Chapter 4 :Present and Future of LUMIX
Challenge to a full-frame and to a new LUMIX brand
LUMIX released the world’s first single lens mirrorless camera in 2008 and launched the Micro Four Thirds system aiming for a single lens camera that can be handled easily by anyone, but as the mirrorless camera became widespread in the market, the introduction of a full-frame mirrorless camera was anticipated. The development of LUMIX’s first full-frame digital single lens mirrorless camera started unexpectedly early behind the scenes. In this chapter, we will be talking about the challenge to the full-frame camera market and the establishment of LUMIX’s new brand image, and about LUMIX’s focus on the future now that we have reached the brand’s 20th anniversary.
Section 1: Challenge to a full-frame mirrorless camera
Only one year after the creation of the mirrorless camera, various manufacturers started entering the single lens mirrorless camera market one after the other, and the single lens mirrorless camera formed a large market within a few years. On the other hand, the evolution of the single-lens reflex camera to a full-frame was progressing, but we had already predicted that the full-frame mirrorless camera would expand in the near future.
In 2011, we started considering a full-frame device behind the scenes while increasing the basic performance of the Micro Four Thirds cameras to a professional level and began accumulating element development and device simulations in anticipation of required performance and functions. In 2016, we ultimately decided to enter the full-frame market. Around that time, full-frame mirrorless cameras were beginning to appear in the market, and we received support from top management who believed that now was the time to enter the market ourselves.
What was behind the top management’s decision to attempt to develop a full-frame device?
There was a common factor that existed there, which was that they loved photography. Perhaps it was their true love for cameras and not from the perspective of a manager that led to their decision to support this new business.
Immediately after the decision was made, we approached Sigma Corporation, whom we had been in contact with from when we entered the Four Thirds System standard, and a collaborative kick-off meeting was held. We considered developing the mount from scratch, but we thought that the extensive lens lineup that creates various expressions was the most important aspect for our customers, and approached Leica Camera AG, whom we had a collaborative relationship with for a long time, to collaborate on developing a full-frame device using the L-Mount developed by Leica, and we eventually established the “L-Mount Alliance” with Leica, Panasonic and Sigma.
With the L-Mount standard, it became possible to freely combine lenses that transcended the boundaries of the brand, and we determined that we could achieve expectations for the future of the system and could infinitely expand the freedom of shooting, which is what our customers valued the most.
In this way, it led to the announcement of our entry into the full-frame market and the launch of the L-Mount Alliance at Photokina 2018. Shown below is the moment when the current Head of the Imaging Business Unit disseminated the prototype of the S Series, LUMIX’s first full-frame camera, to the world. This glorious appearance was very impactful and got the venue buzzing with excitement.
Section 2: Development of the uncompromising S Series
During the development of LUMIX’s first full-frame mirrorless camera S1R/S1 and L-mount lenses for the LUMIX S series, we were thoroughly uncompromising as we aimed to create tools that professional photographers can use at work. Therefore, we carried out interviews with over 70 creators around the world, sometimes accompanying them to the shooting site, to conduct detailed research. The developers discuss about it passionately on the website below, so please take a look.
The new challenge of developing a full-frame camera was realized due to the DNA that has been passed down continuously from developing a wide range of video cameras for consumer and professional use to the world’s first single lens mirrorless camera. The S1R/S1 was released in May 2019, and the S1R was named “Camera of the Year” at the prestigious Camera Grand Prix 2019, which was one of our long-cherished desires since entering the camera business.
The S1H that was released six months later was compatible with the world’s first 6K/24P video recording as a full-frame interchangeable lens digital camera and realized unlimited video recording by equipping it with a cooling fan. Taking advantage of its mobility as a mirrorless camera, it has been used to shoot 4K content for Netflix. It is also compatible with the same level of gradation and color gamut as Panasonic’s professional-use cinema camera VARICAM, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it has joined the ranks of cinema cameras.
Section 3: To a new LUMIX brand
The brand image of LUMIX may have a strong impression as an early compact digital camera. As you know, the compact camera market has shrunk rapidly with the rise of smartphones. On the other hand, while the mirrorless market is growing, competition is intensifying. Also, the environment surrounding photos and videos has also changed significantly and creators who disseminate photos and videos in the rapidly growing world of SNS are expanding their area of activities and building a new culture.
Q Firstly, what did LUMIX do during these changing times?
We faced our own DNA and redefined the brand.
LUMIX upholds its DNA of video technology that we have cultivated in the development of video cameras even before the creation of the brand, and the DNA of working closely with our cherished customers that has been passed down since the company was founded. By making the most out of these, we came to realize that what we should be doing is providing new value that only LUMIX can achieve.
LUMIX also defined our target users as creators who create and express their own work regardless of still images or videos and decided to make it our brand mission to work closely with them.
An existence that can provide the depiction capabilities and operability pursued from the same perspective as the creators. We aim to become a brand that always listens to the opinions of creators and works together with them to create the photographic and video expressions they seek.
Section 4: The future of LUMIX
The introduction of the full-frame mirrorless camera made it possible to provide a wider range of options to customers.
The three company L-Mount Alliance began producing unique lenses one after another and expanded the lineup based on each of their philosophies. In the future, we plan on evolving into an attractive system with a view to cine lenses while providing unique value such as advancing the development of lens groups, etc. in line with the creators’ workflow and focusing on developing full-frame mirrorless cameras that will enable creators around the world to create works of art with more freedom and expand their range of expression.
By doing so, it may seem like LUMIX has given up on the Micro Four Thirds cameras, but that is not the case. While there is the option of a full-frame camera, there are still creators who only use Micro Four Thirds cameras due to the total mobility of the system, cost performance and the depth of field they are looking for. In the future, we plan on taking advantage of the excellent features of the Micro Four Thirds and full-frame cameras and developing both the Micro Four Thirds G Series that combines mobility and high image quality as well as the more professional full-frame S Series.
We are also attempting to develop a new type of camera that will allow creators to increase the degree of freedom in video production. The BGH1 that was released in 2020 is a box-style Micro Four Thirds camera, and while it inherited the video capability of the GH Series, it can be freely customized according to your shooting style and can be used in a wide range of shooting sites.
In October 2021, the BS1H full-frame box-style camera that condensed the same image quality and functions as the S1H full-frame mirrorless camera into the body size of the BGH1 was released. This will further expand the range of expression in video production.
The GH6 that is currently being developed is aiming to combine the wide array of image expressions in addition to the mobility of a Micro Four Thirds camera. Both the sensor and engine are being newly developed, and we plan on realizing 4:2:2 10 bit Cinema4K60p video recording compatibility and unlimited video recording within the recommended operating temperature. Unfortunately we cannot disclose details at this time, but please look forward to what the finished GH6 camera will be that our engineers are working tirelessly to develop.
LUMIX was established in the digital age and may have the shortest history among camera brands, but we have been able to walk alongside our customers who love cameras and commemorate our 20th anniversary. We are full of gratitude to our customers who have continued to use and support our products.
The photography and video culture will continue to evolve with the transition of the times and the expression methods will also surely change in a complex way. LUMIX hopes to stay close to the hearts of creators at all times and to remain the one and only brand to support their creative activities and move forward together.
And we hope that the future that they project will be a wonderful one...
October 27, 2021