Tester13: “The GH2 is the best (disastrous) camera for video shooters!”


What does the famous GH1 hacker Vitaly Kiselev (alias “Tester13”) think about the new Panasonic GH2? I had the chance to talk with him. I kept the chat content untouched (without any language correction). The Interview is very long so please click the link below to read it!

Reminder: Tester13 (Vitaliy Kiselev) is the hacker that patched the GH1/GF1 camera software. He is active on DVXforum.com and Pentax-hack.info.

43rumors: What do you think about the new Panasonic GH2?
VK: I think that Panasonic announced their best camera in the history. This is clear.
VK: But.
43rumors: But?
VK: I think that Panasonic now is on the verge of disaster concerning GH2.
VK: Really.
43rumors: That is a surprising statement! Are you not contradicting yourself?
VK: No. Just look at GH2. Body only is introduced. But price is $899, and this is USA price!
43rumors: So you say the camera itself is fantastic but the price too high?
VK: It could be fine if they have intentions to ship it on mars.
VK: But in reality we have a bunch of cameras with video or with “video”.
VK: Strongest are from Canon and Nikon. But Sony is pretty close.
VK: Boundary today is in $800-900 dollars. So they spotted it right. But this boundary is for Nikon or Canon.
VK: You could sell 60D fine, but you can’t sell the GH2 for similar price.
43rumors: Why?
VK: Because it is m43 body, use m43 lenses and is made by Panasonic.
43rumors: But the Gh2 has a much better video quality than the 60D…
VK: Yep. GH2 video quality and usability will be much higher. But.
VK: Panasonic has very tough lesson to learn. Average people do not shoot video frequently. And film makers number is still very small.
VK: People like that camera shoots video, use it from time to time (most of them about 5-10 times for whole body life).
VK: And that’s really all.
VK: So, you can’t sell GH2 as video camera with only marketing slogan being “it shoots best video” :-)
VK: I see big fail ahead. I mean disproportion between sales and expectations of them.
43rumors: Because the image quality is worse than the 60D the Gh2 should have been priced much lower?
VK: Because Panasonic has much smaller fellowship and fewer lenses. I can find many points here.
VK: But most importantly – because GH2 seems to be very high margin camera.
VK: Look at Sony NEX with four chips and look at GH2 with one on top of the other.
43rumors: Don’t you think the many filmmakers will buy that camera? Maybe that is the real target from Panasonic.
VK: As for filmmaker community. I am sure that it’ll be most popular VDSLR, yes.
VK: But, again, filmmaker community is not extremely important. It is hard for me to tell this :-)
43rumors: So you say issue number one is the high price, issue number two is the small range of lenses. What Lenses should Panasonic make to be really competitive?
VK: I think that Panasonic do not need many lenses to grow fast. It needs extremely cheap electronic converters for Canon and Nikon lenses. With full AF, and IS working.
43rumors: And a dedicated fast video-zoom lens! Maybe it will come with the AG-AF100
VK: As for fast video zoom lens – just go and buy one TV lens with 2x extender :-)
43rumors: Let’s talk about the technical qualities of the GH2. What do you like most about the GH2?
VK: I think I like 1:1 crop zoom the most. One feature that will never be available for AF100.
VK: Making your $10 c-mount lens extremely useful. :-)
VK: Get one used F1.4 ENG motorized zoom lens, buy adapter and here you go. You are shooting on the camera with sensor between 1/2″ and 2/3″.
VK: In fact, you have top of the line Panasonic 2/3″cameras image as free addition to GH2. :-)
VK: Plus large DOF. I love large DOF in many cases.
43rumors: Did you analyze the GH2 video encoder?
VK: GH2 encoder seems to be much better. Not perfect, of course.
VK: B frames are present. But CABAC encoding is not. Generally, it looks strange. But decision can be not related to technology, but more to corporate politics.
VK: Otherwise GH2 could become camcorder in different form factor :-)
VK: 1080p50 and 1080p60 modes also absent. Can be also not entirely technological choice (making TM700 still shine in some aspects).
43rumors: Will you be able to hack the Gh2 to allow 1080p60 recording?
VK: No one knows it :-)
43rumors: Disaster: Price, Lenses and?
VK: Look at GH2. Again prices in Europe and UK are set by some strange man.
VK: Any reason behind it?
VK: Others are doing this. So we will be doing the same. It is nuts.
43rumors: All products are more expensive in Europe. It’s not just Panasonic. Also the Canon or Nikon cameras are more expensive here.
VK: Problem is that any SANE reasons behind this are unknown :-)
VK: As I said. Everyone is doing this. Crowd instincts.
43rumors: What if the price of the GH2 body would be $600 (or 600 Euro). Would that really help to sell much more cameras?
VK: I expect that body sales will triple at least. And remember – GH2 is high margin camera, so actual profits will be also larger.
VK: And Panasonic make money on lenses. More bodies – more lenses – more money – everyone happy – management get bonuses. :-)
43rumors: But at least they are now offering a “Body Only” version. So they are learning…slowly!
VK: Yeah. Read Thom Hogan’s today essay :-)
VK: They iterate, iterate, iterate.
VK: Up to the death of the company.
VK: I fully agree with him – very near future belongs to modular solutions backed by strong software.
43rumors: More disasters?
VK: Next iteration of “Disaster story”
VK: GH2 sensor.
VK: It looks like they can’t make enough sensors.
VK: Look at AF100 and GH2 announcement. Both had been guarded against obtaining raw footage.
VK: They are afraid that final specs of sensor (due necessarily to produce them in big quantities) could differ.
43rumors: So we have another cause of disaster after price and lens….the limited sensor production.
VK: No, we have many other causes. We just started.
VK: :-)
43rumors: So many?
VK: Limited sensor production can be extremely important. Same thing with GH1.
VK: Limited numbers of cameras in first months.
43rumors: Why didn’t they address the issue? It looks like they do everything possible to NOT sell cameras :)
VK: They always want to be on edge, here are consequences of this. :-)
VK: No one knows how economy will behave after January.
43rumors: Keep on with your disaster list…
VK: Next up.
VK: Photokina show.
VK: Marketing disaster.
VK: Why they need bunch of incompetent people preventing to make any footage???
VK: Why do they think that such exhibitions are still important?
VK: Times changed.
43rumors: What should they do?
VK: I am here with Thom :-)
VK: Read his essay :-) He perfectly said that they must do.
VK: I can only add one thing.
VK: Guys. Make long list of any people in communities, review sites, valuable shooter or just famous owners of your brand, etc.
VK: And send them bodies just after announcement.
VK: Do not rely on review sites. They are good. But their influence now is smaller and smaller.
VK: And they publish review of your camera after FOUR months after introduction.
VK: This guys will tell EVERYONE about your product right after 20min of postage opening :-)
43rumors: Canon is doing a much better job here.
VK: Yeah Canon is interesting. But I don’t like their methods.
VK: Look at Canon related blogs.
VK: They are have some kind of self-censorship. Every Canon product is fanfares for month. All else is generally ignored with small essays about features.
43rumors: Panasonic should sent the GH2 to Philip Bloom…
VK: No, they should not.
43rumors: why not?
VK: Look at religion. They always work on someone who don’t have faith or who already with them, at least partially.
VK: I don’t see any point to spend money and time turning someone if you can just get same for free :-)
VK: So, for one man it can be good. But as company politic it leads to nowhere.
VK: They must make their own followers. In fact, they already have them.
43rumors: it surprising how big companies do have such a weak Marketing. Can’t really explain why it is so…
VK: Do you know who they teach marketing in universities now? I know. Just remember set of rules. Don’t break them.
43rumors: Are there any more disaster after price-lens-sensor-marketing?
VK: Yeah, of course.
43rumors: Oh my god! Panasonic will hate you after reading the interview ;)
VK: Many guys at Panasonic love me, some hate. But it do not change the fact that I just tell real facts ;)
43rumors: next disaster is…?
VK: New batteries.
VK: Without any actual need for them. One big reason – Chinese companies reversed their protocol. Long time before my hacks. So, they made entirely new stuff :-)
VK: Next up.
VK: Region restrictions. PAL/NTSC, limited language selection.
VK: It is so old. So idiotic.
VK: Someone just needs to find the guy who is responsible for this and fire him for economic diversion against Panasonic Corporation.
VK: Going next.
VK: Metal rigs for straps.
VK: Someone must be fired also.
VK: Body is hard to hold for anyone with big hands due to them. It is bad design. Worse, these things do not hold properly.
VK: Going next.
VK: GH2 is something like king of video cameras among VDSLRs. :-) But.
VK: Look at the movie menus. And audio level adjustment.
VK: It looks like Frankenstein from Panasonic consumer cameras and someone who had been fired from Canon for developing adjustment of audio levels in 60D.
VK: Guys. Just get any prosumer camera from this century and look how all this is implemented.
VK: I suggest to start rewriting this firmware parts right now.
VK: It’ll take may be one – two weeks. But it’ll be big good surprise :-)
VK: In fact, looking at announcement I think that they are collecting feedback. And we’ll see some surprises in final firmware. At least I believe in these guys. Most of them are ultra-smart. May be ten times more smart then I am.
VK: They just have all this Japan bureaucracy above them :-)
43rumors: Did you tell Panasonic what you don’t like about the GH2?
VK: No. Not yet. But I had been told they are reading your site each day :-) Making reports even :-)
43rumors: Really?
VK: Yep. You are famous in short circle :-)
43rumors: I hope they will read your interview and consider your suggestions.
VK: Make it into report and place it in archive for future review :-)
43rumors: LOL
VK: Next up.
VK: 2.5mm jack and no headphone out.
VK: I don’t know any sane man who could have idea to put 2.5mm jack where is enough space for normal 3.5mm.
VK: And we do not even approached famous 50i mode with 17Mbits.
VK: I really like the idea of 50i. It had been my secret dream for GH2.
VK: But people are people. They just hate deinterlacing of HD H264 footage. :-)
VK: They had been looking for 1080p50.
VK: Look at all still review sites.
VK: GH2 introduced some minor improvements :-) Like interlaced 50i mode, instead of proper p25 mode.
VK: This is what they say.
VK: And this is real problem.
43rumors: Why?
VK: Instead of revolutionary view (such as G1 reception) they get “minor improvements” and “good video modes”
VK: So, if they have even small chance to make this encoder work in 50p they must start working now.
VK: And many people like 25p mode. So, this is also can prevent many complains.
43rumors: Could you be able to add 50p?
VK: I don’t know how much idiot you must be, if you depend on some guy who must hack you camera to make it sell much better. It is abnormal.
VK: They clearly need some reform before modular and software revolution hit them very hard.
VK: All I know is that leading management is still dreaming of making high margin cameras using some parts of user feedback and definitely without any software politics improvements.
VK: Many mobile phones manufacturers had similar thoughts. Now Apple selling much less phones then major players make more profit.
43rumors: Instead companies tend to be more conservative
VK: I can tell you simple thing that I told one Panasonic top manager.
VK: You can’t innovate while you afraid to lose your warm place.
VK: They are just afraid.
VK: If you go to your boss or even your colleagues with some new thing you will be made responsible. And they do not want to be responsible for risky things.
VK: They prefer live without any changes and all will end like boiled frog.
VK: But frog really liked warm water.
VK: She just made small mental error. Wrong conclusion.
43rumors: Think Thom Hogan and his suggestions for future cameras (modular etc). Which company will be the first to bring innovation?
VK: No one knows. I had some hopes for Panasonic, but I am not sure now.
VK: All this mirrorless thing will quickly translate to modular cameras.
43rumors: I need a VDSLR to shoot commercial: Do you recommend to buy the “hacked” Gh1 ($999 with 14-140mm) or the more expensive GH2?
VK: I recommend to buy that is actually available now if you want to shoot something. Otherwise you’ll be waiting for second coming.
VK: As soon as GH2 will be available it’ll be better camera, of course.
VK: But from all my bodies I love G1 the most (for photo, of course). Isn’t it weird?
43rumors: Cheap, small and good image quality
VK: Yeah. Without lens you can get it for $200-250.
VK: Mount some old Vivitar. And here you go.
43rumors: Will it be harder to hack the GH2 than it was with the GH1?
VK: As for “harder to hack”.
VK: It depends.
VK: If this frog start to realize real situation, it could be very easy. :-)
VK: But any way we’ll try to use BGA desoldering and direct flash reading.
VK: So, if any good engineer with background on flash programmers and BGA things are reading this, contact me at dvxuser or mail me.
43rumors: Is there something else you want to say about the Gh2?
VK: Go and buy it as soon as it’ll be available. As it is the best disastrous camera for video shooters that I know. :-)
43rumors: that will be the interview title: “GH2: The best disastrous camera for video shooters” :)
VK: Perfect title!

Many Thanks Vitaly!

For 43rumors readers: Feel free to comment this post if you want to ask him something. And…guys you heard Vitalys words, go and preorder the camera :)

BLACK Panasonic GH2 with 14-42mm lens for $999 at Amazon (Click here)
BLACK Panasonic GH2 with 14-140mm lens for $1,499.95 at Amazon (Click here)
SILVER Panasonic GH2 with 14-42mm lens for $999 at Amazon (Click here)
Panasonic Lumix 12.5mm f/12 3D G Lens for $249.95 at Amazon (Click here)
Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 G Aspherical Lens for $399.95 at Amazon (Click here)
Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 G Vario Aspherical MEGA OIS Lens for $599.95 at Amazon (Click here).

  • The Okram

    Thanks for the very interesting interview. And to Vitaliy for insightful comments.

  • Max

    I’m a big fan of Vitaliy. And I don’t even have a GH-1(3) or 2 yet. Bottom line, Vitaliy has made this little GH camera FUN!!! Thanks Tester 13!!! Keep up the great work.

  • Steve

    Awesome interview and absolutley hysterical as well. This guy says what others may be thinking but pull their punches, and he clearly knows of what he apeaks. He should start his own blog, I’m sure it would be incredibly informative and fun to read. Hey, how about featuring him on a regular basis on 43Rumors? Good stuff!

    • admin

      You will see many more Interviews in future ;)

  • Nice interview.

    I wonder if the GH2 can focus Zuiko better then the G2 & G10

  • YeahYeah

    I can’t stop laughing. That’s good to hear someone saying what everybody wants!

  • Interesting stuff. The first person to get an open source camera out there is going to make a killing. Why don’t they understand? I take a lot of photos on iPhone 4. I bought apps for burst mode, tilt shift, hdr, lomo, hipstamatic, photo fx, you name it.

    Apple makes a huge chunk out of me by letting other smart people do clever things with their toy phone. They have to do virtually no work themselves. God knows what people would come up with for a camera. What incredible images would be available!!

    These companies are SO short sighted. You’d think that SOMEBODY would have realised that whoever does it first, will make make a fortune. What a great, easy way for a small company like Olympus to become a big one.

    Olympus AppCam. Has a nice ring don’t you think?

    • good point

    • Exactly, I can imagine apps like Advanced Timelapses, HDR, Voice triggering, Handheld twilight mode aka sony, object tracking using 2mpx crop in 18mpx field, software control of perspective etc…

      And they can sell those apps in their software store getting additional money and popularity.

    • Miroslav

      Phone apps have existed long before iPhone, on Palm, Symbian and Windows mobile phones. Apple just marketed that right, but is still the least open system of any phone OS.

      I wouldn’t like independent programmers given that much open access to camera software, it would cause too much instability, but some limited tweaking would be nice. Maybe restricted level access such as on java only enabled phones.

  • Dummy00001


  • Gabi

    Vitaly is absolutely correct in his statement that the GH2 is too expensive in Europe. The price difference for Panasonic gear in e. g. Germany and the US is significantly bigger than for the cameras of other companies (e. g. Samsung).

    I really enjoyed that interview. It made me think about keeping my G1 for another several years… ;)

  • MP Burke

    VK is right about the prices. Panasonic seems disinclined to compete on price with the slr makers.
    They may be hoping that m4/3 users will, however reluctantly, pay a premium for smaller cameras and lenses. Panasonic want to make profits on all cameras and lenses rather than trying to maximise market share.
    GH2 is a next step in the right direction for m4/3 and hopefully Olympus will bring out something special to compete.

  • It makes me want to sell my EP1 for the GH2. It takes a major hit in styling (although I love the addition of the faux leather … why didn’t it get added to both sides of the lens?), but I absolutely require manual video control and the flexible frame rate settings. The GH2 will hold me over until the specs trickle down to a solid GF camera or until Olympus really steps up in the video department.

  • Arkersaint

    Quote VK: You can’t innovate while you afraid to lose your warm place…They are just afraid.

    This looks quite sensible and makes me understand 2 things :
    – Why the GHx serie is shaped like OVF DSLR where there is no need since no physical link has to be implemented right ahead of the “mirrorless” place
    – Why the GF serie is shaped like compacts where they should address prosumers crying for embedded viewfinder

    Both result from shy and conservative design… what a waste for this smart team technically at top level !

    Admin, please add another category to be called “lobbying” where we can discuss which Panny top manager needs to be fired !

    • admin

      LOL :)

  • Vitaly speaks, you blog, I kvetch:

    — I love it that Vitaly is such a firmware expert. I’m not sure that makes him a marketing expert (or management expert.)

    — He and Thom Hogan are both wrong in how they think about “modular” and “integrated” solutions. Yeah, that needs to happen — but they both think in terms of making the camera the hub of the integrated system, and a camera would make a lousy hub. (Where are you going to put a decent keyboard, for example?) In an integrated system, the camera will be just one of several input devices. The “hub” device will be designed to communicate with cameras and other devices and be programmable for how you want to tie everything together: “For incoming files from camera X, reduce the JPEG images to 1024×768 and FTP them to address Y, while sending the raw files to my wireless hard disk for backup.”

    • Dummy00001

      Re: Modular.

      First. I think modular thing might simply not happen. Modular stuff if fragile and more expensive. Considering that compacts are slowly catching up in IQ, by the time we might have usable modular camera, it might be already obsolete by a compact.

      N.B. Cue in the software compensation of cheap optics: compacts might be upping IQ faster than most expect, as design principle of lenses might change from “be very good” to “be easily correctable”. If CPU and sensor and lens are modular and come from different vendors, the software IQ correction might be all but a pipe-dream. (Analogy: thing IS on Pannay body with an Oly lens.)

      Second. “The “hub” device will be designed to communicate with cameras and other devices” – I still can’t get why WiFi cameras do not provide direct Picasa/Flickr/Facebook/etc upload. The 95% of photos are ending up there anyway.

      • Chris

        I don’t get why people think modular cameras are fragile. Ever used a Hasselblad or an RB/RZ67? They aren’t fragile in the least.

        • Dummy00001

          You are comparing professional equipment weighing several kilos versus consumer grade portable devices.

          If you make modular camera out of plastic, it will not be reliable as plastic isn’t very durable.

          If you make modular camera out of metal … well check the Hasselblad for the result: it’s no compact and barely portable.

          Now dSLRs have to have essentially one one piece made of metal – the lens mount (and well hot shoe too). Modular design would mean much more of such metal pieces, making the camera heavy. To make it lighter, one would need to use plastic – trading the durability…

  • Chris K

    I missed the fact that the GH2 has a new, incompatible battery. I held off on buying the GH1 until the price dropped purely because of the OEM battery restriction. There’s no way I’m going to suffer purchasing an overpriced OEM battery again. I had a hard enough time swallowing my distaste for Panasonic’s customer-hostile policy the first time. I won’t let them screw me over again.

    I will not be buying the GH2, solely because of the battery restriction. Looks like it’s Olympus bodies for me from now on.

    I suppose that also means I don’t need to bother with Panasonic’s OIS lenses either now; with IBIS I can use any old lens.

    • Gabi

      I agree. This policy is difficult for me to understand. This means that in Germany, if you want two spare batteries (which is the minimum for me), you will probably have to pay about 200$ more for the camera.

  • I respect him a lot.
    But this bullshit about the price being to high. Wow.
    I can’t understand people complaining about these ridiculous prices.
    Dirty cheap. 899 for a GH2 body too high?
    How cheap do you want it to be? For free?

    The GH2 is a far better deal than a Canon 550D. Overall a much better camera than the 60D as well. Best Video SLR on the market and he STILL complains about this absolutely dirt cheap price. Yes, amatuers don’t shoot video that much. That’s why there’s a G2. Awesome and DIRTY CHEAP, again.

    Really, get real again. I can’t stand it.

    Now, peace, and back to work. Greetings to all!

    • He means EU prices. Euro is not dollar. So its like u pay over 2000$ in EU.

    • For GH2 14-140 kit ofc :)

    • Chris K

      Try tracking a bird in flight or a football player with a 60D and a GH1 and tell me the GH2 is a better camera. I know GH1 != GH2, but the order of magnitude improvement that would need to be made to match even the 60D’s frame rate, “mirror” blackout time, and AF tracking is just not possible with the GH2.

      The GH2 might have some cool video features in a nice small package, but a better CAMERA? Not a chance.

      (Speaking as the owner of a 40D (sold), 7D, GH1, and EP1. The 7D is the only one I do action with.)

  • Gianca

    Vitaly is the reason I’m moving from my E-3 to GH2.
    Keep up the good work!

  • I am not prepared to leave the mirror yet, but I must confess that I am impressed with the GH2 if Oly put the GH2 into the E-5 body, with some minor improvements like the shutter speed, LCD and continuous shooting, then we would probably in presence of the best camera of all time and perhaps 4/3 was not a dead end. Oly never understood that people want video in their DSLRs. I do not blame him for that, there are many pros and advanced amateurs who did not get it too. There are a totally new approach to video and commercials in particular by people who had never shot video before, but they know how to take advantage of their primes. In these days I see more Canon 5D MKII videos than photos. I think the E-5 has been intentionally crippled by Oly, now they have an excuse to kill definetely 4/3. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Dana Curtis Kincaid

    There’s your reason for Oly not to be using this sensor – supply and reliability unknown.

  • omox

    Thanks to hack Panasonic can test “what happens if we get out of our comfort zone” by monitoring hack influence on sale volume. So in future maybe we’ll see revolution not the evolution. Who knows. But it is good to know that such a big company listens and is actively working in right direction. One fact is obvious big organisatins have inertion and revolution is not safe inside corporation world.
    Vitaliy is making really good job for everyone interested in GH series. Respect!

  • I agree with Dmms!

    Pre Photokina I was certain that Oly would get with the program and release an E-5 that converged pro grade still and video capture capability. Basically a combination of the E-3 & GH1.3 with a few technical and UI improvements.

    THAT would have been a camera I’d be happy to drop $1700-2000 for.

  • Hi and thank you for sharing this wonderful Interview!

    First of all I have to say, that i am reeeeeaaaaally disapppointed, not beeing surprised by a real 1080p50 or 60p feature like implemented in the tm700 or At least a 50% speedcrank stored At 25p ( U.S. 60p @ 24p)!

    If that would be present, i would buy two of these nice cameras – As i love the ability of having a perfect slowmotion in 1080p (previously in 720p).

    Just this feature Let’s me wait until Next year and maybe buying the AG-AF101 (although I Love the Gh1 or Gh2 compactness)

    Is there any hope, for seeing the final Gh2, having a 1080p 50 option…

    What do you think?

  • Duarte Bruno

    I also respect VK A LOT and totally understand all his rant about the price, but who of all people living in Europe doens’t find every camera expensive when compared to the US? I mean, every manufacturer milk us to death!!! :(

    On the other issues I find there are things that that make a lot of sense for him to point (the straps, lack of 1080@50p, Limited sensor production) but others as (market placement, range of lenses, alien mounts, batteries) that are irreal.

    Anyway, I respect his vision, work and expertise. Long live VK to give us another great hacks (at least until Olympus or Panasonic comes up with an Open API for their products). But then I guess they wouldl open the door for VK to sell a shotload of apps and not need to rely on donations to get his work done. :)

  • eee

    next time, better formatting, please!
    I mean: not author on every line but just on the first line, like one’s used to read interviews.

    but thanks for this interview, though!

  • pretty sure Vitaly Kiselev is playing “Devils Advocate” to Panasonic (not a bad thing because I think it’s bringing positive results)otherwise I think he is right on somethings and not so right on other things…

  • btw we had a baby boy calling him Oskar :) (maybe after Oskar Barnack)

  • Great interview

    Great job on the interview. However, I totally disagree with Vitaliy on the fact that the price will prevent the GH2 from selling. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. If the video quality and high ISO performance is as good as they say it is then the GH2 will sell even at $900.

    The only thing that is too expensive is that 14-140mm lens. However, the GH2 could really turn that into a better performer if the high ISO is good.

    I also think that Vitaliy is a little too egotistical. He treats everyone like they are dirt and dismisses everything they say. He is extremely knowledgeable and usually right. However, he could learn some manners and tact.

    Thanks for the interview.

    • He didn’t say price would prevent it from selling. He said that price will limit the sales. It’s a concept in MBA-land known as elasticity of demand. Price a unit too high and the sales go down. Price it too low and sales go way up but your profit margin isn’t maximized.

      I’m pretty sure that Panasonic is making a pricing mistake, but I believe that the pricing problem has its roots in a marketing/sales mistake. Panasonic in the US, for instance, has very little presence in camera stores and not all that much in big boxes, either. It’s a chicken and egg problem. By pricing and marketing the way they are they won’t sell enough to win new sales outlets and customers. Olympus has figured this out, but Panasonic hasn’t. I would say they are globally inept at the moment when it comes to cameras.

      • Quido

        If the claims that Panasonic is not able to really mass-produce the GH2 sensors are true, that would be another reason why it would be pointless to set the price lower. There would be demand for more bodies, but no sensors equip them with.
        So people who suggest cheaper GH2s need to stop believing the sensors shortage story first :)

  • stonebat

    panny gotta hire VK. give him everything he needs. let him work from his home. make him the chief software architect. let him release final firmwares. lower GH2 body only price to $699. make customers happy. boost GH series sales. carry this momentum to pro body. buy olympus. make m.zuiko ois lenses. yes 2.8 constant aperture zoom.

  • Miroslav

    Good interview, but I don’t agree fully. Concerning price, this is the starting one, it’ll fall. And this is the flagship product.

    Electronic lens adapters are not up to Panasonic to make, but third party companies ( with a little help from Pana :)) and I don’t think modularity is the way forward. That’s not going to attract average customer. And their marketing and pricing in Europe are indeed weird.

    Concerning lens range, body shapes etc., everything will fall into place with time if Panasonic and Olympus persist with m4/3. They can’t catch Canon and Nikon in two years.

    • Gabi

      The price will probably fall, but not too much in Germany, where the GH1 still costs 1600$.

    • Historically, the big boys (Canon and Nikon) have prices that fall about 20-25% during the life a DSLR product. I’m seeing bigger drops in Olympus and smaller drops in Panasonic so far. In Olympus’s case, they tried to charge too much and discovered that the right price was far lower. In Panasonic’s case, they are trying to arbitrarily force price. Pricing is part discipline, part art. Nikon has this down to a science at the moment and it’s one of the reasons why they’re selling so well here in the US.

  • *Strongest are from Canon and Nikon. But Sony is pretty close.
    # I’m picking up a lot of discontent from Canon and Sony users out in the field at the moment even with recent announcements

    *You could sell 60D fine, but you can’t sell the GH2 for similar price.
    #I’m hearing lots of potential 60D purchasers and even retailers say that the 60D is over priced and doesn’t bring anything new to the table, no reason to upgrade

    *Because it is m43 body, use m43 lenses and is made by Panasonic.
    # Panasonic don’t have a “bad” reputation just a lack of heritage in the camera market but people’s attitudes and loyalty are changing swiftly look at the mobile phone market with how bad Nokia are preforming and how well HTC and Samsung and others are doing…

    *Panasonic has very tough lesson to learn. Average people do not shoot video frequently. And film makers number is still very small.
    # maybe Pansonic realises that one day we will all be film makers just like we are now all photographers. Moe photographers are realising that some stories are best told by moving images instead of still images…

    *People like that camera shoots video, use it from time to time (most of them about 5-10 times for whole body life).
    # kids in schools are learning about video and will find it 2nd nature to shoot video when they want, not too sure what you base your 5-10 figure on or whether it includes current trends and future forecasts

    *So, you can’t sell GH2 as video camera with only marketing slogan being “it shoots best video
    # they are not, they are pushing auto-focus speed and high ISO performance (against D3s maybe current price about £3600 body only)”downsized body with advanced functions that achieve both high performance and operational comfort” from Panasonic, btw the Canon EOS 60D has had only a luke warm response

    *I think that Panasonic do not need many lenses to grow fast. It needs extremely cheap electronic converters for Canon and Nikon lenses. With full AF, and IS working.
    # think there would be legal problems…

    *Look at GH2. Again prices in Europe and UK are set by some strange man.
    # Panasonic are perceived as offering good value in the UK and people are obviously willing to pay for it along with their perceived more technological features and design. We in the UK along with the rest of Europe get stuffed on Camera prices companies compared with the rest of the world (maybe something for the EEC to look into)

    *Body is hard to hold for anyone with big hands due to them. It is bad design. Worse, these things do not hold proper
    # I have big hands and have no problem using the GH1…

    *You can’t innovate while you afraid to lose your warm place.
    #well said but don’t think they are as afraid as Canon and Nikon

    *GH2 is high margin camera
    # you know this for a fact??? compared to whom?

    #anyways I agree with much of your other thoughts :)

    btw this is me too posted on 22nd July 2009 http://fourthirds-user.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4658

    • > Panasonic don’t have a “bad” reputation just a lack of heritage in the camera market
      True. But they’re also not doing anything to change that reputation in the distribution channel or in the marketing, at least here in the US. Until they get their act together on those things, they’ll continue to be also rans, especially at high pricing. The funny thing is that their compact cameras have been relatively well received and have a good reputation, but Panasonic seems incapable of building on that. This is classic product marketing failure.

      > Maybe Panasonic realizes that one day we will all be film makers
      Ah, the sweet smell of delusion. Funny thing is that we went through this whole scenario before, with Super 8. Everyone was going to be a filmmaker and every maker had a Super 8 camera or two (including Nikon). While video will be more successful than Super 8, the problem is still the same as before: time. We humans can take, distribute, and consume a still far faster than we can a 10-minute video. We won’t all be videographers, partly because that would imply that we’re all just sitting in front of screens all day consuming things linearly.

      > Kids in schools are learning about video and will find it 2nd nature
      I learned about filmmaking as a child and find it second nature, but I don’t make films all the time. Again, the nature of the construct works against it being absolutely ubiquitous. The effort involved in capturing, editing, distributing, and viewing even a two minute video is far more intense than that of taking a single snapshot.

      > They are not [selling GH2 as a video camera]
      Gee, then how does it differ from a G2? I’ll bet that most of those buying the GH2 are indeed videographers, not still photographers. Especially since you’re paying a premium for the GH2.

      > I think there would be legal problems…
      Both the Nikon and Canon mounts have been reversed engineered successfully by multiple companies. It can be done, and without legal ramification I believe. The real question is why would Panasonic want to do this? With the 2x crop factor, I think it would be mostly a waste of time. What the m4/3 needs most is the same thing the DX/AP-S cameras need: more wide angle choices.

      • Pansonic marketing has seen huge improvements in the UK in the last 18 months with lots of advertising in photography magazines, web and in store advertising, much more than when the L10 first launched…

        Lots of kids are posting videos on facebook, you’d be surprised!

        From my experience the majority of people who purchased the GH1 do both photography and video although you wouldn’t realise this from internet forums…

        • Advertising is not marketing.

          • was just giving a short answer from work on mobile, I know Advertising is not marketing, if you want a I could a long detailed explanation in how I feel Panasonic have improved their marketing over the last 3 years if you really want…

      • >>Pansonic have come on leaps and bounds in the last months in the UK and I suspect Europe, with abundant web and photography magazine advertising, new Panasonic store openings, better penetration into camera retailers and national chains…
        >> Maybe Panasonic realizes that one day we will all be film makers…
        Not delusion at all… look at journalists, wedding photographers, small business owners even proud parents at family gatherings etc.
        Video devices now come in a lot more different forms now compared to the days of super 8…mobile phones, webcams,wearable video cams, video DSLRs etc then there are lots more ways to edit videos…on board the device, online, apps,NLE’s with lots more ways to consume video you get the picture?
        >> You were a lucky kid, today’s kids are a lot more luckier…
        The effort involved in capturing, editing, distributing, and viewing even a two minute video is far more intense than that of taking a single snapshot… but it’s a whole lots easier than the days of Super 8 and getting easier all the time…I’m sure my kids could figure it out in a couple of hours.
        >> think you over looked Vitaliy’s use of the word “only” in his statement ” So, you can’t sell GH2 as video camera with only marketing slogan being “it shoots best video”” and my reply.
        Do you really need a list of why the GH2 is different from the G2 in photographic terms?
        >>whether it is or isn’t legal I don’t think it would go down to well, it would be seen as treading on someone else’s toes…

        just my thoughts btw

        • BTW I think you are very very wrong about videographers being the main purchasers of the GH2 they will purchase the AF100, it will be people wanting to shoot mostly photo with some video who don’t want to carry a camera and a video camera but still demand high performance, ease of use and portability…
          Most videographers who purchased a DSLR with video in the last 18 months went with the Canon options out of ignorance, those that were disappointed and heard of the Panasonic buzz may consider the GH2 but I think many will go for the AF100…

          We will see…

          • It will be interesting to see where the GH2 and AF100 go, user-wise. Some of the answer is dependent upon whether the GH2 is hackable.

            Which gets me to the Canon comment: Canon’s compression and downscaling gets in the way of detail in ways that the hacked GH1 avoids. If you’re a serious videographer, you understand that. But even in the pro video ranks I still see people gushing over what is not broadcast-quality video from their DSLR. It’ll be interesting to see what the Nikon D7000 video looks like, as Nikon has chosen to use B-frames in their compression. But if the D3100 is any indication, Nikon has a long way to go to get to the GH1’s quality let alone broadcast-level quality.

          • spanky

            There’s plenty of videographers who will choose the GH2 over the AF100. The price difference is enormous ($1000 vs. $10000!). It’s the same reason they went for the GH13 – price was a HUGE draw for budding videographers who wanted to shoot indie video productions. I don’t know of many poor indie film makers who can afford to shell out $10k for a video camera when a $1k video camera will do just about the same stuff.

        • > Video devices now come in a lot more different forms now compared to the days of super 8…mobile phones, webcams,wearable video cams, video DSLRs etc then there are lots more ways to edit videos…on board the device, online, apps,NLE’s with lots more ways to consume video you get the picture?

          Which puts us exactly back where we were with SLRs and Super 8 cameras, actually. The primary reason why someone bought an SLR or Super 8 camera was “first child.” The use of that camera lasted all of about a year or two before it ended up mostly in the closet. The proliferation of competent video cameras (the iPhone 4 is a very good video camera) means that the need for a high-end video camera is even less than it was in the past. And just as with still cameras, the connectedness of the phone video cams is going to render most of the traditional camcorder types irrelevant. If you fail to understand history, you tend to repeat the bad parts ;~).

          This gets to the other comment I made about “advertising is not marketing.” Right now, Panasonic is doing a lot of advertising and virtually no marketing.

          • t

            I am a professional videographer and photographer…I preordered the gh2 because it does both exceptionally well AND it takes photos while it records video!!!!! AND it has the touch screen focus!!!!!!!!!! AND it is ALL hig quality!!!!!! $999 is an AWESOME deal!!!!!!!!!!! 8 )

      • Miroslav

        “What the m4/3 needs most is the same thing the DX/AP-S cameras need: more wide angle choices.”

        I completely agree. Not ultra wide, but 12-20mm (24-40 in 35mm terms). Everybody’s talking how huge a fast wide lens would be. But if Panasonic can make 14mm F2.5 THAT small, I wouldn’t mind 14mm F1.1 four times larger ( and heavier :)).

  • spanky

    I agree with the gist of what VK is saying, although I’m not into video so I can’t talk about those details. Panasonic is clearly taking a calculated risk that video will take over the market more than we think. They’re assuming eventually the personal cameras will turn into camcorders that happen to take stills as opposed to the other way around. They’re betting on the fact that stills are about as good today as most consumers would ever need (which is probably true). It’s evident from their focus on 3-D technology and high-tech camcorders, and they certainly have a strong tradition for video products in their flatscreen TVs. I also think that the Japanese market is much more forward than the rest of the world, and that’s Panasonic’s primary market.

    From that perspective, it makes sense that Panasonic is pushing the video capabilities of the GH2, and didn’t spend much effort on the stills side aside from a few new features. We’ll have to see how that plays out in the end. They’re probably OK losing market share to the D7000 for stills knowing they’ll gain market share against everyone else because of their video, whether consumers will actually user it or not. In that regard I don’t agree with VK: marketers know that it’s not facts and specs that sell, but perception and the promise of capability. Users who have even a modest interest in video are still attracted to the possibility of getting the best video DSLR out there for about the same price as other mid-range DSLRs, and in a smaller package. To that end, the 18MP sensor is an advantage because most consumers are still swayed by MP, and not by DR or ISO performance.

    I think the GH2 will sell at the price as launched, and it will sell even better once the price comes down a bit.

  • Mark Fry

    What about producing 2 models using same body one flashed for maximum video performance…and another flashed for still optimization…or a button or menu setting and 2 firmwares on board….Or a custom model like the Vitally edition GH2 ( LOL! ) I like that one……Why not what would they have to lose…It would show some creative flexibility on their part…and a very good chance of capaturing peoples imaginations


    • spanky

      I’ve been hoping for something like that ever since they announced the GH2. I would have loved a camera in this format that’s really, really good at capturing stills. The GH2 held that promise until they decided to make the sensor 18MP for marketing purposes. What a camera THAT would have been – full-coverage microlenses, reduced or eliminated AA filter, coupled with their higher SNR sensor and processor… When they introduced the LX5 and the FZ100 I thought for sure they would carry those enhancements to the GH2 flagship. It’s possible that the switch to the larger sensor happened late in the development cycle, and it didn’t give them enough time to apply all those sensor treatments to it. That, or those treatments interfered with the video functionality…

      I just don’t think Panasonic looks at enthusiasts and semi-pro photographers as their market. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Olympus comes up with, although at their rate of product development we’ll end up seeing a pro-MFT body in 2013, and it’ll be no better than the GH1…

  • There are quite a few reverse engineering companies out there, that with in-circuit testers can decode the data, protocol and even hardware.

    These services are used by competitors to gain knowledge as well as to protect against patent infringements. Sony, Samsung, etc. most likely have these resources in-house as well.

    One such external company is Chipworks, remebering an article about DSLR Sensor Economics: http://chipworks.ca/blogs.aspx?id=4626&blogid=86

    Everything is possible, some areas can take a bit longer to pass though. Definitely, it will be interesting to follow the DMC-GH2 journey.

  • Spontaneous consumer response: What I am interested in with the GH2 is mainly the fast focus, and I’m really curious how it does it with the same optics as before(?). Other than that I mostly want a camera with a viewfinder since I now use a GF1.

    As for video, I’m guessing most consumers might be happy with 1080 recording, but I find myself shy away from HD video as it’s much heavier to edit on my computer… so I still see video as something quite unaccessible and harder to share than photos, for sure.

    • Contrast AF speed is partially determined by frame rate. Run the sensor at 24 fps and you get 24 data points a second, run it at 60 fps and you get 60. More data is good for AF decisionmaking. Most engineers I’ve talked with think you need a refresh rate of 120 fps to max out contrast AF speed.

      • Dummy00001

        @Thom, you forget the little thing: AF speed is limited not only by the FPS rate, but also by how fast the lens focusing elements can move. CDAF has to move focusing group of the lens several times – and thus the AF speed also depends on how fast the moves can be made. That is greater problem as methods to increase FPS sensor rate are well known – while inside the lens is mechanics and it was never really fast.

        • I haven’t forgotten that at all. Most Nikon AF-S lenses (though not the cheap DX ones) have very powerful and fast in-lens motors and are designed to move very little mass. Speed shouldn’t be an issue. Moreover, it would be a silly and relatively stupid CDAF system that simply tried to move the lens elements after every data point is received. One thing more data gives you is better predictability about when to move the focus and how much.

  • Duarte Bruno

    Just another note on making Canon & Nikon mount adapters with AF.
    THis is completely surreal! I have ZERO interest in using either C&N AF lenses when they would perform terribly since they weren’t design for CDAF, they were made to have a PDAF system tell them where they had to focus in one swift move not dragging along the focus scale!
    That’s probably the main reason why C&N are taking so long to dive into mirrorless! They have a hard decision: either they build a new lens system or they need (a la Sony) to come up with a new solution that combines mirrorless with PDAF.

    • Funny. Perhaps you haven’t actually tried a Nikon D3100 with an AF-S lens in video using contrast AF. It works just fine (though not quite at the speed of the Panasonic, mostly because of the fps refresh rate of the Nikon sensor). Your assumption here is erroneous on the face of it. Note that Panasonic uses in-lens motors on their lenses. Gee, isn’t that what’s in the Canon and Nikon lenses these days?

  • rUY

    In view of EVIL, it also attractive, I am happy with GF1, am looking forward to get GF2 orginally. now, the plan will completely change. possibly get the GH2 body is an option + 14/2.5 . too.

  • While I agree with much of what V.K. says he doesn’t seem to understand the economics of supply and demand. He complains that they will be in short supply due to limited numbers of cameras in first months and then complains that the price is too high. The price is always high while there is a shortage of supply and as the demand tails off the price will drop, all the Panasonic G models have seen the price drop over time and there is no reason to think the GH2 will be any different.

    • The shortage of supply is artificial and arbitrary. At least if Panasonic does the same thing they’ve done with the GH1 and GF1 in the US.

      Look at Apple. First, they do a better job of understanding the market they’re entering and how much demand there really is. But when they underestimate that demand, they are also extremely fast at changing their production to meet that demand. The Japanese companies are executing on the old Detroit auto industry formulas, and it shows. And we all know how that turned out for Detroit.

      • Here in the UK there has been few problems getting the GH1 and no problem with the GF1 since a month or so after launch. I guess Panasonic make more money per camera here and concentrate on supplying the markets where they can maximize profit.

  • Hi. I own GH1 x2 (with 14-45mm and 14-140mm kit lens). The first GH1 I bought I hacked primarily just to get the English menus. Panasonic (nor Sony) do not believe in multi-language menu systems. I tried to sell one of the two cameras recently on Yahoo! Japan auction and made it very clear that the menu system is in English and NOT Japanese. Someone made a comment on auction to the effect this might be a fraud GH1 and to be forewarned. It is a genuine GH1 purchased here in Japan, but I had to pull it off auction unless I get into problems with Yahoo! Japan auction system. So, I have just a couple simple questions:

    Q1. Once I hack the firmware to support English is there a way I can return it to the original Japanese language menu system? (stupid Panasonic and marketing segmentation strategy)

    Q2. What is the highest or recommended bitrate I can set the camera (GH1) to still take decent and smooth videos, 720p or 1080p? I shoot mostly 720p @ 60fps as I feel this is good enough for all practical purposes, but I might start to shoot more at 1080p going forward.

    I increasingly regard video shooting just as important as photography, so for now the GH1 seems to be the best choice. I thought of Canon originally and came close to considering the EOS 7D (now 60D out) at one time, but because of that flippety-floppety mirror which necessarily needs to stay locked up you can not use the OVF any longer and of course no EVF. But, I hear it rumored here in Japan that both Nikon and Canon are seriously considering the mirrorless market, especially since mirrorless camera sales is almost 40% of the local Japan market.

    Thanks for any advice on my two questions.

  • calxn

    I agree with him. To most people, Panasonic = dvd players and microwave and maybe camcorder. When most people go looking for cameras, they’re going to look for still photos first, and the names they know are Canon and Nikon. They’ll also know Sony as a consumer electronics giant and will give their camera a try. If even Pentax and Olympus are way in the back of their minds for photography, Panasonic is even further behind. Relying on specs and word of mouth is not going to do it, esp with a price of $900. The market for people looking for a camera, primarily for the video capabilities, is very small. In that market, most people will not know 720p from 1080p and will see Nikon (a name they trust and see the pros use) D3100 for $650 with lens and the Panasonic with lens at $1500. It’s pretty easy to guess which they will buy. It doesn’t matter if the pana is better or not. They need to price their cameras and lenses appropriately. Down the road, they will be able to charge a premium. u43 in Japan is more a fashion thing than photography. It’s not the same in the US and Europe. Name recognition and price are much more important. Two areas where Pana and Oly fail.

  • Skeptikal

    I’ve very happy with my four hacked GH1 bodies (2 for underwater; 2 for topside)and the full range of Panasonic lenses. Audio limitations are dealt with by a Beachtek DXA.

    Overall I’m very happy with the 60mbps AVCHD video output…much better image quality than the Canon 5D2/7D I used for a year.

    So far the GH2 seems like a total disappointment to me…no 25p; no 50p; B frames but no CABAC. Crippled HDMI out…

    If Panasonic released a well specified, uncrippled GH2 I would happily pay much more than $900. As it is I will stay with my lovely GH13’s for a while yet. VK…spasibo!

  • tulio

    Totally agree with him, Panasonic is not trying to kill the camera as they’ve done with the GH1, it is just their marketing department trying so hard to please the lowest common denominator American to a point it negates the engineers’ eforts.
    Why PAL / NTSC models with interlaced mode? Do they think their consumers are going to plug this baby into a CRT TV?
    new battery, 2.5mm jack etc. all that will make sure the Canons will keep selling. It was so good when companies had no marketing departments telling the engineers what to do.

  • gh1 fan

    Vitaly Kiselev (alias “Tester13″)

    can the gh1 be hacked to view on a seperate monitor while filming like the gh2 via the hdmi cable?

  • Actually no matter if someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other visitors that they will help, so here it occurs.

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