Michihiro Yamaki and a SIGMA booth at an international camera fair

Photokina Memories


Photokina, the world’s largest fair for camera and video products, begins in Cologne on September 26. It will be the 35th Photokina since its start in 1950.

It should be a special Photokina this year, even compared to previous editions. One reason is the full-frame mirrorless systems many exhibitors are going to present and which should affect the photography and film market considerably. But a bigger reason is a change to the event itself. Starting next year, the fair, which has so far always been held every other year in September, will change its schedule to take place every year in May. I feel a little sentimental when I consider that this year’s is the last Photokina I will experience together with the scenery and climate of an autumnally Cologne, and I expect more than a few other exhibitioners will share my sentiments.

The first time our company took part in Photokina was in 1972. It was long before I joined the company, of course. For SIGMA, which was one of many small-scale businesses in the market at the time, participating in an international trade fair in faraway Europe seemed an expense beyond all proportion.

But to late SIGMA founder Michihiro Yamaki, SIGMA’s participation in each Photokina was a measure that the company had the necessary scope and funds, and he made it SIGMA’s goal to become a brand with satisfied customers throughout the entire world. In the fifty years since, even if at times it proved difficult, we were able to take part in each and every Photokina, thanks entirely to the support and loyalty of our customers.

Our booth at our very first Photokina was a humble space, with nothing in it but the standard counter table. Only two employees visited from Japan, one of whom was company president Michihiro Yamaki. Together with a young German woman as support, the booth was manned by only three people. In contrast to today, in its earlier years Photokina was a serious business fair, where actual product orders were carried out. The three worked tirelessly from morning until late in the evening promoting SIGMA and our products over and over. During his lifetime, Michihiro Yamaki often said that he would never forget the young German woman being moved to tears at the end of the fair.

Today, in 2018, our industry is still seeing constant changes, and I expect Photokina to keep evolving, too.
I will always be thankful to our many predecessors, at SIGMA and any other company, who have helped make this industry what it is today.

(text / Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of SIGMA Corporation)

Share on social media