In releasing the latest “I series” sub-category of Sigma’s Contemporary lineup, consisting of the newly-announced 24mm f/3.5, 35mm f/2, and 65mm f/2 lenses, Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki discoursed for the better part of half an hour on his intent for future lens releases. The video is also available in the original Japanese version, which contains some significant additional casual remarks about Sigma strategy and plans.

More than other camera and lens manufacturers, Sigma’s primary owner and CEO is the driving force behind the company’s product planning and design efforts. Prior to COVID-related changes, he sat at a desk in the design department. His engaging, low-key personality, coupled with his fluency in English, appears to have provided Sigma with a much better feedback mechanism between international market desires and the firm’s product planning. So his remarks contain more real information that one would expect from the typical Japanese CEO remarks that often appear to attempt to say very little.

The take-aways:

  • The new lenses are striving for almost-Art level quality; low price; small size; sacrificing aperture versus the Art series
  • The new lenses further confuse the already-muddled Sigma model categories, introducing yet another layer of classification – called the I series. That I class appears not to really be a series at all (it does not appear on the lens itself) and the lenses are badged and categorized within the C, or Contemporary series – which itself is a confused mish-mash of both cheap consumer lenses (18-300mm) and extremely high quality (16mm f/1.4 DC DN).
  • Most importantly Yamaki telegraphed the firm’s future development priorities. They include designing lenses for mirrorless, suggesting DSLR designs are done. Yamaki showed examples proving that Sigma has much work to do in order to continue fleshing out mirrorless designs, both in terms of filling out certain categories (macro, super-telephoto, f/2.8 zooms) and also taking existing DSLR designs and employing their new mirrorless design innovations to shrink them, improve their image quality, and in some cases even increase their apertures.

As yet, Sigma is releasing these new designs in Sony E-mount and its own L-Mount Alliance L-mount. Still no word on any plans to open up the Nikon Z-mount mirrorless system or the Canon RF-mount system. None of the mirrorless designs will be compatible with the DSLR mounts, as mirrorless designs are incompatible with the required flange distance specifications.