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News: When to Expect Sigma’s Full-Frame Foveon Camera


Back in 2018, Sigma announced it would be creating a new kind of camera: an L-mount, full-frame mirrorless body with a Foveon sensor.

In 2019, Sigma gave an update, indicating that the Foveon full-frame body would debut in 2020.

And then, just days ago, Sigma announced that the full-frame Foveon wasn’t even close to production-ready:

As a result of careful and rigorous testing based on the latest development information, however, it has become clear that the launch of such a camera would be infeasible within this year. Still at this point, we cannot say for certain when the full-frame Foveon X3 sensor will be put into mass production.

Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t be seeing the Foveon sensor in a full-frame camera for quite a while, though it’s encouraging that Sigma hasn’t scrapped the project entirely. Of course, only time will tell whether the company meets its end goal of a full-frame Foveon option.

Sigma has created a number of cameras with Foveon technology in the past, including two recent mirrorless bodies that separately feature APS-C and APS-H size sensors (note that APS-H sensors sit between the smaller APS-C and the larger full-frame, 35mm sensors). But Sigma’s only current full-frame digital camera, and only current Sigma full-frame camera to use an L-mount, uses a standard imagining sensor, not the Foveon tech that gets consumers excited.

What is it about the Foveon sensor that’s so special?

To understand this you should also be familiar with standard (Bayer) sensors, which dedicate a single RGB color to each pixel/photosite. Light hits the Bayer sensor, and is filtered into the corresponding photosites: red light enters into red photosites, blue light enters into blue photosites, and green light enters into green photosites.

Then, through a process called demosaicing, the full-sized color image is determined based on the already-existing color data.

Foveon sensors, on the other hand, toss this out the window. Instead of dedicating a single photosite to each color, Foveon sensors capture data for three colors per photosite, resulting in more information captured per pixel and better sharpness overall.

Note that the full-frame Foveon is planned to incorporate the L-mount, and will, therefore, handle L-mount lenses that are produced by Panasonic and Leica, in addition to Sigma’s own L-mount glass.

For now, I recommend keeping an eye out for news regarding Sigma’s new camera. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll have some information before the year is out.

Are you excited about this camera technology? Will you be buying this camera when it is finally released? Share with us in the comments section.

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is the Managing Editor of Digital Photography School, as well as a macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.

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