If you’ve ever bought a new lens, you know the joy of removing a beautiful, pristine optic from its box and attaching it to your camera for the first time. But have you ever wondered what it takes to design and build that lens? During a recent trip to Japan, we had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Sigma’s lens factory in the city of Aizu to answer that question, and we’re going to walk you through how it’s done, step by step.
Most photographers are familiar with Sigma, but maybe not with its unique history. Sigma is a family-owned business founded in 1961 by Michihiro Yamaki. Mr. Yamaki was an engineer at a small optical company that made binoculars, cameras and video lenses. When the company went bankrupt, some of its suppliers, needing new clients, approached Mr. Yamaki about starting a new business, and Sigma was born.
Today, Sigma has over 1,700 employees, nine subsidiaries in eight countries, and annual sales of 42 billion yen (about $322 million).