10 months ago

Day 1 - IFA International

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Exclusive Interview

Exclusive Interview Ichiro Kitao Director, DSC Business Unit, AVC Networks Company - Panasonic Corporation. Ichiro Kitao was appointed as Director of DSC Business Unit, AVC Networks Company in January 2010. He joined Panasonic in 1986 and was engaged in overseas sales & marketing business in Video Division. He moved to DSC Development Center, precursor of DSC Business Unit, in October 2002, and took charge of product planning of digital still camera and as a core member stared Lumix business. He served as Group Manager of DSC product planning from February 2008 to December 2009. ABOUT PANASONIC Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products in three business fields, consumer, components & devices, and solutions. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of about 72 billion Euros for the year ended March 31, 2012. Panasonic’s stock is listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE:PC) Stock Exchanges. The company has the vision of becoming the No. 1 Green Innovation Company in the Electronics Industry by the 100th year of its founding in 2018. For more information on Panasonic, its brand and commitment to sustainability, visit the company's website at LUMIX G5C Panasonic I Want My DSLM! Trends in digital camera business lean towards mirrorless single lens category With a slogan “Innovative solutions for a smarter lifestyle”, Panasonic is developing a smart synergy between its consumer products, electronic business, energy business and the eco area of their business including home appliances. The approach is that instead of developing standalone products, the company can provide a complete solution with a combination of products that aim to make a contribution to peoples' lives. The Lumix camera range is part of this concept, while at the same time evolving towards the higher-end Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) segment. We asked Ichiro Kitao, Director of DSC Business Unit, AVC Networks Company how he sees this segment growing in the next years. [ Interview by Richard Barnes ] This is a key market for growth because in the compact fixed lens segment demand is declining, especially in advanced markets such as the United States, Europe and Japan. On the other hand for the system camera (with interchangeable components), the market is growing steadily even in this tough economic situation. So this is of course a key category in which to establish our Lumix range as a leading camera brand. The mirror-less market is now up to almost 50% of the System camera market. Do you think there is going to be one day when there will no more mirrors in cameras? In Japan, 55% of the cameras we sell are mirror-less. On a global level, we expect the mirror-less category to overtake the DSLR segment in 3 to 5 years. You have announced several new cameras in this range this summer. What are the main areas of development in these system cameras? The quality of the lens is important for a system camera, as it is vital for the quality of the picture, so along with our optical partners, we have developed excellent technologies to process the high quality image that comes from the “On a global level, we expect the mirror-less category to overtake the DSLR segment in 3 to 5 years” top tier lenses we use. So alongside the lens quality, we feel that the usability of the camera is a very important aspect, as are such factors as an excellent auto focus and optimal graphics for the user interface. For the new ranges released, there are also several new lenses coming out. Can you explain what is different about them? There are three new lenses being released this year and two of them are very fast F2.8 lenses, they are very high performance lenses even for professionals, but they are very compact and lightweight and together with the new G5 camera, you can carry them in a tiny bag. Ichiro Kitao Director of DSC Business Unit, AVC Networks Company, Panasonic High performance lenses are one of our main priorities at the moment, so last year for example we introduced the Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4 Summilux lens. On the other hand, we also have a range of budget lenses that are compact and also high quality, and these are our new 45 and 50 lenses. 16

Exclusive Interview So for example if we look at the new Lumix GX 12- 35mm fast zoom lens released this year, what is the target buyer? High range amateurs and professionals. It is ideal for the high-end amateur who wants to have a good quality lens. For nature photography this is quite important. Sports photographers also need higher shutter speeds in long zoom, so this lens is also ideal for the sports photographer. I see that a lot of tourists are now carrying expensive cameras. Is this a niche or a trend? Globally, the trend is going towards system cameras with interchangeable lenses, this is a fast growing segment of the market. The market for Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras is shrinking, and there is a definite trend for better and better picture quality, so the interchangeable high quality lenses are exactly what people are looking for. They give a great narrow depth of field enabling you to shoot great pictures. How difficult has it been to lower the aperture ratio on these types of lenses? Normally you would need a very ‘fat’ lens, but these new lenses are very compact... One important factor is the sensor size that we use. With a full-frame sensor, the lens itself would have to be bigger. We are also using many aspherical lenses and this helps minimize the size. Of the cameras you have released this year, is there a priority for the European market? In the system category, it is definitely the G5. But in the compact camera segment it is the FZ200. It is a fixed lens camera, so the lens is not interchangeable, but it is an F2.8 lens with a 24x zoom, so it has powerful optics. Among the fixed lens segment it is the FZ200 that is the most interesting. Are you providing support for retailers to help them retail these new cameras as an up sell? Yes, this is one of our key elements. To train the dealers, we need to convince them about the product range so that they are confident when explaining the benefits to their customers. Dealer training is very important for us, so we visit key retailers for this, and also invite dealers to special events. Our approach to the type of training that we provide varies from country to country, but training for dealers and retailers is most definitely a major focus. How will camera technology evolve and how will people be using cameras five years from now? In the initial stage of digital camera evolution, the camera was a kind of peripheral of the computer. So starting with the VGA (eds: Video Graphics Array) size, as the amount of data increased, initially 2-3 million pixels, people began to see the digital camera as a replacement for the film camera. So with the increase in quality of the digital camera and the convenience of not having to develop film, photography quickly migrated from film to digital cameras. The compact size of digital cameras also made them more convenient to use. Now, the smart phone is having a drastic impact on photography through its ability to connect with social networks. This helps to create a much wider interest in photography and as people realise the limitations in quality of smart phone photography, they start looking at better quality digital cameras. This is helping to rapidly expand the market and the mirror-less system camera is an ideal solution for them. Wi-Fi connectivity seems to be important these days. What other innovations are important? Nowadays, there are many components that have connectivity with the Internet; not only cameras, but smart TVs and even home appliances. So what matters most for new camera technology is what kind of new usage we can provide in relation to interconnectivity with other devices. Today, young people have lots of smart phone applications, so app-driven functionality is very important. “(...) along with our optical partners, we have developed excellent technologies to process the high quality image that comes from the top tier lenses we use (...)” The Lumix app for example has photo re-modelling capabilities and remote control of the camera including the ability to steer the camera at a distance and change the zoom and shutter speed. Users can also browse the content of the camera via their smartphone and share its content directly. Hall 5.2 Stand 101 LUMIX FZ200 Panasonic IFA International • Friday 31 st August 2012 17

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