Sigma SD1 Merrill

February 8, 2012 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital SLR Cameras | Comment | |
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Sigma has renamed its flagship digital SLR camera to Sigma SD1 Merrill, in honour of Foveon’s founding father, Richard B. Merrill. The rebranding was initiated by Sigma’s new CEO, Kazuto Yamaki, who wrote “a personal letter to the company’s loyal customers” announcing the name change and a reduction of the camera’s MSRP to $3,300. Given the typically huge difference between Sigma’s suggested retail prices and the actual retail pricing of their products, this means you can realistically expect to be able to purchase the Sigma SD1 Merrill for about $2,300 - which is a massive price drop considering that the camera used to sell for about $6,900.

Sigma UK Press Release

SD1 Merrill digital SLR camera
Flagship digital SLR with 46 megapixel Foveon X3 sensor

The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the new SIGMA SD1 Merrill, the latest high resolution and high image quality digital SLR camera featuring a 46 megapixel (4800×3200×3 layers) FOVEON X3® direct image sensor.

The SIGMA SD1 Merrill is the flagship model which incorporates a full-colour FOVEON X3® direct image sensor. It adopts a lightweight yet solid magnesium alloy body along with buttons and connected parts sealed with O-rings, enhancing the durability as well as preventing dust and water from getting inside the camera. The Dual TRUE II processing engine and DDR III buffer ensure high speed processing of images without lowering the quality. The 46 megapixel (4800×3200×3 layers) sensor ensures outstanding resolution and natural rendering with rich gradation as well as a three-dimensional feel.

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 honour of Dick Merrill’s genius, we have named the latest generation of the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor the Foveon Merrill.

46 megapixel 23.5×15.7mm full-colour X3 Merrill sensor
The 23.5×15.7mm full-colour FOVEON X3® direct image sensor featured in the SIGMA SD1 Merrill, incorporates 46 effective megapixels (4,800×3,200×3 layers) and 44 recording megapixels (4,704×3,136×3 layers). The FOVEON X3® direct image sensor captures all primary RGB colours at each and every pixel location with 3 layers, ensuring the capture of full and complete colour.

Dual TRUE II image processing engine
The SIGMA SD1 Merrill incorporates a dual “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engine dedicated to the FOVEON X3® direct image sensor. This improves the processing speed and overall quality of the final image. By incorporating two TRUE II processors, Sigma’s unique image-processing algorithm provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with richly graduated tones as well as a three-dimensional feel.

Advanced DDR III buffer
To handle large volumes of colour data at high speed, the SD1 Merrill uses DDR III buffer memory technology which delivers class-leading performance. The SD1 Merrill features a continuous shooting speed of 5 frames per second and can capture up to 7 RAW images per sequence in continuous shooting mode.

Intuitive user interface
The improved user interface provides intuitive operation. Aperture and shutter speed can be changed by their own dials. The functions such as exposure compensation button and exposure mode button are on top of the body for quick access. A Quick Set (QS) menu lets you easily change commonly used functions

CF card
The SD1 adopts the TYPE I CF Card and is compatible with UDMA enabling fast processing of large amounts of data.

Magnesium body
The Sigma SD1 Merrill adopts a lightweight yet solid magnesium alloy body designed to withstand rough use and shocks in harsh conditions. Buttons and connected parts are sealed with O-rings to prevent dust and water from getting inside the camera body.

Two-motor system
Using a two-motor system with dedicated motors for mirror-drive and shutter charge reduces the vibration of mirror movement, thereby preventing camera shake. A mirror lock-up mechanism prevents further vibration when the shutter is released. Preventing camera shake is especially important for macro photography and when using ultra-telephoto lenses.

Pentarism viewfinder
The SD1 Merrill features a pentaprism viewfinder with 98% (vertical and horizontal) coverage, 0.95x magnification and an 18mm eye point. Dioptre adjustment is provided over a range of -3 to +1.5.

11 point twin cross sensor
The autofocus system features an 11 point twin cross sensor. The shifted twin cross type sensor improves AF accuracy. The AF point can be selected automatically or manually.

Four metering modes
The SD1 features 77-segment Evaluative Metering, Centre Weighted Average Metering, Centre Area Metering and Spot Metering. When difficult lighting conditions make appropriate exposure unclear, auto bracketing lets you take a sequence of shots of the same subject at three or five different exposure levels. Bracketing can be set in 1/3EV increments up to ±3EV(3levels) or ±1.7EV(5 levels). The 77-segment AE sensor is coordinated with the 11 AF points to achieves accurate exposure even in difficult lightning conditions.

Dust Protector
Most digital SLR cameras are vulnerable to dust entering the body. If dust and dirt adhere to the image sensor, it may appear in the photos. The lens mount of the SD1 Merrill is equipped with a dust protector and the area around 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.

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.

Large, highly visible 3.0” TFT colour LCD Monitor
The SD1 Merrill camera features a 3.0 inch TFT colour monitor which ensures a great visibility even outside in the daytime. This approximately 460,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to capture detail and to check focusing and composition.

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 on 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.

SIGMA Photo Pro
The supplied image processing software, “SIGMA Photo Pro”, converts RAW data quickly and easily. While looking at photographed images, it is possible to render desired photographic expression by moving the slider from side to side. It incorporates functions such as a loupe, exposure picker, print, JPEG conversion, and batch white balance settings.

The SD1 Merrill will be available in the UK in mid March.

Sigma Corporation of America Press Release

Sigma Corporation of America announces new name, pricing for flagship SD1 camera
DSLR takes Foveon technology creator’s name, undergoes manufacturing improvements to reduce price

Ronkonkoma, NY, Feb. 8, 2012 – In a personal letter to the company’s loyal customers, Sigma Corporation CEO Kazuto Yamaki today announced that, starting next month, Sigma’s 46-megapixel SD1 DSLR will be renamed the SD1 Merrill in honor Richard “Dick” Merrill, the late co-creator of the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor technology. The otherwise unchanged DSLR will also be sold at a lower price that reflects new efficiencies in the camera’s production.

The SD1 Merrill will be sold for approximately $3,300 MSRP in the United States.

Today Yamaki wrote:

To our valued customers,

We would like to express our appreciation for your loyal patronage of Sigma products.

Today, we announced our new digital single lens reflex camera, the Sigma SD1 Merrill. This product has the same features, performance, and specifications as the Sigma SD1, however, the price is substantially revised. We are gearing up for its release in March 2012, and the market price is expected to be approximately $3,300 MSRP.

At the time of its introduction, the Sigma SD1 was a revolutionary product incorporating a 46MP* direct image sensor which provided the highest resolution in a digital SLR camera. As the world’s only full-color sensor capturing all three primary color components (R, G, and B) within each pixel location, the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor made it possible for the image quality of SD1 to not only demonstrate improved resolution, but also to obtain richer expressions of gradation, as well as to enhance the three-dimensional impression which is specific to Foveon sensors. *Resolution equivalent to 30MP on a color filter array sensor

However, even with this revolutionary image sensor, we could not solve issues related to some of the manufacturing methods before the start of mass production, and the production cost ended up substantially exceeding our originally expected price. As a result, we had no choice but to set the price of the SigmaSD1 high. This caused great discouragement to all of you who looked forward to its release, and wished to experience the very unique image quality of the Sigma SD1 in person; this has become our biggest disappointment and pain.

Since then, overcoming this situation has become the first priority for us and Foveon, and we have together made improvements to reduce production cost substantially. Even though this effort took nearly a year, at last, we achieved a reduction target close to the price we originally planned. Therefore, we decided to release Sigma SD1 as a new product, and were able to make our recent announcement.

The Sigma SD1 Merrill keeps the best image quality of the Sigma SD1, which has a unique identity, but comes with a substantially revised price. Although some of the manufacturing methods have been enhanced, the performance and characteristics of the sensor itself have not changed. There is nothing more pleasurable for us than enabling our valued customers to experience the Sigma SD1 Merrill in person, as a digital SLR camera of a new era which inspires photographers’ inner artistic sensitivity, providing “high image quality” and changing current perceptions of what is possible.

On the other hand, we fully understand that it is not acceptable to current Sigma SD1 users that a new product with exactly the same specifications as their camera is being released with a substantially revised price a year later. After all, those customers committed to purchasing the Sigma SD1 with great expectations.

During this period, we have seriously considered how we can express our appreciation for our Sigma SD1 customers. Currently, we have a plan to offer a support program for current Sigma SD1 owners. This support program will provide points that can be exchanged for our products. This program is expected to be valid after the release of Sigma SD1 Merrill and it will last until the end of this year, 2012. It will be applicable for all Sigma products including both current and new products to be released this year. More details will be available soon; we appreciate your kind understanding as we finalize this program.

We would like to once again express our appreciation to current Sigma SD1 owners, and other customers who are looking forward to our next DSLR camera, for your loyal patronage to Sigma. We will continue doing our best with the aim to design and manufacture ideal photographic equipment that inspires the artistic hearts of photographers everywhere. We sincerely value your continued support.

Kazuto Yamaki
Chief Executive Officer


Sigma Corporation of America will soon contact current Sigma SD1 owners in the United States to discuss the support program and the redemption of points with the company as a result of this pricing change. In the meantime, SD1 owners in the United States may contact Director of Marketing Christine Moossmann by emailing with questions or concerns about this announcement.

To locate an authorized Sigma dealer nearest to you, visit For information about Sigma Corporation of America, visit

About Sigma Corporation
For more than 50 years, Sigma Corporation’s expertise and innovation has driven the company’s core philosophy of “knowledge, plus experience, plus imagination,”with anemphasis on producing high-quality, high-performance photographic technology at moderate prices. This family-owned organization is the largest, independent SLR lens manufacturer in the world, producing more than 40 lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers, including Sigma, Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax. Sigma Corporation also produces digital SLR cameras and high-definition digital compact cameras. The company is headquartered in Japan, with offices strategically located throughout Europe, Asia and North America. For information, please visit

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