Panasonic’s Imaging Division boss, Yosuke Yamane has expressed strong confidence in the L-Mount Alliance during an interview with Barney Britton of DPReview.com (see link below).
Mr Yamane sees a strong future for the Alliance: “With Leica and Sigma, we hope to be offering L-Mount cameras for ever. If you purchase a camera from another brand, you have to rely solely on that brand. But we are three, and because of that we can give our users the assurance that the L-Mount alliance is not going to disappear.”
He suggested that promoting the Alliance gives customers confidence in the long-term future. Such promotion could involve joint booths at trade shows and organising touch-and-try in-store events where products from all three manufacturers could be handled and compared.
The members of the Alliance meet periodically to continue the relationship. At the moment, he said, the partners are discussing the wider issues of how to expand the L-Mount system and cooperating on detail such as changes to the communication protocol between cameras and lenses.
The Panasonic S1 and S1R full-frame bodies have been on the market for over a year and, according to Mr Yamane, have made an impressive debut. He claims that Panasonic has already taken a ten-percent share of the over-€3,000 global camera market and that this counts as a strong performance.
He also stated that the number of members of the L-Mount Alliance may increase in the future, something which I believe would reinforce the perceived benefit of the system to consumers.
Moving on to Panasonic’s other interchangeable lens system, Micro Four-Thirds, Mr Yamane felt that both systems complement one another. One advantage of MFT, he said, is the deep depth of field which is also good for video. This contrasts with the full-frame system which offers different advantages, particularly for stills photographers. The requirements of the two systems are different and Panasonic satisfies both.
He touched on the size and weight benefits of Micro Four-Thirds. Since full-frame sensors are four times the size of MFT, lenses also nees to be big in order to take full advantage of the larger format.
However, he conceded that some manufacturers are making very small lenses for the full-frame system and that this could lead to sacrificing lens quality to a certain extent. This means, he said, that such smaller lenses are not utilising the benefit of the full-frame sensor but, “when it comes to Micro Four-Thirds, we can fully utilise the benefits of the sensor and we believe that, as a combination, the overall quality of MFT can be very good”.
Panasonic has previously said that it will not develop an APS-C system and, while Mr Yamane didn’t entirely rule out a move in this direction, he confirmed that there are no current plans. He believes that a Panasonic APS-C system would overlap both the Micro Four Thirds and full-frame systems.
Mr Yamane’s positive view of the L-Mount Alliance mirrors similar confidence we have heard from Leica and Sigma. While Leica may have worried about cannibalisation, particularly following the introduction of much cheaper high-quality lenses such as those from Sigma, the benefits of cooperation — particularly in the confidence it gives to buyers — is an overall advantage.