Would you Buy a Camera from GE? How about Panasonic?

4x5 Fest Lecture - San Antonio, Texas

4×5 Fest Lecture – San Antonio, Texas

Yesterday, I explained why I have a negative bias against Sony cameras. Though one could argue that I have concrete reasons for having them. Continuing with that theme today, I’ll talk about Panasonic.

My thoughts on Panasonic are very different from Sony. I own two Panasonic compact cameras and several Micro 4/3 lenses but I don’t have any Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras. I always say Panasonic is excellent for video but I prefer Olympus for still photography.

While I think Panasonic makes solid cameras and even prefer them to Sony, I’m only lukewarm about Panasonic the company. Part of this is because Panasonic is a huge multi-national conglomerate. They make electronics, appliances, whole kitchen and bathroom systems and even industrial equipment. They are basically the GE (General Electric) of Japan.

The name Panasonic used to be a brand itself until the parent company, Matsushita, officially changed their name to Panasonic. For a while in Japan, they sold their products under the National brand name. They also have sub-brands. Of course in cameras, they are called Lumix. For audio, you might have heard of Technics. They are basically a jack of all trades and perhaps the master of none.

In consumer electronics, I personally think of Panasonic running second fiddle to Sony. They make bathroom systems in Japan, but why not buy that from the leader, Toto. I’m not going to buy a Panasonic computer, I’ll buy one from Apple. Likewise, I don’t think of Panasonic first when I think of cameras.

This is a bias, certainly. I acknowledge that. And, I have bought some Panasonic imaging products so I like to think that I keep an open mind. However, my “GE of Japan” perception puts them in a second-tier for cameras. In fact, while Panasonic seems to do pretty good in the U.S., they don’t have as much mindshare in Japan. Even with their joint venture with Leica, which I’m sure is a strategy to improve their perception in the photographic community. Of course, a similar thing might be said about Sony’s relationship with Zeiss.

Today’s featured photo is from last year’s 4X5 Fest in San Antonio. I shot it with the then flagship Panasonic Lumix G9 and their Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2 lens. No doubt, excellent products. I hope they have a 4X5 Fest again this year. Though they have yet to announce any details for 2019.

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4 thoughts on “Would you Buy a Camera from GE? How about Panasonic?

  1. I have a couple of their lenses and they are wonderful … smoother and sharper than the equivalent (almost equivalent) Olympus. I have a couple of their compact cameras and one of the “do everything” cameras, the ZS-1000 which is a very good camera to use when you just don’t want to haul a lot of lenses. But I don’t have any of their interchangeable-lens cameras. I did, but I didn’t like them. I like Olympus cameras, though I think Olympus has some mediocre and rather slow lenses which Panasonic does better — ESPECIALLY the 100-300 f4 which is a fantastic birding lens.

    1. Both Olympus and Panasonic have good lenses and not so good lenses. I don’t know the rating of each one so I’m not sure which is ultimately better. I own a few more Olympus lenses but since I use the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 so much, I probably have more pictures I took with a Panasonic lens.

  2. For photos, yeah. The color is okay. Autofocus is a pain. But for video…

    Panasonic is the only company right now with a small DSLR-type camera body that can do internal 4K 4:2:2 10-bit all-intra log video (GH5 and GH5S). Those other companies need external recorders like an Atomos to get a 10-bit signal recorded. And while the image quality with an external recorder is better out of those other cameras (because they have those larger sensors), the discrete form factor of just the Panasonic DSLR sans the 6 pounds of recording monitors and cables is an advantage in tricky situations. The documentary “The Real Chernobyl” was shot on a few GH5’s because they were small and light. https://www.newsshooter.com/2019/06/26/the-real-chernobyl-from-commission-to-transmission-in-two-weeks/

    1. Hi Evan, thanks for your comment. As you may know I don’t do much video but that what I hear about Panasonic. They are tops for video. If video is the person’s primary propose, I usually recommend a Panasonic micro 4/3 camera.

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