Exclusive: Interview with Sigma’s New CEO Kazuto Yamaki at 2012 CP+

Interview with Sigma's New CEO Kazuto Yamaki at 2012 CP+

Jeff Chen (left), Kazuto Yamaki (right)

Interview with Sigma's New CEO Kazuto Yamaki at 2012 CP+

Interview conducted by Jeff Chen, co-founder of xitek.com.

Jeff Chen: Yamaki San, I am sorry to hear the passing of your father, he has been instrumental not only to Sigma but also to the Japan photographic equipment industry. We wish you well in your new position to lead the company.

Mr. Yamaki: I will never be as good as him.

JC: I am sure you will. Let's turn our attention to the CP+ event. Just yesterday I read that Sigma will cut the price of the SD1 dramatically with the new model SD1 Merrill. Could you tell us how you are able to achieve that?

KY: Well, the new price is actually what we were aiming at when we launched the SD1 but due to low yield of the sensor we knew we wouldn't be able to meet our price target. In the past year engineers from Sigma and Foveon have been trying very hard to improve the yield of the sensor. Now we are confident that we will be able to meet our original price target, hence the price reduction.

JC: What about the customers who have bought the SD1 already?

KY: We consider these loyal customers very important to us. They are truly behind us and bought the camera regardless the price. We will have a program to compensate the price difference and the details of the compensation will be announced later this month.

JC: I also learn that there will be two DP series cameras using the same sensor from SD1. Could you tell us more that the two new cameras?

KY: Now that we are able to reduce the cost the sensor, we want to put that into the hands of more customers. The two new DP cameras not only will have the new 46mp sensor but also a dual CPU processor to handle the huge amount of data generated by the sensor. They will also have the 92k dot 3" TFT LCD screen and new lenses will be also resigned.

JC: With the dual CPU processor will users be able to experience faster interface?

KY: The amount of data created by the 46mp sensor is huge and will tax the the processor heavily.

JC: Let's change subject a little bit and talk about lenses, specifically Sigma lenses recently introduced for the Micro 4/3 and Sony NEX mirrorless cameras. Could you share your thought on what new lenses will be for mirrorless cameras?

KY: Obviously I can't get into the specific details as we are still in the process of putting together a final plan for the mirrorless market. What I can say is that our philosophy of lens development has been always to fill the gap of the camera manufacturers like Canon, Nikon and Sony, so we will keep continue doing the same in the mirrorless market. What we are committed to right now are the Micro 4/3 which we are a member of and the Sony NEX. We probably won't offer products for the Pentax Q and we are not sure about the Nikon 1 yet.

JC: It's interesting to note that Sigma is a company that has a long line of lens products and also camera products like the SD and DP series. One would wonder when Sigma is going to enter the mirrorless camera market by offering its own camera as well as lenses, either in the Micro 4/3 mount or other mount?

KY: I am personally very much interested in this market and obviously we have the know-how. It's all about the timing. Right now we want to serve our SD series customers the most as they are our early adopters and the DP customers as they are the customers helping us to broaden the market. When we are ready to enter the mirrorless market, we want to make sure that we serve these two camps of customers well before we go after the third one.

JC: That's very nice of you to value your customers. Thank you very much for spending time with us and we wish you good luck.

KY: Thank you!

PS: A senior Sigma executive points out the similarity the lens specification of the two new DP1's and the two mirrorless lenses, namely the 19mm/2.8 and 30mm/2.8. It's not a coincident obviously.

Special thanks to Jeff Chen, co-founder of xitek.com, for providing us with a coverage of the CP+ show in Japan.

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