Sigma Corporation announced today a rebranding of its flagship DSLR camera, renaming the SD1 as the Sigma SD1 Merrill. The minimum suggested retail price will also drop more than 66 percent, knocking the premium sticker price of $9,700 down to $3,300 with a street price of $2,299.
This is huge news for casual and professional photographers alike since the SD1 was still found on major online retailers for $6,899 as of this morning. The Sigma SD1 started out as a 15-megapixel DSLR, but with three layers of its tiny Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor, the camera is capable of a whopping 46-megapixel resolution. The sensor is also unique in its ability to capture pixels in full color. Each snap records primary colors red, blue and green light values within each pixel location at the same time. The result is an overall richer, more vivid and color-accurate photos, which enhances the three-dimensional impression specific to Foveon sensors.
The new official name of Sigma SD1 Merrill is a nod to the late co-creator of the Foveon X3 sensor, Richard “Dick” Merrill, who passed away in 2008. Sigma continued to say the price slash is thanks to new manufacturing methods which greatly reduced production costs.
“We could not solve issues related to some of the manufacturing methods before the start of mass production, and the production cost ended up substantially exceeding our originally expected price. As a result, we had no choice but to set the price of the Sigma SD1 high,” said Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation. “Since then, overcoming this situation has become the first priority for us and Foveon, and we have together made improvements to reduce production cost substantially … Although some of the manufacturing methods have been enhanced, the performance and characteristics of the sensor itself have not changed. “
With the new price drop, you’d be hard pressed to find other medium-format cameras as powerful for that amount of money. The anticipated Nikon D800, a full-frame DSLR, has an MSRP of $2,999 and still only manages to come up to 36.3 megapixels. What if you’re one of the SD1 owners who forked nearly $7k before the price cut? Sigma said it will provide a “support program” for current users who will be awarded credits to use toward future Sigma product purchases until the end of the year.
The announcements also do not end there. In a separate press release today, Sigma promised upgrades to the DP1 and DP2 compact rangefinders, adding the almighty 45-megapixel Foveon chip to the guts and renaming the models to add Merrill in their names. The main difference between the DP models is the lens focal length, with the DP1 Merrill featuring a wide-angle lens and the DP2 offering a more standard lens that is equivalent to 45mm lens on a 35mm camera. The inclusion of the Foveon chip will undoubtedly make the cameras more powerful than ever, though prices and availability information on these DP models are currently unspecified.