Sigma at WPPI 2020: no full-frame Foveon sensor camera any time soon

Sigma fp and the new mirrorless lens lineup take center stage at WPPI 2020, as Sigma announces that its full frame camera with a Foveon X3 sensor is back to the drawing board.

Sigma at WPPI 2020: no new Foveon camera any time soon

Announced at Photokina 2018 and then again at CP+2019 with 2020 as the launch date, the  L-mount full-frame Foveon X3 sensor will not make it to WPPI 2020 not even as a prototype.

If there was any hope that Sigma would show use the 2020 WPPI Expo to show a prototype or reveal more info about the L-mount mirrorless camera equipped with a full-frame Foveon sensor the company announced it was developing at Photokina in September 2018, and suggested at CP+2019 it planned to release in 2020, it’s gone now, as Kazuto Yamaki, Chief Executive Officer of the SIGMA Corporation announced, recently, that “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.”

Despite having worked “diligently on the development to meet our commitment”, he continues, “we cannot say for certain when the full-frame Foveon X3 sensor will be put into mass production” adding that “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.”

No full-frame Foveon in the near future

In an open letter published on the company’s website, Kazuto Yamaki says that “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.”

Foveon sensors, he said, “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”, ending with a note stating ”we continue striving to live up to your expectation and prove that we are worthy of your trust.”

Sigma at WPPI 2020: no new Foveon camera any time soon

Foveon sensors are different

Foveon sensors, are, in fact, something different from all other solutions available, some of which try to mimic the “3 layer” that is the base for the Foveon technology. The foveon sensor is what is considered a direct image sensor, one that directly captures red, green, and blue light at each point in an image during a single exposure. Foveon pioneered the development of the direct image sensor using the most advanced developments in semiconductor design, image processing, and signal processing.

While it offers some unique results, as anyone who has tried it can confirm, it also introduces a series of problems, many of them related to the support, in real world, of the files created. That’s something I experienced when I tested the early Foveon cameras from Sigma: the files created could not be opened with many of the apps available. They also require more work – or work you’re not used to – both at the capture and the editing stage, and that helps to make the Foveon sensor less popular.

Sigma acquired Foveon and has developed it for their cameras, so there is also less chance that other camera brands use the technology, and this means there is no reason for most companies to support a sensor type that, in the end, is not understood by many. Or even looked at as something they need. The Bayer typical digital sensor has been the most used and the one people know. All this contributes to make the Foveon X3 sensor technology expensive to produce, especially as Sigma wanted to use for a full-frame camera, the first Foveon L-mount mirrorless camera.

See the new lenses at the 2020 WPPI Expo

So, no Foveon X3 L-mount mirrorless camera for WPPI or even for the near future. Still, there is a lot to explore if you’re going to the 2020 WPPI Expo held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV from February 25 – 27, 2020. The event is the largest show for professional, amateur and emerging wedding and portrait photographers and filmmakers, and is a unique opportunity to get hands-on with the entire Sigma product lineup including all-new full-frame mirrorless solutions for portrait, wedding and event photographers.

New full-frame mirrorless solutions from Sigma include the native L-mount Sigma fp full-frame mirrorless digital camera; the critically-acclaimed mirrorless Art zoom duo: the 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art and 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art; and the ultimate in imaging excellence, the 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art, all available in native Sony E-mount and L-mount.

Sigma at WPPI 2020: no new Foveon camera any time soon

The Sigma fp continues to shine

The 2020 WPPI will also be the place to go to check the Sigma fp, the smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless digital camera, equipped with a 24.6 megapixel Bayer full-frame sensor. Capable of full-fledged video production, supporting 12-bit CinemaDNG external recording for RAW video data and 4K UHD/24fps recording, the camera easily alternates between still and cine shooting modes with a simple flip of a switch. The Sigma fp uses the L-mount, characterized by a short flange focal length, large diameter, and superior durability.

Besides the lenses mentioned above, the company will also have on display Sigma’s fast APS-C prime lenses: the Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary and the Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary, now available in Canon EF-M mount.

Learn, win lenses and check your gear

During the event attendees have a chance to learn the latest tips & tricks on the Sigma Stage. Join Sigma Pros Judy Host, Meg Loeks and Jim Koepnick as well as featured speakers Pye Jirsa, Michael Anthony, Michelle Harris, McKenzie Deakins and Hiram Trillo as they take the Sigma stage to share insights, techniques and more on how to create beautiful imagery. Presentation topics will cover everything from the business of photography to a wide range of disciplines including posing, wedding photography, street photography and portraiture.

Attendees are invited to stop by the Sigma booth and to have their badges scanned throughout the duration of the show for a chance to win one of Sigma’s coveted Art lenses. The winner will be notified following the show and the prize will be shipped to them.

In addition to education, inspiration and hands-on demos, Sigma is offering photographers a complimentary clean and check of gear throughout the show. Attendees can come by the Sigma booth with their favorite gear to keep it picture perfect. Loaner gear is available on a first come, first served basis.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…