Conclusion: The Sigma SD1 Merrill is built around the uniquely designed image sensor, but a high price, sluggish performance and a time-intensive Raw workflow make it a difficult sell to all but the most devoted Foveon disciples.
Pros: Excellent build quality. High-quality viewfinder. Good control layout. Unique sensor design. Infrared shooting capability.
Cons: Expensive. Sluggish performance. Subpar LCD. Substandard JPG output. Difficult Raw workflow. No video support.
Summary: The SD1 is a no-frills SLR with a very basic feature set that offers exceptional image quality at low ISOs (100-400). However, it's let down by slow file write times and erratic control behaviour during this process.
Pros: Exceptional image quality at low ISO, especially in Raw mode, Very good build quality (including weatherproofing), Straightforward operation, with external controls for all key functions, Large, clear viewfinder, Excellent grip, extremely comfortable to shoot for extended sessions, Near-perfect i...
Cons: Extremely slow file write speeds, with erratic control behaviour while writing, Poor image quality at high ISO, with green and purple colour blotching in shadows, Evaluative metering somewhat prone to highlight clipping, Overly-conservative highlight clipping warning (can encourage underexposure)...
Conclusion: Nick Devlin is a barrister and photographer in Toronto, Canada. He works as a Federal Prosecutor, specializing in major drug and terrorism cases. With almost twenty years behind the lens, Nick worked extensively as a photojournalist and pro sports photographer before turning to the law.
Summary: There is no doubt that the Sigma SD1's unique Foveon X3 sensor means that the final images from this camera in a variety of settings stand out from the other two models - for good and bad reasons.
Excerpt: Because of the status that the new Sigma SD1 Merrill has carried with it since it was unveiled last year, it's easy to get lost in the hype of the Foveon sensor technology, so let's cover it first to get it out of the way.
Summary: Now a fraction of its original price, but is a revolutionary sensor enough?
Pros: Excellent IQ at low ISOs, Images contain bags of detail, Robust build, The camera delivers on its picture quality promise at low ISO settings and, despite its lower 'true' resolution, it has the potential to outshine cameras with bigger sensors.
Cons: Frustratingly slow write times, Noise at high ISO, No live view or video, Sigma raw software slow, Images may be sharp, but the performance in other areas isn't. Picture noise debuts at lower ISO settings than we'd like, and the slow processing/write times can be crippling. There's no live view e...
Excerpt: The Sigma SD1 is Sigma's update to their DSLR line and rather than a direct follow on from the SD14 / SD15, this camera has an all new 15.6 megapixel Foveon sensor. Each pixel records Red Green and Blue* and therefore Sigma call it a 46 megapixel sensor (15.6x3).
Pros: Foveon Sensor, Weather sealed magnesium body, Removable IR Filter / Dust Shield for IR Photography, Very high pixel level detail, Strong colour available from the camera
Cons: Noise on JPEGs, High price, Only 1 Memory card slot (unlike other Pro cameras with dual slots), Lacks top LCD screen, or eye detection, Lacks video mode / live view, Sigma Pro Photo 5.0 Raw Conversion software slow, Slow to write to memory card, Poor battery life
Conclusion: The SD1’s impressive sensor technology puts this camera up in the big leagues with other pro camera kits. Although image quality and size is incredible there are still a few areas that could be improved.
Excerpt: Because of the status that the new Sigma SD1 has carried with it since it was unveiled last year, it's easy to get lost in the hype of the new Foveon sensor technology, so let's cover it first to get it out of the way.