoto ends would not adversely affect the usability of the lens for the users. All things considered, we decided to set the telephoto-end focal length to 60 mm and reduce the lens size in a bid to better respond to the customer needs.
Those are the reasons that we prioritized the wide-angle-end focal length of 20 mm and set the telephoto-end focal length to a moderate 60 mm. The 60-mm telephoto-end focal length results in a converted focal length of approximately 90 mm when the image is cropped to the APS-C size, thus covering 70 mm and the medium telephoto range that includes 85 mm commonly used for portraits. These specifications have successfully made the S-R2060 into “a compact zoom lens covering from ultra-wide angle to standard range.”
We also considered the closest focusing distance as important as the focal length. Initially, we assumed that the S-R2060 would be used mainly for capturing images used as table photos and aimed to achieve the closest focusing distance of 30 cm. However, we noticed that the closest focusing distance was often used for wide-angle macros and wide-angle portraits. So, both the planning group and design group began voicing their opinions: “Is 30 cm really sufficient?” Therefore, we examined how we could reduce the closest focusing distance. More details on this will be given in the upcoming blog by our product designers.
Consequently, we achieved the closest focusing distance of 15 cm and successfully developed a lens that would allow the users to capture impressive images for table photos and close-up images of the subject with a beautifully blurred background and also enable the users to take advantage of the 20-mm focal length for wide-angle macros and wide-angle portraits.
There was an additional requirement we extracted from the customer needs: Improved video performance. We have been actively addressing video performance as a common highlight feature of the LUMIX lenses, but we decided to further enhance it in the S-R2060. We paid meticulous attention to details, such as focus breathing and image disturbance during zooming, focus motor noise and smooth change of the F value, to satisfy hybrid creators who shoot not only still images but also videos and professionals who use their cameras for cinema applications.
In addition to the features and specifications described so far, we made various improvements straightforwardly in the S-R2060 to satisfy the customer needs. The S series lenses are all developed on the common concepts such as beautiful bokeh, high-quality operationality and high mobility backed by the excellent resistance to dust, drip and low temperatures. From the planning stage, we exchanged ideas and discussed with the concerned departments in order to set clear and high goals. The struggles of the Design Department to accomplish all of them through various trial-and-error efforts will be introduced in the next blog.
S-R2060 Development Story