‘Back to the drawing board’: Sigma says full-frame Foveon camera won’t arrive this year

Sigma CEO Mr. Yamaki, pictured in the company’s factory in Aizu, Japan.

Development of Sigma’s full-frame Foveon camera has met considerable setbacks and the camera is no longer slated to arrive this year. In a letter to customers, CEO Kazuto Yamaki apologizes for the delay and says the decision comes after ‘careful and rigorous testing.’ No new release date is given at this time, and Mr. Yamaki says that the company has decided to start over with a ‘clean slate.’

The full-frame Foveon project was first announced to the public at CP+ in 2018. At the following year’s CP+, Sigma released more details about the camera and said it would reach market in 2020. Mr. Yamaki discussed with us some of the challenges of taking Foveon full-frame, describing the difficulty of improving interconnected aspects of sensor performance like high ISO performance and color gradation.

Press release:

Development status of the full-frame Foveon sensor camera

Dear Customers,

Thank you for being a valued customer.

At Photokina in September 2018, SIGMA announced the development of an L-mount mirrorless camera equipped with a full-frame Foveon sensor. Then, at CP+2019, we shared our plan to release the camera in 2020 and have worked diligently on the development to meet our commitment.

As a result of careful and rigorous testing based on the latest development information, however, it has become clear that the launch of such a camera would be infeasible within this year. Still at this point, we cannot say for certain when the full-frame Foveon X3 sensor will be put into mass production.

In light of current development progress, we are not in a position to offer any specific release plan at present. We have therefore decided that we should start over the project with a clean slate, putting the production plan for this new camera back to the drawing board and going back to the development of sensor technologies.

Since the earlier announcements, your excitement with the launch of a “full-frame Foveon” has been a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement for us. Everyone involved in the project has pulled out all the stops to make it a reality. I would like to express my deepest apologies for failing to meet your expectations and having to share this disappointing news.

I would like to emphasize that Foveon sensors are in a class of their own and that they are part of the identity of SIGMA cameras that embodies our ideals and philosophies. We are determined to continue dedicating ourselves to technology development to bring better image sensors to life.

I would like to once again express my sincerest gratitude to our valued customers for the strong support you have offered to us. On behalf of all SIGMA employees, I commit myself to you that we continue striving to live up to your expectation and prove that we are worthy of your trust.

I truly appreciate your patience and understanding.

Warmest regards,

Kazuto Yamaki
Chief Executive Officer
SIGMA Corporation