I’ve been watching the Foveon story on and off since they made their first announcement early in the last decade. Only recently, with the introduction of the SD and DP series have I started to look more closely at the technology. It appears to be capable of producing stunning images, better to my eye than anything I have seen with traditional Bayer-pattern sensors. Some people say they can’t perceive the often-described 3-D effect, but regardless of pixel count, another controversial area, there is an unmistakeable organic quality that might be considered film-like. Delving into how the technology works, it makes sense from an engineering perspective. Three layers of pixels, one for each colour, so the image is recorded in a similar way to three-layered film. When you compare it to the way a Bayer-pattern sensor works, the latter seems a flawed concept. An image comes from a non-foveon camera via a complex processing cycle designed to interpolate colour in adjacent pixels and then blur the image with an anti-aliasing filter to reduce moiré. I’m surprised they work as well as they do. I’m not an engineer but I love what I see as ‘simple’ and ‘elegant’ designs. If you have to add further levels of technology to fix an initial weakness in the design, then there is something wrong. My concern now is that the Foveon technology will never get the attention it deserves and may one day become a curious footnote in the history of digital photography. I see nothing on the web to indicate that research and development is taking the sensor beyond its original design, and although Sigma has implemented it in their cameras, current and past reviews suggest these mechanical platforms leave a lot to be desired. I’m sure there is a lot of corporate politics in the behind-the-scenes story here; perhaps long-term contractual commitments between manufacturers that shut out Foveon from access to the big players such as Canon and Nikon. I hope the technology survives, and I hope Sigma gets the platform right. If they can’t, then I hope another company will take up the baton and run with it. It will be interesting to watch what happens next.