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Sigma still has no idea when they’ll release a full-frame Foveon camera

Recently, rumours broke that Panasonic was considering an APS-C L mount camera. At the time it was also reported that Sigma apparently isn’t happy with the progress of L mount, urging Panasonic to focus more on the system. Jokingly, I suggested that Sigma should listen to their own advice and give us that full-frame Foveon we’ve been promised for two years.

Well, in a recently published interview with Dave Etchells at Imaging Resource, Sigma said they have no idea when they’ll actually be able to release a full-frame Foveon. At least, that was the story in March when Dave went to visit them, but followup questions six months later don’t indicate that anything’s changed for the better.

Sigma announced in February of this year that full-frame Foveon was essentially on hold indefinitely, but that they were working on it. The next month, on March 11th they said they’re aiming for the camera originally slated for release in 2019 to come in summer 2021 (although it might be 2022). I don’t know whether Dave’s interview with Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki was before or after the 11th, but it seems pretty clear.

Dave asked about February’s plans that Sigma was putting the full-frame Foveon camera release on hold…

We’re still working on the Foveon technology, and we’re still working on the full-frame sensor. We had a plan to release the product, the camera with the full-frame Foveon sensor in 2020, but we found it impossible. So we continue the development of the sensor, but we cannot commit [to] when we will release the product.

So the step back means we first focus on the development of the Foveon technology. Then once the sensor is ready, we will release the camera.

There are two issues. The first one is there are some design errors in making the full-frame Foveon sensor. We already have several generations of the full-frame Foveon sensor prototypes. But none of them work properly because of the design error. So we have to correct the design error. The Second problem is a challenge in manufacturing.

The topic of the interview shifted over to L mount in general and the subject of APS-C L mount was raised. Mr Yamaki mentioned that they have plans to release L mount versions of their 16mm f/1.4 DC DN, 30mm f/1.4 DC DN and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lenses that are currently available for Sony E mount. He also said that they will develop brand new lenses specifically for L Mount APS-C, which is quite an odd decision.

Right now, the only company that makes APS-C L mount cameras is Leica themselves. Now, this interview was six months ago, long before Panasonic APS-C rumours came along. Did Sigma know they were planning them way back then? Could the fact that they’ve still not been released what’s caused Sigma’s frustration?

Regardless, he says Sigma is basically sticking full-frame for their own cameras, although that’s not necessarily set in stone. But his thought process for the APS-C L mount lenses was not necessarily for APS-C L mount cameras, but for APS-C “crop mode” use on higher resolution (50-75 megapixel) bodies that may be released in the future.

While the original interview was six months ago, the article does include some recent follow-up questions. Foveon was not discussed in the newer round of questions, suggesting that the situation has not changed and they still don’t really know when a full-frame Foveon camera may be ready.

Head over to Imaging Resource for the complete interview.

[via Imaging Resource]