Good news - yes? Well actually no, according to many pundits on various forums. They see this as a "disaster." "Too many pixels" "So Panasonic have joined the pointless megapixel race" "The current m4/3 lenses can't even resolve 12MP" "Nobody needs 18MP" "This will just mean more noise" etc. etc. Everyone seems ready and willing to chip in with negative comments. There are a few, myself included, who think this is a good thing. But we seem to be in the minority.
If this is going to happen, and that is obviously open to question, I can only see it as a positive thing. I shoot landscape with m4/3, usually at ISO100, and would love a bigger file size. 16MP almost makes the 48MB picture library standard with no interpolation. A positive thing for me.
Perversely, the Canon 550D and 7D, are cited as examples of "Too many pixels" Having used these cameras extensively, its obvious that they perform astonishingly well. Both in terms of resolution and high ISO performance. I have been incredibly impressed by the results from both cameras. The 18MP sensor that Canon developed for these cameras is a step forward from their previous APS-C sensors. There is absolutely no reason to suppose a "new" Panasonic sensor would not be the same. These pessimists seem to imagine Panasonic engineers and marketing execs. sitting around saying "Lets give them more pixels. Thats what people want. Sure it will result in noisier pictures but so what. Lets do it anyway" or something along the same lines.
When companies increase the MP count on what might be called "serious" cameras (as opposed to point and shoot compacts) they generally get a better overall performance as well. With DSLR's there are very few examples of more MP's resulting in a lowering of image quality.
Sensor technology does improve. Panasonic have been producing the m4/3 sensor used in their own and Olympus cameras for about 2 years. Its ridiculous to assume that they believe that this is as far as they can go with it.
Personally I'd be happy if they produced a 16MP sensor that performed as well as the current 12MP version. I'd be even happier if they improved the high ISO performance. I'd be delirious with joy if they removed the AA filter, which is another rumour circulating. Add in an upgrading of the video codec and I'm pre-ordering mine now!