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Sigma's SD9 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma Corporation with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Sigma's SD9 digital SLR: in-depth specs! (UPDATED)
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 01:43 EST)

As promised, we now have extremely detailed specifications for Sigma's newest digicam...

As readers may already be aware, Foveon Inc. yesterday announced its new lineup of image sensors for digital cameras, dubbed 'X3'. The first commercialised sensors to allow for recording of values for all three colors at every pixel location in a single shot using a single sensor, Foveon's X3 series debut with the F7 sensor in Sigma's newly-announced SD9 digital camera.

The SD9 is Sigma's first single-lens reflex digital camera, and to look at the specifications it seems the company is not skimping on capability for the sake of price. Some points may not suit all photographers - a maximum ISO rating of 400 for example *(amended, see updates), and the fact that the camera seems closely aligned with Sigma's $3-400 consumer-grade bodies rather than the tank-like construction of cameras like Canon's EOS-1D and Nikon's D1 series. Overall though, the camera seems fairly well-rounded, and if image quality is up to par could be exactly what many semi-pro photographers have been looking for. A rumored price of $3000 (we've seen no hint of pricing info from Sigma ourselves, but have seen two separate and usually reliably sources quoting this price) could see the camera hitting street prices that could perhaps put it in the hands of even advanced enthusiasts, where it would compete head-on with Canon's EOS D30, a capable camera which at the moment hasn't had a strong rival.

We've seen suggestions that the SD9 is based on Sigma's SA-9 film camera, but although the camera does obviously share some traits with the SA-7 and SA-9 cameras we note that the lines seem somewhat different, and the camera is overall somewhat larger in each dimension. It also lacks the pop-up flash found in the SA-7 and SA-9 cameras, and we'd have to say it looks more like an evolution of the line than a simple shoehorning of digital internals into an existing camera chassis.

Along with the as-yet unannounced pricing, we're curious to find details of when the Sigma SD9 will be available. Again, we've heard no official comment from Sigma, but have seen suggestions from one source that the camera will ship next month. The website of Foveon, who're providing the imager, though, mentions a planned availability of May 2002.

Obviously we don't yet know what rivals may have turned up by then - with PMA on the way we'd certainly not be surprised to see further announcements - but at the moment Sigma looks to have a strong contender on its hands if the image quality lives up to expectations. Whether their offering will be good enough to persuade photographers with a significant collection of Nikon or Kodak lenses to move to the Sigma SA mount will be another question entirely, however...

One to watch, we think - and the camera will be on display at PMA 2002, so watch our site in the next couple of weeks and hopefully we'll be able to tell you (and show you) much more...

Sigma SD9
Sigma's SD9 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma Corporation, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Body
Derivation Unclear; seems to be a new body (?)
Dimensions (W x H x D) 152 x 120 x 79 mm
6.0 x 4.7 x 3.1 in.
Weight (without battery) 803 g
28.3 oz.
Sensor
Type Foveon F7 X3-type CMOS (F7-35X3-A25B)
Dimensions 20.7 x 13.8mm
Sensor Resolution Total: 3,540,000 pixels
Effective: 3,430,000 pixels
No color values interpolated
Cell Size 9.12μm
Dust Protector Yes, behind lens mount
Image Size 2268 x 1512
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Lens
Lens Mount Sigma SA Bayonet mount
Focal Length Multiplier 1.7x 35mm rating
Autofocus Type TTL Phase Difference Detection
Autofocus Operating Range EV 2 - 18 at ISO 100
Autofocus Modes AF-S (single), AF-C (continuous) with predictive autofocus function
Viewfinder
Type Pentaprism single lens reflex (sports finder, shows region around edges of 'capture area' as a transparent light-gray, to allow photographer to see object before it enters frame)
Accuracy 97% (width)
98% (height)
Magnification 0.77x (with 50mm F1.4 lens at infinity)
Eye Point 18mm
Diopter Correction -3 to +1 dpt
LCD Display
Type 1.8" low temperature polysilicon TFT color LCD display with 130,000 pixels. White LED backlight.
Accuracy 100% coverage
Exposure
ISO Ratings 100, 200, 400, 800
Shutter Type Electronically controlled vertical-travel metal focal plane shutter
Shutter Speeds 1/6000 - 30 seconds, bulb
Metering Type 8-zone evaluative, center-weighted, spot
Metering Range EV -1 to 20 (with 50mm F1.4 lens at infinity)
Exposure Modes (P) - Program AE, shift possible
(S) - Shutter Priority
(A) - Aperture Priority
(M) - Manual
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 0.5EV steps
Exposure Lock Push-button type, exposure settings are locked whilst button is depressed
Automatic Exposure Bracketing 3 frames, +/- 3.0EV in 0.5EV steps
White Balance 8 settings
Flash
Sync Type Hot Shoe (contact X, synchronized at 1/180 sec. or less, with dedicated flash-linking contact)
Connectivity
External Interface IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
USB 1.1
Video (NTSC / PAL switcheable)
Storage
Recording Medium Type-I / Type-II CompactFlash card including Microdrive
File Types 12-bit losslessly compressed RAW
TIFF
JPEG (Hi, Med, Low)
More Information
Playback modes Single image, 9-up thumbnails, playback zoom, slide show, image info overlay
LCD menu language Japanese, English, French, German
Power source 2 x Lithium CR-123A
2 x Lithium CR-V3 or 4 x Alkaline, NiCad or NiMH AA
AC adapter
Bundled Software Sigma Photo Pro (converts RAW files to TIFF or JPEG, allows adjustment of white balance, exposure and contrast)
Optional accessories RS-21 Remote Controller
EF-500 Super SD Flash
Power Pack SD Battery Grip (includes portrait-mode shutter button)
Pricing Not yet announced
(rumored to be US$3000)
Availability May 2002 (according to Foveon)
March 2002 (rumored elsewhere)
More Photos
Sigma's SD9 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma Corporation, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

UPDATED 2002-02-13 00:44ET: Sigma USA has now officially announced the SD9 digital camera. One interesting point to note is that, unlike the specifications announced in Japan, the US specs *do* mention an ISO rating of 800...
Source: Sigma Corporation

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