We're still waiting on selections from our portrait session of the hedge fund CFO. It's always this way; older projects that still need post production start to pile up just as new, bigger projects come in. I'm currently trying to get organized for the Texas wine shoot which, ostensibly, starts next week. I'm hopeful I can clear the decks before we accelerate to escape velocity.
It's hard to know what to believe about the camera industry but this morning I heard rumors that Panasonic is considering offloading their consumer camera division. Shades of Samsung! Just when I find a system I really like they pull the rug out from under your feet. I'm going to give this rumor less than 50% credence. I've been seeing insinuations and conjecture that Panasonic was not meeting sales goals since early Fall of last year. And so far all I'm seeing is new product introductions that seem very well accepted; such as the new f1.8 lenses and the S5 camera.
People claim not to see many of the cameras "out on the street" but I think that's more a reflection of their specific market. The initial marketing and products have all been aimed at professional users and products like the very niche S1H, at $4,000.00, can hardly be considered a popular choice for amateurs while many of my friends in the film and video businesses are snapping them up like candy to do their projects. The S1H is still the camera to beat, under $10,000 for real video productions, slow AF not withstanding.
I guess in the past I would have been a bit depressed even to hear this kind of rumor but since the Panasonic L mount cameras are part of an alliance with Sigma and Leica I'm less chagrined. I can happily keep buying Leicas and I'm fairly certain that they aren't going anywhere any time soon. In fact, if I remember correctly, they just wrapped up a record setting year for profits. And sales. In fact, they can't keep up with demand.
In addition to Leica I can see going back to using the Sigma FP and even picking up and FP-L with EVF as an alternative to the Panasonics, if they do go away. The Sigma has really nice color and they are fun to use. Not quite the "all-around" performer that the S1 series is but I'm not the kind of "power user" who needs stuff like high frame rates or the ability of the camera to follow someone zigzagging at top speed back and forth in front of the camera.
Still, I think higher end camera buyers haven't really understood the very positive value proposition of the S1 camera family and I can place the blame for that squarely on Panasonic. People, in general, are not very smart and it's incumbent on a product maker to explain to them over and over again just why they should buy a product. It's never enough to trust people to evaluate subjective parameters like color accuracy and haptics. You have to guide them through the maze, step-by-step. Especially if your competitor is Sony. Even though Sony makes a poorer product the sheer amount and coverage of advertising they toss into the market more or less ensures that they suck out all the oxygen for everyone else but Canon.
I hope we're not re-living the Edsel all over again. But if we are I'm happy to know the lenses I've bought will still perform well on Leicas. And, if it comes to pass that Panasonic bails, then the market exists for Sigma to make more (mass) consumer friendly L-mount cameras and grab for a bit more market share.
The logical thing seems to be (if Panasonic does want to spin off the consumer camera division) to outsource all the production to one of their Chinese partners, keep a stake in the business and share the risk. If the world economy recovers and sales volume increases they can still have some control and share of the profit.
I'm just throwing dice and looking at messy tea leafs but I think they'd be foolish not to have tossed in the towel in 2020 when the future was gloomy and clouded instead of waiting until consumers and wallets recovered and are again ready to spend money. If Panasonic is contemplating a retreat from the market I think they'll wait until they see how the new, cheaper primes are received, see if they can revitalize the higher end market with the introduction of an S1R-mk2 and gauge what consumer demand is for their GH6 camera, which has already been announced.
Since I don't own stock in Panasonic it's not a big deal for me. I like the idea of staying with cameras I like but the transition to owning some Leica bodies certainly took some of the allure away for me. I'm not a lens snob though so I do like that I can pick and choose through a range of affordable lenses to use on either system.
Now I know how Olympus users must have felt when the rumors started.
Swimming. I'm sure almost all of you have been waiting impatiently to get a report about how the masters swimming is going now that we've temporarily squeezed three practices a day down to one combined practice. I'm so glad you asked!!!
Tuesdays are always the most crowded since the pool is closed on Mondays. There has always been a hardcore crew at the earliest practice but now the rest of us who had the option of sleeping a little later (until last week) are flocking in to join them. There is more than the usual jockeying for lanes on a Tuesday. There are more fast people than slow or medium speed people and the momentum of the grab for pool real estate keeps reducing the available lanes for more relaxed swimming (still doing the workout, just on slower intervals). The highest demand is for the middle lanes which represent hard and fast swimming but not at the level the elite swimmers in the group set. We fear venturing into lanes 5, 6, or 7.
I got to the pool about ten minutes before the start of workout to try to insinuate control of lane four. I was joined in short order by our usual crew of three others and we were in the water and moving through the warm-up sets before the rest of the lanes sorted out their pecking orders and decided who was swimming where. Once a lane establishes a pace it works to keeps slower people out as they won't be able to keep the pace and make the intervals, and it discourages the faster swimmers from coming in because they would be obligated to follow the (slower) pace of the majority of the lane. Kind of a first come, first served strategy.
That's not to say that a slower or faster swimmer couldn't join the lane; we would accommodate them, but if a pace and a constituency had already emerged they would have to work within those parameters.
About 15 minutes into the workout we had a twenty minute bout of torrential rain. As long as there is no thunder or lightning it is almost impossible to get swimmers out of an ongoing workout. The coach on deck grabbed an umbrella and didn't miss a beat.
We pounded out some good yardage in lane four today. Even though the coaches are keeping the distances in sets shorter, to accommodate the greater number of people in the lanes, we were able to get in 3200 yards in our allotted 55 minutes.
The rest of the week should have fewer swimmers per workout. We have two workouts per morning on the weekends and last Sunday I shared a lane with only one other person.
I've upped the number of days I'm swimming back to six and I have to say it's taking more effort to go fast every day than it has in the past. I refuse to credit age with this insulting turn of events.... I think I'll just have to go with a commensurate increase in naps.
Aren't you glad we shared this on the blog? It's more exciting than considering the possible untimely death of a good camera company.