In an interview with PhotoTrend at CP+, Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki says that the company doesn’t plan to develop any new Micro Four Thirds lenses. He claims that “demand for this format is decreasing very sharply”. This is the first manufacturer to publicly come out and abandon the Micro Four Thirds format that Panasonic and OM System both appear to be pushing with vigour.
The statement confirming the decision not to develop any new MFT lenses doesn’t come as much of a surprise – given that Sigma hasn’t actually developed any before. Sure, they have three MFT lenses in the lineup, but they’re not really MFT lenses. They’re APS-C lenses with MFT mounts on the end of them in a set set of focal lengths that’s pretty awkward for the 2x crop of Micro Four Thirds.
We still have several references that we will maintain in our catalog. However, we are not planning to design new Micro 4/3 optics at this time. Perhaps because of this, the demand for this format is decreasing very sharply, and therefore it is quite difficult for us to develop completely new optics for this ecosystem.
But I think the Micro 4/3 has many advantages, especially its compactness. Personally, I really like this system. But currently, the trend is clearly in favor of full frame, alongside APS-C (which is also in decline, by the way).
I hope that with the arrival of the new OM System cameras demand will stabilize, but it is clearly tending to decrease for Sigma Micro 4/3 lenses. But it looks like OM-System is getting good results with their new cameras and lenses. So I’m hopeful that the demand for the Micro 4/3 will continue to exist.
– Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma CEO
At the moment, Sigma has just three Micro Four Thirds lenses. There’s the 16mm f/1.4 DC DN, 30mm f/1.4 DC DN and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lenses. These aren’t actually Micro Four Thirds lenses, though. They’re APS-C lenses, available in a number of mounts, including the recently announced Nikon Z mount versions. On an APS-C system, these lenses equate to a field of view approximately the same as 24mm, 45mm and 85mm on a full-frame body. While the middle one might be a little off, this matches pretty closely with the standard 24mm, 50mm and 85mm focal lengths on full-frame.
On Micro Four Thirds, though, these lenses offer a full-frame equivalent field of view to 32mm, 60mm and 112mm lenses. Not quite as practical a set for Micro Four Thirds as it is for APS-C. It could be that Sigma’s seeing a low demand for Micro Four Thirds because the first of these three lenses was announced for the format in 2016. There also haven’t been any new ones since 2018, and they’re just not as practical as focal lengths offered by Panasonic, Olympus/OM System, and other 3rd party lens manufacturers.
Sigma might actually see a demand for Micro Four Thirds lenses if they produced some with focal lengths that are a bit more useful for the format. Well, that and having prices that actually compete against the likes of equivalent Panasonic and Olympus lenses. But it looks like that isn’t going to be an option anymore with the system now cast aside by Sigma.
It looks like APS-C might be next for the chopping block, though, according to Mr Yamaki’s statement. The three lenses mentioned above are the only APS-C mirrorless prime lenses Sigma makes. They also make one APS-C zoom lens for mirrorless cameras, the 18-50mm f/2.8. In a world where a company only makes four different APS-C lenses vs 21 full-frame lenses… Well, yeah… Of course, they’re going to see lower demand for APS-C lenses than full-frame.
I suspect that, as in the film days, many APS-C shooters are simply buying Sigma’s full-frame lenses because there isn’t really much choice. Well, they have the choice to go to a competitor to buy their lenses.