Sigma CEO Yamaki says they still don’t know when they will release the new Foveon camera

Imaging Resource published a very interesting interview with Sigma CEO Yamaki. Here are some interesting points:

Foveon:

So we continue the development of the sensor, but we cannot commit [to] when we will release the product. 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.

Starting from this project, we started working with a new sensor vendor. Yes, a new foundry in the US. They are based in a small city called Roseville (California), which is close to San Francisco. They were the subsidiary of NEC, a Japanese company.

[Ed. Note: Some quick Googling suggests this is TF Semiconductor Solutions, previously TSI Semiconductors (2012-2014), and Renesas Electronics America (2010-2011). As Yamaki-san says, the foundry was originally built in 1998 by NEC. Please note, though, that this is just my guessing, based on a Google search :-)]

FP sales

We are doing extremely good in Japan. The sales here are quite good. But in other markets, sales are not as good as I expected.

24-70mm lens:

We still cannot catch the demand. Because the price is half of the Somy version and it’s also one of the top performing lenses in this category, f/2.8 standard zoom lenses for Sony E-mount and L-mount. I believe it’s the top performer, but to be fair, [I should say] it’s one of the top performers. But the price is half that of the Sony 24-70mm.

APS-C L-mount lenses:

we will probably develop brand new lenses for Leica L-mount APS-C cameras.

Sigma APS-C cameras:

No plan to make APS-C L-mount cameras yet. If we continue the fp concept, probably we will stay with full-frame. But this is just an assumption. We don’t have such a plan right now. But just making an assumption for the future, if the sensor has large pixel numbers like 50, 60, 75 megapixels, you can take a very, very good image using APS-C with a crop mode. So in this case, you can use a very compact lens.

Future of the market:

I guess the market would shrink in 2020, even if we didn’t have coronavirus. Probably the coronavirus issue will escalate the problem. Without coronavirus, I assumed that the market would shrink but probably toward the end of this year to next year, I expected it to hit the bottom, and then level out.

Last year, the quantity of interchangeable-lens system cameras sold in the market was 8.5 million units. But actually, the peak time was 17 million units. So last year was about half. But before digital cameras, film SLR sold about four million to five million units. So it was originally a very small market. So I think it was kind of a boom economy starting from mid-2000 to the beginning of 2010, and then it’s going down to the normal level.

I think probably five to six million is a good number to be stable. Thanks to smartphones, more people are interested in taking better pictures, and some of those people would like to buy high-end cameras. So probably, I think the market size for digital interchangeable-lens system cameras would be higher than for film SLRs. And also because the learning cost is very low compared to the film camera.DE: Oh, yeah, much lower costs than film, that’s a good point. Because now, you can see your picture right away. I remember I would shoot a 36-exposure roll, and sometimes none would come out.

But now my feeling is we’re coming back to more like a five-year cycle maybe, for people getting cameras.

RUMOR: Sigma unhappy with the progress of L-Mount and Panasonic might make APS-C L-mount cameras to attract more customers

This info is from trusted sources that shared many correct rumors in the past. So I am 99% confident it’s true. This is what they said:

  • Sigma is very, very unhappy with the progress of L-Mount. They are urging Panasonic to focus much more on this system
  • They are really thinking of an APS-C entry level system based on L-Mount
  • They now see Canon as biggest competitor in Video segment

Panasonic stated a couple of times they do not plan to make an APS-C L-mount camera to not cannibalize the MFT system. Well…they might change their mind soon enough and it would be bad news for the MFT folks.

Panasonic is going to restructure the Lumix brand?

Nikkei has posted an interesting “rumor” about Panasonic plans with the Lumix camera brand:

  1. Because of the difficult environment Panasonic plans to do a “structural reform” of the business.
  2. Nikkei writes that this could end in a “collaboration with other companies“.

Sounds like there is a chance they might separate the Lumix brand into a new company with partners (like Olympus is doing). But I guess it might be a different solution: Right now the L-mount partners are allied with separate businesses and ideas. Some kind of more advanced partnership with Leica and Sigma to cut costs and develop L-mount gear together makes sense.

via 43rumors

Interview with Panasonic’s Director of Imaging Business Unit: Makes it clear a S1H successor isn’t far out!

CineD published a full interview with Panasonic’s Director of Imaging Business Unit. The English translated text of the interview can be read on their site.

Through COVID-19, the possibility of taking photos outside has been clearly reduced. And the demand for watching videos as well as making videos and releasing them from home will increase. Therefore, the G100, for example, which has a V-Log feature, the S1H update to output ProRes with the Ninja, or the LUMIX live streaming – we will help our customers enjoy motion pictures by using LUMIX. Also, we are trying to improve how we share new information. We have already introduced the G100 and the S5 via online channels. This was the first experience for LUMIX. And, since our customers might have difficulties with trying out our real products currently, we are creating workshops with influencers and reviewers, in order to inform you about our new products and their features.

We are targeting traveling Vloggers with the G100, yet, right now it’s quite difficult to travel, so we were worried before its introduction. But many Vloggers are releasing their own home videos, so the actual sales are much better than expected. We think it’s the selfie mode or the OZO Audio function, which supports the creation of videos, that are well accepted.

The S1 is handled as a stills image/video hybrid camera. It is more on the professional side, robust and resistant to environmental influences. Also, as a function for stills images, it has one rank higher image stabilization, and we considered deeply and tried/challenged to make it better especially for the viewfinder and shutter function. Therefore, the target audience is different than the audience of the S5, which targets a wider range of users. There are, however, some parts of the video functions that overlap with the S5 and the S1, so there may be some competition, but I think that these two models will broaden the range of target users, in general.

Of course, we are thinking about a successor model to the S1H. Regarding the video performance of the S1H’s successor model, I am thinking of one rank higher, so I think that the technical difficulty will become even higher, too. We are continuously developing technologies regarding heat dissipation, and we hope to develop this technology will make it an attractive product.

Nearly 3.5 years have passed since the launch of the GH5, and many customers are still purchasing GH5, but many creators still shoot movies in a Micro Four Thirds format. As I have assured many times, we will continue to develop products for Micro Four Thirds as well as Full Frame to meet the needs of a wide range of creators. Regarding the replacement model for the GH camera that you asked about, I will inform you but the information may be spread. Of course, we are considering it, and we look forward to seeing you there.

We are currently exploring the future potential and marketability of 8K, and continue to develop technologies for the future and the expanding needs of the market. I feel like the needs of the market are a little behind from what I thought 3 years ago.