Why isn't Sigma making a m4/3 camera?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by With_Eyes_Unclouded, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    I'm sure all of us have thought the exact same and perhaps it's a stupid question on my part; I was wondering while reading this review:

    Sigma DP1 Merrill Review

    One should argue that Sigma could have a working :43: prototype in a matter of hours (and I'm sure they do). The FOVEON sensor is 20.7mm X 13.8mm. Well, the GH2 sensor is 19.3mmX13.4mm. I'm wondering how much work is involved in making a multi-aspect solution out of the FOVEON? For most aspect ratios, the drop in total Mp count would be insignificant (and that's not the point anyway). Sigma already has :43: mount lenses and could expand on them while taking advantage on existing lenses of course. A Sigma :43: camera could improve :43: position in the market.

    So what's the deal here? Sigma's sensor is not a silver bullet, nor it would challenge Sony sensors on all counts, but it would seriously take on much bigger sensors for a variety of needs, if implemented in our system. E.g. for a fashion shooter, FOVEON's resolution and lack of moire would be ideal, more so given that high ISO performance is not a pressing requirement.
     
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  2. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    Proving that there's still more to learn, my new word of the day: moire

    (Sorry, just wanted to chip that in. Learned something new today. :smile:)
     
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I'd love to see it happen. Sigma moves in mysterious ways.
     
  4. kevwilfoto

    kevwilfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Sep 23, 2011
    Colorado
    I agree, a Foveon sensor and the Oly 75/1.8 would be an interesting combination for fashion. That said, Sigma has a poor track record of camera pricing lately - perhaps they feel the :43: ecosystem is too competitively priced for them to compete in? It's a shame, I like Sigma and would consider a Sigma kit worthy of professional use.
     
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Actually, the current Foveon (the 15MP version in the Merrill cameras) is 24mm x 16mm - exactly APS-C sized.

    That's not to say they couldn't do a m4/3-sized version. But they've always gone their own way with DSLRs and I really don't see that changing. It's a small enough niche that I doubt the money pushes things one way or the other.
     
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  6. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    Unfortunately the market is not moving by way of our wishes, not even logic, for that matter.

    Still, the FOVEON needs "just" a couple development iterations to become a decisive force in sensor technology; namely one or two f-stops ISO performance, a proven RAW converter publicly available, etc. It currently is niche, sure, but even now it could steer things up, if implemented into an established open system, like :43:.
     
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Perhaps you're right, but it's taken them 5 or 6 years for the previous development iteration (4.6MP X3), so you're looking at 2020 or so for a couple more.

    As to the software, I've yet to see anything from Sigma to encourage confidence, but I suppose there's always a first time.
     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Lots of things go into making a product decision. The available technology is one of them but not a big one. Considerations, in no particular order:

    • Cannibalization of existing markets/products
    • Availability of manufacturing capacity and/or cost/schedule to develop capacity
    • Availability of product development and marketing resources and/or cost/schedule to develop.
    • Capacity of/suitability to/likely acceptance by current distribution network.
    • Development costs and schedules
    • Current and likely competitor products.
    • Estimated manufacturing cost of current and likely competitor products.
    • Product manufacturing cost vs pricing power for new product. (Unique product has more pricing power than a product going against similar existing products.)
    • Likely competitor reactions -- price cuts, newer technology introductions, ... ?
    • And a hundred more ...

    Some questions can be dealt with analytically, but many boil down to gut feel. It's no wonder manufacturers sometimes get it wrong.

    Once all the questions are looked at the proposed new product must be evaluated against other new product proposals that compete for the same resources. Just like most of us can't buy all the gear we want, manufacturers usually can't develop all the products that they'd like to.

    The idea of a M43 camera product almost certainly has champions within Sigma, but the road to successfully marketing such a product is difficult, complex, and largely unrelated to whatever small technology advantages they might (temporarily) have.
     
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  9. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I love the idea of having the latest Foveon sensor in a m4/3 body, but I would rather it be a Panasonic or Olympus camera. Sigma seems to be about 4 generations behind on body design (AF speed, viewfinders, stabilization, operational speed, raw conversion/software, etc.).
     
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    You make a lot of good points, but I also think that Sigma's DSLR and compact cameras are ultimately mainly a hobby for them, so much of the typical business wisdom doesn't apply. The volume is so small that it's hard to imagine them either making or losing a significant amount of money on them.
     
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Possibly, but well-run companies rarely have "hobbies." They might have small product lines, but the products will still have to make the numbers. Numbers might return on total capital, market share, growth rate, profitability, etc. -- every company uses different measurements to say whether a product line is worth keeping or not.
    It's not an unreasonable strategy at all to have a large number of small product lines. It reduces risk -- just get base hits and don't worry abut trying to hit home runs. It's easier, too, with the kind of highly automated factories that can now be built. Batch sizes can be smaller and production changes can be done more quickly. So maybe that is their strategy.
     
  12. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    Right now, it can be argued that the main driver in photography tech is sensor design and implementation. Of course, this is not to say that other aspects, such as electronics miniaturization, displays, connectivity, etc, aren't important too.

    We have seen a Sony monopoly emerging steadily in sensor tech. Canon is struggling to keep up (we'll have to wait for the 7DMk2 and the rumored 46Mp camera to see what gives). Panasonic's sensor future is ambivalent, at least as it looks today, although I'm sure they're not giving up. Samsung board of directors have probably forgoten they also have an imaging division anyway. That leaves the smaller players, who, as it seems, have both potential and inovative concepts to offer.

    I'm talking about Aptina, CMOSIS and of course Sigma. Their potential customer base for licensing sensor technology can be wide in camera range (from P&S to FF) but rather limited in the number of companies they can actually cooperate with. In theory, I can only think of Nikon and Pentax (both Sony users). Perhaps also Fuji. The first two (Aptina and CMOSIS) cooperate with Nikon and Leica respectively. Sigma is the odd one out. This is why it would make more sense for them to build their own camera in a viable system; and the only viable open system today is :43:. Not to mention, they can also design a boatload of lenses for the system.

    It would be great to have as many players in the field as possible. A Sony, or, in fact, any single company domination of the market will prove a really bad idea.
     
  13. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I wouldn't look at Sigma's cameras as a hobby as much as "proof of concept" for application of the Foveon sensor.
     
  14. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    This is based on the assumption that Sigma is a well-run company, and I think there is sufficient evidence to cast reasonable doubt on that assumption.
     
  15. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    IMO the best thing for Foveon is if Sigma licensed it to Sony. Sigma can't be making much money on it if anything. They would be better off if Sony took it and ran.
     
  16. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    And perhaps the answer is as simple as Sigma does not wish to make Micro Thirds Bodies- nor do they want anyone else to use the Foveon.

    We might disagree with the above but thus far, nothing has proved the above to be categorically incorrect.
     
  17. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I don't mind if they don't want to build a m4/3 body but I sure wish they would make some more lenses! I also wish Tamron would get busy and get some out as well.
     
  18. marcl

    marcl Mu-43 Regular

    184
    Jul 8, 2012
    I would welcome any new entry in m43. It would just bring more people into the standard which would lead to R&D costs that are spread over a greater number of users, hence eventually lower prices.