Sigma is working on a Foveon sensor for video use

Nov 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Sigma is working on a Foveon sensor for video use

Nov 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Well, this is a surprise and not an unwelcome one. Few people seem to realise that as well as being a leading 3rd party lens manufacturer, Sigma also make cameras. I have actually had the pleasure of playing with a Sigma sd Quattro for the past few weeks, and it’s pretty impressive if a little on the slow side. The Foveon sensor does produce some truly beautiful results.

That lack of speed, though, has put off many potential Sigma camera owners. Now, a new patent has been filed showing that Sigma looks to be doing something about it. The patent seems to aim more toward the video side of things but no doubt it will speed up its stills capturing capabilities, too. Perhaps this is why Sigma semed a little evasive about camera questions recently at PPE.

YouTube video

It might also explain why Sigma have gone so gung-ho on the Cinema lenses lately. The idea of a speedy Sigma camera is very exciting. Having used the sd Quattro myself, the benefits of a Foveon sensor quickly become apparent.

While the stills shooting speed hasn’t bothered me all that much, the lower resolution live view and lack of video has put me off investing in one. Essentially, due to the way Foveon sensors record the scene, it’s just too much data to shove into the processors at any kind of serious speed. The new Sigma patent seems to suggest that they’ve cracked that problem.

A sigma that can shoot video would be fantastic, but there are a few things I’d like to see.

  • Flippy out LCD (not flippy up)
  • Microphone input (with decent preamps)
  • Headphone output
  • Uncompressed Clean HDMI output
  • Ability to mount Nikon lenses through adapters (even if just manual focus)

If I can get that, I’ll be happy. For me, it doesn’t need to be able to shoot 120fps. I’d be happy with just 23.976. And I wouldn’t mind if it was only 1080p, either. 1080p from a Foveon sensor is probably still going to look as good as 4K from a Bayer.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “Sigma is working on a Foveon sensor for video use”

  1. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    Hi. Datarates. 4k foveon or 8K Bayer. The 4K foveon maybe more useful and easier to process with less data and pixels than 8k Bayer. It’s a matter of a chip being made and available cheap for that type of chip. It isn’t necessarily that it can’t be done, but to do it well and cheap requires a lot of money to make a circuit for lots of sales.

    Recent nvidia based zcam E2 does 4kp120 at over 1.7gb/s compressed. That is like a 4kp40 foveon. But some NVIDIA chipset might handle 8k foveon.

    On the lower end, Ambarella had announced 8k chip set before. I expect low end 4k foveon is doable. The data rates in the Yi 4K+ can be pushed to over 200mb/s which is nice for a 4k foveon, and this is older chipset.

    So yes, it can be done quickly and or cheaply, if either family of chipsets is able to be setup to take x3 data. But if a company wants to go it alone and develop the chipset just for its own cameras, then the lower numbers of parts is going cost a lot more, and it takes time.

    Canon already sells a 5 color x3 like camera. Sony has patents for x3 like sensors.