New Sigma SD1 Merrill Foveon-Based DSLR


Sigma is reintroducing a renamed version of its previously announced 46MP, Foveon-based flagship DSLR, the Sigma SD1. Now called the Sigma SD1 Merrill after the late inventor of the Foveon chip—Richard “Dick” Merrill—the new camera is virtually unchanged except for the name and its present selling price, which at $2,299.00 (at B&H), is thousands of dollars less than its original selling price.

Like its original incarnation, the SD1 Merrill is designed around a unique Foveon imaging sensor. Unlike conventional CCD and CMOS imaging sensors, it records RGB channels through each pixel as opposed to the traditional 1-pixel, 1-color channel methodology used in conventional CCD and CMOS imaging sensors. As a result, Sigma refers to the SD1 Merrill’s APS-C format imaging sensor as its 46MP “True II Image processing engine.”

The newly named camera is compatible with all Sigma SA-mount optics and can capture stills in the form of JPEG or RAW files at continuous burst rates of up to five frames per second at full resolution. Other features found on the Sigma SD1 Merrill include a TTL phase difference detection AF system, a 77-segment metering system, a pentaprism finder with approximately 98% image viewing, a top ISO of 6400, and a 3.0", 460k-dot LCD.

Format Interchangeable-lens SLR camera
Storage Media CompactFlash (Type I, UDMA compatible)
Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.7mm
Lens Mount SIGMA SA bayonet 
Crop Factor Equivalent to approx. 1.5x the focal length of the lens (for 35mm cameras)
Image Sensor Foveon X3 direct image sensor (CMOS)
Number of Pixels 48MP (4,800 x 3,200 x 3 layers)
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Still Image Format Exif 2.3, DCF2.0
Image Recording Format Lossless compression RAW data (12-bit, High, Medium, Low); JPEG (High, Medium, Low)
Capture File Size

High:  approx. 45MB (4704 x 3136 x 3)
Med:  approx. 24MB (3264 x 2176 x 3)
Low:  approx. 12MB (2336 x 1568 x 3)

Fine: approx. 10MB (4704 x 3136)
Normal: approx. 5.6MB (4704 x 3136)
Basic: approx. 4.3MB (4704 x 3136)
Fine: approx. 5MB (3264 x 2176)
Normal: approx. 2.7MB (3264 x 2176)
Basic: approx. 2MB (3264 x 2176)
Fine: approx. 2.5MB (2336 x 1568)
Normal: approx. 1.4MB (2336 x 1568)
Basic: approx. 1MB (2336 x 1568)

Continuous Shooting Speed High: 5 fps; Medium: 6 fps; Low: 6 fps
Continuous Buffer High: Max 7 frames; Medium: Max 14 frames; Low: Max 14 frames
Interface USB (USB 2.0), Video Out (NTSC/PAL)
White Balance 8 types (Auto, Sunlight, Shade, Overcast, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom)
Color Mode 7 types (Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, B&W, Sepia)
Viewfinder Pentaprism SLR viewfinder
Viewfinder Frame Coverage 98% vertical, 98% horizontal
Viewfinder Magnification 0.95 x (50mm f/1.4-infinity)
Eye Point 18mm
Diopter Adjustment Range -3dpt to + 1.5dpt
Auto Focus Type TTL phase difference detection system
AF Operating Range EV 0 to +18 (ISO 100)
Focus Mode Single AF, Continuous AF (with AF motion prediction function), Manual
AF Point Selection Automatic Selection, Manual Selection
Metering Systems 77 segment Evaluative Metering, Spot Metering, Center Metering, Center-Weighted Average Metering
Metering Range EV 1 to 20 (50mm f/1.4, ISO 100)
Exposure Control System (P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible), (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE, (A) Aperture Priority AE, (M) Manual
ISO Sensitivity ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
Exposure Compensation ±3EV (in 1/3 steps)
Auto Bracketing Three or Five frames (in 1/3 steps, Appropriate Exposure- Under Exposure- Over Exposure)
Shutter Type Electronically controlled focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed 1/8000 – 30 sec. + bulb (up to 30 sec., with Extended Mode: 2 min.)
External Flash Synchronization Hot shoe (contact X synchronization at 1/180 sec. or less, with dedicated flash linking contact)
Built-in flash Manual pop up built-in flash, GN 11  (17mm lens angle covered)
LCD Monitor 3.0"color TFT LCD monitor, 460,000-dot
Reviewing Images Single frame display, Multi display (9 frames), Zoom, Slide Show
LCD Monitor Language Japanese, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Russian
Power Source Li-ion Battery Pack BP-21, Battery Charger BC-21,
AC adapter SAC-4 (optional)
Dimensions 5.7 x 4.4 x 3.1" (14.6 x 11.4 x 8 cm)
Weight 24.7 oz (700 g) without batteries and card

The Sigma SD1 Merrill is currently available for pre-order at B&H.

Items discussed in article

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46mp, in other words 15.3 mp

NO -- it really is 46 mp!! some people really do see and appreciate the difference!! Thank you Sigma for developing superior products and producing premium results for a reasonable cost!

Don't worry about all the Sigma haters who can't seem to contain themselves from both reading the articles and posting negative, shoot-from-the-hip comments. I like using a "niche" camera that a lot of folks don't means I'll be shooting with a tool that separates me from the pack, with a sharp, colorful and vibrant look that can't be duplicated with Bayer sensors. Whether it's 46 mp or 15 or blah blah blah, it's undeniable that the image quality is unsurpassed.