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Imaging Resource talks with Panasonic @ CES

Imaging Resource (Click here) had a long talk with MR. Darin Pepple, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Imaging at Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. He was interviewed by Imaging Resource publisher Dave Etchells, senior editor Shawn Barnett, and features editor Arthur Etchells.  Here is a section about the GH2 from the interview:

AE: What sorts of things might we see and what sorts of directions might Panasonic go with the successor to the GH2?

DP: Much has been talked about a successor for GH2. The GH2 has been out now for a little over a year, so people are wondering about the next model. There’s no one great thing I can say that we’re going to plan on and actually produce right at this time. Certainly, we’ll eventually produce something, right?  But I think what you’ll see from us is to continue on trying to get a better and better and better video output for it. The GH product almost has a split brain. When I talk to people and I read the blogs–I participate once in a while on a few blogs just to see what people have to say–and there are two distinct worlds; completely right down the middle, video and still,at the high end. So you have a lot of people who are saying, ‘I just want it for its still camera capabilities. And it’s got great dials and accessibility.’  And then you’ve got the video world. They don’t care anything about that. They like the fact that it shoots amazing video; that you can hook boom mics to it; that you can hook it up as a director or videographer link through an HDMI cable; that it’s a lightweight platform. I see a lot of sports and action type photography–and I’m not talking about football, soccer, or that kind of thing; I’m talking about race cars–hooking it up to the bottom of a small, remote helicopter and flying it around, that sort of thing. It’s a lightweight platform and if it does get wrecked you’re not out the money you are out with a big DSLR rig system, let alone a conventional professional video system.

AE: A small footprint, in terms of both size and price.

Panasonic's Darin Pepple. Copyright © 2012, Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.DP: Yes, and I think you’re probably going to see some more commercial applications in the future, such as wedding videographers–maybe they need a really great low light videography platform that maintains auto focus. Think about that, now: With a DSLR, if you’re going to go into a low light situation, such as a concert, where lots of laser lights are going and you’ve got the exposures changing constantly, you’ve got to track that exposure and change with it and you’ve got to somehow focus under low light conditions. That’s a lot to ask for from even a DSLR [or DSLR user] today. With our technology, with an X lens put onto it, it tracks like a proper video camcorder, for example, and it can adjust auto exposure in real time, following light changes really quickly. And at the same time, you’re getting just outstanding high-def quality video coming off of it. That, I think, is something that a mirrorless camera, or in our case the GH series, does really, really well.

AE: So there has been a lot of interest in hacking GH2s. Might you take to heart some of those optimizations they're making when you're looking at future developments?

DP: You know… Yes and no? We do take a look at what they do, and we take it very seriously, because obviously that's what the customer wants. There are some limitations within the hardware and within the system specifications. For example, the AVCHD format; you know, we have to stay within the confines of what that AVCHD format says. Yes, you can go outside that with some hyped-up features and firmware updates and that sort of thing, but then you're outside the normal specification, and for us as a manufacturer, we really have to stay within it. At the same time, we know the level that the sensors can handle, we know the amount of cooling it's going to take, and to push it past it's limits, you're going to degrade the life expectancy of the product. Now, with a hopped-up camera, you somewhat expect that. You know, it's just like a car; if you push your car to the limit, you know something's going to happen eventually, right? So, as a consumer, go for it! But as a manufacturer, we have to stay within the limits of the standards and what we know the system itself can handle long term.

AE: So there's the caveat that you might be doing bodily harm to your camera…

DP: Hey, have fun; have a good time! Listen, that’s what photography’s all about anyway. I mean, how many photographers just take a product as is?  They push it to the limits. That’s half the fun of photography. If you go back to the history of photography and you take a look at it, who started this stuff? Chemists, scientists, optics type people. They had a blast. It was a bunch of crazy technicians, that’s right. And if you take a look at the history of photography, it’s full of that. And I’m glad to see that that is still alive today. So I applaud them.”

Later about the the new X Lenses:

“DE: Is there a chart in the booth anywhere laying out a lens roadmap?

DP: We have two concept lenses in the booth. Both of them are conceptually the non-variable aperture types; a 12-35mm f/2.8 and a 35-100mm f/2.8.

DE: Yeah, basically the Micro Four Thirds versions of the classic 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses; with constant aperture.

DP: When you do that [non-variable aperture], you do make the lens a bit bigger. Our concern has always been, ‘How do we keep the lens small and compact to stay in tune with the body styles of our cameras?’  After discussing it in great detail with the types of photographers who would really want a non-variable zoom, it turns out they don’t care. They want their non-variable zooms even if they have to be just a little bit bigger. So we’ve listened to that. That’s part of what we’ve been doing recently, showing the concepts around and saying, ‘Well, what do you think?’  Hands down, they say, ‘I’ll take it. I want it. Make it.’ “

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