Lumix Full Frame Cameras

Posted Sep. 25th, 2018 by Daniel J. Cox

Well… it’s finally official and proof the rumors were true. Panasonic announced today at Photokina that they plan to release two full-frame Lumix cameras. That’s the big news, but it’s not the only Lumix news. Here’s a list of what was announced at the Photokina Press Conference. Keep in mind Panasonic Lumix was the first company to build a mirrorless camera back in 2008.

The Lumix S Series Full Frame Camera

Lumix has two full-frame cameras planned for release in early 2019. One is 24 megapixels and the other is a whopping 47 megapixels. Below are additional details.

Official Press Release describing key features of the newly developed cameras, the LUMIX S1R and the S1, are as follows. (Editorial Note: I have no idea what “Expressive capabilities” & “High level of expression” mean in the first bulleted paragraph. Maybe just lost in translation from Osaka?)

1. Expressive capabilities with high definition and high level of expression achieved with the newly-developed 35 mm full-frame image sensor and image processing engine (effective pixels: approximately 47M for the S1R and 24M for the S1)

2. World’s first support for 4K 60p/50p video recording in a full-frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera

3. World’s first full-frame camera equipped with Dual I.S. (Image Stabilization), enabling handheld shots for dark or distant scenes that would previously have required a tripod or other equipment

4. A double slot for XQD memory cards and SD memory cards, the first for Panasonic; and a rugged triaxial tilt LCD, emphasizing ease of use and supporting professional photography and videography

5. Leica Camera’s L-Mount, making it possible to use interchangeable lenses that meet the L-Mount specifications of the partners Leica Camera and Sigma. Expressiveness is further enhanced by increasing options for interchangeable lenses.

The L Mount Alliance

L-Mount Alliance: Lenses for the new full-frame system to be developed and marketed by Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma. Here is the official Press Release. Below is a list of L Mount series lenses ALREADY on the market and ready to go. Compare this to Nikon and Canon’s minimal three lenses that were announced for their new mirrorless cameras. Thanks to good folks at Sans Mirror for the list of L-Mount series lenses below.

Lumix Professional Services

We will finally have great support for our Lumix camera system. Our tireless Lumix Ambassador leader, Tom Curley, drove this program like a dog on a bone. As a Lumix Ambassador, Chris Kane and Jamie Ramirez have always taken care of me like no other support I’ve experienced. But now others will get the same great service. We can’t sign up until October 1st, but that’s not far off. From what I understand the service will be free for all Lumix users, but there will be additional benefits for specific equipment and a paid service for additional benefits. You can get all the details in this Official Press Release for Lumix Professional Service.

Lumix Leica 10-25mm Micro Four Thirds G Series Lens

As proof that Lumix is not giving up on the MFT mirrorless cameras, they cut their teeth on the new MFT 10-25mm F/1.7 for goodness sakes. (20-50mm equivalent). This demonstrates their continued commitment to G Series! Along with this lens, the head of Panasonic Imaging Network, Yamanisan, details their continued commitment to the MFT cameras at 29:49. I was really glad to see this.

Lumix G Series Firmware Update

Along with all of this, we’re also going to be seeing a major firmware update coming at the end of October for the GH5, GH5s, G9, and GX9 bodies. Below is a list from the official press release on details of the firmware update.

The new firmware includes the following upgrades:

LUMIX DC-GH5 Firmware Ver.2.4

  1. Improvement of AF performance 2.Improvement of video recording operation

LUMIX DC-GH5S Firmware Ver.1.2

  1. Improvement of AF performance
    2.Improvement of stability during HDMI output
    3.Improvement of video recording performance
    4.Improvement of operation under specific lighting conditions (fluorescent lights, etc.)

LUMIX DC-G9 Firmware Ver.1.2

  1. Improvement of AF performance
    2.Improvement of operation under specific lighting conditions (fluorescent lights, etc.)

LUMIX DC-GX9 Firmware Ver.1.2

  1. Improvement of operation under specific lighting conditions (fluorescent lights, etc.)

Lumix Official Announcement at Photokina

My Take On What We’ve All Just Learned

These new full-frame cameras have been rumored for several weeks, starting with the first suggestion on 43Rumors. I was stunned when this rumor was first discussed. My initial thought was, “Why in the heck do we need a full-frame camera?”  More importantly, how in the heck does Panasonic think they can compete with Nikon, Canon, and now Sony?

The idea of Panasonic building a full-frame camera isn’t really new. I’ve been hearing MFT fans throwing their support behind the full-frame idea for several years. The success of what both Panasonic and Olympus have done, in the world of MFT, has encouraged photographers to want to see similar success in a larger sensor format.  But I’ve always felt, NO! Keep your eye on the ball. Panasonic and Olympus should concentrate on perfecting the MFT cameras so they eventually EQUAL the quality full-frame cameras.  That was my theory and I was steadfast until the rumors became more serious. As the rumors grew louder and the facts seemingly more inevitable, I began to rethink my position. And from that, I began to see the light on what is an opportunity Panasonic obviously saw several years ago. That opportunity is, the kingpins are vulnerable.

Nikon, Canon, Sony

When Nikon announced their new Z Series line of mirrorless cameras I was very surprised they only had three lenses to talk about. My goodness, they’ve been sitting on the sidelines at least five years. They knew this was coming. I was certain when Nikon pushed the button on their mirrorless they would do so with a huge splash, releasing at least a dozen dedicated lenses. But only three lenses? A week or two later Canon joins the fray and they too make an underwhelming proclamation, also with three lenses. I’m guessing they’re both thinking photographers are going to just love using the adapters for the Canon and Nikon lenses they already have. But I can tell you from experience, no matter who designs the adaptor, it’s never as good as a dedicated lens for a dedicated camera. Adapters are always a stop-gap measure.

And then there’s Sony who also started with very few lenses. But they’ve been at it for a while now and have made great progress in both numbers and the quality of the optics they have. An example is the Sony G Series 400mm F/2.8 and the 100-400mm zoom. Both these lenses are world-class optics that when combined with the jaw-dropping autofocus of the Sony A9, Nikon and Canon now have serious competition.

Freedom to Switch Between Camera Makers

And this is where it gets interesting. It’s obvious to me that somehow Panasonic knew both Nikon and Canon were not going into mirrorless with engines at full steam ahead. Somehow they understood both mega titans were going to be basically starting from scratch. Think about it, Nikon and Canon have a totally redesigned system with just three lenses each? That’s virtually nothing. In other words, there’s a huge opportunity for a dark horse, Panasonic’s Lumix, to join the game and be a serious contender. And when you hear about the Panasonic partners that were also announced–Leica and Sigma–you all of a sudden think wow, this could be for real. Obviously, Panasonic thinks so.

So the partner announcement is a big piece of the puzzle that really is equally exciting. Between all three companies, we now have what is the L-Mount Alliance. In other words, three major companies that will be sharing the same lens mount. Regarding Leica, they already have 13 lenses built and ready to be used with the new Lumix S Series cameras. Be warned, however, the Leicas are very expensive. Then there’s Sigma, who in the last 5-10 years, have upped their lens game to equal the best lenses being made by anyone in the business. They’ve developed a reputation for their Art Series lenses that are the envy of even the best lens makers in the business. Along with the L-Mount Alliance, Sigma also announced they’ll be joining the full-frame club with a new Sigma full-frame camera using their Foveon sensor. So we’ll then have three different camera manufacturers making camera bodies we can swap at will with the lenses we’ve bought for this system.

Options That Are Really Different

Finally, keep in mind that having two different systems is a tried and true business model that all full-frame players have adopted. With one big difference. The two Lumix systems, MFT and now full-frame, really are substantially different. And, the lenses for the MFT will be distinctly their own. Take Nikon for example, they do build a few DX specific lenses like the 17-55 F/2.8, which I don’t believe has been updated since it first came out. Compare it to Nikon’s full-frame equivalent 24-70mm F/2.8, and there is not a great deal of size difference. Same goes for the rest of their DX series lenses. Nikon’s DX lenses may be a bit smaller and lighter but not nearly what we have for MFT. With the Nikon system if you want a 600mm F/4 you have to use the one built for their full-frame cameras. I have no interest in carrying a 600mm F/4 full-frame lens any longer. With Lumix, you won’t have to if you stick with MFT, which by the way, is what I plan to do.

Advantage Consumer

So that’s where we’re at today. Panasonic joining the full-frame world with what will most likely be one hell of a system. And keep in mind others could join the L-Mount Alliance. Can you imagine how great it would’ve been over the years to switch between Canon and Nikon without the need to buy new lenses? And now Sony wants to lock us into that same business model. Lumix, Leica, and Sigma are out to break the longtime shackles Nikon and Canon have profited from for decades. Imagine that, a new system that has the consumer in mind, not the other way around. Let me know what you think about this revolutionary idea of a reatively open source camera system in the comments below.

Add Your Voice!
There are 19 comments on this post…
  1. Michael DavidsonOn Oct. 8th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    I feel a little betrayed that panasonic will invest in creating a new flagship camera instead of putting those resources into improving the sensor and AF. If MFT did threaten FF sales then i could see a potential conflict of interest here.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 8th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      I don’t think Panasonic will give up on MFT for the benefit of FF. Even if MFT. would start to encroach on FF, Panasonic would be in a position to take advantage of that. Think about it, they’ll have a tremendous advantage nobody else will have other than Olympus. I thinks it’s going to be great.

  2. Michael DavidsonOn Oct. 8th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    I’m worried that the investment in FF will lead to a decrease in MFT systems and there would be a conflict of interest if sensor and AF improvements rivalled that of FF. It would be a real shame to MFT converts.

    You can see which way this argument is going !!!!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 8th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      I think we’re going to be OK. As we all know, Every electronic gets smaller, lighter and cheaper. Nobody wants to carry FF cameras And especially the lenses. Long-term it’s all about getting smaller, less expensive and that’s MFT, Certainly not FF.

  3. David ROn Oct. 5th, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Well written article. I agree that I think the L Alliance is going to play a big role in the Panasonic FF success, and their MFT system will benefit just through Name association. Lenses won’t be a problem for long, if at all. From what Sigma indicated on their press, it sounds as though they will already be moving some of their glass over to the L platform very quickly. There are already 5 MFT specific prime lenses available (https://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/travel?sigma_mount=12067) and others that can be converted to MFT quickly. So, months before the S1 cameras are released we immediately have 13 MFT specific lenses available. Panasonic will have 3 more (minimum) when the camera launches and plan to have at least 10 of their own by the end of the 2019. While this announcement surprised me, the more I think about, the more I am convinced Panasonic has a plan that will benefit them on 2 levels. Their going FF I suspect is heavily driven by the need to release 8K video before the end of 2019. I think that S1 series cameras aren’t just a new platform but also a developmental platform for the future. I do not see them abandoning MFT. The strength of MFT is in its weight advantage, especially when it comes to lenses, and then also the need for powerful but compact professional systems that are smaller in size . (especially for airlines carry-on) without compromising IQ. Smaller sensor will continue to play a large role in the future of photography. And if there happened to be a “breakthrough” in sensor tech that would improve significantly on current MFT sensors…. Well we can only guess at what that benefit may be. I currently have Olympus for MFT but my first MFT was the GH1. That wasn’t so long ago, and I can compare my EM5-II to that camera and … well there is no comparison really except for video. The current MFT sensor are way ahead of the first ones in resolution, image quality, high ISO response, dynamic range, etc. I am watching the industry closely, but when I win the lottery tonight there will be a G9 and a few new lenses in my future. LOL

    I think we are living in exciting times photographically. I also think that Panasonic going FF is not a “me too” effort. They are going to go all out to kick Canon, Nikon and Sony in the shins and try to lock up the 8K video market. And the MFT system will also benefit because there are a lot of us who value our smaller and lighter but very versatile MFT systems plus tech will be shared between the platforms. I see a hopeful future for MFT.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 5th, 2018 (2 months ago)

      Thanks David, great input. I appreciate you stopping by to add your voice.

  4. Louis BerkOn Sep. 28th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Panasonic has consistently produced some great camera technology since the dawn of m43rds and they deserve to move into a new segment. This is a very strong partnership – a sort-of camera ‘supergroup’ to use a musical analogy. Having owned a Leica Q I know how much Leica have benefited from the Panasonic partnership in terms of fit and finish. Adding Sigma to the party will lead to an enormous range of lenses. And as a former Sigma Foveon fanboy I’m intrigued to think there is the possibility of a FF foveon camera in the offing using the same L mount, as well. I don’t like to troll but my feeling about the Nikon and Canon mirrorless cameras is that they have not understood the requirements of the market, at all. The Panasonic features are far more appropriate to professional users. Just the inclusion of twin card slots is evidence of that, let alone the stills and movie features. In as much less than 5 years ago I would never have thought Sony would dominate the camera market, if we fast forward another five years it may only be Sony and Panasonic as the main camera manufacturers with some niche players like Fuji and Pentax left. My only regret is that I am not in the market for a FF system – I bought into the Fuji MF system earlier this year for landscape work – but if I ever do downsize to FF then it is obvious to me to go Panasonic.
    In the meantime, I really hope for a big improvement in AF in the next G9 firmware release so I can continue to feel contented with the choice of m43rds for wildlife. You can’t beat the crop factor and low weight/compact size of the m43rds form factor when you are tramping across the countryside looking for birds (and your back is 3 years into its seventh decade or service)!

  5. Rich BallOn Sep. 27th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Dan – I appreciate your comments on the new Panasonic FFs. As micro 4/3s shooter and a full frame shooter. I have feet planted in both worlds. I have reluctance to even think about the Panasonic FF. As a Canon photographer the expense would be significant.

    Both Panasonic and Sony are very large companies. The photographic divisions are a small part of their business models. A recent financial report for Sony listed the photographic division as 8% of the revenues. I suspect for Panasonic it would be similar. I have the same comment I made about the Samsung ages ago. “I’m not sure I want to buy a camera from a company that makes washing machines refrigerators and cell phones.” I can’t accept they have the same dedication to the product that long standing camera company would. The Samsung NX-1 and some of their other cameras were getting great reviews until they abruptly pulled the plug.

    What is encouraging is the statement that they developed their own sensor. Panasonic is big enough and capable enough to fabricate their own sensors. Given enough time perhaps they can challenge Sony’s dominance in sensors. Hopefully they will push whatever technology they have into the micro 4/3 world. Although I suspect that the standard Bayer sensor technology may be close to its limits.

    With respect to adapters I have to believe that the Canon and Nikon adapter will work quite well. They know their own lenses and can incorporate the correct firmware into the camera body unlike the adapters for Canon lenses onto a Sony body which just have their own firmware. Other than an inconvenience factor I suspect they will be fine. Although they have introduced good new cameras the legacy lenses will be the biggest selling point for sometime to come.

    Finally, as an aging enthusiast the size and weight of the smaller formats is a factor as I suspect it is for you. I hope that the planners at Panasonic (and Olympus) remain committed to the micro 4/3 format. I truly want to see a GH6 and and an OMD EMI mark III. Competition does improve products.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 27th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Great input Rich. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with my readers. I have some thoughts on your thoughts but I’m staring to feel I don’t have a clue about any of this stuff. The best lesson I’ve learned over the years, as most do who are lucky to live long enough, is to Never Say Never. I most likely won’t go back to full frame for my entire system but it may happen if Panasonic can’t get their Predictive AF up to speed. I’m convinced, long term, smaller is where everybody would rather be. If Lumix had rocked the world with world class AF and a much improved next generation sensor, I don’t think they would have even made this full frame move. I will say that I would rather have them go full frame as opposed to throwing in the towel but if their engineers could have bettered the technology in MFT cameras, there wouldn’t be a need for a full frame Lumix. At least that’s the way I see it.

      Great to have you on the Blog and joining the conversation.

  6. Dave MathewsonOn Sep. 27th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Any insight as to what will happen with the G9 auto focus upgrade?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 27th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Dave, All I’ve been told is it will be a big improvement. I really hope that’s the case since you and I know all too well it needs it. Lets cross our fingers. I’ll be back in the states in November and hope to run tests with the new firmware updates then.

  7. Mike BeckworthOn Sep. 26th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Sometimes I think that MFT is wanted more by the manufacturers than the consumer. The media blitz as to why I should like it is relentless, yet most of the people who have one (myself included) say that other than weight saving they aren’t as good as a DSLR. The controls are less intuitive, the viewfinders while good just don’t compare to seeing through glass from end to end. They think that since everyone owns a cellphone that that is how they want their camera. For me that is not true. I can see how that could appeal to the casual photographer. And that camera companies want to get back the revenue they lost to cellphones. But as a standard for all serious photographers I think it’s a tough sell. The more I am involved in photography I find myself looking more at medium to large format as the best tool to make the images I want to make. In almost every article on MFT when there is any discussion, I find issues being talked about like compatibility, lack of lenses, Lens quality, and other topics that DSLRS have solved years ago. And in the end the spokesperson throwing out the excuse that it is a new technology and they are still working the bugs out. But yet want us to pay the same kind of cash as we would spend on a proven DSLR. And I should be excited to do it. I can’t speak for video as I am not a videographer, nor do I have a desire to be one. So all these talking points about video don’t impress me much. I want my camera to do one thing and one thing well. Take great photos. MFT and mirrorless still have to catch up and then surpass before you really get my attention.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 26th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      Interesting comments Mike. I don’t see the “media blitz” you talk about. In fact, I’ve always been surprised how little Panasonic advertises. They’ve started a bit more lately but very little compared to Sony, Nikon, and Canon. I do agree that if the consumer is uninterested than you might as well give up. However, it’s also true that if you repeat something enough times, people believe it and that’s the case with people thinking they need full frame cameras. How people can justify full frame camera when the vast majority do nothing more than Facebook posts has always made me scratch my head. I personally think the big two and now three have done a superb job of brainwashing the general photo consumer.

      Your comment about “the controls are less intuitive” is also interesting. I could not disagree more unless you’re thinking about Olympus. I do think the Olympus cameras are confusing. They mark very few of their buttons, unlike Lumix who puts the three most used buttons, +/- EV Compensation, WB and ISO, right up behind the shutter button where they can be adjusted fast and easy. Other tools that I find far superior to a traditional DSLR is the histogram in the EVF or back LCD constantly on and visible BEFORE I take the picture. 6K Video I can pull 18-megapixel stills from, Dual Image Stabilization that allows me to almost never carry a tripod, Starlight AF where the camera can actually focus on the stars when shooting night photography. Post Focus where I can create a JPEG with ultimate Depth of Field. 20 FPS in AF-C, 60FPS in AF-S. 4k Broadcast quality video though I know you don’t care about video but many people do. You talk about the viewfinder not begin as good as DSLR’s and in bright light you’re right, But in dark light, it’s much, much better in my opinion. You say you’re more and more interested in the larger medium format cameras and you suggest MFT doesn’t have many lenses. Are you kidding? Wait till you see the short list of lense for both the new Fuji or Hasselblad. Now you’re going to see what short on lenses really looks like not to mention the wheelbarrow full of money you’ll have to have to buy the ones they do have

      Finally, one of the major reasons I jumped over to MFT was due to the fact I was sick and tired of paying massive amounts of money for the gear I used. You mention, MFT has a lot of issues but, “yet want us to pay the same kind of cash as we would spend on a proven DSLR.” Once again I disagree. I have the new Leica 200mm F/2.8 (400mm equivalent) that cost me $2500.00US. The new Sony equivalent, on the other hand, is $12,000.00US. My top of the line Nikon D4 was $6700.00US. My latest top of the line Lumix G9 was $1799.00US

      It all boils down to what you do with your pictures and how each system works for you. For the vast, vast majority of people shooting full frame cameras, they’ve drastically overpaid for the privilege of technology they won’t even notice. I’ve earned my living for literally 40 years selling my pictures and in the past five years, since switching to the MFT cameras, I’ve not had one editor complain about the lack of quality. Literally not one!

      Thaks for joing the conversation. Great to have you visit. Be well.

  8. William BunnOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    I am not that happy as well. I push micro 4/3 for birds. Weight for people my age (older)
    I am amazed at how far they have taken this format. I was always hoping for more sensor improvements that would rival larger formats but this to me signals less development in 4/3. 😢

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      I don’t think so William. Panasonic seems very driven. I was amazed at all the announcements they made today. Forward updates coming, a new MFT lens, Pro service. I really don’t believe they plan to give up on MFT. They’re hqdgnig their bets and planning to make money in the big leagues as well. We all know that electronics do nothing but get smaller, lighter and less expensive. They have a huge advantage on that from with MFT and I don’t think they will give that up.

  9. Portrait of David and Shiela Glatz

    Dave GlatzOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Panasonic announced three FF lenses. Yes you can use Leica lenses and yes they are ridiculously expensive. So I don’t see how that is a realistic option or a true competitive advantage. Apparently Panasonic agrees since I understand they are also developing one or more adapters and have a “roadmap” for more lenses through 2020 – which is exactly what Nikon and (I think) Canon did. I’m shooting Nikon but am not interested in the Nikon mirror-less system right now. AF and buffer issues reported in the system render it unusable for most of my photography. But I think it’s fair to wait until the lens adapters are in use before judging them. From what I’ve read, I don’t think it’s fair to compare these to the typical adapters made by third parties to convert mounts from different camera/lens manufacturers. The only issues I’ve heard relate to using these adapters to mount Nikon lenses that are older than anything in my bag.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      We shall see about the adapters Dave. I’ve never seen an adapter yet that performs anywhere close to the nonadapter dedicated lenses. I have read some reviews on the Nikon adapter that suggest it’s really good but noticeably slower than the dedicated lenses for the Z Series. My guess is the kind of work you do, when you do go mirrorless, you’ll most likely want a dedicated lens. That’s where Lumix, Sigma and Leica will have an opportunity to change people from either Nikon or Canon. Fun time in the world of photography.

  10. Fred KurtzOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

    Very nice article Dan. Do you plan on obtaining any of the new gear to test? I can see you doing that but I cannot see you switching back to the big stuff for travels. I plan on staying with MFT. This will be a wonderful option for those that do not already experience the advantages of the MFT systems and want to stay full frame. Exciting times for sure in the camera industry.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 25th, 2018 (3 months ago)

      I’m hanging tight with my Lumix MFT for my wildlife photography Freddy. I’m not sure I’ll be testing the new gear for Lumix but if I get the opportunity I would most likely want to give the wide 24-105 a try for landscape work. Thanks for your comment.

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