Sigma says its full-frame Foveon X3 sensor ‘must be’ prepared ‘someday this yr’: Digital Pictures Assessment


In a current video interview, revealed to YouTube, Sigma Company CEO, Kazuto Yamaki, confirmed the corporate is engaged on a full-frame Foveon sensor that ‘ought to’ make its debut – not less than in prototype kind – by the top of the yr.

The 17-minute interview covers an array of subjects, together with Sigma’s technique all through the pandemic, its plans to proceed supporting DSLR customers and different subjects. One of many extra fascinating tidbits, nevertheless, comes across the eight-minute mark, whereby the host asks Mr. Yamaki if there’s any replace on the corporate’s three-layer Foveon sensor.

In response, Mr. Yamaki says ‘We’re nonetheless engaged on it […] and are engaged on the prototype of the three-layer X3 sensor […] that must be accessible someday this yr.’ He goes on to say ‘the Foveon X3 sensor just isn’t a really versatile sensor,’ particularly stating its low-light efficiency, ‘but when there’s a good quantity of sunshine, that digital camera can create very stunning and spectacular photographs.’

Sigma CEO Mr. Yamaki, pictured within the firm’s manufacturing facility in Aizu, Japan.

These ‘stunning and spectacular photographs,’ as Mr. Yamaki says, are the byproduct of the proprietary three-layer design Sigma’s Foveon sensors use. Reasonably than the Bayer filter mosaic most standard sensors use, which consists of arranging Purple, Inexperienced or Blue shade filters atop every picture sensor, Foveon sensors seize gentle with completely different energies at three completely different depths within the sensor, then reconstruct the pink, inexperienced and blue info. This construction leads to full shade element at each pixel, and eliminates the softness that comes from the demosaicing course of used to fill within the shade gaps within the Bayer design.

Since first asserting its efforts on full-frame Foveon sensor again in 2018, Sigma has hit numerous roadblocks which have set again its efforts. In 2019, we spoke with Mr. Yamaki, who detailed the challenges the corporate confronted in scaling its Foveon sensor know-how to full-frame cameras. Within the interview, he defined the problem of enhancing the varied points of sensor efficiency like excessive ISO efficiency and shade gradation within the course of of constructing the sensor bigger. It wouldn’t be till round a yr later that we acquired a second replace on the full-frame Foveon sensor, and it wasn’t excellent news.

In its February 2020 announcement, Sigma mentioned it needed to go ‘again to the drafting board’ with all the digital camera and particularly identified that it wanted to work on ‘the event of [Foveon] sensor applied sciences.’ One other yr later, in February 2021, Sigma revealed an additional replace saying it had terminated its contract with the sensor producer with whom it had been engaged on the Foveon sensor and was ‘absolutely engaged in analysis and growth of the undertaking.’

It remained radio silence for one more yr till February 2022, when Sigma mentioned it was on the second of a three-stage growth course of, whereby it was evaluating small-sensor prototypes with the identical measurement pixels as a full-frame model would use. The third and last stage, in line with Sigma, consisted of evaluating prototypes that use a full-frame Foveon sensor with the identical specs the mass-produced model will use, together with the AD converter. It was on this stage, Mr. Yamaki mentioned the place Sigma would additionally ‘confirm the mass-producibility of the sensor with analysis institutes and manufacturing distributors primarily based on the analysis outcomes, after which make a last resolution on whether or not or to not mass-produce the picture sensor.’

Contemplating Mr. Yamaki’s statements within the video, it sounds as if Sigma is not less than within the latter components of Stage 3, if not solely by way of it. It’s unclear whether or not Mr. Yamaki is referring to having solely the sensor probably carried out by the top of the yr, or a totally functioning digital camera, however the Foveon hype prepare continues to roll and appears extra promising than ever.

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