Panasonic cameras focus on the company's Lumix-brand cameras, both for point and shoot models and for digital SLR models. According to a Techno Systems Research report, Panasonic cameras ranked seventh worldwide in number of units manufactured in 2007. The nearly 10 million units Panasonic manufactured was good for a 7.6% market share.
Konosuke Matsushita founded Panasonic in 1918 in Osaka, Japan, at the age of 23, and with only three employees, including himself. Initially, the company manufactured fan insulator plates, an attachment plug, and a two-way socket. The overall global company carried the Matsushita name for several decades, and Panasonic was a global product brand name, until 2008, when the company changed its official name to Panasonic.
Panasonic has manufactured a variety of products during its early history, including bicycle lamps, radios, TVs, and electric motors. The company switched to manufacturing war materials during World War II, before returning to consumer goods in 1945. However, Matsushita had to reconfigure the company almost from scratch after the war. By the 1950s, Panasonic was again among the world's leaders in manufacturing TVs and radios, along with household appliances. In recent years, Panasonic has also manufactured DVD players, CD players, and digital TVs, and the company has invested in research aimed at improving optical disc technologies.
Panasonic began manufacturing digital cameras in the mid-2000s, all under the Lumix brand name. In Japan only, Panasonic also manufactures all Leica brand name digital cameras, and many Lumix and Leica camera models are of similar design.
Today's Panasonic and Lumix Offerings
Panasonic offers a wide variety of cameras to meet the needs of photographers of many different levels of skill. Panasonic's model numbering system seems complex, as the company uses a series of letters and numbers to name its cameras, rather than easy-to-remember model names. However, the letters and numbers in use signify the type of camera.
- Zoom models. Lumix point and shoot cameras that contain large optical zoom lenses generally fit in the TZ and ZS line of cameras. Such models usually cost $300-$400.
- Waterproof models. Models with a TS designation are designed for extreme photography, including underwater photography. Look for TS models to cost around $400.
- Ultra thin models. For ultra thin models that also include wide angle capabilities, look for FX designations. Models with FS designations are also ultra thin models, but they typically don't include wide angle capabilities. FS models usually cost $150-$300, while FX models cost $300-$400.
- Lumix G. Panasonic recently began offering high-end digital SLR models with interchangeable lenses under the Lumix G model name. Lumix G cameras use the micro four-thirds system. Lumix GH models include high definition image and video capabilities. Lumix G models cost $750-$1,000, while GH models usually cost $1,000-$1,500.
- Related products. Panasonic manufactures many consumer products beyond digital cameras, including TVs, DVD players, digital camcorders, home theater products, refrigerators, microwave ovens, mobile phones, telephone systems, and air conditioners. For businesses, Panasonic makes a variety of office equipment products, computers, sound systems, air moving equipment, motors, fans, and semiconductors.