Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sigma Q&A Part I: CEO Kazuto Yamaki explains why so few Pentax-mount ...

Imaging Resource publisher and editor-in-chief Dave Etchells recently interviewed a array of pleasantness leaders during a annual CP+ tradeshow, reason final Feb in Yokohama, Japan. Here’s a twin of his talk with Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation. Among other things, we learn since third-party lenses for a Pentax mountain are so wanting and since a newly-announced Sigma dp1 Quattro camera – — as good as a siblings a dp2 Quattro and dp3 Quattro – — have such an surprising shape.

Dave Etchells/Imaging Resource: The camera marketplace is apropos increasingly fragmented. In a past, Canon and Nikon have dominated everything, nonetheless that seems to be changing: We have Olympus and Panasonic with Micro Four Thirds; we have Sony with E-mount, FE lenses, and A-mount; Fuji has a X-mount. They’re all hidden marketplace share, so there are many some-more mounts to understanding with. What’s your devise for traffic with such an increasingly fragmented market?

Kazuto Yamaki/Sigma: We trust it’s a suspicion to support as many systems as possible, as a lens manufacturer. Especially if they are print enthusiasts; a categorical business are print enthusiasts, so we try to support as many systems as possible. There are limitations, of march — generally a engineering resources are singular —  so we have to delicately select that complement to support. Basically, we’d like to support as many as we can.

DE: With many mirrorless cameras carrying unequivocally brief prong distances, can we use a identical pattern for mixed platforms? Basically, pattern for a largest prong distance, and afterwards usually extend a tub for shorter ones?

KY: The same optics?

DE: Yeah, a same optics.

KY: Yes, we can do that. If we use a same optics, afterwards we can ask to other mounts…

DE: To a opposite mount, and reprogram a microprocessor.

KY: Yes, yes.

DE: That creates sense. We’ve listened a lot of auspicious comments from readers about your module of charity to change lens mounts. People are unequivocally fondness that a lot.

KY: Thank you.

DE: It’s a vast understanding for them. You have your DN array of lenses for compress complement cameras, one of my editors was asking, are there any skeleton to make EOS M lenses in a DN line?

KY: We have not motionless yet.

DE: Haven’t motionless yet? Yeah. My clarity is that a EOS M line is still sincerely low volume.

KY: Yes, low volume so far.

DE: we cruise we told me once that a costs indeed kind of went in a other direction, nonetheless a cost for your implausible 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lens is unequivocally extraordinary, since people were awaiting it to cost many more. Has your prolongation routine that integrates lens composition and calibration reduced prolongation costs, or maybe are your altogether operations usually that many some-more fit than some other camera manufacturers?

KY: Actually, a prolongation cost for that lens is utterly high, since a opening is unequivocally high — so we have to use unequivocally costly materials. Although a peculiarity is so high, we felt that a cost could not be super-high. The cost is a tiny bit strategic, since this lens will be used for APS-C distance cameras, and those cameras’ prices are removing reduce and lower. So, if we cost a lens too high, it wouldn’t be so appealing to that customer.

DE: Ah, so a cost unequivocally contemplative of a peculiarity and opening wouldn’t compare a cost of a body, so you’ve labelled it to make it some-more accessible.

I cruise that your lens operative competence have answered this when we was during your domicile progressing this week, nonetheless what privately led to a preference to furnish a 18-35mm? What was a procedure or a devise or…

KY: Actually, this devise was instituted by my father, when he was still regulating a company.

DE: Really? So this has been going on for years now.

KY: Yes. He wanted to make a world’s initial f/1.8 wizz lens — that was a beginning. At a time, we was a manager of a visual pattern division, and we pronounced to a engineers, “I’ve got this devise from my father. Let’s investigate how we can do it.” Then we came to a finish that it was possible, and we started a project. We arrived during that spec since a APS-C sized sensor has a bit deeper abyss of field; so a f/1.8 wizz lens would be a good fortitude for those users.

DE: That’s interesting. So that was in growth 3 years, 4 years we think?

KY: From a beginning? No, indeed — maybe dual years.

DE: Two years? Ah.

KY: Two years or more.

DE: we remember your lens engineer Mr. Koyama, whom we met on Monday, pronounced that a vigilant was to make a lens that would make people say, “Wow!” And we told him they positively did.

KY: Yes!

DE: Currently, you’re re-releasing some of your aged designs as Global Vision lenses. Are those indeed redesigns, or is it usually that they have softened coatings, and are concordant with a USB dock? [Ed. Note: Sigma"s USB wharf lets we reprogram a CPU in their Global Vision lenses, micro-adjusting concentration accuracy, and reprogramming things like autofocus speed, picture stabilization behavior, and other lens parameters.]

KY: Basically, many of a lenses are totally new lenses, totally re-designed. The usually disproportion is a 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports, where a optics are a same, nonetheless we altered some automatic parts, and also a firmware. But a other lenses we grown from scratch.

DE: Ah, wow. That’s a lot of pattern work.

KY: Basically, a Global Vision lenses have a opposite product concept, so we have to start from scratch.  But usually for a 120-300mm f/2.8, we felt that a visual pattern accurately matched a Global Vision concept, so we motionless to use a same optics, afterwards change a automatic tools and firmware to compare a concept.

DE: we remember from a factory tour, we were observant that partial of what you’re doing now is a bit of a change in instruction from when your father ran a company; you’ve built in some-more adjustability in a lenses, so we can fine-tune them as they come off a prolongation line. Is that partly how a 120-300mm was in fixing with Global Vision? Does it have that adjustment, or is it some-more usually a visual design.

KY: Yeah, we introduced that excellent adjustment, yes.

DE: One of a editors commented that he’s unequivocally vehement about a Global Vision series, nonetheless we haven’t seen follow-on lenses in a DN series. Is it a arrange of conditions where there are usually so many resources to go around, and serve down a road, there’ll be some-more DN Global Vision lenses?

KY: It’s usually a matter of priority. We’d like to recover some-more DN lenses, nonetheless we have some-more direct from required DSLRs. The required DSLRs — generally like a Nikon D800 — have some-more pixels, they’re many sharper, aloft resolution. Those cameras need softened optics, so we have to cruise them.

DE: Plus, we theory there are so many some-more SLRs out there, there’s a many incomparable physique of people shopping them.

This is also kind of a devise question, we guess. Samsung claims to be a vital actor in a mirrorless marketplace already. we don’t remember a accurate figures, nonetheless we cruise Samsung pronounced they were in a tip 3 manufacturers of transmutable lens cameras, and their suspicion is to be array one by subsequent year. we don’t know if they’ll make that, nonetheless we cruise that over a holidays, they were indeed array dual in a U.S.

KY: Really?

DE: Yes, in mirrorless cameras, during least. Mirrorless is still tiny compared to SLRs, nonetheless it unequivocally seems to be gaining a lot of traction. Do we have skeleton to support Samsung’s NX lens mount? You pronounced we wish to support everything, but…

KY: We don’t have that designed yet.

DE: Not designed nonetheless — OK. One of my editors asked about Sony FE-compatible lenses, nonetheless we cruise a answer there is flattering clearly “no.” That’s still a very, unequivocally tiny market.

KY: But we are removing many final for that FE mount.

DE: For FE-mount, really? Interesting! we theory a users there are unequivocally unequivocally quality-conscious, so it creates clarity that they would like high peculiarity lenses like your Global Vision products.

Have we announced — or do we have — any estimate pricing and accessibility for a 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art and a 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | Contemporary yet?

KY: I’m still study it.

DE: Ah, okay. Are there any skeleton to refurbish your full support 28-300mm lens to a Global Vision version? That’s a many comparison lens, we cruise — full frame.

KY: Tamron has usually announced a same spec lens. Yeah, if there’s a demand.

DE: Again, if there’s a direct — although, as we said, a full support people are unequivocally high quality-oriented. It competence be tough to strike that peculiarity symbol with such a long-ratio zoom.

KY: There is no sorcery in visual design, so if we have to pattern a 10x zoom, we have to concede in a peculiarity compared to a primary lens. Our priority is to recover some-more high peculiarity lenses than hyper-zooms.

DE: I’m not certain if this is something we can answer, or would wish to go on record with. We found some harmony issues with some Nikon models — a D5300 and Df in sold — and with a own… We use Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro lenses for a lab testing, since they’re so sharp, and we’ve seen bearing issues on several Nikon bodies with that lens.

KY: Is that so? I’ve never listened of it.

DE: We’ve spasmodic seen harmony issues between third-party lenses and camera bodies, utterly Nikon bodies. Do we cruise that some camera manufacturers intentionally make it formidable for third-party lenses to be compatible?

KY: we indeed have no idea.

DE: It’s difficult, nonetheless we don’t know if they’re perplexing to make it harder?

KY: we know a engineers over there, or during slightest some of a engineers over there, and we know their perspective. we don’t trust their engineers — given a inlet of engineers — are perplexing to make things difficult. They usually concentration on their possess product improvement.

DE: So elucidate a problem, creation it better.

KY: Yes, they don’t make it some-more formidable on purpose by themselves; we don’t trust so.

DE: That’s interesting, your criticism about a engineers. It creates sense: Engineers usually wish to optimize their possess designs, not consciously make things some-more formidable for third parties.

One of a readers asked since we offer so few of your lenses with a Pentax mount, and he also asked about longer telephotos, in particular. If a mounts are sincerely elementary — if it’s unequivocally usually a matter of changing out a mount, shouldn’t it be probable to make some-more Pentax lenses? Or is it still usually a cost issue, even for a comparatively tiny investment?

KY: Pentax still uses automatic tools to control a aperture.

DE: Ohhh.

KY: So, mechanically, it’s totally different, even nonetheless it uses a same optics. Making a Pentax mountain is many some-more endangered — we have to use special tools usually for Pentax mounts.

DE: It’s a whole opposite orifice resource that we have to use. Ah, that’s unequivocally interesting.

KY: Yes. So, we’d like to make as many lenses for Pentax as possible, nonetheless with unequivocally tiny direct we can"t make them frequently. For such a lens, a prolonged back-order times are a vast problem for us. So we can"t make too far-reaching a product line for Pentax. For example, a 300mm f/2.8 — maybe we can furnish this for Pentax once each few months; nonetheless some people competence need a 300mm f/2.8 now. We can"t make it so often.

DE: Ah — we can’t means to lift a vast register given a tiny sales volume, nonetheless we also have a smallest prolongation run that’s economically viable. So we finish adult carrying prolonged lead times, sometimes. we see, that creates sense, unequivocally interesting.

We had questions from a integrate of people about a unequivocally prolonged telephotos, nonetheless maybe ones that are not so bright. Professionals wish a 400 f/2.8, or a 600mm f/4 — something unequivocally bright. Many amateurs would be happy with f/5.6, generally as a high ISO capabilities of cameras improve. Have we given any suspicion to that kind of lens in a market?

KY: We already have a 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG APO HSM and 800mm F5.6 EX APO DG HSM.

DE: Yes — we cruise a readers were meditative of something some-more in a operation of, we know, a 400mm f/5.6 or something like that. we cruise privately someone asked about that sold combination.

KY: A long, prolonged time ago, we had a 500mm f/7.2 APO lens that was really, unequivocally compact.

DE: It didn’t work with proviso showing though, right?

KY: Actually, it worked.

DE: Oh, really?

KY: Because it worked adult to f/8, nonetheless a direct was so small.

DE: There wasn’t many direct for it.

KY: That was a bad knowledge for us, a bad memory.

DE: Ah, we see, we don’t wish to repeat it — that’s understandable.

Another reader beheld that we started regulating a tenure Super Multi-Layer Coating within a past year. The reader’s doubt — nonetheless I’m not certain it indeed creates clarity — is “Did we know something about a stream Pentax HD coatings?”

I would cruise that you’d wish to make your coatings softened all a time, not that we know that Pentax is entrance out with something and conflict to that. Perhaps this is a softened question: What is a disproportion between a Super Multi-Layer Coating and what we had previously? Can we explain possibly in technical terms, or what a net outcome is?

KY: We have been improving a cloaking methodology constantly, and we done a poignant alleviation over a years. But it’s utterly formidable to promulgate that proceed — it’s a same kind of technology, usually improved. It’s a matter of marketplace communication.

DE: So it’s a same multi-layer, multi-refractive index thing, usually improved.

KY: Coating is usually one partial of a anti-flare/anti-ghost technology. We delicately pattern a automatic tools so a thoughtfulness from a middle tools is reduced also.

DE: Yeah, we remember Mr. Koyama observant that that’s since we make a corner of a lenses black, and do ray tracing and make certain there are no contemplative pieces inside a lens barrel.

KY: Yes, we done a make-believe module ourselves. We copy all a spook and light sources, even when we are conceptualizing a optics. We have dual dedicated engineers who usually copy a ghosting and check a ghost/flare function when we get a initial prototype, and afterwards they check a ghost/flare from pre-production, and into production.

DE: So we have dual dedicated engineers that usually combine on light and ghosting?

KY: Actually three, nonetheless one lady is now holding maternity leave.

DE: Wow, so we have 3 people usually doing spook and light — that’s impressive! So a summary on a Super Multi-Layer Coating is that you’ve been invariably improving your coatings over a years, nonetheless now we wish to call pleasantness to it and say, “Look, we’ve been doing this and now it’s unequivocally super, compared to dual years ago”. Interesting…

A reader pronounced that we have a stream highway map that shows a 300mm f/2.8, a 400mm f/2.8, and maybe a 500mm f/4 — have we indeed published that?

KY: No, that’s usually a rumor.

DE: Just a rumor? Ah, a gossip sites infrequently uncover things that don’t indeed come to pass.

In general, competing opposite Canon and Nikon’s possess lenses, is your ubiquitous aim to yield a same or softened visual opening nonetheless for reduction money? Or do we cruise you’ll wish to yield many softened visual opening for a same money?

KY: You mean, how do we contest with those guys?

DE: Yes, what’s your devise opposite Canon and Nikon?

KY: The simple suspicion is softened optics, and with an affordable cost — that’s a simple idea. It depends on a product, of course, nonetheless we are perplexing a best to grasp that goal.

DE: Yeah. Another reader asked privately about a Quattro cameras. When will they be accessible in a marketplace — do we know yet?

KY: We are operative on it still, and we don’t know accurately when, nonetheless we’d like to recover it before summer.

DE: Ah, before summer sometime. We’ll be unequivocally meddlesome in contrast it, when it’s ready!

I do have some Foveon questions here. we feel bad, we guys have been usually kind of sitting there, unresolved out! [Ed. Note: The dual Foveon people had been sitting by all a above; we conclude their patience!]

Shri Ramaswami/Foveon: Lenses are interesting!

DE: We’ve been removing a lot of questions about destiny products, and obviously, we can’t criticism on them. Question like “Hey, how about something like an 18-35mm f/1.8 full frame, or a 24mm f/1.8?” — we know we can’t answer questions like those. we cruise we already did — or did you? — answer this: You pronounced we don’t know a pricing nonetheless on a 50mm Art lens.

KY: Not yet.

DE: Do we know when that’s expected to strike a market, do we have any projections for that yet?

KY: This spring, around a April-May timeframe.

DE: And afterwards another doubt about a 50mm f/1.4 Art. One of a readers was endangered about onion-ring bokeh.

KY: Oh, yes, yes.

DE: He pronounced on a prior 50mm, one of a strengths was unequivocally well-spoken bokeh, and he’s endangered that a 50mm f/1.4 Art lens, regulating aspherics, competence have onion ring. Can we criticism on that during all yet?

KY: Yes. We have been operative on it, and we softened it.

DE: Improved it? Ah, that’s good.

KY: And also, we paid so many pleasantness to a well-spoken bokeh on this indication when we were conceptualizing optics. We could copy it, and looking during a stream pre-production model, a bokeh is unequivocally well-spoken like we simulated.

DE: Ah, great, that’s good news!

I cruise this is another one that’s in a difficulty we substantially can’t criticism on. Would we cruise fasten a compress complement camera organisation like Micro Four Thirds, or would we be some-more expected to strike out on your possess — or do we even see a compress complement camera marketplace as value pursuing?

KY: If we had a total engineering resources I’d like to do it, nonetheless a resources are limited. The initial priority is to support a current, constant customers, that are SD-series camera users.

DE: Right, right. If we had twice as many engineers and twice as many money, we could do all kinds of things.

KY: Right.

DE: Another reader doubt is about either there competence be an SD1 Merrill with a Quattro chip, nonetheless we cruise we can’t anything on that. Likewise, a probability of full-frame Foveon sensors. One reader asked — this is indeed a lady who creates appendage grips for cameras, so he’s unequivocally meddlesome in grips — he’s extraordinary about a expansion of a dp Quattro design. It’s a unequivocally surprising pattern for a camera — can we elaborate on what led to that shape?

KY: First of all, that camera — a fortitude is super high; it’s homogeneous to 39 megapixels with a required Bayer CFA sensor. So, we don’t cruise that a patron for it will take cinema like a normal compress camera, usually *click click click*! Of course, it’s adult to a business how they use it, nonetheless we assume that patron binds a reason like this, and they reason a lens like this [demonstrating a organisation ambidextrous grip],  and that they will fire unequivocally carefully, to minimize blur.

DE: Ah, so since of a high resolution, you’re observant a users are going to wish to have a unequivocally secure reason on a camera — a solid, ambidextrous grip.

KY: Yeah, and we made a camera to make it as tiny as possible, nonetheless a tangible back-end complement is huge, like a D4, a D800, or a 1D X.

DE: Oh, really? You meant a electronics we have inside?

KY: Yes. We use dual or 3 processors, we use a four-channel analog front end, and we have outrageous memory, so a complement is outrageous — nonetheless we make it unequivocally small.

DE: Interesting, interesting.

KY: People contend it’s big, nonetheless it’s vast compared to a blurb compress camera — nonetheless this is a super-high fortitude camera.

DE: It’s some-more like a D4 or something.

KY: Right. The information distance from a sensor is huge.

DE: we cruise this roughly a final doubt for Kazuto. Say we wish to make a new lens: How do we confirm what multiple of orifice and focal length we wish to make? How do we confirm what you’re going to do next?

KY: First of all, we have dual ways — a initial one is that we have a product formulation division. we plead a new pattern with a formulation division, and afterwards give a offer to a engineers. The engineers respond to us, observant either it’s possibly or not. The other proceed is that engineers introduce something to me: “We can do it, we can make this kind of lens; since don’t we make it a project?” And infrequently a latter proceed creates a good lens.

DE: That’s unequivocally interesting, we hadn’t suspicion of that. So a product formulation people correlate with a marketplace to know where direct is.

KY: Right. we compensate very, unequivocally clever pleasantness so a devise formulation multiplication doesn’t have a superpower, since if they make a ideal devise afterwards a engineers usually follow that spec, so we can"t make magic. If a formulation multiplication gives a unequivocally extended spec, a unequivocally basic, lax spec, and usually give a concept, afterwards that lets a engineers cruise about it, and formula in a good suspicion to develop.

DE: It’s softened for we to change between product formulation and engineering, to get something we can make and make affordable.

KY: Yes, and engineers are some-more associating than a devise formulation team.

DE: Of course, devise formulation competence contend “We wish an 18-200mm f/2.0,” we know? And it can’t be some-more than a plan; it competence not be probable to make it during all.

KY: My indicate is that routinely a formulation multiplication people cruise inside of a box, nonetheless a engineers — if they know a judgment we are aiming for, they can come adult with a proposal, they can cruise out of a box.

DE: we see. Yeah, yeah, that’s interesting.

KY: So, maybe a specs contend something, nonetheless a engineers contend “If we concede me to make it this big, we can make this spec many higher,” or something like that. If product formulation creates a unequivocally accurate spec, a engineers usually follow it and make a unequivocally typical product, nonetheless we don’t like that; we like to have engineers make magic. “May we make it heavier? If we concede me to do that, we can strike this spec of performance.” That’s my point.

DE: Oh, that’s unequivocally interesting, yeah. So a product planners — or a market, for that matter — competence contend that people usually wish “X”, nonetheless they don’t know what’s possible. So your proceed is to have product formulation usually say, “Well, let’s make a unequivocally fast, far-reaching angle zoom,” and afterwards let a engineers do what they can. And afterwards they’ll contend “If it can cost this much, we’ll do this, or if we can make it bigger, we’ll do something else.” That’s unequivocally interesting.

KY: We don’t always do that. Sometimes, it’s usually a specific a ask from a marketplace that we follow.

DE: That’s unequivocally interesting. This is removing into a Foveon area more, nonetheless really, it’s a camera doubt for you, Kazuto-san: So far, your vast sensor, tiny physique cameras have all had bound focal length primes. Why haven’t we deliberate creation a DP-series camera with a wizz lens on it?

KY: We complicated that several times, nonetheless we found that a lens becomes unequivocally bulky.

DE: Ah, so we would get divided from a suspicion of a unequivocally compress camera.

KY: But we have not given up, we still keep study it. You can cruise a lens — a DP camera has an APS-C sized lens; we have several wizz lenses for APS-C size. You usually imagine…

DE: Ah, yeah. You put a 18-35mm f/1.8 in front of a DP camera and all of a sudden, a lens is bigger than a camera. we see.

[At this point, we switched topics to plead a new Foveon sensor chip that will be used in a Quattro-series cameras, that has a rather opposite tone pixel arrangement than prior Foveon sensors. We"ll tell an comment of that contention unequivocally shortly in a apart article.]

(Sigma 500mm f/7.2 lens image pleasantness of Felix Stember / Flickr. Used underneath a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.)

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