Talking about the semiconductor shortage, or chip shortage, feels comical at this point. Between the memes, GPU scalpers and miners, and production issues across a myriad of markets, the issues don’t seem to be letting up. Even as manufacturers of all kinds continue to push a positive spin on things, the light at the end of the tunnel looks faint. 

Recently, DPReview reported that Sigma was having issues keeping up with production with some products in Q4 of 2021. In a tweet, Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki stated that the company “couldn’t catch up the demand.” He continued to say that 2022 could see the same production issues. While Sigma hasn’t released an official statement at this time, Yamaki’s tweet sheds some welcome light on the problems people are having with their lens order. 

But the issues could run a lot deeper than not getting that brand new shiny lens. 

Why Semiconductors Matter

Semiconductors are the fundamental building blocks of every electronic device. Any product that has smart features, be it a car, refrigerator, or electronic lens, contains chips that manage these smart features. Even your toaster with a digital readout isn’t safe.

Other industries aside, lenses with autofocus and electronic connectivity all contain chips that power and manage the function of these lenses.

Cooke /i Technology Lens on RED EpicCooke 40mm /i Technology Lens on RED Epic Cinema CameraCredit: Jakob Owens

This will become a bigger problem as more and more camera and lens tech relies on electronic components, especially in the cinema market. ARRI has been using electronic lenses for quite some time using Cooke's /i Technology protocol.

If a semiconductor shortage continues, modern lenses may continue to see production issues for the foreseeable future. 

While not all modern lenses have electronic components, cameras are a different story, and any issues with semiconductors will see a decrease in availability as well. More so than for lenses. 

So don’t sell your old camera gear just yet. 

Camera Camera Gear That Relies on SemiconductorsCamera Gear That Relies on SemiconductorsCredit: Jakob Owens

How Much Should You Worry?

That depends on your timetable. Can you wait a few months for your new gear? Then you can sleep easy. But if you need your new lens, camera, audio device, or light right away for a production, then that could be an issue. 

You may have to rely on older technology. But with how fast cameras and lenses are evolving these days, there are more than enough options to choose from. 

While the whole world is fighting the pandemic, industries relying on electronic components are fighting their own battle for a resource that is currently in high demand. 

Even Canon is having issues with their DRM-locked printer products. Canon’s fix? Circumvent the DRM protections. Canon even has a set of instructions on how to do it. 

For creatives, the metaphorical ship is in rocky waters, but we haven’t hit the storm yet. If you’re worried about the effect of electronics on your gear and workflow, you can always shoot on film. 

Arrflex SR3 Super16 Film CameraArrflex SR3 Super16 Film CameraCredit: Wikipedia

Just pop in a few coppertops into an Arriflex SR3 and you’re good to go. 

If you’re thinking about getting a new camera or lens, check out the No Film School Gear Guides for some guidance.