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Sigma interested in interchangeable lens compact

By dpreview staff on Feb 22, 2010 at 21:42 GMT

Sigma hopes to make a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera with one of its Foveon sensors, the company's Chief Operating Officer has told dpreview.com. Speaking in an exclusive interview, Kazuto Yamaki also said the company is considering producing lenses for mirrorless systems such as those from Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and announced by Sony.

Although there has been much interest in prime lenses for these relatively compact cameras, he sees the future as being zoom lenses: 'Mirrorless systems are popular with photo enthusiasts at the moment but once they have a larger market share, zoom lenses will become more popular.'

Sigma Chief Operating Officer, Kazuto Yamaki

The company, which makes lenses in a range of focal lengths intended for both full-frame and APS-C cameras at present, will 'have to see what kind of format people use,' before committing to a new lens lineup for mirrorless cameras.

Meanwhile, Yamaki showed off the company's latest lenses, including the APS-C specific 8-16mm ultra wide angle zoom. 'We have been pioneers in wide angle zoom, dating back to our 21-35 in 1979,' he said. The new lens makes use of the new FLD glass the company has co-developed with glass maker Hoya.

'We describe it as having Fluorite equivalent characteristics. It's the most expensive optical glass but it's still cheaper and lighter than fluorite.' The FLD glass is comparatively soft and has to be polished carefully, adding to its cost but it does not have the temperature sensitivity traditionally associated with fluorite glass.

FLD elements are also used in the company's completely redesigned 70-200mm F2.8 OS, new 17-50mm F2.8 OS and 85mm F1.4, which has been attracting a lot of attention at the show. 'It's similar in concept to the 50mm F1.4 - it's bigger, heavier and more expensive than OEM lenses but achieves higher performance,' says Yamaki.

'We've made this for professional and advance amateur photographers,' he explained: 'we've tried to achieve better performance [than the OEM equivalents], particularly when using fully open apertures on the latest DSLRs.'

The company says it's done its best to reduce flare and ghosting in the lens, and not just in the shape of the two-part lens hood that optimizes the shading for users of both full frame and APS-C sensors. 'Three years ago we developed our own ghost and flare simulation program. We simulate all the light coming into the lens and ray trace them, both coming into the lens and reflecting back off the sensor.'

'It's a very complicated phenomenon,' says Chief Executive Officer Michihiro Yamaki: 'it's caused both by internal reflection and light coming back from the sensor. It's a big issue today - much more than in film days.'

'Our program means we can design ghosting out earlier in the process, rather than finishing the design and then trying to reduce it,' says Kazuto Yamaki.

Meanwhile, Yamaki said the company was continuing to invest in Foveon and that its efforts are now much more focused than when Sigma bought it: 'They are working very hard to try to make the best ever Foveon sensor for high end cameras.'

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