According to an interview with Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma is on track to release its full-frame Foveon image sensor by the end of the year.
The interview has been posted on Sigma’s YouTube channel, with Yamaki stating that the X3 full-frame image sensor is currently completing stage three of its planned three-stage prototyping phase.
However, Yamaki also seeks to manage expectations in the video by warning that its low light performance won’t be the best out of the gate.
“The Foveon X3 sensor is not a very versatile sensor,” Yamaki says. “There are some ‘cons’ like performance in low light, but if there is a good amount of light, that camera can create very beautiful and impressive photos.”
The Foveon X3 image sensor was announced back in 2018, but due to a variety of delays prompted Sigma to go “back to the drawing board” to redesign the sensor with a fresh concept. Coupled with the worldwide pandemic and processor shortage, the overall development of the sensor is just now reaching the point where it could be incorporated into next-generation Sigma camera designs.
The X3’s three-layer design translates into the camera capturing three separate images through the stacked red, green, and blue layered pixel structure. The general concept means that each layer essentially captures its own color dominant image and then merges them together.
Traditional Bayer-style image sensors use a single-layer mosaic shared pixel arrangement where the camera’s image processor examines the image and fills in any missing colors and shades. Sigma believes that this stacked Foveon design more closely mimics that of film and will make the resulting photos sharper and more color accurate.
However, while the design is in the final stages of its development, Yamaki is cautious about when the image sensor will move towards full-scale production. Back in February of 2022, the Sigma CEO stated that after the sensor passes stage 3 of the prototype phase, an extensive evaluation, and testing regime will be required to determine if the X3 will begin production.
Should the Foveon X3 full-frame sensor pass muster, Sigma is believed to be developing a full-frame camera with an L-mount lens connection, effectively abandoning its own established SA mount lens design. The company joined the L-mount Alliance back in 2018.
Sigma has assured current SA mount clients, however, that the company will continue to support those lenses either through an SA-L mount adapter or giving customers the option of converting their lenses to an L Mount connection.
There is currently no timeline for when a full-frame Sigma Foveon camera will be announced, so stay tuned.
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