Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki says that the company doesn’t plan to develop any new Micro Four Thirds (M43) lenses due to demand that is “decreasing very sharply.”
In an interview with PhotoTrend at CP+ in Japan — spotted by 43Rumors — Yamaki says that while Sigma has several M43 lenses in its current library, it doesn’t have a plan to develop any new ones. Currently, Sigma produces just three lenses for M43, which are made for a group of other crop sensor mounts (and most recently released for Nikon Z-mount).
“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,” he says.
This is the first strong statement from any lens or camera manufacturer about the state of demand for M43 that comes across this frankly. In the past, M43 member Panasonic has said that the company doesn’t intend to move away from the format in order to continue to support its users, but it has not spoken so directly about product demand for the system as Sigma’s Yamaki has.
“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.”
It doesn’t end there, as Yamaki also explains that APS-C demand is falling.
“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).”
It sounds like full-frame is the future, at least from a product development standpoint. Yamaki’s statement basically brings an end to what the brand started in 2011, when it said it was expanding to support the format due to increasing demand in the compact camera market.
The companies that are active members of M43 basically never say anything like this and Sigma is in a prime position to speak about the demand of a system relative to others since it can very easily track how many lenses it sells for M43 versus the other mounts it supports. If Yamaki says demand is low, there isn’t really any reason not to believe him.
M43 has advantages, but demand is driven by consumers who have for years now treated the format like a second-class citizen. Despite recent evidence that the quality of images taken with M43 are very good, the format bears the stigma that the opposite is true.
Luckily for M43 shooters, the lens library for the format is quite strong, so it’s not like there is a dearth of options. Sigma also indicates it doesn’t intend to stop supporting the format, but the company’s words are worrying for those concerned about the system’s future.
Image credits: Sigma