Panasonic Explains Stock Photos on S9 Website: A Mindset From ‘Over 20 Years Ago’

Close-up of a Lumix camera, showing the upper left portion. The camera features a black textured top with a black dial and a green textured grip. Part of the lens is visible on the right side of the image. The brand name "Lumix" is prominently displayed.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Panasonic Japan used numerous stock photos — including at least one shot by a Nikon Ambassador — to illustrate the new Lumix S9. Speaking to a local paper in Japan, Panasonic says it was the result of a dated marketing mindset.

After the Lumix S9 was announced, photographers in Japan noticed that the Japanese Lumix S9 product page featured numerous photos that weren’t captured with the new camera — including a photo of a dog running across a field of grass that could be found on Shutterstock. Beyond that, one of the several stock photos seen on the page was captured by a Nikon Ambassador.

Once the discovery started to make the rounds online, Panasonic updated its website and while it still includes photos that were not captured on the S9, those are clearly labled as such now. It also issued a public apology.

“We apologize to all Lumix and camera fans for causing great concern. Again, [we’re] very sorry for causing you concern. All of us involved promise to be more sincere in our approach to you and to make changes,” the company wrote.

Of note, Panasonic’s S9 product page in the United States appears to feature wholly original images crafted specifically for the Lumix S9 announcement and marketing campaign. The use of stock photos appears to be isolated to Japan.

In a new report from The Sankei Shimun, a daily national newspaper in Japan, Panasonic explains that the reason photos not captured on the S9 are featured in marketing materials for it is due to a dated mindset.

“More than 20 years ago, in a video camera advertisement, there was a technique of inserting images that were not the actual product, and we created the site with that mindset,” a company representative tells The Sankei Shimun (machine translated from Japanese). Panasonic also tells the newspaper that the images will be updated over time and it is taking steps to adjust its rules for marketing in the future to avoid this situation from happening again.

The Sankei Shimun also reports that other camera manufacturers were quick to check their own websites to assure they weren’t guilty of similar practices. Nikon says it has never used stock photos to showcase functions and performance of its cameras. Canon says it has when it comes to showing example situations where a camera could be used, but “the photos used to promote sample images and performance are taken with the actual product.” Sony says it also uses stock photos as concepts in some cases, but says it won’t use them to tell customers about the types of photos they can expect to take.

Using stock photos to illustrate the possibilities of a camera isn’t new — Kenko Tokina did it last year, for example — but certain companies like Lumix are held to a higher standard by consumers.