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Michihiro Yamaki, Sigma founder and CEO dies

By dpreview staff on Jan 27, 2012 at 17:27 GMT

It is with great sadness that we receive the news that Sigma's founder and CEO Michihiro Yamaki has died of liver cancer at the age of 78. Yamaki founded Sigma in 1961 and was still head of the company when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. In that time he took it from being a maker of converter lenses to one of the largest independent lens makers in the industry. His passion for photography also saw Sigma create one of the first large sensor compact cameras. Everyone at dpreview.com would like to offer our deepest condolences to his family at this sad time.


Company statement

Sigma Corporation of America announces the passing of Michihiro Yamaki

Imaging manufacturer’s pioneering CEO, founder led company for more than 50 years

RONKONKOMA, NY, Jan. 27, 2012 – With great sadness, Sigma Corporation of America today announced the passing of Sigma Corporation’s founder and CEO Michihiro Yamaki. He died of liver cancer in Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 18 at the age of 78.

“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “Mr. Yamaki was an industry visionary, and his leadership and enthusiasm has been the driving force behind our company’s innovation for more than 50 years. We’re sending our deepest condolences to the Yamaki family, and our entire Sigma family around the world, during this very difficult time.”

Yamaki founded Sigma Corporation on Sept. 9, 1961 with the development of the first-ever rear attached lens converter. At that time, most photo enthusiasts believed that a lens converter could only be attached to the front of a camera lens and the 27-year-old optical engineer turned conventional optical theory on its head. Sigma Corporation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 with Yamaki still at the company’s helm.

Throughout his years in the photo industry, Yamaki has been focused on producing high-quality, high-performance photographic technology at moderate prices. His goal for the company has always been to make outstanding image quality accessible to all photographers. To this end, he grew the family-owned organization into a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of lenses, cameras and flashes. The company is now known as the largest, independent SLR lens manufacturer in the world, producing more than 50 current lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers, including Sigma, Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony.

In 2008, under Yamaki’s direction, Sigma Corporation purchased Foveon, a California-based company that’s renowned for developing the X3 image sensor technology. This patented, three-layer image sensor captures all primary RGB colors at each pixel location arranged in three layers to deliver outstanding, high-resolution, high-definition images with impressive three-dimensional detail and rich gradation. Last year, the company announced the arrival of its SD1, a groundbreaking, 46-megapixel direct image sensor camera, offering more megapixels than any other DSLR currently on the market. Sigma Corporation continued its theme of addressing gaps in the industry and the needs of photographers by kicking off 2012 with the launch of its new, Digital Neo (DN) line of lenses for Micro Four Thirds and E-mount camera systems.

In addition to his inventions and photographic foresight, Yamaki made many other contributions to the industry in his 78 years of life. He served organizations such as: the Japan Photographic Enterprises Association, Japan Machinery Design Center, Japan Optomechatronics Association, Photographic Society of Japan, and Japan Camera Industry Institute. He has also been honored with the “Person of the Year” award from The Photoimaging Manufacturers & Distributors Association (PMDA), the “Hall of Fame” award from the International Photographic Council (IPC), and the Golden Photokina Pin for his longtime contribution to the imaging industry.

Comments

Total comments: 56
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xpanded
By xpanded (Jan 27, 2012)

Thank you for the joy you gave me through the DP1 and the DP2.
My condolences to your family and employees.

4 upvotes
pekingduck
By pekingduck (Jan 27, 2012)

R.I.P.... :^(

4 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Jan 27, 2012)

Rest in peace, Yamaki-san :(

6 upvotes
huyzer
By huyzer (Jan 27, 2012)

It's always sad to loss an innovator. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 seems drool worthy, something I look forward to getting some time in the future. My condolences to the family.

5 upvotes
Total comments: 56
12