Panasonic Apologizes After Finding 77 Products with Stock ‘Sample Photos’

Two wooden shelves each displaying three cameras. The upper shelf holds a green, red, and blue camera, while the lower shelf also holds a green, red, and blue camera. Each camera is marked with the "LUMIX" brand and is equipped with a large lens. A plant is partially visible on the left side.

After it was on the receiving end of immense online blowback in response to its use of stock photos as “samples” for its S9 camera, Panasonic launched an internal inquiry to find and remove any other such cases from its Japanese website.

After the Lumix S9 was announced, photographers in Japan noticed that the Japanese Lumix S9 product page featured several photos that weren’t captured with the new camera, made worse by the fact that one was immediately found on Shutterstock and several others were captured by a Nikon Ambassador.

Once the discovery gained greater exposure, Panasonic updated its website to clearly indicate which were not captured with the S9 and eventually removed and replaced all the stock images.

While the practice of using stock images is not uncommon — Kenko Tokina did it last year — it is unexpected of a high profile company like Panasonic.

“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 told The Sankei Shimun as part of a public apology for the situation.

While the S9 product page was quickly adjusted, the situation caused Panasonic Lumix to evaluate its entire website so that it could find and remove other cases where images captured with one camera were used as samples to promote another. Last week, the company published the results of this internal audit.

“We have conducted a detailed check of all images used on the Lumix product website and have removed images using stock photo services,” the company says in a public notice. “We have also made revisions to the Lumix product website based on the following principles: ‘All images used must be taken with our own camera products,’ and ‘For images taken with other models of our own cameras, images with the same mount or similar pixel count must be used, and the equipment used must be clearly stated.'”

It found eight S-series camera webpages, 17 S-series lenses, six G-series cameras, and 28 G-series lenses along with 18 other products that were technically discontinued or out of production that went against one or both of these new principles for a total of 77 product pages that have been updated.

Of note, the Panasonic GH7 web page that was added on June 6 was created following those principles, too.

“Going forward, in order to firmly establish our commitment to the ‘examples’ of Lumix products, we will continue to update our website this fall, for example by replacing images taken with other models of our own cameras with images taken with the relevant models. We take the opinions and comments we have received seriously, and will continue to work on improvements in order to regain the trust of our customers as soon as possible,” Panasonic says.

The S9 situation was a bad look for Panasonic, but it’s hard to find fault with how the company has responded since. Not only did it work to fix the problem quickly, but it went above and beyond to ensure that no other website pages were also at risk. Over about a month, Panasonic did everything it could to rectify the situation.

It should also be noted that this appears to have been limited to just the Japanese-based websites — no North American pages were found to have used stock images, for example.

Image credits: Panasonic