Sigma SD1 Merrill DSLR Camera, Body Only

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71% Tried & Tested
The SD1 is, overall, quite straightforward to summarize - it's a camera that offers exceptional low ISO image quality in a competently-performing but quirky body.”

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Key Features

  • 46MP (4800 x 3200 x 3 layers) APS-C Foveon X3 direct image sensor (CMOS)
  • Sigma SA bayonet mount compatible lenses
  • Up to 6 FPS
  • 11 point AF system
  • Splash proof design blocks dust & water
  • 3 inch TFT LCD with 460,000 dots
  • ISO 100-6400
  • Compact Flash memory

Product Description

The Sigma SD1 digital SLR is a significant departure from previous SD-series DSLRs in that rather than being limited to 4MP or less, it uses a brand new 15.3MPx3 1.5x crop Foveon X3 sensor (4800 x 3200 x 3 layers). Designed as the company's flagship camera, the SD1 has a weatherproof magnesium alloy body, 3" 460k dot LCD, and new 11-point twin-cross AF system. Image processing is in the hands of a 'Dual True II' engine that promises improved speed and image quality, and the camera is compatible with the full range of Sigma lenses.

In February 2012 the 46-megapixel SD1 DSLR was rebranded and re-priced as the SD1 Merrill, in honor of Dick Merrill, inventor of the Foveon sensor technology on which it is based.


Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Max resolution 4800 x 3200
Effective pixels 15 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 46 megapixels
Sensor size APS-C (24 x 16 mm)
Sensor type CMOS (Foveon X3)
Processor Dual True II
Image stabilization No
Uncompressed format RAW
Optics & Focus
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Single
  • Continuous
Manual focus Yes
Lens mount Sigma SA Bayonet
Focal length multiplier 1.5×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 460,000
Touch screen No
Viewfinder type Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage 96%
Viewfinder magnification 0.95×
Photography features
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
External flash Yes (Hot-shoe)
Self-timer Yes
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Average
Videography features
Microphone None
Speaker None
Storage types Compact Flash (Type I, UDMA compatible)
Storage included None
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmentally sealed Yes (Weatherproof body)
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery & charger
Dimensions 146 x 113 x 80 mm (5.75 x 4.45 x 3.15)
Other features
GPS None


DPReview Conclusion

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category at the time of review.

Score Breakdown
Poor Excellent
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Tried & Tested
Tried & Tested
71 %
Overall Score

The SD1 is a non-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. High ISO image quality is unremarkable, and there's no live view for tripod shooting. It's a specialist tool, but if you can live with its limitations it's capable of excellent results.

Good For

Photographers looking for exceptional low ISO image quality, and willing to spend the time processing RAW to achieve it.

Not So Good For

Sports, action, or any kind or photography requiring high ISOs

User Reviews

  • Foveonforever, May 25, 2013 GMT:
    A REAL MAJOR REVOLUTION ! A new dimention of color's restitution

    In a first time excuse me for my bad english wrtitten... i'm a french old professionnal photographer and i used more than half of my career the argentic system...  When i used for the first time the numeric sensors  i had to see that the colors are not really precise when you compare them to the natural subtilities  of colors of skins, flowers, , differents of greens  for the grass for exemple.. : It's very important to understand how the standard bayer color capture is using.. , it's ...

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Questions & Answers


Need help with SPP 6.0.1 error "File I/O error occured. Please check hard disk or removable media."

Hello, I have problem with new SPP 6.0.0 and 6.0.1 I install the SPP 6... After i run it program is open but it give me an error message: "File I/O error occurred. Please check hard disk or removable media." And i can't browse any files from SPP interface Maybe somebody else have this problem and know how to solve it ? I DON'T have any HDD problems ! All other software work perfectly. SPP 5.5.3 work fine ! I insatlled Windows Update (KB2929755) as asked on SPP 6 setup instractions, before installing SPP 6 My operating system is: Windows 8.0 64 bit i7-2600K CPU 8 GB RAM My camera SD1 Merrill Thanks for any help !

Vlad Yusupov asked
1 month ago


Remove the SPP 6 installations. Redownload and try again. Continue Reading

PrebenR answered
1 month ago

I did it allready few times... Also cleaned all system folders and registry from Sigma stuff, but still no result :( Continue Reading

Vlad Yusupov answered
1 month ago


Can you hold the SD1 Merrill with 17-50 f:2.8 OS steady? Plus AF, battery, flash.

I am amazed of the quality I can get out of my recently acquired DP2M and DP3M and am considering springing for one of the SD1 with 17-50mm f:2.8 combos which is so very reasonably priced here in Euroland at the moment instead of adding a DP1M. Unfortunately there does not seem to be anywhere to try them out here in Brussels. Due to shaky hands I have decided not to use the DPxMs handheld but only on a tripod. So I am a bit concerned about my ability to use the SD1 handheld. 1) Has anybody out there experience with e.g. the DP2M as well as the SD1 with the 17-50 f:2.8 OS combo? I expect bracing the SD1 against your face helps at least a stop or so and then there is the OS. But how much does one actually gain in stops? 2) Reading these pages the SD1 AF's performance seems a little debated. Is it slower/same/faster than the DP2M/DP3M? 3) I understand that the battery life is incomparable to the DPxM's, but how many shots do you guys and gals normally get on a charge? 4) Has anyone ...

xpanded asked
7 months ago


Hi I have the DP2m and SD1 (and also the 17-50mm OS lens) With the DP2m i need 1/60 to 1/80 to be sure the image will be sharp. With the SD1 and 17-50mm (at 30mm) i can shoot at 1/10 to 1/15. So this is about 2-3 stops advantage. I don't have any focussing issues. It's fast an accurate, much faster than the DP2m. I like the 17-50 for people photography, holidays etc. but for landscapes and corner to corner sharpness, the DP2m is playing in another league. About battery life: With the DP2m i get maybe 50-70 shots. I'm not sure with the SD1...i guess it will be around 200, i seldom make so many pictures in one day. Once i only get about 90, but this were all long exposures on a tripod. So, i would say, the battery life is about 3 times better. Maceo Continue Reading

maceoQ answered
7 months ago

Although there  may be a difference with AF speed, I don't know that it is actually an issue or a show stopper.  You comments about landscape photography are the most important ones.  If you are a landscape photographer you will not like the corners on the 17-70, below 28 IMO. If I were the OP, I would opt for the 18-35 although AF accuracy may be an issue.  Pick up a DP3M for the 50mm focal length. For people, close-up, and other photography where edges do not play as important a role, I would opt for the 17-70 C.  More range. Not a fast (f2.8-4.0) but very good a f4 across the whole focal range.  Even passable at f2.8 and 17mm. Plus you could use the DOC with it if you had to. Mele Kalikimaka from the islands where it is sunny and 65F degrees at 8AM! Rick Continue Reading

rick decker answered
7 months ago

I have a SD1 (non-M) and I have the 17-50 F2.8 OS. I also have a DP2 (non-M). I think the SD1/17-50 is a monster compared to the DPx or DPxM. The camera bag alone is big as a man-purse, the SD1 body is a real handful, and the lens is the size of a soup can. It's bigger and heavier so you might have less trouble holding it steady; that's probably an advantage! I had high hopes for the 17-50 when I first heard about it, and ordered one immediately. Actual performance on the SD15 is stellar, but the SD1 sensor brings out all it's faults. However, it's pretty good at focal lengths above 24mm or so. If you are spoiled by the image quality of any DPxM, you might have to accomodate yourself to the 17-50. The SD1 has focus micro adjust, which really does help autofocus accuracy, but only at one combination of focal length, aperture, and distance. If you are not excessively critical about focus this would be enough for you. It bothers me however. So far as I know, the 17-50 is not yet ... Continue Reading

Tom Schum answered
7 months ago


Is the new RayFlash universal Ringflash adapter Sigma-compatible?

I'm wondering, whether I could use this newly introduced RayFlash universal Ringflash adapter on the Sigma DP3M (possibly also DP1/2M, and also an old DP-series-cam), when supposedly using it in combination with the Sigma EF 610 DG Super flash. Would it also likely work on the SD1(M) when the new 18-35mm 1.8-lens is attached, in combination with that same EF 610 DG Super flash? I just haven't any clue whatsoever, which is why I'd happy, if someone here (or wherever really...) could tell me or at least attempt taking an educated guess on this matter. Thank you so much in advance for your truly valued and assumedly helpful replies ;-)

11 months ago


I don't think there's any way to tell without trying, but it looks very promising.   I may see if I can fine one at a local photography shop and see how it fits. Continue Reading

11 months ago

Why?  The other one has adjustments to fit multiple flashes and bodies, the one you listed is specific to a Canon flash and a set of Canon bodies... Just looking at it I am almost certain it would not work on an SD-1 with an EF flash. Continue Reading

11 months ago

Thanks for the link, but this Amazon-thing looks nowhere near as refined and, if you like: high-end, as the original RayFlash. But thanks. Continue Reading

FoveonPureView answered
11 months ago
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