Interview: Sigma CEO Suggests Potential Video Shooting Cameras in Future

December 12th, 2016

During my recent visit to Japan, I had a chance to talk to Mr. Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma’s CEO, at the company headquarters. My aim was not to concentrate on a specific Sigma product, but rather try and better understand how this industry functions. This interview is the result of this fascinating conversation. I hope you find it informative! 

Kazuto Yamaki

Many lens manufacturers have started to provide us enthusiastic independent film makers with a growing selection of lenses to accommodate our needs when using large sensor cameras. Sigma, Tokina, Sony and Canon, just to name a few, are trying their best to convince us to replace our existing photo lenses with dedicated video counterparts. Speaking of which, expect the competition in the lens field to get even more fierce in the near future! Stay tuned…

But back to our interview. I was interested in discussing this topic with Mr. Yamaki, and to hear his opinion regarding the recent CIPA statistics showing an overall decline in lens purchase over the years. Speaking of which…

Credit: CIPA.JP

Credit: cipa.jp

I was also interested to know if they had an interest in producing a video-capable Sigma mirrorless camera.  While their current line can produce very high-quality photos, the video side of things is neglected altogether as a result of the high volume of data that the Foveon sensor produces and which then has to be processed.

Obviously, the opportunity to interview the head of one of the most popular lens manufacturers outside of the usual trade show floor lent itself to a more in-depth talk. I do hope you will find the resulting 11-minute interview informative, and I would also like to thank Mr. Yamaki and his team for dedicating the time for making this interview happen.

Here is a rundown of questions asked in this interview:

  • 00:17 – How was it to grow-up in a house with an enthusiastic father? (Mr. Michihiro Yamaki established the company in 1961 and passed away in 2012, at the age of 78).
  • 01:29 – Can you please share with our audience your daily routine?
  • 03:14 – How do you prioritise which mount and lenses to make?
  • 04:01 – How easy was the decision to start making the Art line of high-quality lenses?
  • 05:27 – In the past, Sigma lenses were considered affordable. Then you decided to hit the upper end of the market. What was the reason?
  • 06:53 – In such a crowded market, Sigma is producing a high-quality stills camera that does not offer any video functionality. Why is that?
  • 07:51 – Are you able to keep good sales is a declining market?
  • 09:07 – Why did you decide to produce cine lenses?
  • 09:57 – Where did people go? Why aren’t they buying lenses anymore?
  • 10:26 – What would be your dream zoom lens?

Final words:

In such a competitive business, I wouldn’t be AT ALL surprised if a Sigma mirrorless camera with high-quality video capabilities were to be announced. Although their current line of photo cameras is aimed at a certain niche, the obvious thing to do would be to step out and explore a market which Sigma can shine at as they have no upper market to protect. When it comes to cine lenses and the likelihood of Sigma expending their new line, a lot will depend on “how well the cine lenses be received by our industry”.

As a video shooter, what would be your dream lens? Furthermore, would you like to see a Sigma mirrorless camera hit the video market? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Member
December 15th, 2016

Very nice and honest interview. Sigma has improved from making regular lenses to great ones, and this interview let us see why. I am curious about the word he uses to describe “image quality”. It’s like patomas??

Raya Fahreza
Guest
December 13th, 2016

Reading this while my brand new 18-35 have been going back and forth to service center because it can’t focus is like, riiiiiight, suuuuure.

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
Member
December 13th, 2016

Johnnie! Thank you for the great interview! Good questions :)

Member
December 13th, 2016

something along the lines of a 20-100 T1.5 cine zoom that didn’t have a $25K price take AKA canon 17-120. the canon is a great lens, but ROI is a bit lacking.

 Erkki Juurus
Erkki Juurus
Member
December 13th, 2016

“As a video shooter, what would be your dream lens?”

Hmm, hard to say. I think it would probably be a set of real, manual cine primes á la Veydra, but for Canon EF, PL and maybe some other longer flange distance mounts as well. If Sigma were to make such a set, I think I’d buy those. On the other hand, the two new repurposed zoom lenses sound interesting, too.

“Would you like to see a Sigma mirrorless camera hit the video market?”

With a dedicated video camera, why not, that would be interesting. I wonder what kind of sensor it would use? Would it have a Sigma SA mount, with an adapter for PL mount? That would be cool!

As a Sigma photo camera owner (SD/DP) for several years, I like the fact that Sigma are making ‘purist’ photo cameras with no video functions whatsoever. Better that way than to add some mediocre video functionality just because ‘everyvody else’ is doing it.

If Sigma were to enter the video camera market, I wish they carried on that same policy and came up with a special video camera of some sort, á la Blackmagic, with no photo functionality whatsoever, apart from time lapse. There are quite enough mainstream hybrid cameras around already. Sigma wouldn’t have to try aping those. As a small-ish factory they might not even succeed in that race for too long, anyway. Better to stay in the niche market with cameras and concentrate on quality.

 Leon Benzakein
Leon Benzakein
Member
December 12th, 2016

Johnnie
That is one of the most open and honest interviews I have seen/heard.
Well done.

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
Member
December 13th, 2016
Reply to  Leon Benzakein

100%!

Member
December 12th, 2016

Wow, this is great Johnnie! I am liking the fact that CEO of sigma is reaching out to us by being so open and approachable! I am defiantly looking at their lenses in a new way.

Eno Popescu
Eno Popescu
Member
December 12th, 2016

Thank you for the interview Cinema 5D, it was a pleasure hearing from Mr. Kazuto Yamaki.
Best regards!

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