Sigma’s latest entry in its SD camera line is its flagship SD1, released inJune 2011. The successor to the SD15, the 46-megapixel SD1 presents a new option for full-frame digital SLR users and also for photographers who require the image quality of a traditional medium format camera.
Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president ofSigma Corporation of America, observes,“The SD1 has an easy-to-handle, weather sealed,magnesium alloy build similar to a classic 35mm camera — so it’s lighter and much more compact than a typical medium format camera. Thanks to the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor, the SD1 has superior,film-like image quality — extremely detailed and super-sharp. Finally, the SD1benefits from Sigma’s extensive lineup of lenses, which offers more options than those normally available to medium format cameras — and therefore, more opportunities to capture images at varying focal lengths with a greater array of visual effects.”
The Foveon X3 sensor is one of the camera’s biggest selling points. It incorporates three pixels (photo detectors) at every pixel location on the sensor, capturing all primary RGB colors at each location.Amir-Hamzeh explains, “Using three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors— stacked vertically to take advantage of the silicon’s ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different depths —enables the Foveon sensor to reproduce color more accurately, and offer sharper resolution per pixel location, than any conventional Bayer image sensor. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of an optical low-pass filter (‘blur filter’) is not required, meaning that light and color are captured with a three-dimensional feel.”
He adds, “The optical format of the Foveon sensor has been upgraded in the SD1 to a 23.5×15.7mm APS-C format, with three times the resolution of the SD15 and a focal length increase from 1.7x to 1.5x. The SD1 also houses a Dual TRUE II image processing engine, which improves the processing speed and overall image quality. Upgraded image processing and noise reduction algorithms provide an ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 6400 — two full stops more sensitivity than the SD15.”
The SD1 is intended for any professional photographer or photo enthusiast who shoots studio, wedding, landscape or underwater photography (underwater housing required). Photographers who specialize in engineering, medical and military photography will appreciate the incredible detail captured by the Foveon X3 sensor. In a first for Sigma cameras, the SD1 allows simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording, plus the option to select full-size, half-size or quarter-size RAW files.
With a street price of $6,889, the SD1 offers an alternative to more expensive medium format cameras. The camera can be used with over 40 Sigma SA mount lenses. Kits are available on the Sigma website (www.sigmaphoto.com) that combine the camera with various lens options: among them, the SD1 and the17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM; the SD1,the 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM and the70-200mm F2.8 EX DG HSM; the SD1 and the 30mm F1.4 EX DG HSM; and the SD1and the 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM.
120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM Lens
Amir-Hamzeh says, “This telephoto zoom is in a class by itself. Sigma is the only manufacturer to offer an optically stabilized zoom lens with this focal range and fast, constant F2.8 aperture. It can be considered both a super-sized 70-200 F2.8zoom and a 300mm F2.8 prime with a zoom ring — you can take the view all the way back to 120mm without having to physically move your location, which makes this lens ideal for sports and wildlife photographers.”
This lens is meant for use with fullframe digital SLRs, but it can also be used with smaller APS-C size sensors with a corresponding effective increase in focal length of approximately 180-450mm. OneSLD and two FLD glass elements, comparable in performance to fluorite glass,ensure maximum correction of chromatic aberrations, while the super multi-layer coating reduces flare and ghosting.
A weather-sealed design with O-ring connections protects the lens from dust and water spattering. Sigma’s OS system allows handheld photography in low light situations, and the Hyper Sonic Motor ensures quiet and high-speed autofocus with the option of full-time manual focus override.
This lens is currently available at an MSRP of $4,700.
Another lens that’s unique to the industry, the 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OSAPO HSM, is designed specifically for cameras with APS-C size image sensors. It performs on an APS-C camera much like the 70-200mm F2.8 performs on a full frame camera, with a similar reach in a lighter package.
Amir-Hamzeh points out, “The addition of the Optical Stabilizer (OS) in this second-generation lens is a bonus for this focal length. This lens is a great option for individuals who find that lenses with longer focal lengths and faster apertures are too heavy and difficult to carry. The120-300mm offers the long focal length while being extremely light and compact.”
The OS system allows the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible.Six SLD glass elements compensate for chromatic aberrations and provide high image quality throughout the zoom range. The super multi-layer coating reduces flare and ghosting, ensuring sharp, high-contrast images even at the maximum aperture.
The release of this lens was expected in summer 2011, with the exact date and pricing unavailable at press time. For updated information, visit www.sigmaphoto.com.
Sigma Corporation is the largest independentSLR lens manufacturer in the world, producing over 50 lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers —including Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax. In addition, Sigma digital SLRand compact cameras emphasize high performance technology at moderate prices. The company headquarters is inJapan, with offices throughout Europe,Asia and North America. For more product information, visit www.sigmaphoto.com, call (800) 896-6858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.