Sigma terminates sensor manufacturer, abandons Foveon camera plans again

Sigma has announced that its 60MP full-frame Foveon sensor camera, previously promised for 2020, has been delayed once again.

The news serves as official confirmation that the upcoming Sigma fp L camera, expected to be announced at CP+ 2021 next week, will not possess the much-anticipated Foveon sensor. 

• Read more: Sigma fp review 

Sigma announced in 2018 that a 60MP camera using its newly developed full-frame Foveon sensor would be released in 2020. However, a year ago, the manufacturer confirmed that it had scrapped development and was starting from scratch. 

"In February 2020 we announced our decision to restart the full-frame X3 sensor technology," said Sigma CEO, Kazuto Yamaki, in a new video. "Due to a critical flaw we judged that we couldn’t go into mass product, and scrapped all the schematics and all the tooling for it. And then we restarted the project from the beginning. 

"This restart of the project included the revision of the image sensor specification that we had worked on, which was Foveon X3 1:1:1 technology – 20MP x3. Also we have terminated the contract with the sensor manufacturer with whom we had been collaborating."

Yamaki further confirmed that, while development of the sensor continues, specifications are not yet finalized – and that development had not yet extended to the camera system itself.

"At present, we are fully engaged in the research and development of the full-frame X3 sensor technology led by our head office. We are also reviewing the sensor’s specifications that meet the expectations of customers today. Although we have not proceeded to the development of a camera system, we will do our utmost effort to create a camera in which we have full confidence."

The full press statement follows. 

Dear Sigma customers,

First of all, thank you very much for your continued support and interest in our products.

In February 2020, we announced our decision to restart our plans for a full frame Foveon X3 sensor camera, beginning with the development of a new sensor technology. We have not been able to share any information regarding this project in the time since, and I would like to use this short message to provide an update about the situation.

As previously announced, we halted development of the project after the sensor we were working with could not go into mass production due to a critical flaw. As a result, we also terminated our contract with the sensor manufacturer with whom we had been collaborating. Further, we determined that the original sensor specifications would make it difficult to develop a product that will meet our and our customers’ high standards, and accordingly we decided to go back to the drawing board.

At present, we are fully engaged in research and development of the project, led by our head office, and are reviewing specifications to ensure that we will be able to satisfy the expectations placed on this project. While we have not proceeded to the development of a camera body yet, we will continue to do our utmost to create a camera in which we have full confidence.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the strong and ongoing support you have shown us.

All of our employees, including me, continue to do their very best to develop new and outstanding photographic technologies. Thank you for your patience and for your understanding.

Kazuto Yamaki
Chief Executive Officer, Sigma Corporation

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.