Excerpt: The SD1 is Sigma’s new flagship SLR system. It uses a brand new sensor with Foveon technology and a nominal resolution of 14.8 MP. This means that the camera is able to record RGB information for every single pixel.
Summary: The Sigma SD1 Merrill is a DSLR produced by Sigma Corporation, a well-known Japanese firm that specializes in creating lenses for other camera manufacturers. However, Sigma also produces digital cameras, such as the DP2 Merrill that was recently reviewed on our site.
Excerpt: The latest DSLR camera from Sigma Corporation is the SD1 Merrill, named for Richard “Dick” Merrill, inventor of the X3F CMOS chip, which uses a type of layering that splits light into red, green, and blue at every one of the 4,800×3,200 photo sites on the sensor.
Pros: Medium-format color and resolution at a DSLR price
Cons: Doesn’t offer live view or video capture capabilities
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.
Conclusion: That’s about it until we get a chance to try the SD1 for ourselves. I’m keen on comparing the SD1 to two cameras in particular – the Pentax 645D and the Leica M9. The big Pentax competes directly in price with the SD1 and has a 40MP sensor, challenging the SD1’s 46MP X3 resolution.
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.
Summary: We were really excited to get hold of the Sigma SD1 Merrill, it's a lovely camera to hold and you can feel the workmanship that's gone into it. The magnesium alloy body ensures rigidity and the weather sealing means you don't have to rush out of the rain.