Color us confused by this news, as we previously reported that Sigma’s full-frame Foveon sensor was “heading back to the drawing board.” Usually, that's code for the trash bin, but apparently, Sigma has its Foveon X3 sensor back in action—and it's actually expected to be launched here by the end of the year.
In what is another win for the poor, ill-equipped video-producing public, a new full-frame high-end Sigma sensor is more good news for pushing an already crowded camera market even tighter. This could mean even more innovations, price drops, and overall better options and quality all around.
But what is this new Foveon sensor, and what might it actually be used for? Let’s explore this news a bit more in-depth (and for real this time).
The Cut-Short History of the Foveon X3 Sensor
Originally teased at Photokina in 2018 as a new Foveon X3 sensor for a full-frame L-mount camera with plans to launch a production model sometime in 2020, development hit the skids in February 2020. (Now, come to think about it, a lot of things hit the skids shortly after that.)
While this doesn’t appear to be a COVID-related setback, it was reported at the time that despite “careful and rigorous testing,” the original full-frame Foveon sensor was going to need to go back to the drawing boards.
This Foveon X3 has also reportedly been through a troubled process for quite some time, mostly owing to its "cons" in regards to dealing with low light (but it apparently has been killing it when there is ample light).
What to Expect from the New Sensor?
Using a proprietary three-layer structure that gives red, green, and blue pixels their own full layers, this three-pixel system works by filling in missing colors by examining the pixels next to it to form a mosaic arrangement. Ideally, this “three-pixel” system should be one of the better (if not at least more groundbreaking) sensor systems in production.
Still, it’s obviously not a good sign that this Foveon X3 sensor has taken this long, and it’s interesting at the very least that the struggle seems to be centered around making a full-frame sensor system.
However, if anything, it should also be reassuring that a new product like this has been so rigorously product controlled and something faulty has not been rushed to the market. No one wants an overheating camera on their hands—a la the Canon R5 and its initial release.
A New Sigma fp Next?
Ultimately one would expect that this might be news-worthy for film and video professionals only if this new Foveon X3 would be used in a full-frame Sigma camera. Obviously, a new Sigma fp might make sense, but as of yet, there are no reports of a new camera release about to drop. But that doesn’t mean one might not be just right around the corner either.
What would you want to see this new full-frame Foveon X3 sensor used for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.