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.”

Read more of the review

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.

Specs

Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Sensor
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
Image stabilization No
Uncompressed format RAW
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • 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
Storage types Compact Flash (Type I, UDMA compatible)
Storage included None
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI No
Physical
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

Reviews

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
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Connectivity
Value
Tried & Tested
Tried & Tested
71 %
Overall Score

The SD1 is a no-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 ...

    Continue Reading

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Questions & Answers

QUESTION

Sigma SD1 Merrill and DPx Merrill sensor/technology differences if any?

Hello everyone, I am a proud owner of a Sigma DP1 Merrill camera, and have been very happy with it. It can take some really nice picture, when the light is ideal. I use my full frame cameras and the detail and color of Sigma still impresses me. So much so that I was thinking of getting the SD1 Merrill camera and maybe get a Sigma 24-105mm lens for it so it can be more flexible as sometimes the fixed 28mm of DP1M is not enough. What I wanted to know is if there is any differences between SD1 Merrill and DPx Merrill cameras other than one has interchangeable lens capability and the other one has fixed lens and compact form? Is there any usability or sensor architecture difference that I should know about? is ISO performance the same too? Many thanks everyone.

mfahim27753 asked
3 months ago

ANSWERS

Complete, unadulterated horse manure. Consider the engineering challenge of putting the same technology in the SD1M into the DPxM. Consider the not trivial issue of heat dissipation, something that had to be dealt with since the first DP1 prototypes. With a smidgen of technical imagination, you can figure out how retained heat could produce a more noisy imager if it got hot. Now, consider how difficult it would be to translate your nonsense above into reality. Somehow, you have to dumb-down the production line to lower the quality? Then you have to ramp it up to increase quality? Or is it first the bad and then the good? Except that the SD1 was out long before the DPxM. So you have all of these workers selecting the bad ones for one later device? What are your quality standards for top sensors? Less-than-top-but-not-trash sensors? And so on. Take your spirit out for a walk to clean some cobwebs out of the brain cells. Continue Reading

Laurence Matson answered
3 months ago

their cmos are made in same producing line but NOT same quality. the best cmos were usec on sd1m and others on dpm. so you will notice that dpm has much more noise than sd1m. sigma corp has to develop the dpq to reduce noises without improving manufacturing process. Continue Reading

spiritwalker888 answered
3 months ago

They are both the same Foveon sensors. The DP#M's have excellent glass. The SD1M will benefit from excellent glass too. ΣigmaTog Continue Reading

SigmaTog answered
3 months ago

QUESTION

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 ;-)

1 year ago

ANSWERS

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

1 year 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

1 year 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
1 year ago

QUESTION

$1k for SD1M or DP2Q

Hi, I just want to have people's opinion on an $1,000 budget at this timing, whether it's better to go for a used SD1M (the ones from Japan are so cheap!) or a new DP2Q. Thanks. I have been a DP2S user for three years and really love the Foveon color and image quality. I acquired a SD14 and three basic SA lenses (50mm/2.8, 10-20mm, 18-200mm) in April, and had some pleasing shots so far this summer. Now I'm ready for trying out a newer generation. I've been reading all the reviews and comparisons between the M and Q generation, and they are really, just different, not comparable, in many ways. To me the biggest advantage of getting the SD1M is the ability of shooting ultra wide with the 10-20mm I already have. As for DP2Q, it might bring me back to the days with just a smaller camera to carry around (even though it's significantly bigger than DP2S). Any opinion appreciated!

frankwwt asked
3 months ago

ANSWERS

This is the part where I have to admit that I've never used a DP camera.  I don't know if I'd like it.  I did try a SOny A7 but did not like the smaller form factor.  I prefer a DSLR and I love the image quality of the SD1M.  I bought one from Japan with the 17-50mm EX DC OS lens as the kit lens.  No seller in the USA could touch the price.  I might add that my copy of the 17-50mm lens is really sharp. Continue Reading

3 months ago

If I were you I would consider the SD1 M. The Quattro would be much faster, but you're used to the SD14, and since you can handle the slow operational speed, I think you would prefer the SD1, especially if you already have so many lenses. You can always get a Quattro in the future, and then you'll have a nice back-up body. Your SD14 will be a back-up body, but you won't want to go to it, unless you absolutely HAVE to. The SD1 will be a camera you actually might use with your WA lens, which shooting other stuff with your Quattro body. I'm looking 1 to 2 years into the future here. Continue Reading

Scottelly answered
3 months ago

I vote for the DP1M.  :-D Continue Reading

manaskarekar answered
3 months ago
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