Panasonic GX1 Interview

November 7, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | Compact System Camera | 16 Comments | |
Panasonic GX1 Interview Image

At Photography Blog we were lucky enough to get an exclusive early hands on with Panasonic’s newest compact system camera in the Lumix DMC-GX1, which is the rightful successor to the original GF1 and GF2 cameras.

With the ‘X’ in the model number indicating a new class of Panasonic camera pitched at the photo enthusiast, the GF series will now apparently be exclusively a mass market consumer targeted range, with the Lumix DMC-GF3 its current exponent.

Here’s what our chat with Panasonic’s UK representatives, who were joined by Panasonic Japan’s Advanced Planning Manager for Products Planning Group, Michiharu Uematsu, revealed about the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1.

Photography Blog: Are we to assume that this is ‘just’ a new camera, or, with the addition of the ‘X’, in fact a whole new category?

Barney Sykes, Panasonic UK Product Manager for Lumix G: It’s essentially a new category. We kind of changed. We intend to take our GF line down the more compact, stylish, mass-market route. And the GX1 will come in and replace the original GF1.

Photography Blog: So the intended audience for the GX1 is the same? Without wishing to pre-empt you, you’re sticking with the enthusiast?

Barney Sykes: Yes. So first let me just update you on the UK market situation. The latest data from GFK we have on a full month basis is for August 2011. The total interchangeable lens market is growing. In August there were just under 50,000 cameras sold, which is a 21% increase on the same month last year. Over a 52-week period it’s growing at 122% by volume, so it’s still very consistent. It’s slowed down a little bit during September but is now starting to come back stronger since Canon and Nikon launched their TV advertising campaigns. So they’re driving some demand.  Our sales outstripped that of the market. We are a growing brand, a fairly new entrant. And our share reached 13% in August, which is up 4% over the same period last year.

By value it’s a fairly similar story, although the value growth is no longer as good as the volume growth, indicating price erosion. The value growth is 13% on the month and 12% on the year. And again our sales are outstripping that of the market although our value growth isn’t as strong as our volume growth. We don’t have a 7D type product.

Panasonic Lumix GX1 Interview

Photography Blog: And so these figures are CSCs and DSLRs lumped in together…

Barney Sykes: Yes. It’s interchangeable lens cameras in total. But the Compact System Camera category on its own is growing massively. It’s one of the driving forces of the interchangeable lens market. It grew at 155% in August with just under 12,000 cameras sold, which is up 228% on the year. Our growth is still very strong, even as an early pioneer of this market, and we have a 54% Compact System Camera market share for August, up 6% on August 2010, and up 50% on value. So again the value growth isn’t as strong as the volume.

Photography Blog: So generally speaking, is it looking like CSC sales are eating into DSLR sales?

Barney Sykes: I think the entry products like the GF3 are helping to grow the market, whereas products like the G3 are starting to eat away at SLR type cameras. I don’t think SLR can offer that compact style of body at the moment so that’s one of the ways in which that market can grow. Products like the G3, GH2, and G2 will probably take away some sales from interchangeable lens, although that market is still growing. By volume it peaked last Christmas at 26%, but we saw the second highest ever CSC ratio in August at 24%. I think a lot of purchasers will have been influenced by our advertising campaign over that period. The market peaked and our market share peaked. So we’re really proud and really want to shout about it. We’re now the number three brand for interchangeable lens cameras, behind Canon and Nikon. So that’s a fantastic achievement; first time we’ve ever done it. And that’s not something we want to give up either. We want to really attack and bite the tail of the tigers, so to speak.

Photography Blog: This is why you need more new products then.

Barney Sykes: Yes. We need an expanding line up to challenge on more than one front. So while for volume the figure was 9% it was still our highest ever level for interchangeable lens share. The G3 was the third best selling interchangeable lens camera in the industry [Nikon’s D3100 and Canon’s 550D being the highest] – it’s Panasonic’s step up product, actually the G2 is our leader product, so to be able to get into that position was frankly beyond our wildest dreams. We’re really proud of that and are going to go back on TV in November 2011 and try and replicate that with the G3, but adding the GF3 to the ad too.

Photography Blog: What about plans for the GX1?

Barney Sykes: It won’t be advertised immediately. If you’re lucky you might get it under your tree for Christmas. It’s that type of launch. So that campaign may move into next year. Obviously the G3 we see as a mass product. The GX we don’t think will be a mass product, so the advertising campaign that we put together will be very specialist and targeted at specific people. The CSC market puts us in a strong position of 54% in August by volume and 50% by value.

What GFK are going to be doing in the future is producing a new report that tells us which types of camera and lens bundles are most popular. Is it a zoom kit, is it a pancake, is it a twin? And they’re going to report the average market price of the kits. For all those type of things we’re hoping to get a bit more market analysis, so we can do some much more targeted work.

So the product we’re here to show you today… I think we announced back in Rome [European launch of the GF3] that we planned to take the flat body in a premium direction. But at that time it was going to be that we’d take the GF line in two separate directions. And when we introduced the GF3, we said that we planned to introduce a step up. Well today we’re here to show you that, but it’s not a GF, it’s a GX.

So it’s very much differentiated against the GF3 [with the change of model name]. It has high image quality and the same sensor as the G3, so it’s 16 megapixel. The concept is to target photo enthusiasts who want to shoot pictures with a high performance camera. It has 0.09 ultra high -speed auto focus, it has a shooting assist function with a mode dial, two Fn buttons.

Panasonic Lumix GX1 Interview

Photography Blog: Just to butt in for a moment. Back in the day with the launch of the G3 and GF3 Panasonic claimed to have the world’s fastest auto focus. Is that still the case?

Barney Sykes: We haven’t actually heard a numerical claim from rival manufacturers so it’s difficult for us to say whether it’s the world’s fastest or not. While Olympus have claimed the world’s fastest I haven’t myself seen a number put to that yet. So we have to test and that takes time.

Michiharu Uematsu: [Quoted times are often] some kind of trick, because it’s just the detected time, it’s not including shutter lag. When we press the shutter, first the camera will detect the focus point. And after that, the camera’s shutter has to open and close and it takes a little bit of time. We and another manufacturer also say around 0.1 second [for AF] but actually it will be around 0.2 second because for the shutter to open and close takes a little bit more time.

Photography Blog: So we do have to take these claims with a pinch of salt…

Barney Sykes: What’s happened is that manufacturers have thought ‘the consumer can easily understand this, let’s claim it.’

Photography Blog: And people kind of expect now that each new camera is going to be ‘the world’s fastest’ for something.

Michiharu Uematsu: The important thing is not just to be fast, [but] to be accurate also.

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16 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 xpanded

If you want to grow as a company, then making an EVF that is not backwards compatible is hardly the way to go. Shame on you Panasonic for ditching your existing customers.

9:49 am - Monday, November 7, 2011

#2 Tim Woodward

Very, very interesting read - I always thought what we get offered here in the UK was dependent on what Panasonic UK ‘thought’ we should get and Barney confirms this - he doesn’t seem particularly interested in an EVF for the GX series - tilting screens is the direction he is going! Fair - you can’t please all the people all the time! :0) It is also nice to get a feel of how the various regions impact on the group as a whole - one can imagine them all pushing for their ideas and Japan having to allocate the budget! I understand Panny a bit better now - and can happily cut them some slack and give them a pat on the back for a job well done! :0)

12:46 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#3 MrGutts

So this Camera is not available yet?  Also does the camera come with the Lenes shown in pictures or nothing at all?

1:59 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#4 ed g.

[A built-in EVF” “...may price it out of the range of the people we’re trying to reach. And not everybody wants a viewfinder, so at least this gives the consumer the option of having it or not.”

Translation:  if you want a camera with a built in rangefinder that will still fit in your jacket pocket, please choose to buy a Sony NEX-7 or a Fuji X100.  Panasonic does not want your money.”

Good to know.

4:55 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#5 lll

“The GX we don’t think will be a mass product, so the advertising campaign that we put together will be very specialist and targeted at specific people.”
- i think this is wrong; I know a lot of people who can afford (and looking for) a little over-average-priced technology without being specialists, for various reasons (hoping to became specialists, to be in trend, etc), and being very attracted by this compact look ...

6:14 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#6 L1User


Barney Sykes: Do you think if we have a tilting screen, a built in EVF is also needed?

Photography Blog: Probably not.

Why NOT????Tilting screen and built-in EVF serve
different purposes. Many people want BOTH!

7:20 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#7 pat

sounds like they have a 7d product and a GH3 up their sleeves someplace.  I hope they sell a lot of G series so their dev timelines shrink by way of increased resources thrown their way.  Good read.

9:46 pm - Monday, November 7, 2011

#8 Dean Clark

GX1 is only half way there. There is a reason for why the Fuji X100 and Sony NEX 7 is getting a lot of attention. VIEW FINDER, PHYSICAL CONTROLS, NICE DESIGN, “PRO” LEVEL FEATURES. Mr Sykes don’t get it. He would need to spend some time with enthusiasts and pro’s, rather than waiting for consultants to produce surveys. Looks like I have to buy into the NEX system until the M43 crew catches up.

1:36 am - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#9 Bob Snow

Totally agree…Mr Sykes just doesn’t get it.

Make one with a quality eyelevel viewfinder
built in and I’d have my order in now.  In fact, before the Thailand floods, I was seriously thinking of going for the Nex-7 even though I would rather have a Panasonic with the EVF.


bob snow

1:52 am - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#10 stickytape

“Not everybody wants a viewfinder” - true, but the GF3 already exists. Why not cover a wider range of the spectrum when there is a clear desire for an EVF amongst a portion of the community?

“We have to position the product very carefully in terms of where some of the competition are expected to come and play.” - Panasonic is already behind the competition in this sector. If you cannot even catch up, I see little hope for the future of compact Panasonic cameras…

If only Panasonic would stop worrying about the GX1 taking sales away from the G3…you have other competitors out there, you know?

5:35 am - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#11 Ivar Dahl Larsen

All’s fair and square. Personally I prefer the G3 it has all that’s needed. That’s my opinion after more than 40 years of photography. But a free tip to Panasonic. You have a pop up flash on the GX1, why not build a similar one with a pop up viewfinder as the flash if possible or even better an optical viewfinder on it. The latter would blow the competition away, all over the world.

9:29 am - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#12 Digital Photography Tutorials DSLR

I think its amazing that we are now at a time where Compact System Cameras now have interchangeable lenses. Its not always feasible to lug around your huge DSLR and this camera will be one to watch.

2:37 pm - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#13 Julin Maloof

Please, please, please make one with a built-in EVF.  Ditch the flash.  If it had a Built in EVF I would by it immediately to replace my G1.

6:59 am - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#14 Zaph

“Michiharu Uematsu: Next time.”

Then I’m happy to hand over my money, next time.

1:19 pm - Friday, November 25, 2011

#15 Danonino

I actually like the GX1 and will probably buy it. I dont want a viewfinder if its not an optical one. I dont need super-mega-resolution on the screen either. What I need is this:
At least 12megapixel.
F A S T - and with that I mean extremely fast af and preferably low shutter lag.
Good image-quality - If there is a significant difference to the better compared to my old Lumix LX3 I am satisfied.
The GX1 has all this and more.

I have discoverd also that most peolpe dont realise how big the difference is between the old 12mp sensor and the new 16mp sensor..

I have tested many raw-files from both the old m43-12mp sensor and the new m43-16mp sensor (same sensor as Panasonic G3) and the 16mp sensor actually blows the old one out of the wather. At low iso it´s as good as the 12mp aps-c in my Nikon D5000 (sames sensor as D90 and D300s).
And thats really good! And as a proffesional, thats more then I need.

Just remember, you can only get the benefits of a good sensor if you learn to process raw-files.
If your a jpeg-shooter, then the sensor does not matter - the images will look like crap anyways.

11:51 am - Friday, December 16, 2011

#16 l.Coen

“Not everyone needs a viewfinder” Wait until you shoot the camera outdoors…then you will understand.

7:39 am - Friday, February 17, 2012