Sigma SD1 Price & Availability Announced

May 20, 2011 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital SLR Cameras | 11 Comments | |
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Sigma has announced the availability and pricing of the Sigma SD1 digital SLR camera, whose first prototypes were shown at the Photokina trade show held last autumn. Featuring a new, 15x3-megapixel Foveon x3 sensor and a splash-proof body, the Sigma SD1 provides “high-end photographers with an alternative to very expensive medium-format cameras and digital backs”, the company says. The imaging chip has approximately 15.3 million photosites and three vertically stacked colour filters for a resolution that is claimed to equal that of an imaginary 46-megapixel Bayer sensor. In addition to the resolution hike, sensor size has also increased from 20.7x13.8mm in the SD15 and its predecessors to 23.5x15.7mm in the current model.  The Sigma SD1 features a 3” rear screen with a resolution of 460,000 dots and an autofocus system with 11 shifted twin cross type AF points. Available from June, the Sigma SD1 will sell for an MSRP of $9,700.00 in the USA. The UK price is £6,199.99 including VAT.

Sigma UK Press Release

SD1 Digital SLR Camera

The quality of a medium format, the convenience of an SLR

46 megapixel 24×16mm APS-C sensor
Lightweight yet solid magnesium alloy body
Weather-resistant O-ring sealing connections
Dual ‘TRUE II’ image processing engines
11 Point Twin Cross AF Sensor
Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd is pleased to announce that the suggested retail price of the new SD1 flagship digital SLR is £6,199.99 including VAT (£5,166.66 excluding VAT). This new camera, offering unrivalled image quality amongst digital SLRs, will be available in the UK in June.

The SIGMA SD1 is Sigma’s flagship digital SLR model, adopting a lightweight yet solid magnesium alloy for its body and O-ring sealing connections to make Sigma’s splash proof design throughout for use in harsh conditions.

The SIGMA SD1 incorporates a 23.5×15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor and dual “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engines. The combination of the 46 megapixel (4,800×3,200×3 layers) sensor and dual TRUE II processing engines ensure the high resolution images are processed quickly with high definition and a smooth and subtle graduation of colour.

SD1 Special site:

Product Summary

46 megapixel 23.5×15.7mm APS-C X3 Full-colour image sensor
The 46 effective megapixel (4,800×3,200×3 layers) and 44 recording megapixel (4,704×3,136×3 layers) 23.5×15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor featured in the Sigma SD1 captures all primary RGB colours at each and every pixel location, ensuring the capture of full and complete colour. Using three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked vertically to take advantage of silicon’s ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths, it efficiently reproduces colour more accurately, and offers sharper resolution, pixel for pixel, than any conventional image sensor. Since colour moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required, meaning light and colour, generated by the 46 megapixel APS-C X3 direct image sensor is captured with a three-dimensional feel.

Dual TRUE II image processing engine
The SD1 incorporates a dual “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engine which improves the processing speed and overall quality of the final image. The unique image-processing algorithm provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with richly graduated tones.  In addition, the SD1 is Sigma’s first camera to allow simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording. 

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

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

Intuitive user interface
The improved user interface provides faster and more convenient operation. Aperture and shutter speed can be set by their own dials. The 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. To display the QS menu, simply press the QS button. QS menu 1 is for ISO setting, flash mode, metering mode and AF mode; QS menu 2 offers white balance, image quality, image size and colour mode.

Magnesium body
The Sigma SD1 adopts a lightweight yet solid magnesium alloy body designed to withstand rough use and shocks in harsh conditions.

Splash proof design
Buttons and connections benefit from O-ring sealing connections to prevent dust and water getting inside the camera body.

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

The SD1 features four metering modes
The SD1 features 77-segment Evaluative Metering, Centre Weighted Average Metering, Centre Area Metering and Spot Metering. Exposure can be manually adjusted to suit your needs. 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).

11 point twin cross sensor
The autofocus system features an 11 point twin cross sensor. The shifted twin cross type sensor improves AF accuracy.

77-segment AE sensor for accurate exposure
The SD1 features a new 77-segment AE sensor using advanced AE algorithms to improve exposure accuracy. Exact control coordinated with the 11 AF points 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 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.

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.

Two-motor system prevents vibration
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.

ISO100 – 6400. Noiseless image processing
ISO sensitivity can be selected from 100 to 6400. The SD1 captures light effectively and ensures noiseless image processing. The image sensor provides high definition with rich, graduated tones.

Large, highly visible 3.0” TFT colour LCD Monitor
The SD1 camera features a 3.0 inch TFT colour monitor. This 460,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to check focusing and composition.

Built-in flash with 17mm angle of coverage
The Sigma SD1 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.

SIGMA Photo Pro5.0?Supplied
The supplied image processing software, SIGMA Photo Pro 5, converts RAW data quickly and easily and describes full data of 460,000 pixel resolution. A renewed interface design provides functional and convenient operation. Sigma PhotoPro allows easy operation, simply by moving a slider from left to right while looking at the particular image you took, you can get a photographic expression just as you like.  In addition, other functions such as Loupe, Slideshow, Print, Covert to JPEG file and Batch White Balance settings are incorporated into this software.

Sigma Corporation of America Press Release

Sigma Corporation of America to Ship SD1 Camera in Early June

46-megapixel DSLR creates new market for medium-format photographers

RONKONKOMA, N.Y.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Sigma Corporation of America, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world’s most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, is pleased to announce that its flagship DSLR, the Sigma SD1, will be available for purchase for the MSRP of $9,700 in early June.

This 46-megapixel DSLR is delivered in a splash-proof, easy-to-handle build that is similar to that of a classic 35mm camera. Professional and high-end enthusiast photographers will utilize the SD1’s exclusive Foveon 23.5x15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor to capture exceptionally rich and detailed images that have a film-like quality. Users will also benefit from Sigma’s wide selection of interchangeable lenses that are compatible with the SD1.

“The SD1 will carve out a new category in the marketplace by providing high-end photographers with an alternative to very expensive medium-format cameras and digital backs, while offering unrivaled image quality,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “By embracing the SD1, serious photographers will also be able to take advantage of Sigma’s extensive lineup of affordable lenses, which are compatible with this new camera. The selections of lenses for medium-format cameras on the market are somewhat limited, so this will be a huge advantage for SD1 users. This is undoubtedly a very special camera, and we’re thrilled to share it with the photo community.”

In addition to the 23.5x15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor, the Sigma SD1 features dual “Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine (TRUE) II” image processing engines, which improves processing speed, provides high resolution power and produces high-definition images with richly graduated tones. It also allows simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording, which is a first for Sigma cameras. Additionally, the photographer has the option to select full-size, half-size or quarter-size RAW files making it a more versatile camera for a wide range of photographers. The Foveon sensor uses three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked vertically to take advantage of silicon’s ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths. This technology efficiently reproduces color more accurately and offers sharper resolution, pixel for pixel, than any conventional image sensor. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required.

The optical format of the Foveon sensor has been upgraded from that which was used in previous SD cameras, and has increased from 1.7x focal length to the 1.5x focal length multiplier. The SD1 also benefits from improved image processing and noise reduction algorithms, with an ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 6400. This is two full stops more sensitivity than the SD15, which has a maximum 1600 ISO. An intuitive user interface and an impressive lightweight, yet solid magnesium alloy body and O-ring sealing connections that make the camera durable and splash proof are also key feature upgrades of the flagship SD1.

The SD1 adopts the TYPE 1 Compact Flash Card, and is UDMA-compatible enabling fast processing of large amounts of data. The autofocus system features an 11-point shifted twin cross type sensor, which improves AF accuracy. The SD1 features a 3.0 inch TFT color monitor. This 460,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to check focusing and composition. The SD1 can be used with more than 40 Sigma SA mount lenses such as ultra-wide, ultra-telephoto, macro and fisheye.

Sigma’s image processing software, Photo Pro 5.0, comes bundled with the camera and its simple operation allows quick and easy capture of the desired imaged. Additional functions such as Loupe, Slideshow, Print, Convert to JPEG file and Batch White Balance settings are also incorporated into this software.

The Sigma SD1 will be available for the MSRP of $9,700 through select authorized Sigma dealers. For information about Sigma Corporation of America, visit For more information about the Sigma SD1 DSLR, visit or view the camera’s special page at

About Sigma Corporation
For 50 years, Sigma Corporation’s expertise and innovation has driven the company’s core philosophy of “knowledge, plus experience, plus imagination,” with an emphasis 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 50 lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers, including Sigma, Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus 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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11 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Peter Schinzler

I think this price is a good marketing joke – everybody is now talking about this crazy company in almost every forum. That`s advertising ;-)

1:59 pm - Friday, May 20, 2011

#2 Chris H

It may be good. It may be brilliant. It may be what the world has been waiting for but they are going to have to do a damn good job at persuading folk to part with that kind of money. Particularly if the body will only take Sigma fit lenses so we have to buy new lenses as well. Bonkers!

3:32 pm - Friday, May 20, 2011

#3 dana

Sigma fans are luckily not as annoying as Ricoh aficionados when it comes to justifying why they overpay so massively; but its still been fun seeing people try to justify a 1.5x crop SLR for 10k. Foveon X3 is a cool technology, but it is not worth the gains. No one wants to see there resolution cut in by pixelation like its 2002, not to mention the tradeoff in low light.

11:36 pm - Friday, May 20, 2011

#4 Orkut Scraps

Unbelievable price. :S

7:54 am - Saturday, May 21, 2011

#5 NigelR

@Chris H -- you've said it all. I was going to buy one, but I'm going to buy a 5DMkII instead, now. I'll stick to my DP1 (£230!) for my Foveon shooting fun.

11:16 am - Saturday, May 21, 2011

#6 Pag

I love my Sigma DP1, the look of the pictures coming from a Foveon sensor are amazing. I was even considering purchasing a SD1 if the price was competitive with the price of a Canon 7D, as Sigma officials had claimed. No way I'm buying anything at $10K though.

3:39 pm - Saturday, May 21, 2011

#7 Hans Benndorf

I wonder what they are smoking @ Sigma Headquarters. 10 grand
for a 'middle of the road' camera without 'live view' and a crop
sensor with lousy lens support. Even if the sensor delivers good
image quality, the rest of the camera cannot compete with anything
half that asking price. What a delirious bunch of losers!

11:49 am - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#8 1 Snap Music!

They must be smoking the finest weed around over at Sigma headquarters! ;)-~

I'll wait until I see some examples pix, in all fairness though, before I continue on with the jokes. :D

6:21 pm - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#9 rob

Hans, you are completely right. They must be smoking something really good, because they lost the touch with reality quite a few years ago. They are trying to sell their fantasy to the public which has not been an easy task even when they had more competitive prices with their previous dSLRs. Now, they fantasize again about the image quality competing with medium format. And they are always so dead-serious about their "superiority"...

Sigma folks! Wake up. You ain't Leica. Even Leica can't dream about a commercial success. And they make the best equipment in the world. But you are tailing far behind everybody else in this game. Reality check is in order! You make the wonderful technology of Foveon a DEAD-END technology.

12:18 am - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#10 alan smithie

It's quite simple, really.

When it was about a grand (UK) I was going to buy one.

Now I won't.

Rolls-Royce had no competition and were established. Therefore they could charge whatever they wanted.

Sigma have, and are not (beyond enthusiasts). So they can charge whatever they want.

And will probably never make another camera again.

8:23 pm - Sunday, June 12, 2011

#11 Arany

It is available from, either without a lens for under $6800 or as one of 3 kits for well under $8K - but evidently no dealer has yet discovered how to order it.

I ordered it from on 6/21/11, and the SD1 kit is on its way even as we speak. Expected arrival in California is tomorrow, 6/23/11 in the p.m.

1:13 am - Friday, June 24, 2011