Interview with Kazuto Yamaki CEO of Sigma Corporation

Interview with Kazuto Yamaki CEO of Sigma Corporation
8 December 2015
Robert Olech

1. Interview with Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation

The full frame sensors are beginning to reach resolution of 50 megapixels. Is it creates some additional requirements when designing lenses? Does the older models of Sigma lenses, presented about 5 years ago will meet such extraordinary resolution requirements?

Yes, we need to achieve the better performance both in the lens design and manufacturing to support such super high resolution cameras. If the lens is not sharp enough, users cannot enjoy the real performance of the camera. I think that the manufacturing would be challenging for all manufacturers.
It’s hard to say which old lenses are usable or non-usable. Some old lenses such as macro lenses should be able to support such latest FF DSLR.

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Technology using a Fresnel lens in the optical path of tele lens shows that is possible to make great quality telephoto lens with very compact dimensions. Is Sigma intends to use such technology or similar in their products in the future?

I cannot comment on our specific R&D activities which is now going on, but Sigma is always working on the new technology. Fresnel lens is definitely the great technology which brings more innovations in the industry.

Sigma DN lenses range for compact system cameras is still quite limited. What is your plans for product development in this segment? Can we expect some lenses soon? Is there any plan to expand range to cover quite popular Fujifilm X cameras or full-frame system compact cameras like Sony? Any zoom is planned?

Yes, our plan is to expand DN series in the future. Simply due to the priority of the development, we have more conventional lenses, but in the future, we will release more DN lenses.
Sigma believes it our mission to support as many camera systems as possible. By carefully checking the demand and our engineering resources, we will make decision which systems to support.

And maybe from DP Quattro project to mirrorless system camera is not so far away…? I would like to ask you how do you see DP Quattro future? Do you have any plans to create a line of similar camera to DP Quattro concept but with interchangeable lens?

We’re aware of such request to our mirrorless camera. The reason why we do not have such mirrorless cameras so far is that we just prioritize to maintain the existing SD camera systems. In the future, we will study carefully again the real demand of our customers.

Over two years ago together with new SGV concept you introduced a very innovative mount conversion service. It is quite expensive but its absolute unique and requires sending the product to Japan. Could you please let us know is it popular service worldwide? Is there a chance to make such changing service in local (national) services of Sigma distributors?

It’s not widely used worldwide yet, honestly speaking, but becoming popular specially in Japan.
We will improve the global service system so that our customer can enjoy the quick and high quality mount conversion service.

And which lens placed on the market was the biggest hit or most important milestone in recent years in your opinion and could you explain why?

35 mm f/1.4 Art, 50 mm f/1.4 Art and 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art. All of these lenses perform way better than any other existing lenses and offer the reasonable price. Highest performance and the reasonable price are the key, I believe. In order to achieve it continuously in the future, we keep the aggressive investment on the technology, but keep the organization small and lean.

Since the launch of the Sigma SD1 DSLR's been over 5 years, and many people wonder if there was time for the presentation of the new product in this segment. A lot of people has hope that soon will be a new Sigma SLR model with sensor Foveon X3 Quattro followed dp Quattro models. Is there a chance for that?

Yes, we’re working on the new SD camera. I cannot comment when we announce it and what the spec is, but I hope our customers wait for the announcement from us. I really appreciate our customer’s patience.

There is a more and more DSLR cameras with full frame sensors and ultra-high ISO sensitivity. Do you take into consideration full-frame size of Foveon class sensor? Sigma is working on such size solution which will also has goods results in higher ISO sensitivity?

Foveon sensor has higher resolution compared to Bayers. Therefore, we believe that Foveon APS-C already acihves FF quality. If we develop Foveon FF, it would be much closer to medium format sensor in terms of the image quality, data size and thus processing speed.

Do you take into consideration to starting offer Sigma SLR cameras (like SD) with different mounts for other system manufacturers? Don’t you think that it could bring more popularity of Sigma SLR and bigger sales?

No, we cannot.

RAW file structure of the Quattro sensor is not available for public. This means that software like dcraw or ACR / LR are not able to produce these files. Do you plan to start cooperation with Adobe and David Coffin (creator Dcraw) to support RAW files from cameras Sigma easier?

I always hope to work with those companies, but it’s their decision whether or not the support our RAW.

Sigma Corporation is one of last one in photo industry who still has all production in your Aizu factory in Japan. Do you take into consideration to move some part of production outside of Japan? Or do you feel that such move might bring quality compromise?

No, we don’t.
First of all, as CEO and the owner of Sigma Corporation, my most important mission is to protect the people in the company and make sure the current suppliers doing ok. If we make another factory outside of Japan, we may need to conduct the reduction in force and it influences the local suppliers. In order to protect them, I want to stay in Japan as long as possible.
Besides such social responsibility, I strongly believe that retaining the experienced staffs in the factory would be greatly beneficial to produce the highest quality products.

Nowadays, all major photographic manufacturers sales network is mainly based on authorized professional dealers who are focused not only on selling products itself but who offer also wide professional sales service and after sale service solutions. In Poland we have Sigma ProCenters – which is similar concept (awarded in 2008 by our magazine Lenstip.com for innovative rental system). Could you share with us your opinion about such initiatives (like Pro Dealers)? Maybe Sigma Corporation will implement also similar solution globally?

We always appreciate our partner, K-Consult’s implementation of ProCenters in Poland. Since our main customers are professionals or advanced amateur, it’s quite important to have such service center which provides the pro-level service. It should be beneficial for the customers, too.
It’s basically local matters, not the things we develop globally, but we, Sigma Japan always encourage our subsidiaries and distributors to provide such high quality service to our customers.

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