4 expert reviews - 0 user reviews
We have collected 4 reviews of the Sigma SD1 Merrill. Experts rate Sigma SD1 Merrill 6.5/10. Reviewsor.com helps you find reviews, best prices, user reviews of the Sigma SD1 Merrill and Sigma Digital cameras.
The Sigma SD1 Merrill DSLR is the flagship camera of the well-known Japanese lens manufacturer, renamed from just “SD1” in honour of Foveon's founding father, Richard B. Merrill. It features a huge 46 megapixel APS-C X3 sensor, dual TRUE II processors, 11 AF cross points, magnesium body with O-ring weather sealing, ISO 100-6400 and a 3 inch screen on the back. On the surface the Sigma SD1 Merrill looks like it can compete with the big boys, especially with a revised price of £1,840 / $1,900, which is much, much lower than the SD1 originally sold for at launch. 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. Anyone interested in buying this camera will likely know how the Foveon sensor works. However, there will be a few who don't so for their benefit, we'll try to relay it in layman's terms. The X3 sensor essentially has 15 megapixels. However, it's how the sensor is constructed that gives it the higher megapixel reading.
Would you pay 6,200 in the UK, or $9,700 in the US, for an APS-C DSLR that didn't offer live view or video shooting, wasn't compatible with third-party lenses and captured raw files that weren't widely supported? That was the question posed by the 46 megapixel Sigma SD1 in June 2011.Buying GuideBest DSLR: top cameras by price and brandWe're guessing that the positive answers didn't exactly flood in, because 12 months later Sigma released a rebranded version: the SD1 Merrill. It's a rebadged version of the same camera, offering identical performance but at a new, more sensible price. Cheaper manufacturing bills mean Sigma can offer the SD1 Merrill at the much sweeter cost of 1,840/$1,900. Fortunately, Sigma is also offering a points reward system to photographers who forked out the price of a small car for the old model.The Sigma SD1 Merrill is named in honour of the late Richard 'Dick' Merrill (1949-2008), the engineer who developed the Foveon X3 image sensor that's at the heart of Sigma cameras. Rather than being a 'true' 46MP sensor, it's made up of three layers that each contain around 15.4 million pixels that are embedded in silicon.
The Sigma SD1 Merrill ($2,299 direct, body only) probably isn't the first D-SLR that comes to mind when you think of a high-end shooter, but it is the one that's the most different from others in its class. It's priced as much as some full-frame models, but uses an APS-C image sensor with a unique Foveon design. Despite an excellent build quality, the camera's performance is sluggish, and its Raw workflow is a nightmare for volume shooters. Unless you're a Foveon devotee, you'll likely be better served by a more traditional APS-C camera like the Canon EOS 7D ($1,699 body only, 4 stars) or our Editors' Choice Sony Alpha 77 ($1,999.99 with lens, 4.5 stars). A Bayer image sensor, which is what you'll find on pretty much every other digital camera you can find, uses a special filter to produce colors. Red, green, and blue pixels are arranged in a grid pattern, creating a full color image; without the Bayer filter you'd have a black and white image. The Sigma SD1 Merrill $2,299.00 at Amazon takes a different approach. The camera is named after the inventor of its Foveon X3 sensor, Richard Merrill.
Review based on a production SD1 with firmware 1.04, and a production SD1 Merrill with firmware 1.0 Note: Most of the material in this review was prepared using the 'original' SD1 rather than the 'Merrill' model. Sigma assures us that the two cameras are identical in all practical respects, and we've verified this in key areas of image quality, speed and operability using an SD1 Merrill. Because of this, we consider this review to apply equally to both models. In the text we've used 'SD1' to refer to both cameras for the sake of brevity. The SD1 created a huge amount of interest when it was announced at Photokina 2010. Having used Foveon's original 4.7x3MP sensor in its SD and DP series of cameras, Sigma bought the sensor company in 2008 and instructed it to focus its efforts on high quality stills photography. The result was a 15x3MP sensor of the standard APS-C size (approx. 24 x 16mm, slightly larger than Foveon's previous designs), and it's around this that the SD1 is built. The SD1's original pricing caused a great deal of dismay; at an RRP close to that of the professional full-frame Nikon D3X and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III SLRs, it was placed at a level most Sigma users found entirely unattainable.
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