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


In a latest 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 – at the very least 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 attention-grabbing tidbits, nonetheless, 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 obtainable someday this yr.’ He goes on to say ‘the Foveon X3 sensor is just not a really versatile sensor,’ particularly mentioning its low-light efficiency, ‘but when there’s a good quantity of sunshine, that digicam can create very stunning and spectacular pictures.’

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

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

Since first saying its efforts on full-frame Foveon sensor again in 2018, Sigma has hit plenty of 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 bettering the varied points of sensor efficiency like excessive ISO efficiency and coloration gradation within the course of of creating 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 the complete digicam 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 ‘totally engaged in analysis and improvement of the challenge.’

It remained radio silence for one more yr till February 2022, when Sigma mentioned it was on the second of a three-stage improvement course of, whereby it was evaluating small-sensor prototypes with the identical measurement pixels as a full-frame model would use. The third and remaining stage, in accordance 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 based mostly on the analysis outcomes, after which make a remaining choice 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 at the very least within the latter elements of Stage 3, if not totally 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 completely functioning digicam, however the Foveon hype practice continues to roll and appears extra promising than ever.


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