Talk about Depreciation. Sigma $6800 SD1 (Merrill) now available for $2299

Talk about Depreciation. Sigma $6800 SD1 (Merrill) now available for $2299

Wow. I remember when Sigma announced the SD1 which was to be their flagship DSLR, and coming in at $9700, well, that was too much for almost anyone to swallow. We had a sigma DSLR whose retail price was set at $9700. Almost $10,000. $1700 more than a Leica M9-P. The reality though is that it sold in stores for a measly $6800, so not as bad as $9700. The claim to fame was and is its 4000X3200 pixel 3 layer 46 Megapixel image sensor which still used the same Sigma trickery from their early days, meaning, this was not in reality a 46 MP sensor in the way that me and you relate to megapixels. The quality of the Foveon sensor is superb, yes. Sigma has always been known for amazing sensors with awesome bold colors and per pixel sharpness that rivaled most cameras. The only problem here is that this is Sigma. They are not Nikon, Canon or Leica so coming out with a $9700 camera with a street price of $6800, well, they probably sold a few.

After cameras NOT moving off of the shelves Sigma decided to make a bold move and lower the street price to $2299. Yep, $2299. They have renamed it to the SD1 Merrill in honor of the co creator of the Foveon sensor, Richard Merrill. Imagine if you bought this camera at full price the day it came out which was around a year ago. Now here you are with a camera that has depreciated like mad, a camera that has awful low light quality (starts banding at ISO 800) and a camera that is painfully slow to operate and work with. That would suck.

Sigma has now announced they will help out those who bought one of these SD1’s at full price with the following statement and plan, so if you bought one prior to Feb 23 2012, be sure and sign up for it so you get your points.

The SD1 Merrill is available now at $2299. 


Program compensates current SD1 owners for price reduction with additional photography gear

Ronkonkoma, NY, Feb. 23, 2012 — Sigma Corporation of America today announced the SD1 Point Support Program, which is designed to compensate loyal SD1 users who purchased the 46-megapixel DSLR camera at its original price, prior to the price reduction that was announced Feb. 8.

Each SD1 owner who registers and qualifies for the SD1 Point Support Program prior to May 31, 2012 will be given a total of 40 points to be redeemed for new Sigma products. Eligible products are allocated points toward this system based on the product’s market price as of Feb. 8, 2012. A list of products and point designations will be supplied to SD1 owners once registration is complete.

To register for the SD1 Point Support Program, SD1 owners who purchased the camera before Feb. 23, 2012 at the price of $6,899 should contact their nearest Sigma subsidiary or distributor for more information. It does not matter if the camera was originally purchased in another country.

Sigma SD1 owners in the United States may contact Sigma Corporation of America Marketing Director Christine Moossmann starting on Monday, Feb. 27 by emailing or by calling (631) 227-2017. SD1 Merrill users are not eligible for the SD1 Point Support Program. For information about the program or to register, contact Christine Moossmann at or by calling (631) 227-2017. Visit Sigma Corporation of America on the web at


  1. I do think that Sigma deserves to be congratulated for being so brave about putting this design of sensor on the market. their situation is a bit like the one of the MF sensors; these are not as yet a high-volume product, and that is reflected in the prices charged. Those who are willing to use MF, pretty well have had to also put up with low ISO figues and slow image-processing times, for the sake of the image quality they deliver, and presumably, will also be willing to make the same compromises when buying into this camera. New design configurations have to put up with the same issue. I see that Pentax’s new MF camera is dramatically lower priced than other cameras of that format … presumably, they think that they will be able to shift enough of these to enable them to reduce the price as much as they have, because of much higher levels of sales expected. That again, is a brave move on their part … I just hope the number of units they sell, is as great as they are hoping it will be, thereby justifying them selling those cameras for less than other MF cameras. Time will tell!

  2. I think the Foveon has really something going for it, however concerning its implementation you’re in for a systematic letdown by Sigma. IMO the company still has to get a lot of things right before having a killer product out there.

    Dor the SD1 :
    – I can understand that they keep the system closed, only to be used with Sigma glass, it’s somewhat normal.
    – However what I do not get is how they have the ambition to make this a ‘pro-quality’ product and then keeping the sensor size down to APS-C. This doesn’t make sense from a technical/performance point of view but also I can’t imagine anyone investing money in a APS-C lens-lineup as the format, specially for ‘pro’ applications is really on its way out. It’s just so similar to what Nikon attempted with their FFX format 10 years ago, with everybody needing to shell out for FF laters.

    So, I would actually buy one if it was FF, but not with current APS-C.

  3. I don’ think it is Depreciation.

    The camera is worth approx 2K and is now available for 2k.

    I would also like to praise Sigma for providing support to the people who bought it for 9K. Leica would not do that. Nikon and Canon certainly would not.

    There are a few people out there who love the Sigma look and are were prepared to pay 9K for it. Wow. Personally I cannot do that but honestly, I think if Sigma were wise enough to take a gamble and launch the SD1 for 2K to begin with, they would sell truck loads of this camera and make some money out of it.
    But they were pessimistic and did not think they could sell enough at a reasonable price so they priced it like a Leica.

    But its not a Leica.

    Sigma should sack the person who decided that this camera should be sold by 9K. Sure you have a nice sensor.

    But 9K????

    To be able to sell a camera for 9K, it better be a medium format Full Frame Foevon Sensor, and able to take Mamiya or Hasselblad lenses Or Heck, design your own. Then Sigma will be taken seriously.

  4. Sigma have acted very well ,..leica conned a lot of people with the M8,first by not admitting to the IR problems and then by stating that it was impossible to have a full frame sensor in the M chasis and then out it comes,no compensation offered….the Japanese showing the germans how to behave.

  5. Hope the same thing will go for the magic better than Notilux lens from some manufacture, then I’ll be in for a treat!

  6. I’ve used Sigma, and other digital cameras, before defecting to 100% film, but if I was to return to digital, I’d choose Sigma, the results are outstanding if you treat the sensor with care. If you want to rattle off frames at 6400, this isn’t the camera for you. If you don’t mind the limitations, the results are stunning, great colour, no bayer fuzziness, sharp right down to the pixel.

    It’s not for everyone, a lot of things aren’t. $2299 for an SD1 is bargain, I don’t think anything else comes close in terms of resolution for the money.

    Luminous Landscape has a decent review, comparing output to an M9, with the Sigma, in my opinion having a slight edge, and the Sigma costs less than half the M9.

  7. What surprises me is that Sigma could lower the price to $2200. Just through better efficiency in production this would not be feasible. That means that the original price was heavily inflated right from the beginning just because they claimed 46 megaixels and moved it closer to medium format. I think it was a bad try to bump up the value of the camera and to try to push the image of the Sigma brand. In the end it is a good sign that consumers are educated enough to look beyond the claims and to force companies like Sigma to do a reality check. Still, trying to sell a $2200 camera for almost $10k should be a crime. Ahh, how much to Leica’s cost? But here the brass alone is worth $5k. D!RK

    • Obviously Sigma was charging a lot more than the cost to build, but there are development costs that must be recouped. For a low-volume product like the SD-1, those costs split per unit of sale, will be rather a lot.

      Sigma do claim 46 megapixels, but that is the same claim as other camera makers. By Nikon’s or Canon’s maths, the SD-1 *is* 46 megapixels. By actual reality, the definition of what a pixel is, Sigma is wrong, and so are Leica, Sony, Panaasonic, Olympus, Nikon, and Canon.

  8. A small correction to the article. It refers to “trickery” by Sigma to bump up their megapixel count, in reality it’s *every other* sensor/digital camera maker doing this. A pixel represents the smallest definable area of the screen/sensor. This means that a pixel contains all colour information for that area, in Bayer sensors, used on everything except Sigma gear, a “pixel” does not contain all the colour information, and does not meet the common definition of a pixel as defined in computing.

    So, Sigma’s megapixel count is based on almost exactly the same principle as everybody else, the only difference is that they were honest about it at first, realised that the market did not understand what a pixel was, and had to start using the same rules as everybody else.

    All that said, the SD1 was remarkably expensive, and perhaps they’ll get more sales at this price.

  9. Hopefully Sigma isn’t going to make the same mistake with the DP1 Merill and DP2 Merill. They can be interesting cameras, but they should have the right price. Maybe then they can get a slice of the X100 market share. It looks they have addressed all the issues the previous models had (slow AF, slow write speeds, low resolution screen, button layout). Even if the low light qualities aren’t up to par, in normal daylight nothing beats these cameras. Period.

  10. Is there a way of using Leica M lenses with this via an adapter? Floweon sensor is famous for its low light performance and I’d love to use my Noctilux with it.

    • unfortunately not; there is a way to covert the mount to take leica R lenses, not M … i have the sd-1 and my m lenses and i only wish they could work together!
      the foveon sensor with leica glass should produce the most spectacular images possible!

      • Thanks stefano.. I also asked Novoflex and they don’t have an adapter. Do you know why its not possible? Is it the Flange Focal Distance of M mount lenses (27.8mm as opposed to 47mm of R mount) making it not physically achievable?

        I have a DP2x and seen what the Foveon sensor can do. I wish Sigma made a compact camera with interchangeable lenses so that Leica glass could be used on them. But Sigma seems to ignore that same people who would buy X1Pro or Nex7 could easily be a part of their customer base with a cult following.

        • correct, unfortunately the flange distance is too far apart and it is not feasible … it is a shame!

          i have a dp2 as well (had a dp1 before, as well as an sd10), and i absolutely love the quality of the images that come out of that little camera!

          i think their theory when they first developed the dp series was that, in order to optimize the quality of the image, the best possible solution was to build a fixed lens, specific to that sensor, which is what they did … they did not want to compromise on quality.

          i absolutely agree that a small dp with interchangeable lenses (AND viewfinder!), would run circles around most of the other small cameras out today!

          i am getting moderately optimistic now that i see sigma developing lenses for the M4/3 … MAYBE they are working on their new mirrorless wonder camera as we speak … we can always hope, right?

          actually, my dream was that leica bought the foveon business and used the sensor in a new camera built like a modern CL, compact, M mount, amazing quality!

  11. Eh, too late or not at least Sigma finally did the right thing. A more prideful company would have kept the price sky high all while releasing fictitious sales numbers.

  12. the sd1 is still over priced ….to many choices for less money are available from canon,nikon,pentax ,sony,olympus ,i think sigma’s pricing on there cameras is way to hi ,especially considering the market place ….the sd1 should go for $1,350 – $1,499 with a kit lens !

    • Hmmm, 16MP on a APS-C sensor? Can you say, “noise”? The fact that the XPro-1 doesn’t have a built-in flash and a rushed design says that Fuji was not trying to make a camera with the DNA of the X100 but better. Fuji “seems” to have rushed out product to ride the coat tails of the X100. Sure, I will keep an open mind, since no reviews are out yet, but my crystal ball says the XPro-1 won’t be as great as the pre-production chatter.

      • That’s funny. The D7000, K-5, and NEX-5n all have 16 MP sensors, yet they have the best noise handling of any APS-C camera ever produced. Also, people have already received their Fuji cameras (mainly businessmen who were lucky enough to have flown to Japan recently), and the example images and reports of the production cameras are nothing short of astounding. Fuji knew that they weren’t going to be taking over the market, but they’ve carved out their niche, and people know what they’re getting in to and love the product.

    • So news about a Sigma camera have you worried about a Fuji product? If you own a Ford car, should you have been worried during the Toyota unintended acceleration news? It’s wholly unrelated, stop being a worry wart. Instead, look at Fuji’s past interchangeable lens cameras, like the S2, S3, and S5, and see how they are still commanding unprecedented prices on the used market. If you worry though, just cancel your order. More suckers out of the line just means a better chance for me to get it!

  13. While I was never interested in the SD1—I’m unbelievably excited about the upcoming DP1 and DP2-Merrill. So long as they fix some of the operational issues and don’t price themselves out of the market, they look like the upcoming compacts to beat.

  14. Hello,

    yes, more or less Sigma Lenses. You need more than 40 Lenses for the SD-1 Merrill? There is a very new Adapter for Nikon Lenses. Look at Sigma DP-Review Forum. There are M42 and T2 Adapter. If you like Medium-Format Lenses, try an Adaper by Novoflex for Mamiya, Hasselblad, Pentax, and Pentacon-Six (Carl Zeiss Jena) Lenses. The limit in my photography is not the gear – its the fear.

    All the best.

  15. I feel badly for those who purchased this camera at full price but the buyer needs to bear some of the responsibility. There are just too many amazing cameras out there at a reasonable price for me to even consider buying a Sigma. It just goes to show that there are enough contrarians out there who will pay any amount of money to have a different camera than the other guy. I know everyone bashes Nikon and Canon but there’s a reason working pros rely on these two companies to put food on their tables.

  16. I think the images I have seen from the SD1 looked great and very detailed, but what a big mistake by Sigma to think they could get away with setting the price at almost $10.000 for an APS-C camera.

    It is of course a Foveon sensor, but still it is not that much better than newer sensors with a Bayer filter which has evolved a lot and ISO capability is not a strong point for the Foveon either.

    So all in all the new price is a lot more realistic, but maybe it is too late for Sigma now?

    • only time will tell, i think they might actually recover pretty well, between the sd1 merrill and the 2 new dp with the same sensor

      i ordered the sd1m the moment they brought the price down to a reasonable level, got it last week, it is a great camera that complements well my rangefinders with M glass and the little dp2.

      i only wish people stopped the nonsense argument over the pixel count. one should just know what he is talking about, then there is no point discussing it. it is not trickery, just different technology.

      it is all moot anyway, the images speak for themselves.

  17. I’m glad that Sigma is being more realistic on pricing this camera, the original price was “off the mark”.

    “Early Adopter”- been there, done that. If the cost of waiting is higher than the cost of the product, you spend the money and don’t look back.

  18. The review at Lumionous Landscape was outstanding. It looks like a great camera. I won’t be getting one, but it is getting close to being a good deal.

    • No sigma camera over 300 dollars is any good. And at over grand most ppl would rather buy a used canon mark 3 instead. heck, id rather buy the original 1d for 400 instead of this POS Sigma camera.

  19. been a sigma owner for going on 3 years, i the right situations the sigma camera produce images to die for, so if i was a pro (which im not), i wouldn’t have had problems shelling out the cash previously

  20. Sorry…but I cannot feel sorry for anyone who dropped the $6800 on the Sd-1. Those guys knew what they were buying, including the limitations of the system (only Sigma lenses…ugh!). I think this is a good show of faith by Sigma, but I doubt there were enough people who bought an SD-1 at full price to really effect them now…in other words, who cares if they pissed off the 10 or 12 people who were stupid enough to pay the $6800.

    • It’s funny that you’re downplaying Sigma lenses on Steve Huff’s website. Sigma has the capability to produce amazing glass that can rival the OEMs in regards to optical performance. Their biggest problem is quality control, as their lenses are often miscalibrated compared to OEM lenses, although this is really a shortcoming of phase detect autofocus as much as it is Sigma’s fault. Heck, I just talked to a guy that had to send his camera along with his 24mm back to Nikon to be calibrated. For a $2,000 lens on a who-knows-how-expensive camera, there is no excuse for that necessity, but here we are.

      So, you deride Sigma lenses (show me a Nikon or Canon lens that can compete with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8, or show me that you can consistently differentiate images made between a Canon or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and a Sigma one, or a Nikon or Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 and a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8?) How about the SLRMagic lenses that Steve is always ranting about? Those are merely C-mount lenses with built-in mount adapters and double the price.

      • i have to agree; if one wants to be a snob about a lens or camera maker who doesn’t belong to the closed circle of the ‘great names’ , then he should be consistent.
        if sigma, which as a brilliant track record of years and year of delivery excellent product, cannot be trusted to make a camera or a lens up to the standard of nikon or canon, why should a newcomer with no name be celebrated as the best thing appeared on this planet in the last century??

    • I would imagine many people buying the SD-1 are using it professionally, so it’s not really about resale, it’s about buying tools for their job. Some will earn that money back in the first couple of weeks or months. I think it’s probably a bit different to those of us buying Leica gear, who are mainly hobbyists, and we do need to keep an eye on prices.

  21. I never even realized there was such a thing as “SD1 owner”. I’m sure compensating them (even when all 10 of them respond) won’t be all that much of a financial burden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.