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Sigma Adds Merrill Cameras, Re-Launches SD1

2/08/2012 10:59:26 AM Eastern
Ronkonkoma, N.Y. - Sigma has created a new "Merrill" line of digital cameras and will re-launch and rename its acclaimed SD1 D-SLR camera as "the SD1 Merrill" in honor of Richard "Dick" Merrill, the late co-creator of the cameras' Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor technology.

The announcement was made in a letter to Sigma customers Monday by Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma's chief executive officer.

In addition, the company will add a new Merrill camera series including the DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill cameras. Pricing will be announced later.

Both fixed-lens, compact cameras have been upgraded to incorporate the same APS-C sized 46-megapixel Foveon X3 image sensor found in the company's flagship SD1 Merrill d-SLR.

Other features in the cameras include: a dual, three-layer responsive ultimate (TRUE II) engine with two TRUE II processors for improved processing speed and image quality; RAW and JPEG format recording; Sigma Photo Pro processing software; manual focus capability; an advanced user interface with a custom Quick Set (QS) menu and metallic command dial; a 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor; a hot shoe for Sigma flashguns; and 30 fps VGA (640 by 480) movie mode.

The Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill each include high-performance telecentric fixed lenses. The DP1 Merrill features a 19mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera. The DP2 Merrill features a 30mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 45mm lens on a 35mm camera.

Both cameras are compact and lightweight, and feature Sigma's "F" Low Dispersion (FLD) glass, which is said to significantly improve lens performance, and adds a Super Multi Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting.

Meanwhile, Sigma said that in addition to honoring the Foveon technology's creator, the new SD1 name will denote new production efficiencies that will result in a substantial reduction in the camera's market price, starting next month.

The SD1 was originally announced last year at a $9,700 suggested retail, but Yamaki said improvements in production techniques have enabled the company to reduce the price to a $3,300 suggested retail in the United States, when the camera re-launches in March.

Merrill, who passed away in 2008, invented a sensor architecture that used an innovative pixel structure for capturing RGB information in each pixel location. The advancement led to the development by the Foveon team of the X3 Direct Image Sensor. Sigma acquired Foveon in late 2008.

Yamaki said that to assuage customers who purchased an SD1 camera under the previous price, Sigma plans to offer a support program for providing points that can be exchanged for Sigma products.

"This program is expected to be valid after the release of Sigma SD1 Merrill and it will last until the end of this year, 2012. It will be applicable for all Sigma products including both current and new products to be released this year," Yamaki said in his letter.

More details will be announced later.

"We would like to once again express our appreciation to current Sigma SD1 owners, and other customers who are looking forward to our next DSLR camera, for your loyal patronage to Sigma," Yamaki said. "We will continue doing our best with the aim to design and manufacture ideal photographic equipment that inspires the artistic hearts of photographers everywhere. We sincerely value your continued support."
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