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Sigma announces new Foveon DSLR


Sigma announces new Foveon DSLR

Hot on the heels of its new SD15 digital SLR (review coming soon), Sigma has announced the SD1, a new Foveon-based DSLR due for release early next year, with an early prototype displayed in a glass case on the company’s stand at Photokina. The SD1 has the potential to finally establish the Foveon X3 sensor as the real rival to conventional CMOS and CCD sensors that it has never quite managed to be so far.

The main criticism of previous Foveon-based cameras has been that while they excel at colour rendition, they lack the total resolution to compete with modern conventional sensors. However the completely new Foveon sensor in the SD1 should finally silence the critics, because it has an equivalent resolution of a massive 46 megapixels, in other words 4,800 x 3,200 pixels (15.36MP) in each of three layers. The sensor is APS-C size, with a crop factor of 1.5x.

Other details available so far include an 11-point AF system with two centre cross-type sensors, a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 460k dot resolution, and dimensions of 145.5 x 112.5 x 80mm, although the weight is as yet unknown, as is the exact launch date and likely price.


September 23, 2010, 5:02 am

Good Lord that is an ugly camera. As much as I like competition in a market place, I can't help but imagine that Sigma ain't gonna shift too many of these! As a photographer, why anyone with an informed opinion would voluntarily buy a Sigma Body over anything similarly priced from Canon or Nikon, is beyond me. ('Quirky' people and employees with a discount card aside)


September 23, 2010, 5:12 pm

@lifethroughalens - I'm not so sure. From what I've read the Foveon sensor has the potential to produce some very impressive results. I'm going to reserve judgement until I see the reviews.


September 23, 2010, 5:16 pm

"equivalent resolution of a massive 46 megapixels, in other words 4,800 x 3,200 pixels (15.36MP) in each of three layers" - that may amount to 46 million individual sensor elements but surely the "equivalent" resolution is still only 15.36MP, not 46MP, as you need the corresponding cell in all three layers to make up a single coloured pixel, much as a 15MP colour CMOS sensor has 45M individual sensor elements - 1 red, 1 green and 1 blue for each coloured pixel; it's just that the sensing technology is different and the CMOS sensor is in a single layer.


September 23, 2010, 7:18 pm

do I see a circular sensor?


September 24, 2010, 2:21 am

@ John McLean - If it gets anywhere near to the Canon 5D MK2, now 2 years since release, i'd still be, 'so what'? What this market sector needs more than anything is a higher dynamic range and better on-chip signal to noise management for cleaner higher ISO images. Although, personally i'm perfectly happy with the way things are right now, shooting with a combo of 5DMK2 and 1D MK3's.

Sigma make decent enough glass, but I must admit that I don't know of any professionals who use anything other than Canon or Nikon bodies, and Sigma lenses are always second best to real deal, with a few exceptional exceptions which match Canon & Nikon's finest. I suppose if Sigma stop supporting Canon and Nikon body mounts and release a range of bodies, including pro gear, then this would make sense, in a twisted way. I suppose they are more in competition with Sony than the big boys.

Tony Walker

September 24, 2010, 3:34 am

@John McLean

You are incorrect about CMOS sensors. I believe they typically use the Bayer layout of pixels in that a 4 pixel camera would have 1 red, 1 blue and 2 green pixels. A 12MP camera would have a GRGB grid comprising 25% red pixels, 25% blue and 50% green.

The Foveon chip does indeed have a 45MP input as it senses 15MP in 3 layers. The on camera processing then turns this into a 15MP output, though I understand some of the extra data is retained in the Sigma (cum Foveon) RAW format.

I've had 2 Sigma Foveon-based DSLRs. An SD9 which was great for its time, and an SD14 which whilst the camera was excellent, had a very flawed sensor.


September 24, 2010, 11:16 pm

@lifethroughalens: Spot on. Pros (and semi-pro amateurs) will never move on from Canikon. Sony's betting that there's huge potential in trying to expand the DSLR market and appeal to hobby photographers (such as yours truly) and those who're outgrowing point-and-shoots - and who have absolutely no pretensions to semi-professionalhood. Sigma is betting that Sony's right, and that there's room for them in that market. If I weren't wedded to the Minolta mount (and hence Sony) due to a collection of legacy lenses, I'd definitely be looking at Foveon with great interest.

Martin Daler

September 27, 2010, 10:54 am

@charea86 I think that what you see there is not the sensor but rather a dust shield in front of the sensor. I seem to remember the previous Sigma had this. Any dust settles on the shield, not the sensor which is effectively sealed in behind, so the dust is well out of focus and does not show up.

Cliff Smith

October 22, 2010, 3:42 pm

charea86 - No, that's a glass cover and IR filter mounted in front of the sensor and mirror. It's sealed to prevent dust getting inside when the lens is changed. All the previous Sigma digital SLRs have had this feature.

Josef Salon

October 29, 2010, 12:27 pm

Just scrap the whole Foveon concept, what is it good for if you can use only ISO 100, 200 as an emergency...Hey maybe you can learn from Fujifilm X100, I am buying this camera! Shame on you Sigma, what the heck you're doing there? I am not working right now, do you need someone to tell you what to do? I am ready!! Josef

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