The camera maker is taking the long way around the bend, promising 4K revamps of its products by the close of 2014. By then, will anyone care?
A lot of big news came out of NAB 2013. In case you missed any, here’s a primer. Blackmagic, Vision Research, and RED made a big splash with new products and tech, while mainstay Sony showed off its 4K televisions and teased it’s foray into the cloud.
Wherefore art thou, Panasonic?
Conspicuous in its absence was Panasonic. Okay, Panasonic was at NAB 2013. It just seemed like as far as 4K was concerned, it wasn't there. RedShark raised this question in a previous article, wondering whatever happened to the 4K VariCam prototype the company debuted in 2012.
Apparently, Panasonic decided to use NAB 2013 to announce it’s 4K plans for, ahem, next year. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Panasonic’s President of its Imaging Division, Kunhigo Miyagi, delivered the news: “We are developing a 4K system -- a whole set of products -- to allow for affordable 4K production. Everything we make in HD will be 4K.” According to the HR report, these 4K products include broadcast cameras, production switchers, and handheld camcorder, arriving sometime in 2014.
The right time to play it slow?
Okay. But why the delay? And, to the avid reader of RedShark, this idea of a 4K ecosystem should sound very familiar. In fact, it was Panasonic’s long-time rival Sony that first introduced the concept of the 4K ecosystem, in the fall of 2012. But Sony went one step further. They debuted their 4K products immediately after the announcement.
So where does this leave Panasonic? They seem to be content in giving up any share of the higher-end cinema market, dominated by RED, Sony and ARRI, and focus on broadcast, prosumer, and consumer form factors: “At the high end of acquisition, there are already many products on offer. There is a huge missing link in product needed to create 4K content besides that of cinema. The direction we are coming from is to rationalize the 4K workflow and make it as cost effective as possible.”
Panasonic’s strategy begins to come into focus: let the intense competition at the high end of 4K acquisition work itself out and design affordable 4K solutions for mid-to-lower level productions and consumers. But the slew of 4K products hitting the shelves, and the many months before Panasonic will be ready with their own offerings, begs the question, ‘Will Panasonic lose this race because it ignored the starting gun?’