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Sigma Full-Frame Foveon-Sensor Camera with L-Mount

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list and Leica SL wish list.

As part of the L-Mount Alliance, Sigma has stated that a full-frame Foveon camera with L-mount is in the works, presumably an improved Sigma Quattro sensor:

SIGMA starts development of a full-frame mirrorless camera as part of its switch to the L-mount system.

For the development of a new and long-requested full-frame mirrorless camera, the adoption of an optimal, new lens mount system became a necessary step in order to achieve new standards in usability and performance. While we did consider developing a new mount system in the beginning, the results of technical surveys and investigations led us to the conclusion that Leica Camera AG’s L-mount offers an ideal solution in terms of our short flange back distance and optical design requirements. With our partnership with Leica Camera AG and Panasonic Corporation, we hope to offer a camera system with much greater scalability than possible as a independent manufacturer. All future interchangeable-lens camera systems developed by SIGMA will feature the L-mount. SIGMA does not plan to develop new cameras equipped with an SA-mount.

Reader Roy P does a great job in capturing my sentiments:

As I was speculating earlier in the week, a full-frame Foveon camera is coming. This makes a lot of sense for Sigma, and in fact, Sigma could very well stand to gain the most from this alliance. Sigma gets a ton of free publicity from Leica and Panasonic banging their gums. Sigma has a huge array of lenses that could be adapted to the L mount, but also, they will probably build all new lenses for the Nikon Z7, then quickly adapt them to Sony mirrorless, Canon mirrorless and the Leica L-mount. Not said in this press release is what I also suspect will happen: Sigma probably won’t develop any new lenses for the Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony A mounts also, in addition to jettisoning the SA mount.

The beauty of this is, Sigma will have a much more robust future for Foveon and could make highly differentiated cameras that totally avoid going head to head with the mainstream market that’s dominated by Sony, Nikon and Canon. Sigma can continue to thrive without burning a ton of money on marketing. For Leica, nothing changes from status quo, although Leica also benefits somewhat from some royalty money for the mount, and by gaining access to a far more sensible (focal lengths, price) line up of high quality lenses from Sigma, although the vast majority of people who buy the Leica SL camera are buying it for the brand name and “Leica Optics”.

The big unknown is Panasonic. It’s one thing to make Micro Four Thirds / Lumix cameras which enjoy niche but solid and respectable sized markets. It’s an entirely different thing to come out with a FF system and go up against the Sony, Canon and Nikon juggernauts. That’s formidable competition, and it would take enormous financial commitments to be a serious player. Even with a respected brand name, Pentax barely has a pulse left, and the Sony A-mount / Minolta system started fading 2-3 years ago. For Panasonic to jump into this game, just a willingness to spend money is not sufficient; they need to have some compelling differentiation. The only thing I can think of is their organic sensor – maybe it is something amazing enough that Panasonic could muscle its way in and seize a meaningful market share before Sony and Canon can react. I’m a little skeptical of that – it’s unlikely that Sony would be caught totally flatfooted in sensor technology.

Well, more excitement ahead, likely! I would certainly consider getting a Sigma Foveon full-frame camera, maybe with the Leica SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4 zoom, as a dedicated 35mm landscape camera when I’m not in the mood to lug around my medium format gear.

DIGLLOYD: the APS-H 26.6 x 17.9 mm sensor in the Sigma sd Quattro-H delivers 6192 x 4128 = 25.5 megapixel finished images. If Sigma scales that same photosite density to full-frame, then we’d have 36 X 24 / 26.6 x 17.9 = 1.81X as many pixels = ~46.1 megapixel finished images, which should trounce any existing 35mm camera in terms of detail, and give medium format a serious challenge, though probably not a challenge at all in terms of dynamic range and noise. The resulting images would be equivalent to at least a 70 megapixel conventional camera, but still better than that in various ways (freedom from aliasing plus outstanding textural detail).

f5.6 @ 1/160 sec, ISO 100; 2015-07-25 18:18:01
SIGMA dp0 Quattro + 14mm f/4 @ 21.4mm equiv (14mm)

[low-res image for bot]

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