When I was in Atlantic City earlier this month teaching at WPPI’s On The Road, I had the killer opportunity to visit Panasonic’s USA HQ in New Jersey. It was such a cool experience for me to see their old facility before they move into their new, state of the art HQ this summer. I was there not only to tour the HQ but also to meet with the Lumix team to talk about the future of photography and what products they have in the works that will make the lives of photographers easier as they transition into hybrid.
While I can’t get into detail about what went on or what I saw I can tell you that what IS planned is just freaken awesome, game-changing stuff. I can also tell you that it’s an honor to be one who’s helping create the future of photography. Panasonic really cares about how photographers use their gear and how as a industry leader they can develop tools to help solve everyday challenges for photographers. It’s super cool to meet with their engineers who want to know what I personally want to see in their future cameras and to be shown how they plan to make those feature requests work.
High Tech, High Security
Even though I get to test out the Lumix prototypes I still had to get special clearance to take any photos on HQ’s property. Panasonic takes their security very seriously which I totally understand. That said it’s impressive that a cutting edge tech company such as Panasonic even allowed me access to their inner sanctum to begin with!
After I made it past the first security post I noticed a Tesla sedan parked out front which Panasonic manufactures batteries for. As a benefit for top performers, Panasonic employees get to borrow the Tesla on weekends!
When I went inside I had to turn off my GH3 and check in all my gear with a second security team. I did wish I was able to take photos of the entrance since it was a Panasonic museum loaded with all their milestone technologies. What I did get to see was the Panasonic archives! The archives was underground a floor or two I think…I kinda got lost in the place, its freaken huge!
Into the Panasonic Lumix Archives
The Panasonic Lumix archives is just what you’d expect, pretty much every Panasonic camera you could think of in one place. I saw old Super Disk cameras, VHS-C cameras, but what interested me was the LC1. It’s styling is one that is both classic and modern and it has that legendary Leica lens. In fact it was one of the many Lumix cameras to be rebranded by Leica to great success.
Further into the maze of awesome that is Panasonic’s HQ I spent time with their head Lumix engineer Bob inside what I call their tech cave. The tech cave is like a laboratory of camera tech goodness packed with vintage products, current products as well as prototypes. There’s also other stuff in this area of Panasonic like this crazy huge vintage phone! It had to be well over 10lbs but I think it would still work, ya know incase you can’t get service with your iPhone.
To my surprise I learned that Panasonic has made a lot of tech for other companies for years and this includes camera gear too.
Don’t be too surprised if you ever find out that your non-Panasonic gear has a bit of Lumix inside.
I did get to see something new that I can talk about now and that is the new Lumix 20mm/1.7 MKII. It’s very similar to the classic, which I own and love, but its refreshed and looks more sleek. If you have the current model keep it but if you want the new body style or if you don’t currently have the 20mm this is the one to get.
As a gift my friend Tom who heads up Lumix Professional Services, gave me an early GH3 chassis. This trophy of hybrid photography now has a home in my collection. When I look at it I see what was at one time an idea which became a reality which in a way is a metaphor for photography.
Next time I’m invited to the Panasonic HQ it will be in their new facility which I hear is going to be crazy cool. Rest assured that I’ll get as many photos as I can and will report here on Small Camera Big Picture.