« Counterfeit Memory | Main | Judgment Day »

Friday, 20 May 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

As my friend the almost-professional photographer is fond of saying: "Even if you buy that, Kirk Tuck will still take better pictures with his phone."

Mike, You never know about such things. If Michael Anthony shows up at you door with and envelope or a camera from John Beresford Tipton Jr. just accept it gracefully.

I thought I might like to try the new Sigma but I can't part with my car right now. There are no buses in the burbs.

Shouldn't this post be titled, "WTF No. 1290?" ;-)

Maybe they should call it the CindySherman-1 :)

My house needs a roof and my car is ten years old, with no possibility of replacement in sight. Guess I will have to stick with my Olympus E-510 (purchased upon Mike's recommendation) until our extreme "wealth disparity" ameliorates.

The rule of thumb is never to mention both a year and a quarter (or month) in the same project estimate. So...did they say early June of which year? :-)

"The rule of thumb is never to mention both a year and a quarter (or month) in the same project estimate. So...did they say early June of which year? :-)"

I actually considered commenting on that in the post. [g]


Sigma should line up Cindy Sherman for an endorsement deal.


"It will become the most expensive APS-C DSLR..."

And every bit as fugly as any other at any price...

It should be an amazing camera. But I guess it will require amazingly sharp and contrasty lenses and some kind of excelent shake reduction technologies or mandatory tripod use to to get the most out of a 15MP APS-C foveon sensor, isn't that correct?

I only know of Sigma as a manufacturer of lenses, so I can't comment on anything to do with the camera. But from a marketing perspective (which I know enough about to make a modest living), there's an immediate issue. $9,700 is "way too much" to just drop into a mature market for a third-tier manufacturer. Unless they have a highly developed viral campaign with cutting edge photographers about to burst a collective dam, and a parallel track of scientific proof that the SD1 is better than the Hubble Telescope, this thing is going to sink without trace at that price.

On a less sceptical note, what lens mount do Sigma use for their own cameras, or are the Sigmas available in Canon, Nikon, etc versions? Hopefully for Sigma, the latter. It's really a hard sell to expect people to not only pay Leica or Nikon D3X money for a new body, but to change lenses as well...

I have no intention of buying one of these. My D90 felt expensive.

But, the price isn't as ridiculous as some people think if this camera serves a special purpose nothing else does.

I *almost* bought a Demo 28mm/1.4 from Cameta in 2004 for 1025 dollars. Suckers are buying them off Ebay for 3500 dollars.

I bought a used 135mm/2.0 back in 2005 for 600 bucks. Suckers are paying 1500 dollars for these now. Back then, nobody wanted them.

How many people are buying price gouged Fuji X100s on Ebay for 2000 dollars (and all the Fuji X100 is a mid range APS-C DSLR in the body of a substandard Canonet 28).

What are Nikon 58mm/1.2 "Nocts" going for now.

So *I* personally wouldn't have a clue what to do with one of these (other than leave it on the subway).

Somebody might. The question is who?

FWIW, I think it's going to wind up like that old Contax full frame body they were selling in 2002.

They might make one or two.

I've never shot with a Sigma camera, and I've only read about the performance of their optics. It seems to me a tough sell for this camera insofar as they will be competing with the big names in IQ, but their lens options are not regarded as at the high end level, as I understand it.

One thought I've had re: Sigma's long use of a 4.7MP sensor (I think they've been at that res for 6+ years) was that they had manufactured the sensors in one batch (well, TI did, under contract) and it has taken them years to run through inventory, hence no new sensors for years. I don't recall any mention of sensor change since they went to 4.7MP.

I do wish them well, but I'm not in the target market for this camera, so it is an academic point for me.


Taking Sigma math into account (re: 70-200 f/2.8 OS), that means the SD1 should sitting on store shelves a year from now with a sticker price of $4,999.

As a former DP-1 (and briefly, DP-2) owner and present owner of a Contax 645/Phase One P30+ combo who photographs mostly in B&W these days, I confess that if the SD-1 delivers the image quailty expected of it, I could be tempted to buy one despite its $9,700 price. This is because the DP-1 and DP-2, despite their many (many, many) flaws, produced some of the most beautiful B&W images I've seen captured by a digital camera.

"Taking Sigma math into account (re: 70-200 f/2.8 OS), that means the SD1 should sitting on store shelves a year from now with a sticker price of $4,999."

Sigma have a history of pushing announcement prices double the street value of their products.
I agree with David on that one. Moreover, I think a year from now we'll be hitting these babies streetprice at ~2000. Sigma know they have a winner, but they are not there yet, in terms of pricing like it's Leicafest.
Anywho, anyone want to bet on the percentage of SD1s modified to different mounts (think Nikon, Canon). For a fact, Sigma glass is not able to handle such power of detail resolving.
Sigma may have real market winner in the sensor but pricing it will always be an issue for them as they will never be able to get to a considerable volume in manufacture. E.g. It's unlikely they will source the sensor to other camera manufacturers in a rather Sony manner. Even for the reason that without a sensor. there isnt't much reason to pick Sigma at all is there.
Still, if they manage to fit the 3-layer Foveon into a decent compact a-la x100 they have may just win a lot of hearts.

Bests all!

That's just mental. Even at half that price it would have to be an absolute "game changer" in terms of its image/file quality - and that's apart from the current financial climate, in which nearly everybody I know is suffering.

I was expecting a couple of grand, but this price is ludicrous. Who do they think they are, Leica?

It's a shame they're trying to price themselves out of the market, as I have a soft spot for the Foveon sensor since I got my DP1, and imagine that a higher resolution version would be absolutely marvellous,

I suspect after a while the price will drop A LOT.

I used a Sigma DP2 compact for a short time. It produced far the most BEAUTIFUL colour of any digital camera I have ever used but the files were too small to be truly useful (4.7mb in spite of what Sigma's marketing people say). The camera itself was also much too small, too light and felt very flimsy.

The SD1 would be extremely interesting at around 1/3 of the stated price.

If you do some division assuming typical markups, I figure the sensor is costing them about $2700. Yikes!

The thing that baffles me is the lens mount. If it had a Nikon (or Canon) mount, I can imagine people buying one to use with their existing lenses (which are certainly worth more than 10K, for any well-heeled, gear oriented hobbyist). There's plenty of wealthy folks out there who bought a d3x.

However, being limited to only Sigma lenses seems like a killer, price aside. Heck, even if you love Sigma lenses and already have a whole pile of them, you won't be able to use them with the SD1!

Hey a gear post! Fun for everyone!

Actually, I just finished reading Thom Hogan's market assessment, and he puts the 15/45 megapixel Sigma in contrast with the upcoming 24 megapixel Sony A77. About $10,000 vs. $1,000. This doesn't look good for Sigma. A single stitch brings you to 48 megapixels, (minus a little overlap), so who's the market? Fashion advertising? Landscape photographers who haven't gotten a 645D?

I spent a week using the A55, and if the A77 doesn't change the ergonomics/size/weight in any way, it's going to dominate. Just as a frame of reference, the A55 w/ 35mm f/2 is basically the size and heft of an Olympus E-520 with kit, a camera I carried daily for two years.* Yes, the A55's interface needs a little help, but it was 'good enough' that it didn't really matter. Plus that LCD screen was really pretty.

[This has been your weekly installment of "Lets you and them fight." Tune in next week for Pentax vs Sigma, or visit your local gear forum if you can't wait!]


*and decided was too big/heavy and replaced with an E-PL1 that was cheaper, lighter, smaller, sharper, with better quality AF.

From what I could see, the 645D sensor specs should knock spots off this thing for both number of megapixels[0] and quality thereof (huuuuge sensor, bring it on).

[0] I don't buy into this Foveon "*3" rubbish: have the honesty to say how many pixels the output images have and be done.

There may be other uses for the Sigma, of course - smaller, more portable, different lens availability - but I know where the £10k I don't have would like to be spent!

10 grand seems about right. Oh, I was thinking it was a full frame Foveon sensor. Never mind.
SWR is right, the old Contax N digital is an apt analogy for the future sales of this.

I rather prefer Kirk Tuck's take on all this.


Your headline was spot on, Mike.

As a user of Sigma dSLRs since the SD10 I had been convinced that the market price of the SD1 would be in the Canon 7D range, so the announced sticker price has not yet seen me rescued from my enforced horizontal position below the keyboard I'm typing this on.

Couple of probs with this announcement for Sigma, IMHO...

1. It's history, so far in their dSLR journey, has seen some monumental QC issues. Eg, ome of the Sigma faithful have even taken to remove the bottom body cover off the SD14 and install an earthing solution on the exposed circuitry to overcome issues in performance.

2. If this new flagship is truly aimed at MF photogs, that road has been paved by some very, very fine pioneering manufacturers and to my mind finding a niche in that market could be compared to the needle/haystack analogy.

But time will tell. As for me, I'll stick with my current Sigma gear although my eye is now firmly on a future residency in the Sony camp.

Three reasonable questions posed here...http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sigma_sd1___ready_for_prime_time.shtml

In about 2 years time, it will be cheaper to buy the company.

$10k for great resolution and crap color? Um, no.

ROTFLOMAO!! Hahahahaha! I'm sorry, did they say $300 shy of FIVE FIGURES?????? From a manufacturer known for making the junkiest of junky lenses?? I'm literally giggling as I read this... it's so ludicrous that I have to laugh!

I recall when Foveon hit the news with images that the reporters said were critically sharp in some kind of eight foot size. I didn't believe it then and don't know what to think now. I have a couple of Sigma lenses, good ones, but to think they would compete with medium format?
At least their claims are amusing. Maybe this is an entertainment company. The stand-up comics of camera manufacture.


I believe that was the title of my email to Mike pointing out this news... :-)

Having shot Foveon cameras since the SD10, I'm a huge fan (and also aware of their weaknesses). The general manager of Sigma USA stated at Photokina that this would be priced very competitively with a Canon 7D (apparently he forgot the term 'pallet of'). I believe I saw an interview with Kazuto Yamaki (COO) that indicated something similar. That's where a lot of the anger is coming from the current user base.

I was praying for $1500. I would have been all in at $2000. Probably would have talked myself into it for $2500. But this? Wow.

I hope it's a great camera and they sell a ton of them, because I really love these sensors and want to see them continue in the marketplace. But I won't be buying until they come down to my price range...

I must say, I'm shocked. I've never owned a Foveon based camera, but I've followed them over the years, and $3K would have been a shocking sticker price. $10K is unreal!

$10,000? You want to be seen with a Leica, D3x or a Sigma? Tell the truth.

I've already got a camera...

Cheers! Jay

What I want to know is for that money, why isn't there bright red lipstick around the mounting ring?

Yes. I mean what you think I mean.

$9,700 is a good figure. It gets people's attention.

Too bad sensors, cameras and processing can't be bought separately in the APS-C world. Alas, I miss the film days. All it cost to try out a new 'sensor' (such as E100VS) was ten bucks.

As the world's ending today anyway, I assume that Sigma thought what the hell, let's think of a number and add a nought.

Ditto the rapturist who bought the Cindy.

WHAT???? A 460,000 LCD? No thanks :-)

Hmzzzz, still short of what I would need! A lot even.......but hey, I need 160 lines/mm in a 76 x 56 mm Velvia dia.....a whopping 12000 x 9000 pixels or 108 Mp....so WTF 1301-ish: why don't they put the Fovean Technology in a 76 x 56 sensor.....doing the math 24 x 18 of APS-C sensor and if they reach 30 Mp (or more) on that kind of surface area.....(76 x 56/24 x 18) x 30 = a whopping 300 Mp sensor. Now that would be getting me somewhere......but for 30 Mp, nope no 10.000 dollars for me.....a full frame with 60 Mp would be nice to. So a 30 Mp (or 46 Mp as Sigma claims) APS-C sensor outpunches a Velvia film mm per mm. But wait a minute......my picture file is still only 4800 x 3200 pixels wide. But that would mean that it undermines the old FAP digital print rule, stating 300dpi as the lower limit for FAP......should this mean that you get the same result from this baby at 150 dpi.....thus allowing for a A1 print from a 15,3 Mp camera (eh file)....that would be the lithmus test for me......same shot agaist a true (or better old fashioned) 46 Mp camera or digital back and print the Sigma shot at increasing DPI numbers untill it meets the sharpness of the 300 dpi shot....in theory that should lie somewhere between 150 and 200 dpi.....

Greetings, Ed

Greetings, Ed

The thing that I keep wondering is "How many sensors did they manage actually to make?".

As the expected price when anounced was in the 7D market area, they must have expected to have a similar yield (or a little lower)to normal APS-C sensors. Perhaps they have a few hundred good sensors and know that each new one is going to cost $5000 to produce (1 per wafer?) until they can improve the process.

I cannot see any other reason for the price - get a few sales from rich geeks and continue working on the manufacturing process. Hopefully it is fixed soon enough that they can bring out a X100 crushing DP3 for $2500 before the market moves on to a totally new technology.

Andrew from Addis

if you want greater photos than sigma go and buy fullframe camera.. dof is beatifull and nikon ad canon has enought pixels. To crop. You dont need crappy sd1 because you can buy 5d mk II + 85mm+35MM+200MM L obtics and you have still cheaper budget to make allaround situations compared to sd1 whit kit crappy lens

Hi Mike
It seems Sigma might have nade a mistake as they are listing kits such as the camera + the ($1400) 85mm 1.4 for a lot less than $9700.

I already have a camera too. But... Like Tuck says, what if...

The SD10 has resolving power (arguably) in the range of 8MP for bayer sensors. The noise of the SD10 is in the range of APS-C cameras of the 8MP vintage, which means not much in the way of high ISO performance. by today's standards. The dynamic range for SD10 is also in the range of 8MP APS-C.

So what we will probably get is 30MP resolution with average contemporary noise and dynamic range. That's a far cry from medium format because of the dynamic range. And it's a far cry from the D7000 (best in class today) because of price, and probably noise and dynamic range as well.

But I loved the concept from the start, and still do. Very clever. I really do hope it kicks butt.

Sigma had all but stated previously that street price would be competitive with other high-end APS-C DSLR's (read D300s, 7D and K-5). Which is already high for a camera with a 7 shot RAW buffer, no 100% viewfinder, low ISO 6400 max ISO, no Live View and no HD video.

Assuming that the SD-1 delivers similar performance to the earlier Foveon sensor cameras (ie resolution akin to a Bayer sensor with around 50-60% more pixels) you should expect to see results comparable to 22-24MP in terms of resolution, ie comparable to Sony's rumoured new APS-C sensor which is expected to arrive in the A77 in July and most likely will be in Nikon's D300s replacement which is also expected sometime this summer. But Foveon sensors pay a huge cost in light sensitivity, which is shown in the low max ISO (at a time when the competition is offering up to ISO 51,200 at that price point).

The spec sheet on the camera might have been competitive in 2007, it's significantly behind the pack today, with many consumer bodies beating it in most regards. A truly killer sensor could make up for weakness in other side of the spec sheet (the SD cameras have always lagged in terms of body spec).

The pricing however seems to indicate that either Sigma's come up with a truly revolutionary camera or, more likely, that there is a serious supply constraint which makes the SD-1 unlikely to be available in even moderate quantities. I'd suspect offhand that there are serious yield issues with the new sensor and that is driving sensor costs up massively while simultaneously severely constraining supply of the sensors. This screams that Sigma is trying to get an already long-delayed camera onto the market to save face while simultaneously pricing it at a point that ensures that the supply issues won't become a problem.

When will Sigma stop calling a Sensel a Pixel? Saying this camera is 46 megapixel an outright lie! It is a 15 megapixel camera or a 46 megasensel camera! Yes it is true RGB output!

@Will Frostmill: The Sony A77 will be larger & heavier than the A580, let alone the A55. Sony's been showing off the basic body design for a while now, even before we knew it would have an EVF. Size is about midway between the A580 and the A700, so comparable to a Canon 60D or a Nikon D7000 but smaller than a 7D or D300. It's a real A700 successor, not more camera stuffed into a tiny (if nice) body. I'm an A33 shooter myself but I'd want a little more body and build for a 7-series camera.

Rumoured specs are:

7+fps (I'd bet 7fps with a burst mode over 10fps a la A33/A55)
1080p30 video

What's with all these comments dishing on Sigma's lenses (with the suggestion that they'll make the SD1 incapable of delivering its potential resolution?

Not only are the higher-end sigma lenses fully competitive in optical quality with the equivalent offerings from Canon and Nikon, they only have to resolve 15 million photosites. Most kit lenses can do that at the right aperture and focal length. The greater resolution is due to the lack of a need to interpolate color information.

These comments strike me as just as crazy as the SD1's introductory price. I'd like to hope that sanity will someday be bestowed on both Sigma and its more unreasonable haters.

Adam Maas,

Thanks for that detail. Gee, that makes the A77 significantly less exciting to me. I'm kind of prejudiced in favor of 'normal' sized cameras. You know, what everyone else calls 'small' :)


@Will Thompson: Dr. Eric Fossum on the use of the word sensel....


Dear Will,

A pixel is a geometric descriptor for an imaging system. It dosn't matter if a pixel conveys 1 bit (B&W), 8 bits (greyscale) 24 bits (color) or 1024 bit (hyperspectral). It is still called a pixel.

You're using sensel exactly the same way. Sensel is a made-up term, that serves no value.

Foveon misuses the term pixel and then puts in a lot of effort to rationalize the misuse.

Frankly it distracts from the merits of their design. A sad example of market-think prevailing over good sense.

pax / Ctein


I disagree...... Some what.......

I was waiting for this camera. While waiting, i bought a 40D, a Nex5 and a GF1 with few lenses. Had they delayed the release for a few more months, who knows, i would have bought a 5DMII or a K5 as well.
Turns out this is too expensive for me, if you add up everything: $9700 + Nex5 + GF1 + 100-300 + 9-18 + 40D + 10-20

After reading todays post at luminous landscape, I'm thinking this:

Lets assume for no reason in particular, that Sigma wants net SD1 sales of $2 million per year. At $9,700 they need to sell 207 cameras. If priced at $2,100 instead, they would have to sell 956 cameras to net the same. So if they, for some reason, were targeting this $2M mark all along at a sane expected sale price of $2100, then later changed their mind, why? They would have had to come to a realization that sales volume would be only 22% of what they needed, that only 207 people were going to buy their camera, and that those people would pay ANY price for it. No need to be competitive. Mail them fools some personalized SD1 gift baskets, price the camera beyond reason, and walk away. Sigma can pretend the SD1 program never happened, except for the folk lore of that one monster of an expensive camera they built but nobody ever saw.

Who knows what would have made them do such a thing. Maybe pre-production testing revealed massive warranty liabilities and 207 cameras is all that they could reasonably service. Maybe only 207 people bought previous foveon cameras. Maybe they just wanted a couple of them out in the wild to justify the project costs to investors, rather than cancelling it outright. But ultimately it seems, there is more to this story that a giant cock up.

At this price, or even half this price, this model will become known as the Seppuku.

So apparently bundling the camera body with a lens makes it cost less than the camera body alone? Maybe if you buy the body with Sigma's 200-500mm f/2.8 you'll get money back.

Your red-Update: The Kit-Prizes of the SD15 are also less, as they are for the SD1. This is just normal. But the 10.000.– Dollar and not 2.000.– $ is based on the strong hand (factor five) of Sigmas Senior. Its just a classical conflict between father and son. No more else ...

I'd pay ten grands for some of the stuff that Sigma CEO is smokin'.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007