Sigma Expected to Announce Unique New Full Frame Camera Later This Month

Sigma Expected to Announce Unique New Full Frame Camera Later This Month

Sigma has always made niche cameras with special sensors that were beloved by the devoted few who used them, but in the last year or so, they have started to venture into more mainstream territory. Now, the company seems set to release a rather unique camera that combines both their old and new philosophies.

Sigma's Foveon sensor cameras always reminded me of Pentax: they were used by few people, but those users were fiercely loyal to the platform. The Foveon sensor is peculiar: it has terrible ISO performance, but produces scarily sharp images, thus the loyalty shown by users. These sensors were always APS-C size and generally appeared in fixed lens bodies with bizarre ergonomics and slow interfaces. On the other hand, Sigma recently released the fp camera, a tiny full frame mirrorless camera with a traditional Bayer system and the L mount, allowing it to take advantage of the L mount alliance's library of lenses and have more traditional ISO performance. 

Now, the company is expected to release a Foveon sensor full frame camera with an L mount and a resolution of 60 megapixels. Such a camera would likely produce stunningly sharp, high-resolution files (though would likely still have poor high-ISO performance), and with access to the L mount library of lenses, it could be an excellent option for studio, product, and landscape photographers. The announcement is expected on February 27.

Would you be interested in such a camera?

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Eric Salas's picture

I couldn’t care less for a camera from Sigma but I hope they keep these badass Art lenses flowing for my E-mounts.

Rob Davis's picture

I’ve been waiting a long time for this camera. My Sigma DP2 Quattro is an unbelievable camera. It’s like shooting slide film, but if you have the skills to do that it’s amazing and looks like nothing else out there. I’m ready for the L-Mount Foveon.

Johnny Rico's picture

FoVeOn , so does that mean they are really releasing a 20mp camera and just claiming it resolves at 60

Rob Davis's picture

I don’t care. The images are amazing.

If 3 sets of 20MP layers were stacked on top of each other as opposed to being distributed across a single plane, it would still be a 60MP camera. It would just output a 20MP file.

Johnny Rico's picture

And that is the issue, you are buying into their marketing. it will be between 20 and 60, but not at or near the 60mp they claim when compared to other cameras that produce a native file at these sizes.

Johnny, I'm not too technical, but on the other hand isn't it the other cameras which use interpolated colour pixels with false marketing, so Sigma is more accurate if anything ?

I'm not buying into their marketing at all. I'm just saying that it would actually be a 60MP camera if it had three 20MP sensors stacked on top of each other. 3 apples is still 3 apples regardless of how they are oriented inside a container.

As for other companies, you could argue that the 60MP files that they produce (since we're using this hypothetical number) is not actually the native output of the camera since each pixel has to be generated via interpolation. This is why any traditional Bayer sensor camera that has a 60MP sensor, would only output a 50-something MP file as opposed to a true 60MP file.

The way I see it, Sigma's marketing in this regard only seems misleading at first glance because we're so used to Bayer sensors and the marketing associated with them. It's not actually misleading at all if you wrap your head around the fact that the Foveon sensor works completely differently.

Johnny Rico's picture

It's theory vs practice though, compare a Sigma sd1 "46mp" file vs a d850 45.7mp file.

EDIT: If you google it there is a review comparing the sd1 to a d800e and it shows this when each is resized to a 30mp file size.

> does that mean they are really releasing a 20mp camera and just claiming it resolves at 60

If you're an idiot who doesn't understand that a 20mp Bayer sensor camera is in fact about 7mp before interpolation, yes. If you're no an idiot, no.

Johnny Rico's picture

The original Foveon had beautiful colors, but the SD1 was not close to 45mp however they wanted to fudge the numbers.

Can't wait. I hope they're using the Merrill layout and not that of the Quattro.

Stuart Carver's picture

Im happy with my X-Trans sensor camera that doesnt work with any software, cant resolve greens, makes foliage mushy, has weird artefacts and is too small to be considered 'serious'.

ooooo yes please :-)

Colin Robertson's picture

Not enough manufactures or consumers spend enough time considering *color* resolution. Standard sensor color filters are inherently limited. Niche or not, I would love to see continued development on foveon sensors.

Spy Black's picture

" has terrible ISO performance..."
As well as no dynamic range.

"...and a resolution of 60 megapixels..."
You meant 20 megapixels, interpolated by magical fairies to 60 megapixels...

One advantage (for Foveon) at 20 meg FF should be that hopefully it will have large enough photosites to improve it's dismal dynamic range and ISO performance. Sigma may have to implement some AI processing to try and bring performance at least into the second decade of the 21st century. Eventually they may even catch up to the third decade we've just entered.

All the Foveon Freaks will be creaming all over this. I wish Sigma well in this endevor and hope they've somehow manged to make this technology actually useful.

Christian Lainesse's picture

Can you provide more insider information about this unreleased camera sensor?

Spy Black's picture

What else do you need to know? Magical Faries. That explains it all...

Christian Lainesse's picture

How about actual facts?

To be fair, there was some talk using a 2 layer foveon sensor being used as opposed to the 3 layers of prior models a little while ago, that (of true) might strike a nice balance between the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each sensor type.

On the other hand, even if it isn't, I've met people who swear by foveon sensored cameras for specific types of work. I mean who shoots at anything above base iso for studio work? For example.

Antonio Labayen's picture

I was waiting for a Foveon L-Mount full frame, but when Sigma released the fp, I was disappointed that it was a Bayer filter sensor. I have much more hope for this new announcement. However, I'm not sure the form factor would fit me. I'm more into rangefinder-style shooting, so I have the Leica M 246 Monochrom, which produces incredible images even at ISO 12500. I am very hopeful for the new Foveon L-Mount full-frame as a solution for both color and black and white.

Rob Davis's picture

I’m jealous Antonio. Dying to shoot with a dedicated monochrome camera.

Antonio Labayen's picture

Rob, the monochrom camera is a big commitment to b&w. I went through a process to return to my roots in b&w film then monochrom. I feel fortunate to now photograph with my ultimate handheld camera. Now that I have it and see the results for myselft, I don't regret making that commitment.

Adil Alsuhaim's picture

Sigma was smart to venture into the L-Mount alliance, which makes their cameras a step more towards mainstream. I think Pentax & Olympus should also try to join in. L-mount users can get this Foveon camera for landscape & studio, and other cameras for different purposes. And if you think no one would buy a special-purpose camera think about Canon, they release a line of cameras intended for astrophotography, most recently the EOS Ra.

I think Sigma can sell more L-mount cameras than they used to sell SA-mount lenses.