Michihiro Yamaki, the CEO and founder of Sigma Corporation, recently passed away from liver cancer. As you may know I am a huge fan of Sigma lenses and products, I have used their lenses for years in both my hobby and professional work. Michihiro Yamaki founded Sigma in 1961, and in my humble opinion the company has since been largely responsible for bringing “third-party” lenses out of the realm of “cheap knock-off” and into the world of high-quality, high-performance equipment.
Sure, every brand has their cheap-o section. Canon and Nikon also make cheap $100-200 “plastic-fantastic” lenses that fall apart in a year or two if you’re rough on them. Sigma is no different, I had a 70-300 “kit” zoom once and I *kinda* destroyed it, but no faster than I also destroyed my Nikon 28-80 kit lens. However Sigma also makes an EX line of lenses, that are much closer to Canon “L” in both sharpness, image quality, and durable construction. In 2006 I bought a Sigma 50-150 2.8 EX DC lens, and it has traveled the world with me and captured a hundred thousand images or more, earning part of my income as both a wedding and theater photographer. (In fact I still use it today, on my full-frame D700, for theater!)
Sigma’s best strength, in my opinion, has been in “filling the gaps” in Canon and Nikon’s lineups. Canon doesn’t make an 85mm f/1.4 for example, only a $400 85mm f/1.8 version and then a whopping $2,000 85mm f/1.2 L version…So Sigma’s 85 f/1.4 has been extremely popular among Canon users, at “just” $950 on Amazon.And my favorite lens, the 50-150, is a near-perfect match to the 70-200mm focal length on crop-sensor cameras, and neither Canon OR Nikon simply have no options whatsoever in this range!So while I always encourage an aspiring professional to invest in the best glass they can possibly afford, it is often a much better “fit” for a photographer, especially a hobbyist, to get a Sigma lens.But I’ll have to write another article, another time, on the subject of “my favorite third-party lenses…”;-)
The news that Sigma’s CEO has died definitely saddens me,and I strongly hope that Sigma continues to be a key player in the lens industry.I look forward to seeing which new lenses Sigma develops and announces in 2012; personally I hope to see some more fast aperture primes for us portrait and photojournalism photographers!