108 days before the declaration of "Photokina 2008 Mission Accomplished", and there is a very busy thread in the Olympus dpreview forum discussing a German-source rumor that Panasonic is leaving Four Thirds. Here is the direct link to the German site http://diefotoredaktion.de/nachrichten/four-thirds-kameras-rueckzug-von-panasonic (website now offline) who posted this rumor. They also have a discussion of this in their forum, also in German.
A smaller discussion is also taking place in the dpreview Panasonic forum.
Be sure to note that this is a rumor. There is nothing official from Panasonic or the Four Thirds consortium (whatever that is, perhaps a guy sitting at a desk in the Olympus marketing department? :))
As you know Panasonic is a big manufacturer and their dSLR entries so far were not of the mass-market variety. Both the Panasonic L1 and the Panasonic L10 (list of reviews) were targettng a very specific niche, neither one was intended as a general market DSLR, mainly because of their price and feature sets. The allure of their design and the bundled Leica lenses were more than enticing for some users, but the general photographer population looked at prices and feature-sets and went elsewhere.
We thought that after three generations of Olympus E4xx DSLRs, there would be at least one attempt by Panasonic to make a mass-market DSLR, but there was nothing. So there was a red flag right there.
But that still is a surprise, if indeed these rumors are more than just rumors.
If you like this Panasonic rumor post, be sure to bookmark it and add it to your social bookmarks!
And some speculation
Now let us assume that that is the case. Then what would be the options for Panasonic? Note this is speculation!
- Give up on DSLRs
- Make Leica-mount DSLRs (expensive lenses)
- Create their own mount (even more expensive)
- Use someone else's mount (interesting?)
Now let's investigate the last possibility. Given the Sony vs Panasonic rivalry, we doubt they would go with the Alpha mount. We also doubt that Canon or Nikon would let a mass-market "appliance maker" touch their precious mounts. So that leaves two options, the K-mount and the Sigma mount. What if it is Panasonic that actually buys Pentax from Hoya instead of Samsung which already has a DSLR-relationship with Pentax and is seen the most likely to buy Pentax if Hoya were to sell it? This would keep Pentax on "Japanese soil".
Photokina 2008 Rumoralia
For more rumoralia, be sure to check the rag-tag fleet of Photokina 2008 rumors.
Update June 10, 2008: Panasonic denies
A new update on the original German site, Amateur Photographer UK, and a long discussion in the dpreview forums says that the Panasonic employee was not authorized to make those comments and those comments were not true, or something along those lines. It's hard to read between the lines when there are multiple translations along the way.
One thing that is for sure, time will tell :)