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Sigma's SD9 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma Corporation with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sigma announces SD9 pricing, availability
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, September 20, 2002 - 22:27 EDT)

Japanese camera company Sigma Corp. has today announced pricing and availability for its SD9 digital camera, an eagerly anticipated model that's the first to feature Foveon's X3 sensor technology that calculates a value for all three colors at every pixel.

The announcement, which was originally scheduled for next Tuesday, has apparently been moved up due to leaked information already being available. (We apologise for having been pipped to the punch by a couple of the other sites, but unfortunately this happened just after Mike had left the house for dinner, and I've only just been alerted to the changed schedule).

The Sigma SD9 digital camera will apparently ship on October 21st, 2002 at a price of US$1,800 list. By comparison, Canon's EOS D60 currently sells for $2200 retail for the 'kit' which includes battery and charger, whilst Nikon's D100 costs about $1999 and FujiFilm's FinePix S2 Pro costs $2399. Obviously these are street prices, and we don't have street pricing for the SD9 yet, but if the other cameras are anything to go by then demand is likely to outstrip demand and ensure retail prices remain near the list prices for some time.

It is also important to note that these prices can't be directly compared at face value, because the cameras differ so much in terms of feature-sets (for example, the S2 Pro includes FireWire connectivity whilst the other cameras don't, and all four cameras use different sensor technologies - CMOS, CCD, SuperCCD and Foveon X3). That said, it will be interesting to see how the Foveon stacks up to the other cameras in testing.

On paper, the SD9 has only half the sensor resolution of the other cameras (ignoring color data), but where the others gather only one of three colors at each pixel, the X3 sensor gathers all three colors at every location. Sigma and Foveon say that this will make up the difference between a 3 megapixel camera and a 6 megapixel one, and in theory tripling the color data gathered will certainly make a very significant difference. Hopefully we'll be able to see the camera in person soon and give a quantitative judgement...

For more details on Sigma's SD9 and the Foveon X3 sensor, some of our past news items may be educational:
Sigma's SD9 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma Corporation, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

WORLD'S FIRST DIGITAL CAMERA TO INCORPORATE FOVEON® X3™ IMAGE SENSOR TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE IN OCTOBER

New Sigma SD9 digital camera with Foveon X3 technology captures the highest level of sharpness and color detail in its class

Photokina, Cologne, Germany, Hall 10.1, Stand C8 - (September 24, 2002) - Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high quality digital photography and Sigma Corporation, a world class optical manufacturer, jointly announced today that the new Sigma SD9, high-definition digital Single Lens-Reflex (SLR) camera powered by the new Foveon X3 image sensor will be available for sale on October 21, 2002 for a list price of (U.S.) $1,800.

The Foveon X3 image sensor in the Sigma SD9 contains over 10.2 million color photo detectors, which are organized in 3 layers within the sensor to form 3.54 million full-color pixels. By dedicating three color photo detectors for each pixel, the SD9 produces images that are sharper, have better color detail and are more immune to color artifacts than currently available six megapixel digital SLR cameras. The Foveon X3 image sensor is the world's first full-color image sensor that captures red, green and blue light at every pixel in a single exposure. The Foveon X3 technology breakthrough is accomplished by embedding three photodetectors in silicon at each pixel.

"We are delighted that internationally renowned Sigma Corporation has chosen to incorporate the Foveon X3 image sensor technology into their new Sigma SD9 digital camera," said Jim Lau, Foveon's CEO. "The Sigma SD9 is the first product to reflect the major breakthrough in price performance that is made possible by Foveon X3 technology. With the introduction of the new SD9 digital camera, Sigma is offering photographers an unparalleled photographic tool to help capture digital images of exceptional quality."

Unlike image sensors used in current digital cameras that use a single layer of photo detectors and only capture one color per pixel, Foveon X3 image sensors use three layers of photo detectors and capture all three primary colors (red, green and blue) at every pixel. As a result, Foveon X3 image sensors deliver increased image sharpness, better color detail, and much greater resistance to unpredictable color artifacts. In addition, Foveon X3 image sensors capture the full color of an image without the expense, complexity, and limitations of multi-chip systems such as a 3-CCD camera or a multi-shot system.

"The Foveon X3 technology enables the compelling image quality advantages of a three-sensor or multi-shot digital camera, but at the price of a single sensor. That is the heart of the price/performance advantage of the

Foveon X3 technology," continued Lau. "Until now, digital cameras have been capturing only one-third of the color for each pixel. With the Sigma SD9 and Foveon X3 technology, consumers are getting a camera that captures all the color for each pixel and they will see a tangible difference in what they have been missing."

About Sigma
Founded in 1961 by Michihiro Yamaki, Sigma has become one of the world's largest suppliers of after-market lenses for 35mm single-lens-reflex cameras. Sigma's product line currently lists over 34 lenses with focal ranges spanning from 8mm to 800mm. Through sustained reinvestment in precision manufacturing, design automation and world class excellence in optics, Sigma has focused its efforts on delivering very high quality lens products at the highest value to its customers.

About Foveon
Since its founding in 1997, the company is focused on the development of image capture products for digital cameras and image capture applications that enable higher levels of image quality and new system capabilities not possible with today's CCD technology. On February 11, 2002, Foveon introduced the world's first full-color image sensor - the Foveon X3 Pro 10M (Part # F7-35X3-A25B) designed for digital SLR applications. The company has expanded its product line to include image sensors for smaller optical formats suitable for point and shoot camera applications. Foveon is a privately held company. Investors include: National Semiconductor Inc., Synaptics Inc. and New Enterprise Associates.

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