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Sigma SD1 Merrill review

Now a fraction of its original price, but is a revolutionary sensor enough?

Our Verdict

For

  • Excellent IQ at low ISOs
  • Images contain bags of detail
  • Robust build

Against

  • Frustratingly slow write times
  • Noise at high ISO
  • No live view or video
  • Sigma raw software slow

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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The Sigma SD1 Merrill features seven colour modes - we used the Landscape setting in the shots above to accentuate the blues and greens.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Processing Sigma Merrill SD1 raw files in Sigma Photo Pro 5.2 is a slow experience, and the controls on offer are a little limited. It's worth persevering, though, because the results have the potential to be much richer and more dynamic than JPEGs produced in the camera. Here, we added a touch of X3 Fill Light - it's best to use this subtly, since otherwise it produces an effect close to overcooked HDR.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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As with other Sigma DSLRs, the SD1 Merrill features a removable dust protector that sits just behind the lens mount. It's generally an effective 'first defense' against sensor dust, although we noticed the blob you see here too late for our first batch of test shots…

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Using the Auto White Balance resulted in an image that was initially much too cool, but switching to the Daylight preset yielded a colour balance that reflected the scene much more accurately.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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We selected the Landscape Colour Mode in Sigma Photo Pro software to boost the blues and greens here. The Sigma SD1 Merrill comes with seven preset Colour Modes, including Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Black and White.

Oddly, you can't select the Black and White option (or the Sepia one) when you're shooting raw files or raw+JPEG. This means you won't get a monochrome preview on the rear screen. Even more oddly, Black and White is listed under the White Balance options in Sigma Photo Pro.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Due to the darker conditions here, we had to shoot with a wide aperture at ISO 800. ISO 400 is about the limit for clean files out of the Sigma SD1 Merrill. This isn't a camera for handheld shooting in low light, but keep to the 'sensible' end of the sensitivity range and it's hard to be disappointed.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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We found that the battery life indicator on the Sigma SD1 Merrill wasn't entirely reliable - something to be wary of when shooting longer exposures. We managed to get around a day's worth of shooting from a single charge (disappointing, but workable with a spare).

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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Exposure compensation can be applied in 1/3 steps from -3 to +3 EV on the Sigma SD1 Merrill. We needed to open up 2/3 of a stop to bring back the brightness to this overcast scene.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

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The Sigma SD1 Merrill's 3-inch TFT LCD screen offers a 460,000-dot resolution for reviewing shots. This would have been considered very good a few years ago, but cameras such as the Canon EOS 7D are pushing over 921,000 dots these days. The playback information screen is a bit cramped too, particularly the RGB histogram, which can be difficult to judge accurately.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
TouchscreenNo
Effective Camera Resolution46 Megapixel
GPSNo
USBYes
Image StabilizationNo
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameSigma
DurabilityWeather Proof, Splash Proof
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)700 g
Maximum Image Resolution4704 x 3136
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution48 Megapixel
HDMINo
Camera AssemblyBody Only
Battery Model SupportedBP-21
Memory Card SupportedCompactFlash (CF) Card
Height113.5 mm
Width145.5 mm
Depth80 mm
Autofocus Points11
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW, TIFF
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSigma Corporation
Product ModelSD1
Product NameSD1 Merrill Digital SLR Camera
Manufacturer Part NumberC26900
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com
Marketing Information

This truly groundbreaking digital SLR camera incorporates a 46 megapixel (4,800x3,200x3 layers) 24x16mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor. The SD1 is Sigma's flagship digital SLR model housed in a solid magnesium alloy body making it extremely lightweight with an overall nice feel and pleasant handling. The splash proof feature protects the camera from the effects of harsh weather conditions. Incorporating a 24x16mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor, dual "TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II" image processing engines and the 46 megapixel sensor ensures that high resolution images are processed quickly with high definition and a smooth and subtle graduation of color delivering an image size of approximately 35/45 mp in raw/tiff files. This latest technology meets the strictest standards and requirements of professionals and enthusiast photographers for all types of photography.

Display Resolution460000 Pixel