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Sigma SD1 Merrill

Sigma SD1 Merrill Front View
Sigma SD1 Merrill Front View
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  • 46 Megapixel  Foveon X3 image sensor
  • Splash proof magnesium alloy body design
  • True II Image processing engine
  • 3.0' TFT color LCD Monitor
  • ISO100 - 6400
  • Built-in flash with 17mm angle of coverage
Sigma SD1 Merrill Front View
Sigma SD1 Merrill Top view
Sigma SD1 Merrill Left side view
Sigma SD1 Merrill Right side view
Sigma SD1 Merrill Rear View
Sigma SD1 Merrill with built in pop up flash
Sigma SD1 Merrill bith built in flash right view
Sigma SD1 Merrill lens mount
Sigma SD1 Merrill with battery grip
Sigma SD1 Merrill battery grip
Sigma SD1 Merrill lens mount
Sigma SD1 Merrill ports
Sigma SD1 Merrill body


Description by Sigma:

Impeccable image quality. Cutting-edge technology. Our flagship camera has it all Preserving once-in-a-lifetime moments

Photographs can preserve special moments and breathtaking scenery for eternity.
They can also let us express feelings and share ideas.
At Sigma we consider the capture system to be the key factor in photographic performance. After all, photography is meant to reflect truth, and cameras are tools to take photographs. Pursuing the goal of photographic perfection is a matter of creating the ultimate capture system.
Some may say that digital imaging technology has already reached maturity and that further innovation will be insignificant. We, however, beg to differ.

Delivering truly high image quality
When it comes to the capture system at the heart of photography, most digital cameras are treading the same well-worn path, using technology that has hardly changed since digital photography's infancy.
In contrast, Sigma is taking a completely different tack, developing direct-image sensor technology to achieve true progress in the key areas of the capture system and image generation.
Sigma is also the only camera maker committed to perfecting Foveon X3® direct image sensor technology. This full color capture system uses three layers of photodiodes vertically aligned to capture all three primary RGB colors of light at each photosite.
We take this approach because we believe in focusing on innovation that can make a real difference in the quality of photographs.

Pioneering the camera's future with the SIGMA SD1
Ever since its inception, the Foveon X3® direct image sensor has earned a unique reputation for its three-dimensional ambience. The SIGMA SD1 marked another milestone in this dimension of "emotional image quality," producing photographs mesmerizing in their lifelike presence.
Its larger sensor size has triple the pixel count of its predecessor. With the increased resolution of so many more pixels added to the capture system's intrinsically rich image quality, the result is amazingly nuanced gradation and color fidelity.
Such astonishing image quality makes conventional digital cameras pale by comparison. It also clearly indicates the direction Sigma is heading in pursuit of photographic excellence and the ideal camera.

A flagship that puts Sigma's principles into practice
It may look like a standard SLR, but its images have the detail and clarity you might expect from a medium-format film camera. Their vibrant, richly textured realism awakens the desire to take creative photographs.
The good news is that the SD1 Merrill has all the impeccable imaging performance and build- quality of the SD1.
Achieving mass production of such a camera that we could endorse without reservation was no easy task. But when you hold the SD1 Merrill in your hands you will understand why it was worth it.

The sensor was designed in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of semiconductor innovation. The camera is made entirely in-house by Sigma in Japan. This combination of cutting-edge technology and a proud tradition of precision artisanship has produced a creative tool destined to inspire the artistic soul of every serious photographer.
The eye-opening impact of this camera's image quality is the result of an uncompromising devotion to principles and a passion for excellence.
Now it is our pleasure to be able to make such quality available to more photographers than ever before. Our humble hope is that using the SD1 Merrill will stimulate your creative impulse in a way no other camera can.

Astonishing 46MP resolution. Breathtaking gradation and rich color fidelity

Sigma SD1 Merrill foveon-sensorDo mega pixels matter?
Today's digital cameras have already reached impressive pixel counts. The figures seem sufficient to generate high-resolution images, and even to withstand scrutiny in enlarged prints. A plausible case is often made that the mega-pixel wars are meaningless because digital cameras already have enough pixels.
The claim gains further support from an understanding that resolution is not determined by pixel count alone. In a photograph, resolution also depends on interactions among many other factors, including lens characteristics, low-pass filter response, noise reduction, and processing of contrast and sharpness parameters. By itself, elevating the pixel count doesn't necessarily lead to an appreciable improvement in picture quality.
Consider the 14MP direct image sensor used in the Sigma SD15 and Sigma DP1/DP2. Despite having a nominal 4.6 million figure for the number of pixel locations, this sensor produces images that are widely recognized as having excellent resolution.

Where resolution and realism meet
Still, Sigma thinks raising the pixel count is desirable and necessary to achieve the most natural image rendition. In digital cameras, the limit of resolution is determined by pixel pitch. When a certain level of detail (spatial frequency) is exceeded in a target object, the camera suddenly loses all ability to resolve it. This phenomenon is one reason why photos that include fine detail can end up looking unnatural.
As an example, say you are shooting a landscape with grass in the foreground and mountains in the background. The thin, closely spaced blades of grass are resolved correctly by the sensor in some areas, but exceed the limit of resolution in others. On the other hand, the ridges and surfaces of the mountains in the distance have a low enough spatial frequency to be resolved correctly throughout. In other words, the foreground would appear partially blurred against a consistently sharp distant background. A human observer would register the opposite: sharply defined blades of grass nearby, and hazy mountains in the distance.
This limit of resolution, which can be at odds with the human visual system, may be an unavoidable fact of physics. But Sigma believes innovation can make the problem so imperceptible that we can realistically pursue and achieve more natural image depiction. If so, we can look forward to being able to shoot images that are minimally affected by enlargement, and that retain a three-dimensional ambience even when viewed in small formats.
Further pursuit of high resolution is worthwhile not to win the pixel wars, and not even to make large- format prints. Rather, Sigma believes it is needed to achieve more natural photographic results.

30MP equivalent  "emotional image quality"
The 46MP direct image sensor of the SD1 Merrill is a breakthrough that triples the 14MP resolution of the sensor used in previous generations of Sigma cameras, while retaining the "emotional image quality" that is unique to a full-color capture system. We enlarged the sensor to APS-C size (1.5x focal length equivalent), while narrowing pixel pitch, thereby dramatically raising the pixel count to 46MP (4,800 x 3,200 x 3).
The luminance resolution of this sensor is, in fact, equivalent to that of a 30MP CFA sensor as measured on the standard B&W resolution chart used in conventional digital camera resolution testing.
With outstanding chrominance resolution that is free of low-pass filtering and color interpolation, Sigma takes a bold leap closer to the ideal, further enhancing the advantages of a direct image sensor. In terms of technology and image quality, this represents a significant advance.
Here at last is an image sensor for all who have ever dreamed of a digital camera breakthrough that can deliver the ultimate in image quality.

Not another monochrome sensor with color filters
The image sensor in almost all digital cameras, with the exception of Sigma's, is a color filter array (CFA) sensor. The image sensor itself is monochrome; it detects light intensity, but not color. The CFA overlaying the sensor's light-sensitive photodiodes is a mosaic of red, green and blue (RGB) filters in a checkerboard- like grid. Therefore, each photosite, corresponding to a single pixel, receives just one of the three primary colors.
In this kind of system, a 15MP CFA sensor allots 7,500,000 pixels to green light and 3,750,000 each to red and blue light, respectively. Left as is, this checkerboard pattern would create a strange image, so a process called color interpolation is used to blend in neighboring pixel color information. For example, a green pixel gets color information from adjacent blue and red pixels, and so on.

CFA sensor relies on eye's sensitivity to green
Why does a CFA sensor assign twice as many pixels to green as to red or blue? Because the eye is most sensitive to green light (figure 1). Human vision depends mostly on wavelengths in the green range to perceive fine detail and luminance resolution.
The four charts on figure 2 all have the same contrast. Notice how the green background lets you detect fine detail more easily. Most digital cameras take advantage of this fact of human vision. By capturing relatively more green information, they can get by with much less blue and red information. Thanks to this clever solution, a mere monochrome image sensor can be used to deliver color images of high quality.
So, what's the problem? Though it is true that our eyes are most sensitive to green luminance (sharpness and contrast) information, we also see blue and red chrominance (color) information. But the unequal treatment afforded these colors by a CFA sensor causes a disparity between the luminance resolution and chrominance resolution of the photographic images it generates.

Unique, innovative direct image sensor
Unlike CFA sensors, the image sensor in Sigma digital cameras uses three layers of photodiodes to gather the entire red, green and blue color information of light, forming the world's one and only full color capture system. Since introducing its first-generation digital camera in 2002, Sigma has maintained an unwavering commitment to this unique technology.
The image sensor is made of silicon. When struck by light, silicon absorbs shorter wavelengths (blue) near its surface and longer wavelengths (green, then red) at deeper levels. The direct image sensor takes advantage of this fact, using three layers of photodiodes to capture all colors of light at each pixel location.

All pixels capture full RGB color
This means that a direct image sensor having 15,000,000 pixel locations is
An image capture system you can believe in. Now, more than ever able to capture full red, green and blue color information, as is, at each pixel location. In other words, all 15,000,000 pixel locations can respond to all three primary RGB colors transmitted by the lens. There is no need to assign red, green and blue to separate pixel locations, nor is it necessary to fabricate or eliminate color information during image processing. This full color capture system is, in principle, capable of providing equally high luminance resolution and chrominance resolution.
Since typical photographic subjects do contain an enormous amount of color information, Sigma is convinced that removing any discrepancy between luminance resolution and chrominance resolution is an important key to photographic naturalism.

Unencumbered by a low-pass filter
Another thing: color filter arrays are prone to false color patterns (moire). This problem is caused by interference between repeating patterns of fine lines in the subject and the mosaic pattern of the color filter array itself. Moire is typically prevented by installing a low- pass filter in front of the image sensor.
A low-pass filter works by removing the higher frequencies of light that carry fine detail. This does prevent interference and, therefore moire.
But it also adversely affects resolution and image sharpness. Facing this tradeoff, some cameras use CFA sensors without a low-pass filter, accepting the inevitable color moire patterns as the price to pay for a sharper image.
Sigma's direct image sensor design doesn't use color filters, so it doesn't need a low-pass filter to prevent the false colors of moire. The direct image sensor captures the sharp image formed by the lens without losing any information. As a leading lens maker with uncompromising standards of photographic image quality, Sigma believes the ideal capture system is one that receives full color information at each and every pixel location.

Pure color and light: nothing added, nothing lost
Sigma SD1 Merrill  foveon sensor technology.png
In CFA sensor-equipped digital cameras, only one color is captured per pixel location. Color
interpolation is required to generate a full color image from these single-color pixels. Over the past decades, color interpolation algorithms have greatly improved, so that interpolation errors are rarely a cause for concern in today's digital cameras.
Nevertheless, light information lost in the capture process can never be perfectly reconstructed. This standard approach cannot fulfill the promise of truly natural images. In sharp contrast, Sigma's direct image sensor has no use for color interpolation and doesn't suffer from its associated problems.
Sigma's technology generates naturally faithful color images without needing to add information. This is why the ambience of the scene is so vividly captured in photos taken with a Sigma digital camera. This reflects Sigma's policy of protecting the integrity of image information — keeping the image pure.

About the generation-name "Merrill"
The Foveon X3® direct image sensor uses technology originally developed by the late Dick Merrill (1949-2008), a brilliant engineer and talented photographer. This revolutionary image capture system reflects both the artistic and technological sides of Merrill’s personality.
As an expression of Sigma's passion for photography and in honor of Dick Merrill's genius, we have named the latest generation of the Foveon X3® direct image sensor the Foveon Merrill.

Dedicated Dual TRUE II image processing engine
Sigma SD1 Merrill  Dual TRUE II image processing engine A dual configuration of Sigma's renowned TRUE* II image processing engine powers the SD1 Merrill, bringing out the full potential of information captured by the full color sensor.
Using Sigma's latest re-optimized proprietary algorithm, the Dual TRUE II processes vast volumes of data at blazing speed, generating crisp, high-definition images, scrupulously rendered with immersive spatial realism and profuse color detail. For extra convenience, both RAW data and JPEG data can be recorded simultaneously while shooting. * TRUE: Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine

Magnesium body
The SD1 Merrill features magnesium alloy-clad body construction.
This rigid, tough yet lightweight body securely protects the interior from shock and electromagnetic interference, while adding strength and durability to withstand challenging conditions. 

Weather and dust resistance 
Controls and joints are sealed to block dust and moisture from entering the card slot, battery room and other parts of the camera interior. This enhances reliability
in harsh professional usage situations.

ISO100 - 6400;
Noiseless image processing The SD1 Merrill captures light effectively
and ensures noiseless image processing. The image sensor provides high definition with rich, graduated tones.

Focal Plane shutter
The durable focal plane shutter mechanism has a life cycle of over 100,000 exposures
and dramatically reduces generation of dust. The photographer can enjoy taking pictures with confidence that the image sensor is clean and protected from dust or dirt originating inside or outside the camera.

Built-in flash with 17mm angle of coverage
The Sigma SD1 Merrill camera's built-in flash has a guide number of 11 to cover a 17mm lens angle (equivalent to 25.5mm with a 35mm camera). The built-in flash can be synchronized to a shutter speed of up to 1/180 sec. The S-TTL automatic exposure system enables control of advanced flash photography.


"There are a few underlying issues with the SD1 Merrill that we're disappointed with. The lack of live view was an issue when we were photographing the cars. We wanted a low angle but couldn't get our eye to the viewfinder comfortably and it shows. Live view would have helped us get the framing spot on.

We would love to see what the video capability of the new Foveon sensor is like but alas, the SD1 Merrill doesn't feature it. Our curiosity aside, more and more photographers, especially fashion photographers, are using video to bolster their

Post date: 11/12/2012 - 14:33


Image Sensor
Image Sensor Type : 
23.5 x 15.7mm (APS-C size) Foveon X3® direct image sensor (CMOS)
Effective Pixels: 
46.0 Megapixels
Total Pixels: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Intelligent Orientation Sensor: 
Filter Array: 
No Low Pass filter, Each pixel location capture all primary RGB colors with three layers
Sensor has dust removal: 
Sensor Dust Removal: 
The lens mount of the SD1 Merrill is equipped with a dust protector and the area around it is sealed to prevent dust from entering the body.
Even in the unlikely event of dust adhering to the image sensor, the dust protector can be removed easily for sensor cleaning.
Sensor Stabilization
Stabilization details: 
Image Processor
Image Processor Type : 
Dual TRUE II image processing engine
Lens Mount: 
Sigma SA mount
Focal Length details: 
Equivalent to approx 1.5x the focal length of the lens (for 35mm cameras)
Memory Card Type Details: 
Compact Flash (Type I, UDMA compatible)
Exposure Control
Metering Mode: 
77 segment Evaluative Metering,
Spot Metering,
Center Metering,
Center-Weighted Average Metering
Metering Range Details: 
EV 1 to 20 (50mm F1.4 ISO100)
Exposure Compensation Details: 
±3EV (in 1/3 steps)
Exposure Compensation Braketing: 
Three or Five frames (in 1/3 steps, Appropriate Exposure- Under Exposure- Over Exposure)
AE Lock: 
AE lock button is pressed or shutter release button is pressed halfway
Shutter Type : 
Electronically controlled focal plane shutter with life cycle of over 100,000 exposures
Shutter Speed: 
1/8000 – 30 sec. + bulb (up to 30 sec., with Extended Mode: 2min.)
Shooting Modes: 
(P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible),
(S) Shutter Speed Priority AE,
(A) Aperture Priority AE,
(M) Manual
Continuous Shooting Details: 
High: 5 frames/sec,
Medium: 6 frames/sec,
Low: 6 frames/sec

High: Max 7 frames, Medium: Max 14 frames, Low: Max 14 frames

ISO Sensitivity: 
SO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
White Balance
White Balance Settings: 
White Balance Personal: 
Focusing Type Details: 
TTL phase difference detection system
AF System Points: 
11 points
AF System Points Details: 
11 points twin cross sensor
AF Point Selection: 
Automatic Selection,
Manual Selection
AF Working Range Details: 
EV 0 to +18 (ISO100)
AF Modes: 
Single AF,
Continuous AF (with AF motion prediction function),
Predictive AF: 
AF lock : 
AF button is pressed or shutter release button is pressed halfway.
Manual Focus : 
AF Assist Beam : 
Orange Color AF Assist Light
Viewfinder Type Details: 
Pentaprism SLR viewfinder
Viewfinder Coverage Details: 
98% vertical, 98% horizontal
Viewfinder Magnification Details: 
0.95 x (50mm F1.4-infinity)
Viewfinder Eyepoint Details: 
Viewfinder Dioptre Correction : 
-3dpt to + 1.5dpt
Rear Screen Details: 
TFT color 3.0” LCD monitor
Resolution Details: 
approx.: 460,000
Tiltable Monitor: 
Tiltable Monitor Details: 
Flash Hotshoe: 
Built in Flash: 
Built in Flash Details: 
Manual Pop up Built-in Flash
Flash Modes: 
S-TTL Auto Flash
Flash Xsync: 
1/180 sec. or less
Flash compensation: 
±3EV(1/3 stop increments)
External Flash Wireless Sync: 
Guide Number: 
GN11 (17mm lens angle covered)
Media Types / Sizes
Image Sizes: 
High Approx 45 MB (4704x3136x3)
Medium Approx 24 MB (3264x2176x3)
Low Approx 12 MB (2336x1568x3)

Fine: Approx 10 MB (4704x3136)
Normal: Approx 5.6 MB (4704x3136)
Basic: Approx 4.3 MB (4704s3136)

Fine: Approx 5 MB (3264x2176)
Normal: Approx 2.7 MB (3264x2176)
Basic: Approx 2 MB (3264x2176)

Fine: Approx 2.5 MB (2336x1568)
Normal: Approx 1.4 MB (2336x1568)
Basic: Approx 1 MB (2336x1568)

Still Image Format: 
Lossless compression RAW data (12-bit, High, Medium, Low),
JPEG (High, Medium, Low)
Other Features
Firmware Update: 
Update possible by the User
Photo Effects: 
Standard, Vivid, Neutral,
Portrait, Landscape, B&W, Sepia
Menu Languages: 
Japanese, English, German, French,
Spanish, Italian, Chinese (Simplified),
Korean, Russian
EF-610 DG SUPER, <> EF-610 DG ST, <> EM-140DG
Battery Grip: 
Computer Interface: 
USB (USB2.0)
Sync terminal: 
Other Conection Interface: 
Video Out (NTSC/PAL)
Power Source
Power Source: 
Li-ion Battery Pack BP-21
AC Power: 
AC adapter SAC-4(optional)
Physical Specifications
Body Materials: 
Magnesium alloy
Weather Sealing Details: 
Splash proof
700g (without batteries and card)
0 - +40°C, 85% or lower Hunidity

Compatible Lenses

A notice Our vast database of lenses (currently standing at 600+ lenses) is currently being re-constructed. Estimated finishing date is sometime in June/July 2012. Bookmark us and check back again for the grand opening of the ultimate Lens database. The team


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Fixed Focal Length

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Compatible Flashes

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