Sigma CEO says: “we cannot commit [to] when we 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.

Mirrorlessrumors roundup:

  1. I find it interesting to learnt hat they did change the partner for the production of their new FF sensor. The bad news is that it sounds we will not get the camera in 2021 :(
  2. Sigma believes the market for APS-C is small. They will clearly go for Full Frame with the sole excpetion of some new APS-C lenses
  3. I hope he is right in the prediction that says that the market will bottom out by end 2020

And the EOS-M killing has started: Canon rumored to announce a High End APS-C RF Mount camera in 2021

I would never advice anyone to buy into the EOS-M line. And indeed it looks like a High End APS-C RF Mount camera is coming in 2021. This would but a knife in the back of the system. Canon should give every current EOS-M camera owner a big discount to buy the future APS-C RF mount camera. And be done with the EOS-M system

via CR

RUMOR: Sigma is very, very unhappy with the progress of L-Mount

L-rumors reports:

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.

JIP lays out their strategy after the Olympus digital camera business acquisition: Focus on high end, video and surveillance cameras

JIP director Shinichi Inagaki has been interviewed by Toyokeizai. He laid out the strategy he has in mind with the Olympus digital camera business

JIP will not sell :
They said there have been no cases of bankruptcy in their past 30 investments. They are confident they can regenerate the business and definitely do NOT plan to sell the business to the best bidders. The hope is to achieve a profitability in the first year. After that, instead of selling it to external companies, they will search for a way to revive it under JIP company.
This self-confidence is underpinned by the success of the PC “VAIO” business. It returned to profitability in the fiscal year ended May 2016, and has continued to increase profits every fiscal year. EMS (manufacturing outsourcing) business for robots has also started, and the core of the business is increasing.

JIP will maintain Olympus brand and not withdraw from overseas markets:
The Olympus brand will be maintained for the time being, and the maintenance of the sold products will be continued. Unlike the “VAIO”, there is no plan to ​​withdraw from the overseas market, and they will continue to sell overseas such as in Europe, which is their “main market”.  They also plan to keep using the new fab in Vietnam.

JIP plan to regenerate the MFT business:
Key to success is “focusing on unique features and technologies. They plan to shift from consumer-oriented market to the business-oriented market where “its features can be maximized”. JIP also plans to focus on the “video business” which so far Olympus hasn’t really focused on: “we are considering various markets such as consumer products specialized for video and business such as surveillance cameras

The issue with human resources:
It has not been decided whether all human resources in the video business will move to the new company. JIP is negotiating with Olympus to acquire talent along with acquisition

My guts tell me this aint’ goign to work out well for MFT customers :(

via Digicameinfo

Panasonic will have the same fate as Olympus? Probably not….but a restructure program might be started soon…

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

Fuji is sure their GFX system can challenge Full Frame

Imaging-resource had a chat with Fujifilm managers, including Toshihisa Iida. The one think that made me think most of what iida said is that he is sure the GFX system can challenge the FF system. He said that to achieve that “GFX has to become smaller and cheaper“. The problems I see here are multiple:

  1. GFX can never be as cheap as FF. The sensor is bigger, produced in a much smaler number which increases the cost a lot. And that ain’t going to change unless more manufacturers start to make medium format cameras
  2. The pace of innovation on MF sensors is much slower than on FF. Sony releases new MF sensors every 3-4 years. And it’s a one of a kind sensor where Fuji has little saying on the development
  3. Lenses are also bigger and in theory more costlier.

Just my two cent. If fuji wants to make GFX a success they may have to look elsewhere for sensors. Maybe ask Samsung to make MF sensors for them? This way they can tailor the sensor development and fasten the innovation path. Still, costs and size of their GFX cameras and lenses will always be higher.