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Sigma SD1 Merrill Digital SLR Review

Sigma SD1 Merrill Digital SLR Review - Sigma believe they hold the key to the ultimate image quality, the Foveon X3 sensor, recording 3 colours at every pixel does this camera deliver? Joshua Waller finds out.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Sigma SD1 Merrill
Price : £5,360
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sigma SD1 Body (IR Filter)
Sigma SD1 Body (IR Filter)

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). The Sigma SD1 was first shown at Photokina 2010 (Oct) and then wasn't available to purchase till June/July 2011. The camera also had an RRP of £6199 including VAT making it quite an expensive investment! Over time, this price dropped to £4999 including VAT. More recently the price has been dramatically cut with the renaming of the camera as the Sigma SD1 Merrill, UK pricing is yet to be confirmed.

* compared to the typical Bayer sensor that records Red, Green, Blue, Green over 4 pixels.

Sigma SD1 Merrill Features


Sigma SD1 Body Front Sensor
Sigma SD1 Body Front Sensor (IR Filter removed)

The key feature of Sigma cameras is the Foveon sensor, a good explanation of how the Foveon sensor differs from the typical Bayer sensor, can be found here: http://www.sigma-sd.com/SD1/system.html or for a quick diagram, have a look below:

Foveon Sensor - Image from Foveon

Due to the camera not featuring a Bayer sensor, the camera does not need a "Low Pass Anti Aliasing Filter" this should mean higher resolution being passed to the sensor, plus the Foveon sensor should be able to avoid capturing Moiré - this should benefit fashion photography or anything involving very fine textures.

The sensor is a 15.6 megapixel sensor with Red, Green, Blue (RGB) at every pixel, Sigma say that this makes it equivalent to a 30 megapixel (Bayer) sensor. However the camera outputs an image size of 4607x3400 which is a 15.6 megapixel image.

There's also a large section of "Philosophy" about the camera on Sigma's website with words and statements like "For ultimate image quality", "the Real revolution starts here" "Paradigm breaking" "Epoch making" and "Liberating". We'll be mostly looking at whether the camera is able to deliver the "Ultimate Image Quality"

Key Features

  • 46 megapixel 24×16mm APS-C sensor (1.5x crop factor)
  • Lightweight magnesium alloy body
  • Weather-resistant O-ring sealing connections
  • Dual ‘TRUE II' image processing engines
  • 11 Point Twin Cross AF Sensor
  • ISO100 - 6400
  • 77 segment AE metering system
  • DDR III Buffer
  • 5/6 fps continuous shooting (High=Full Resolution/Medium or Low)
  • DDR III Buffer (7 shots High / 14 shots Medium / Low)
  • 3.0inch screen (460k pixels)
  • 98% optical viewfinder - dioptre adjustment
  • Dust protection shield / IR filter (Can be removed for IR photography)
  • Compact Flash Slot (x1)
  • Built in pop-up flash, GN11 rating

Sigma SD1 Merrill Handling


Sigma SD1 Top
Sigma SD1 Top

Handling - The SD1 is a solid camera with a magnesium alloy body, you can feel that it's made out of metal with quite a chunky feel to it. It doesn't feature softly rounded or smooth flowing lines, like the Sony Alpha A77 and if it's been out in the cold you can feel that when you pick up the camera. Once your hand gets used to the hand grip, it actually feels quite comfortable and the camera body isn't overly large. The grip gives a firm reassuring feel to the camera and you can feel confident knowing you have the camera firmly in your hand.

The camera doesn't feature a top LCD screen, neither does it feature eye-detection for the viewfinder, so while you can set the ISO while the camera is held up to your eye and you can see the ISO setting change in the viewfinder, it also, rather distractingly, switches on the back screen to show you the setting change there as well.

Sigma SD1 Ports
Sigma SD1 Ports

Menus - Colour coded menus are split into photo, playback and setup. Quick options can be set on the back of the camera using the main screen, you simply press the QS (Quick Set) button and then use the 4-way controller to change the settings, pressing QS again gives you a second set of 4 options. It works quite well and once you are used to using it, it's a very quick way of changing settings without having to scroll through menu options. These can't be customised, however due to the camera having a number of external buttons it was quite rare for me to need to change the QS settings.

Playback viewing of the images doesn't appear to show the best of the photos, with the colours looking washed out and scrolling through photos is sluggish.

Sigma SD1 Bottom Battery
Sigma SD1 Bottom Battery

Battery - The camera's battery life is not listed on the Sigma website. We were able to take just over 150 photos before the battery went flat. This is shocking for a DSLR which is normally expected to offer around 400-500+ shots per charge. A spare battery is a must!

Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

  Sigma SD1 Sony A77
Shutter Response 0.1 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.4 0.1
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.45 0.15
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 3.8 0.7
Shot to Shot (without flash) 0.6-0.8 0.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.9 0.8
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 5fps (7 shots) 7.5fps (14 shots)
12fps* (14 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) 1.1 0.6
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 5fps (7 shots) 7.5fps (13 shots)
12fps* (14 shots)

Shooting JPEG Fine images you can shoot 7 shots before slowdown, using a Sandisk Extreme Pro (90MB/s UDMA 6) card a shot could be taken every 2 or 3 seconds. JPEG Normal was just as slow with shots being taken with gaps of 1.5 seconds between them and sometimes as slow as 3.5 seconds. Shooting RAW, it was possible to shoot 7 shots before slowdown and after the shots had been taken there was a delay of 5 to 14 seconds between following shots. Once the buffer is full it is therefore best to wait for it to be completely clear before starting continuous or rapid shooting again and clearing the buffer can take a long time, with the camera taking just over a minute for it to write the photos from the buffer to the memory card shooting RAW and JPEG Fine (worst case scenario).

Sigma SD1 Merrill Performance

Here we've taken a number of test shots in a variety of situations, including our studio photos. Additional sample photos available in the EQDB, click to view medium size images, or click "Hi-Res" to view the JPEG files. RAW files are also available for processing in Sigma Photo Pro (a free download is available from Sigma's website), however, please be aware that each RAW file is around 45mb each! The Sigma SD1 was tested with the Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM Lens and the latest camera firmware version 1.04 (available from Sigma).

Sigma SD1 Merrill Sample Photos


Sample Photos: The portrait shot is very sharp, with the lens set to f/8.0 and using the pop-up flash although to get the best colour from the image, it is necessary to process the image using Sigma Photo Pro and then Photoshop from the RAW file. Using the RAW files it's also possible to correct the underexposure. The shot of the building on a bright sunny day shows the JPEG image as overexposed, but with the RAW file it's possible to correct this and then produce a correct exposure.
The infrared shot of ivy was taken using a Lee Filters IR gelatine filter in a Cokin P Gelatine holder.

Sigma SD1 Merrill Lens test images


Lens Test: The camera performs well with the lens provided, however we found that the best results were when the lens was stopped down to f/7.1 or more. Purple fringing and chromatic aberration is high in the photos of the trees shown but not overly excessive in other shots.

Sigma SD1 Merrill ISO test images


ISO (JPEG vs RAW): Shown here are the JPEG files straight from the camera as well as RAW files converted to JPEG. Opening the RAW files and adjusting the white balance displays images that are immediately better in regards to noise reduction and colour accuracy. The best way to get good results from this camera is to shoot RAW at all times. However, the problem then is that you will need to use Sigma Photo Pro (shown below) to convert them to JPEGs before using them on the internet or in another photo editing package. ISO performance is acceptable between ISO100 to ISO400 and above this you will need to use RAW to get usable results from ISO800 and ISO1600. Above this setting is best avoided due to excessive noise, even when processing the RAW files.

ISO800 RAW processing in Sigma Photo Pro 5.2
ISO800 RAW processing in Sigma Photo Pro 5.2 (click to view full size)

Using Sigma Photo Pro can be quite time consuming, if you use the 100% view, as changing any of the noise reduction options causes the software to revert back to an overview of the image with another delay when you want to view the image at 100%. Other changes are also quite slow with the program taking a while to respond at times. Saving files, whether saved as JPEG or TIFF is slow as well, even on high specification machines.

Sigma SD1 Merrill White-balance test images


White Balance Performance: JPEG results shown next to images processed through Sigma Photo Pro and saved as JPEG. Using the RAW file and adjusting the colour using the grey card produces much better results.

JPEG vs RAW - To get the best results, images need to be processed with Sigma Photo Pro from the RAW file. The JPEG images are a poor representation of what you can get out of the camera unless you are shooting in controlled lighting. It is possible to adjust the JPEG images and try to correct them, however this is generally more difficult and the results don't have as much richness as images converted from RAW. There is a large amount of dynamic range available from the RAW files including the option to recover shadow or highlight areas that are totally lost in JPEG files.

There are no digital filters or effects built into the camera, however you do get the choice of the following seven colour modes: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape and available when shooting JPEG: Black and White and Sepia. It's also possible to alter the contrast, sharpness and saturation settings.

Video: The SD1 does not feature a video mode.

Value For Money

Half way through reviewing this camera, Sigma announced that it is to be relaunched as the SD1 Merrill with a price of roughly $2399 - compared to $6300 for the Sigma SD1. The UK price of the Sigma SD1 is £4999 inc vat, however Sigma has not yet announced a UK price for the Merrill version. The cameras are identical apart from the name. The original £5k price put the camera into direct competition with the latest (and greatest) professional full frame cameras from Nikon the Nikon D4 and Canon, the Canon EOS 1D-X. While the new price puts it into competition with cameras like the 24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor Sony Alpha A77 and full frame 36.3 megapixel Nikon D800. The camera comes with a wide neck strap - which is a nice improvement over the more standard neck strap, but with such a high original price, you almost expect the camera to come in a special limited edition presentation box.

Sigma SD1 Merrill Verdict

The Sigma SD1 is capable of taking some gorgeous photos with excellent detail at the pixel level, however to get the best from the camera it is necessary to take everything as RAW and process the files. While you can shoot JPEG images, due to the camera's poor in-camera image processing the results are greatly disappointing in comparison and do not do the camera any justice.

For nearly £2300(tbc) / £5000 you would want to know you are getting the ultimate camera ... the Sigma SD1 promises "the ultimate image quality"... and if you shoot RAW and master processing the images with Sigma Photo Pro and possibly another editing package, then the camera is capable of creating some great looking photos which are especially impressive for fine detail and textures. The 15.6/46 megapixel images can quite easily match the images from Bayer sensor cameras such as the 24.3 megapixel APS-C Sony Alpha A77. We used the Sony Alpha A77, with 12fps shooting, Full HD video and numerous other features and options that the SD1 simply doesn't have and the speed difference and ease of use of the Sony (all with great JPEG output straight from the camera) was clearly noticeable.

Sigma / Foveon fans believe the images from these cameras have a 3D / Lifelike image that Bayer sensor cameras simply can't match. Whether it's worth the additional effort and time in processing the RAW files through Sigma Photo Pro depends on your personal workflow and amount of images you need to process. We found it horribly time consuming even just converting the small amount of images shown in this review when compared to other RAW shooting cameras.

However due to good handling and excellent image quality combined with the new significantly lower price, we would recommend this camera, as long as you are fully aware of the issues presented with the camera.

 
  The Sigma SD1 is capable of taking excellent photos IF shooting RAW and with the new lower price is worth investigating.

Sigma SD1 Merrill 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


Sigma SD1 Merrill 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

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

Sigma SD1 Merrill Specifications

ManufacturerSigma
Lens
Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels46Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4704
Pixels (H)3136
Sensor TypeFoveon X3 CMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)24mm
Sensor Size (height)16mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460k
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest120sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeNo
Video Resolution
    Video FPSNo Data
    Stereo SoundNo
    Optical Zoom with VideoNo
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationNo
    Interface
    HDMINo
    USBUSB 2
    Storage
    Card Type
    • CF1
    File Type
    • RAW
    • JPG
    Power Source
    Battery TypeBP-21 Lithium Ion
    CIPA RatingNo Data
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsLi-ion Battery Pack BP-21, Battery charger BC-21, USB Cable, Video Cable, Neck Strap, Eye Cap, Body Cap, Eyepiece Cap, SIGMA Photo Pro Disc, SD1 Instruction Manual
    Dimensions
    Weight700g
    Width145.5mm
    Height112.5mm
    Depth80mm

    View Full Product Details

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    Photographs taken using the Sigma SD1 Merrill

    The Church Yardmorning has brokencanalk 2canal early mornmorningsun upearly morningsun riseCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport ukCanal Haskayne Southport uk
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    Comments


    cameracat 10 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
    13 Feb 2012 11:49AM
    Methinks they will have to drop the price to under 1500 GBP, If they are at all serious about gaining a foothold in the DSLR market, You only need to look at new models from the competition price/spec wise, Lets say Nikons D4 & D800 models for example.

    It is going to take a lot more to convince buyers to part with over 6000 grand, For something a little quirky in APS-C land......Sad

    To many cons & not enough pros I'm afraid.

    Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

    JackAllTog e2
    5 3.5k 58 United Kingdom
    13 Feb 2012 1:54PM
    The first time i saw print from a compact version of this technology i was immediately impressed with the clarity and detail - it stood apart from the other 10x8 and 12x16 prints on the club camera table.
    If i had the money for another camera for infrequent well planned shots i'd very much want one of these - and its processing software.
    At the time canon rumours suggested a patent they were filing meant a canon version was possible - this could be amazing.
    I want one, i just want a 5Dmk2/3 first.
    Leif 9 722
    13 Feb 2012 5:40PM
    What awful example photographs, blurred and chock full of colour fringes. The problem with this camera is that you are restricted to Sigma lenses. Oh, and the outrageous price.
    JackAllTog e2
    5 3.5k 58 United Kingdom
    13 Feb 2012 5:45PM
    Park camera has the "Sigma SD1 Merrill 2012" priced at 999.
    Still out of an impulse buy for me but ....
    kodachrome 2 454
    15 Feb 2012 4:08PM
    For goodness sake, at over 6000, it should have scored 5 stars for everything.
    Sigma need to re assess just where in the market place they wish to be, because competing with Nikon, Canon etc at this level is just not working for them.

    Pete
    JackAllTog e2
    5 3.5k 58 United Kingdom
    15 Feb 2012 4:11PM

    Quote: Park camera has the "Sigma SD1 Merrill 2012" priced at 999.
    Still out of an impulse buy for me but ....

    Must have been an error its now twice that.
    But still under 2000
    15 Feb 2012 8:02PM
    The scoring for this camera puzzles me.
    How can a camera that can't produce decent jpegs, takes ages to write shots to memory and then ages again before you can take another shot, has an appalling battery life and only has a buffer for 7 shots get 4 stars for performance??Sad
    15 Feb 2012 11:26PM
    The Sigma Foveon was never intended to be a JPG camera. From the beginning, it's primary use was to shoot RAW images. The early Sigma Foveons only shot in RAW. Adding a JPG function to their later models could be compared to adding a camera to your cellphone, ... neither addition was intended to produce the best image possible. It's simply a convenience. This seems to be lost on most reviewers, who insist on judging the Sigma by its JPG production.

    On another point in the review, in one place it says; " However the camera outputs an image size of 4607x3400 which is a 15.6 megapixel image." And later, it says; "
    however, please be aware that each RAW file is around 45mb each!"

    So, which is it? Either the Sigma produces a 15.6meg image or it produces (as Sigma claims) a 3x15.6 meg image. It appears that Sigma's not to blame for a faulty pixel counting method that doesn't apply to the Foveon sensor.
    JackAllTog e2
    5 3.5k 58 United Kingdom
    16 Feb 2012 9:23AM

    Quote: On another point in the review, in one place it says; " However the camera outputs an image size of 4607x3400 which is a 15.6 megapixel image." And later, it says; "
    however, please be aware that each RAW file is around 45mb each!"

    So, which is it? Either the Sigma produces a 15.6meg image or it produces (as Sigma claims) a 3x15.6 meg image. It appears that Sigma's not to blame for a faulty pixel counting method that doesn't apply to the Foveon sensor.

    The Raw file has a value for each of colour detectors in the 3 x 4607x3400 pixels so tha's the 45MB file.
    16 Feb 2012 10:06PM
    Does that also apply to Bayer RAW files? If not, then the numbers that Sigma claims would be accurate.
    joshwa e2
    3 596 United Kingdom
    16 Feb 2012 10:55PM
    Just to quickly clear any confusion: RAW files are 45+ MegaBytes in size to download. Not Megapixels. It's just a warning that if you want to download the RAW files, then it might take you some time! Smile
    The files are absolutely huge. I just finished shooting for a month with a SD1 test camera on loan from Sigma. It really put my 3 year old Macintosh to the absolute test processing the images. Post processing is time consuming but the end results are absolutely wonderful. I give it two thumbs up for serious photographers that want to create a unique look to their photography. If someone wants to look at my test image galleries here is the link : Make sure you look at the miamis night shots at the bottom of the gallery. http://www.pbase.com/garydmercer/sigma_sd1_test_samples&page=all I also did a comparisons shoot for fun with the Nex3 vs SD1 vs SD9 vs Canon 5D MK II. Here is the link.
    http://www.pbase.com/garydmercer/orchid_challenge
    Like to see live view, 10x micro focusing on the LCD screen and third party raw support for the SD1 and an improved LCD screen for these poor eyes. Smile The month shoot with the SD1 was a great experience. You will need to get some very good prime lenses and the very best glass that Sigma has to offer to really take advantage of this spectacular sensor. Go ahead and pixel peep the images in my gallery at your leisure. Enjoy!
    2 Mar 2012 8:09AM
    As others have mentioned in their comments, this review quotes the original price for the SD1 and not the much-reduced SD1 Merrill price.
    28 Mar 2012 3:47PM

    Quote: On another point in the review, in one place it says; " However the camera outputs an image size of 4607x3400 which is a 15.6 megapixel image." And later, it says; "
    however, please be aware that each RAW file is around 45mb each!"

    So, which is it? Either the Sigma produces a 15.6meg image or it produces (as Sigma claims) a 3x15.6 meg image.

    this camera takes 3 samples per pixel (think one each for r,g,b). conventional cameras take one sample per pixel then guess the other two colours by looking at the other pixels around them. Raw files from conventional cameras know that they only need to store one colour per pixel thus are quite a bit smaller than if you were storing the same data as say a tiff.

    Because of this Foveon sensor needs to write as much data as a conventional 45 megapixel camera would however the resulting image is the size of what a 15 megapixel camera would produce. That 15 megapixel image if shot well tends to be a lot sharper than what a conventional camera will produce. In my experience a shot from one of these at 200percent zoom will show about as much detail as what most cameras show at 100% zoom.
    28 Mar 2012 4:17PM
    Having got my hands on this camera would share the following observations.

    The body seems very well bit, feels solid and is comfortable to use.
    Writing files is quite slow though having a fast memory card really helps.
    As long as you don't fill the buffer (7 shots in JPG + RAW mode) this isn't too much of a problem.
    More so than any other camera I have used a tripod is necessary to get the best out of this camera.
    Iso 100-800 works well, 1600 is usuable with noise reduction, 3200+ is only worth using if want to do monochrome images.
    It doesn't like flourescent lighting.
    Image quality is great.

    This camera will work really well for some shooting styles and not very well for others. I think that at the end of a days shooting I would rather have 20 really really good images than 200 mediocre ones.
    28 Mar 2012 11:10PM
    kayosiii wrote: "I think that at the end of a days shooting I would rather have 20 really really good images than 200 mediocre ones."

    That has been my personal mantra since first investing in the Sigma/Foveon system years ago, and it still applies to the SD1.

    Yes, it does take more time and effort to process a Foveon RAW image, but the results are always worth it, especially when you consider that taking the same time and effort on a Bayer RAW image will not produce an equally good yield. The simple reason being that the image information simply isn't there to be tweaked in a Bayer image, and a large percentage of the information that is there is essentially false.
    judzz 2
    19 Apr 2012 10:08AM
    @GaryMercer
    Thanks for those comparison shots. I have the current 5MP SD14 Sigma camera and have already been amazed at the "slide-like" quality of the photos I have taken.
    Using the Sigma does come at a price - post processing time. However I normally just shoot photos without changing the white balance or anything else under normal circumstances (aparting from using Aperture priority) and my Nikon friend doesn't want to admit the photo's are sharper than his D300 and he spends quite a bit of time behind his PC editing his photos. The only thing that I have against this camera is that it does not seem to do well in low-light conditions without a tripod and if you want to shoot continuously the buffer fills up quickly. Does anyone know whether this buffer has become better now with the SD1 or is about the same due to the larger files that need processing?

    Thanks

    Judy
    Scottelly 1 35 United States
    26 Aug 2012 4:18PM
    Judy, I too have a Sigma SD14. I used it to shoot my photo of the girl with the sunflowers. I LOVE the camera, even though I now have the fast-shooting Sony A55, which also overheats (yes, I regularly overheat my SD14). The biggest problems I have with the SD14 are the overheating issue and the small 7 frame buffer. I also do not like how long it takes for the camera to show me a review image (way too long). Still, I do love the camera. I love the ergonomics of it and the image quality and fine detail of the images (even thought they are so small - 4.7 mgapixels). I have not been printing photos much, since I bought my SD14, so I can not speak to the image quality of prints, but I recently reviewed (had in my hands) the set of SD1 prints that are on tour. AMAZING.

    As far as the buffer and speed issues, I believe they are about the same with the new SD1 and SD1 Merrill as they are with the SD14. I have not heard of any overheating issues though, and since the new cameras are weather sealed, I would say it is definitely an improved camera in many respects. Unfortunately, the speed is a serious issue for some (like me), but for many people, who are shooting landscapes or are used to slow medium format cameras, the speed of operation of the SD1 and SD1 Merrill will be just fine. One huge advantage the Sigma camera has over the high-end competition is the fact that it is the only small-sensor camera that can produce incredibly high-resolution images with ultra-fine detail, that are almost completely noise-free, even at ISO 800. The Sony A65 and A77 cameras are good, but they do not produce almost noise-free images, and they do not capture the fine detail that the Sigma does. In all other respects though (speed, versatility, price, etc.) they beat the Sigma.

    I would think a bird shooter would buy a Sigma SD14 with the Sigma 500mm f4.5 in a heartbeat, but maybe such people prefer the speed of shooting that the Sony A77 provides, vs. the detail they can capture with the Sigma.

    Now that the Sigma SD1 Merrill is well below the price of the Nikon D800 and the 8-16mm lens is much less than the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G, I think the Sigma SD1 Merrill is a very good buy for someone interested in landscape and nature photography. It would also certainly make a great studio camera for people wishing to shoot still life with digital. Since it is faster than most medium format cameras, I would suggest it as a budget alternative to shooting in studio or even in the field (since it is so light).
    Scottelly 1 35 United States
    26 Aug 2012 4:25PM
    BTW, my experience with the Sigma SPP software and raw SD1 files I have downloaded makes me think it is not slow at all. In fact, it processes images about as fast as the latest Nikon software processes the D800 raw photos I have been playing with. That said, I do realize there is a speed issue with the camera. No doubt the Nikon D800 has a huge advantage here, with a buffer for shooting raw that probably dwarfs the small 6 frame buffer of the Sigma, much faster image review, and better overall image quality. Still, it is $1,000 more money (50% more), and the good Nikon lenses for the D800 cost much more than Sigma lenses. Ultimately here, you have to carry a larger, heavier, more expensive camera, if you want better quality images. The Sigma does indeed sit in a niche where it is a good choice for many photographers. I plan to get one in a few months, after I get my Sony A65 and a couple more lenses for the Sony. I will buy three or four lenses for the Sigma, and if it suits my needs (along with my Sony A65), I may never get the Nikon D800E that I so desire right now (which is much more expensive than I can afford).
    MikeyC38 5 1 United Kingdom
    22 Nov 2013 1:47PM
    This would be an amazing camera if Canon did the electronics for it! Nothing else could beat it!
    Scottelly 1 35 United States
    22 Nov 2013 10:44PM
    Well, the Sigma SD1 is a truly amazing image capture device. I LOVE my SD14, and the SD1 is the sharper, weather-sealed, update of that camera, with lots of bells and whistles, such as a 5-frame bracketing mode, larger higher-resolution review screen, faster shooting (6 fps instead of 3), micro focus adjust, and better high ISO performance. The Nikon D5300 just came on the market though, and for much less money I can now get a camera with very similar performance, which has a fold-out screen, built-in GPS, and shoots video at 1080p60. It's also significantly less money than the SD1. I guess I may not be getting a Sigma SD1 after all. I have wanted to get a Nikon like the D5300, because of the Tokina 10-17mm fishey, which is not made for the Sigma or Sony cameras. Now one exists, and I'm unlikely to want an SD1 if I have that thing.

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