New Panasonic interview

Imaging Resource interviewed Mr. Yosuke Yamane. Here is a summary made by Asobinet:

Current status of the market and Panasonic

  • The global digital camera market in 2022 showed double-digit growth in value terms due to an increase in photography opportunities following the end of COVID-19.
  • In particular, full-frame mirrorless cameras, which are expected to grow by more than 30%, will drive the market.
  • In 2022, we were able to achieve double-digit growth, especially in the full-frame mirrorless line.
    In 2023, while maintaining the global market, we expect full-frame mirrorless cameras to replace single-lens reflex cameras and continue to grow.
  • Focusing on the new products “S5II” and “S5IIX” to be released this month, the full-size mirrorless camera will be greatly expanded and turned on the offensive.

How is the S5II selling?

  • Orders for the S5II/S5IIX have far exceeded expectations in each market.
  • Some people can’t deliver on the day of the release date. We are doing our best to deliver as soon as possible.
  • I can’t comment on the percentage or timing, but I will do my best to fully meet market demand as soon as possible.

Will you release two similar cameras?

  • Under the LUMIX brand’s catchphrase “Motion.Picture.Perfect,” we will stand by creators who are particular about creating high-quality works with video and still images, and support them so that they can fully demonstrate their creativity. This is the cornerstone of our strategy.
  • Creators are also changing with the times, and the number of creators who edit their own content and post it on SNS is increasing explosively.
  • I believe that I can help more creators by getting closer to a new “solo creator” who does everything from shooting to editing by myself.
  • The S5II achieves high performance in both still images and movies, making it an all-round camera for a wide range of users.
  • The S5IIX is a model with enhanced video functions. Equipped with functions such as high-quality video recording modes that can be used by professionals such as ALL-Intra and ProRes, video RAW data output via HDMI, and live streaming.
  • The S5IIX targets creators who want to create high-level video content.
  • An all-black design was adopted for the body to support content creation from behind.

How did Leica contribute to processor design?

  • The engine installed in the S5II/S5IIX is a new engine jointly developed by Leica and Panasonic that aims to improve image quality through high-performance image processing.
  • By combining Leica’s commitment to image quality cultivated over its long history with Panasonic’s innovative digital technology, it achieves high resolution performance, rich color expression, and natural noise reduction.
  • The engine is jointly developed, but we are still discussing future themes centered on core devices. We plan to jointly develop technologies to make each product more attractive.
  • It is difficult to give specific details about Leica’s technology, but there is no doubt that the image quality improvement technology and know-how that Leica has cultivated over its long history are significant.

How has the basic AF algorithm changed with image plane phase detection?

  • The AF tracking algorithm has been revamped.
  • DFD and contrast AF, which have been improved over many years, achieve extremely high focus accuracy by constantly searching for the focus position while moving the focus lens very precisely.
  • On the other hand, the image-plane phase-difference AF is excellent in high-speed performance, and it is possible to instantly determine the focus position of the subject.
  • By combining the performance of DFD, contrast AF, and focal plane phase difference AF, the S5II achieves unprecedented high-precision and high-speed AF tracking performance.
  • In order to achieve high-speed AF with image plane phase difference AF, it is necessary to move the lens at a high speed that matches it.
  • In DFD/contrast AF, we have designed an AF system that exhibits extremely delicate and agile response. This lens design and control contributes to further drawing out the high-speed performance of focal-plane phase-difference AF.

Will Micro Four Thirds bodies also be equipped with focal plane phase detection AF in the future?

  • For the cameras to be released in the future, we will adopt the optimal autofocus method for each while assessing the benefits of the target users and customers.
  • We will consider installing it not only in full size but also in MFT according to the characteristics of the model, so please look forward to it.

In addition to focal plane phase difference AF, what kind of AF changes were there?

  • Evolution is not limited to image plane phase difference detection. Algorithms for AF and subject recognition have also evolved significantly.
  • We are particular about improving scenes that are important for professional photographers.
  • Improved AF accuracy in 6 scenes.
    ・Scenes where the subject is directly approaching the camera
    ・Scenes with point light sources such as illumination
    ・Backlit scenes such as twilight
    ・Low illumination scenes such as darkness
    ・Product review scenes
    ・Scenes with multiple subjects
  • Subjects appear black at first glance in backlight or low-light environments, but the internal algorithm has been revised to make it possible to recognize subjects even from very small signals.
  • Equipped with an algorithm to identify subjects using distance information even in scenes with multiple people.
  • In the future, we would like to respond to needs such as “I want to recognize a smaller subject and shoot with pinpoint accuracy” and “I want to make the subject in the background stand out while intentionally including the blurred subject in the foreground.”

Is there a possibility that S5II’s AI AF will come to existing models?

  • Subject recognition by AI is a very important technology that has high recognition performance and is constantly evolving.
  • With the evolution of AI algorithms, the S5II is equipped with a new engine that enables extremely high-speed calculations.
  • We will consider adapting the algorithm to the body so far, but it is difficult to achieve the same AI performance as the S5II because the processing performance of the engine itself is different.
  • I would appreciate it if you could think of the S5II as something completely new, such as AI performance and distance measurement performance using image plane phase difference detection.

Will the GH6 use Dynamic Range Boost and not other models?

  • The GH6’s sensor is a complex design that improves noise performance and dynamic range.
  • The full-frame sensor has inherently good noise performance, so the usual dual native ISO is used instead of the dynamic range boost.

What’s going on with LUMIX Pro Service (LPS) in Europe?

  • omission

Will YouTubers switch to the S series, or will the GH line continue to be popular?

  • There is an explosive increase in the number of new “solo-op creators” who perform everything from filming to editing by themselves, edit their own work, and post it on social media.
  • The needs of YouTubers for cameras are expected to spread widely from high-end to mid-range.
  • We have prepared two systems with different features (full size and Micro Four Thirds) to provide creators with the optimal system.

Where is image correction by AI headed?

  • Images and videos taken with a smartphone have the same image quality regardless of who takes them.
  • The feature of the system camera is that the sense and skill of the photographer are always reflected in the work. We make cameras with the hope that you can experience the joy of creating content with your own hands while maintaining the joy of taking pictures.

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