Panasonic Lumix Execs Come to Bozeman

Posted Jun. 4th, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic Lumix Execs Come to Bozeman. Two days ago was a big day for us at Natural Exposures and Polar Bears International. Three executives from Panasonic’s Lumix division came all the way to Bozeman, Montana. Mr. Yasuhide Yamada is actually stationed in New Jersey, but two of his colleagues, Shinji Watanabe and Henri Nishikawa, came all the way from Osaka, Japan. Our meeting was a chance to sit down and discuss future lens development for the Panasonic Lumix camera system. As most of you know I had some thoughts.

Daniel Cox with Yasuhide Yamada, Shinji Watanabe and Henri Nishikawa at the Natural Exposures office after meetings with Panasonic executives to discuss future lens development. Bozeman, Montana

Daniel Cox with Yasuhide Yamada, Shinji Watanabe, and Henri Nishikawa at the Natural Exposures office after meetings with Panasonic executives to discuss future lens development. Bozeman, Montana

Before they came I wrote a blog post titled: Panasonic Lumix Future Lens Development – Add Your Voice! Many of you did just that. I also posted the topic on the DPReview website asking for the same input. We received a huge amount of feedback from both posts and I was incredibly surprised AND humbled by so many comments and the gracious appreciation many of you extended for my offer to get others involved by way of the internet. My office staff saved all the comments in two separate PDF documents, one from DPReview and one from our blog, and these were passed on to our Lumix friends for further review. We even went through the lengthy text and highlighted the specific lenses you all requested or talked about.

Daniel Cox discusses future lens development with Panasonic Lumix executives Henri Nishikawa, Shinji Watanabe and Yasuhide Yamada at the Natural Exposures office in Bozeman, Montana

Daniel Cox discusses future lens development with Panasonic Lumix executives Henri Nishikawa, Shinji Watanabe, and Yasuhide Yamada at the Natural Exposures office in Bozeman, Montana

As you can imagine, I can’t relate specific details about what might be coming. But I can say that Lumix does have a lens in development that’s nearly ready to go. It will be a huge leap forward and something I’m extremely excited about and I’m confident others will feel the same.  Equally important as the knowledge of this new lens was our discussions regarding  ideas for future optics.

Panasonic Lumix executives Shinji Watanabe, Henri Nishikawa and Yasuhide Yamada take time out to review one of Daniel's newest print newest print releases "Raven Spirit" at the Natural Exposures office in Bozeman, Montana

Panasonic Lumix executives Shinji Watanabe, Henri Nishikawa, and Yasuhide Yamada take time out to review one of my newest fine art print releases “Raven Spirit.” This image was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens and is printed 32×40 inches. Natural Exposures office in Bozeman, Montana

Again, without any details, I can tell you that we spoke about the entire range of lens choices a professional photographer or serious enthusiast requires to truly hone their photographic craft. There were even a couple of lenses they suggested I hadn’t thought about that were very exciting. I came away from the lens discussions feeling very positive that the Lumix brand has no plans of letting Olympus garner all the attention. Thank you Panasonic Lumix team.

Finally, because we share an office with and have a long term commitment to Polar Bears International, I was able to incorporate my two dear PBI friends, Krista Wright, Executive Director and BJ Kirschhoffer, Field Operations Manager, into the meeting. No, they weren’t there for the discussion about lenses so don’t think BJ may have insider info you can quiz him on 🙂

Krista discussing PBI projects with the Panasonic Lumix executives that came to meet with Dan in Bozeman. Montana

Krista discussing PBI projects with the Panasonic Lumix executives that came to meet with Dan in Bozeman. Montana.

PBI was included due to the importance of our working relationship and the commitment we both have to photography and multimedia. I felt their inclusion was very appropriate due to Panasonic being a world leader in new sustainability technology to help reduce the world’s carbon footprint, or what many of us call global warming.

Panasonic Lumix executives checking out the remote cameras used by PBI for the maternal den study in Alaska.

Panasonic Lumix executives checking out the remote cameras used by PBI for the maternal den study in Alaska.

Additionally, BJ was able to show them the amazing technology behind Buggy One, cameras for the Maternal Den Studies in Alaska and other high tech uses of cameras and lenses PBI employs on a regular basis. We would love to get Panasonic onboard as a major corporate sponsor of Polar Bears International.

A wonderful lunch at Ted's Montana Grill with our guests from Panasonic . Bozeman, Montana

PBI, Natural Exposures, and our Lumix friends at Ted’s Montana Grill. Bozeman, Montana

It was a great meeting and when it was done, we took them for lunch to my all time favorite dining establishment, Ted’s Montana Grill. For those who don’t know about Ted’s, it’s owned by world class conservationist Mr. Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting fame. All of our Panasonic guests ordered big Montana bison or beef steaks and there wasn’t a scrap left on their plates. They loved it!

Wonderful bison streaks for our friends from Panasonic at Ted's Montana Grill in Bozeman, Montana

Wonderful bison steaks for our friends from Panasonic at Ted’s Montana Grill in Bozeman, Montana.

After lunch I took them to both of Bozeman’s world-class photo stores. Yes, our tiny little town has TWO of the best camera stores I’ve ever been in. Bozeman Camera is one of the newest Lumix dealers in the nation. Marshal was there to meet all the Lumix executives and I think he may have been a bit surprised when we came through the doors to say hello.

Panasonic Lumix Executives from Tokyo meet with Marshal Lewis at Bozeman, Camera in Montana.

Panasonic Lumix executives from Osaka meet with Marshal Lewis at Bozeman Camera in Montana.

Next on the list was F11 Photo where we had a chance to see long-time friend Marsha Phillips, who was the dealer I bought my first Lumix from in 2009. F11 Photo let their Lumix dealership go awhile back, but I’m hopeful we can get her back onboard at some point.

Panasonic Lumix Executives from Tokyo meet with Marsha Phillips F11 Photographic Supplies in Bozeman, Montana.

Panasonic Lumix executives from Osaka meet with Marsha Phillips. F11 Photographic Supplies in Bozeman, Montana

So that’s how this amazing meeting all transpired.  To say I was honored to have such a major company send three of their very best here to Bozeman, Montana to talk shop, is an under statement.

Henri Nishikawa, Shinji Watanabe and Yasuhide Yamada get their picture taken in front of the beautiful Bridger Mountains outside of Bozeman, Montana

Henri Nishikawa, Shinji Watanabe, and Yasuhide Yamada get their picture taken in front of the beautiful Bridger Mountains outside of Bozeman, Montana.

I was humbled to say the least. Panasonic is definitely in this game for the long run and I’m hopeful I can help them become a major player. It won’t be easy, but then again what else does a photographer who’s tired of carrying large, heavy, expensive equipment have to do?

Below is a slide show with more photos from the day.

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There are 14 comments on this post…
  1. WilliamOn Jun. 6th, 2015

    Good to hear. I’m excited for this upcoming lens.

    I guess it will be announced around the time the GX8 gets announced.

    Funnily enough, it was the the GF7 and G7 that showed me that Panasonic is really getting serious about their M43 range. I felt the G6 and GF6 was a product of hesitation and uncertainty.

    While the GF7 and G7 just show confidence. We’ve sold out of our GF7s while we still have a GF6 still sitting here!

    I hope that the GX7 successor takes design cues from the G7 because ergonomically, the GX7 could be better.

    This also reflects in their lenses IMHO. Olympus are just pumping out and getting the headlines for all the bodies and lenses they’re releasing while the Pana 42.5mm 1.7, 30mm macro, 15mm f1.7 have all had a “yeah they’re nice” kind of reaction.

    I think Panasonics next range of lenses will reflect their confidence in their M43 range a bit more.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 7th, 2015

      William, I agree with your perception of a lack of confidence. I think the Gh4 proved to Panasonic they can truly compete. I also agree with your lack of excitement for the ergonomics of the GX7. I LOVE the looks, feel and almost everything about the LX100 which has also been a smash hit for the LUMIX line. If only they would have put touch screen in the LX100 and somehow figured out how to add a built in flash. If they do that to the LX100 successor it will be an even bigger hit. I think Panasonic LUMIX is just getting started and I’m even more encouraged after last weeks meeting.

  2. Todd BrissonOn Jun. 5th, 2015

    Great news!! I’m very hopeful that some pro-grade fixed-aperture telephotos will be announced soon. Olympus is very close to getting my money for the 40-150mm F2.8 zoom but I’d prefer to pair a Lumix lens with OIS and DFD if something similar is on the roadmap.

  3. Fred KurtzOn Jun. 5th, 2015

    Great news Dan. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with and when. What did they think of the Olympus 45-150 lens hood compared to their less than stellar lens hoods? Also any news on when the Olympus 300mm fixed will be released?

    Fred

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 5th, 2015

      Fred, They agreed that their lens hoods need improvement. We shall see how that goes. Regarding the Olympus 300mm F/4, I’ve heard that that lens has been delayed. I originally heard it was coming out in November but the most recent rumor says there is not a known date for it’s release.

  4. DeanOn Jun. 5th, 2015

    Dan –

    You’re still the “Big Dog!” It’s wonderful that you have the “ear” of the folks at Panasonic to give them invaluable “hands on” and “in the field” feedback. And, your continued advocacy on behalf of threatened critters is even more significant because if we don’t have nature to photograph, we’ll be stuck taking shots of our running pooches! By the way, on a recent vist to the Columbus Zoo, I was pleased to see two of your great photos on display (educating the kiddos) at the Polar bear exhibit. Sad to see such amazing creatures in captivity, but happy that people are learning of the need to protect them from the rampage of climate change. You are an educator, first, and a [terrific] photographer, second. Keep preaching!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 5th, 2015

      Thanks so much Dean. Greatly appreciated. By the way. Are you feeling OK since you seem to have forgotten your Olympus singers:)

  5. StephenOn Jun. 5th, 2015

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you so much for providing an avenue to give Panasonic feedback, and hopefully influence some of their photography and video development team.

    I currently own the GX7 and Lx100 with a couple of Panasonic and Olympus lenses. I mostly use the P25/1.4 and P35-100/2.8 on my GX7.

    I am considering the G7 to replace my GX7 for the 4k and DFD features, but I am put off by the fact that Panasonic “region-locks” their cameras to either PAL or NTSC for video. It seems like there is no good technical reason since the GH4 is a “world camera” and supports all frame rates. I guess they are trying to prevent grey market cameras or something, but the truth is they don’t have global warranties on their cameras or lenses anyway. I find this frustrating as I often travel between Canada and Europe, and being able to use the correct framerate to avoid flickering in artificial light would help.

    Also, they could improve a couple of more things like allowing single autofocus to work during the recording video when set to manual focus, enabling HDMI out on cameras such as the LX100, and allowing longer video recording times. Being able to set the shutter speed on the LX100 to a fixed number (i.e. 1/50) and ignoring the physical dial in video mode would also make things easier when shooting video in PAL land.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my Panasonic cameras and lenses, especially for photography, and think that there is not much more camera than I need than the LX100 which is fantastic (although a little tilt/touch screen would be a bonus)! There are just a few niggles for Panasonic to improve on, and to improve the OIS performance when recording video.

  6. GrantOn Jun. 4th, 2015

    Why have they let their lens roadmap expire? A new lens is “ready to go”, “incredibly exciting”, but the world has no clue? I feel sheer frustration. Why is this torture of the customer now the Panasonic way? See Olympus, see Fuji, see Sony; are they disadvantaged by having a lens roadmap? Their existing customer base is much happier about having a lens roadmap, I promise you.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 4th, 2015

      Grant, sorry for your obvious frustration. I would agree with you if either Fuji or Olympus had as good of bodies as Lumix. I just don’t personally think they do. Quite frankly, I think Panasonic is learning and I also think they have been blown away AND very surprised with the success of the GH4. I think they canceled the rumored update to the 100-300mm zoom and the semi-announced 150mm F/2.8 before they realized they had one hell of camera in the GH4 and then realized they needed serious glass. I think you could argue they may have made a mistake but their equipment is so superb that they thankfully have some goodwill with people willing to hang in there. I know I’m planning to. Panasonic is a conservative, slow moving company but when they decide to do a product, it is top notch. All that said, I too would love to see a lens roadmap. I’ll bring this up with them. Maybe we can make some progress. In short I very much believe in their products and I understand and appreciate the amount of money it takes to produce such high tech imaging tools that could put them out of business if they make a mistake. I think they are going to do it, however it may just be about 6 months later than I would like.

  7. Steve HoodOn Jun. 4th, 2015

    Well done Daniel! It is great that you have been able to build a relationship with Panasonic. Hopefully we will see some more details on a telephoto lens by the end of this year.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 4th, 2015

      Steve, I think you will be quite happy with an eventual announcement, sooner rather than later. Hang in there.

  8. GeorgeOn Jun. 4th, 2015

    I see hope…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 4th, 2015

      George, I can tell you are from the mindset of “the glass is half full” mentality. Good for you. You won’t be disappointed.

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