First Samples from a Production-level SD9!
(Dave gets his first look at a production model)

I just today received a production-level SD9 from Sigma Japan, and took the opportunity to shoot a few of my standard test targets with it before launching into the review process proper. (I expect several of the other major review sites will have some photos up shortly, as Sigma shipped the cameras to all of us on the same day - It's just the luck of the draw that mine cleared US Customs in time to arrive today.)

Knowing the huge interest this camera has garnered out there on the 'web, I thought folks would be interested in seeing a couple of shots of my analytical targets sooner rather than later, so I've posted a couple of images below for your perusal today.

One of the big selling points with the SD9 is its "resolution per pixel," since it captures full red, green, and blue information for *every* pixel of its sensor array. It should thus produce resolution figures roughly equivalent to those of a 6 megapixel camera with a conventional Bayer-patterned sensor array.

The resolution shots below were snapped using the 50mm f/2.8 lens that Sigma provided with the camera, stopped down to f/6.7. (Lenses are generally sharpest somewhere in the middle of their aperture range, but I also wanted to stay away from really tiny apertures, to avoid any diffraction limiting of the resolution.)

The resulting image had its contrast and brightness boosted somewhat in the Sigma software, but only the default sharpening was applied. (Click on the thumbnail below to go to the full-sized image.)

Interested in comparing this shot to the res target images shot with other current d-SLRs? Here are links to my shots of this target taken with the Nikon D100, Canon D60, and Fuji S2 Pro.

I also took a couple of quick shots of my eponymous "Davebox" target, since the MacBeth ColorChecker(r) target there serves as a good color reference, at least for fairly saturated colors. The large gray blocks also make fairly good targets for noise measurements, for those interested. (I'm planning an in-depth noise analysis myself, after I get the main review itself out of the way, but for now interested parties can make their own measurements from these images.) Here, the target was shot using auto white balance, under ~5500K lighting, at ISO 100, and a postive exposure compensation of +0.5 EV. I processed the camera's raw image in three ways in Sigma's software - Using the defaults; just as it came from the camera, using the software's "auto" setting; and finally with some manual tweaks to produce a slightly more neutral white on the MacBeth chart, and to reduce the contrast somewhat, to do a better job of preserving highlight and shadow detail. Samples of all three treatments are shown below.

Default, straight from the camera. (Or at least, processed in the Sigma software with the "default" settings, making no exposure or color changes relative to the baseline.) "Auto" processing in the Sigma software Tweaked a bit to pull in the highlights and shadows, holding detail better, particularly in the shadows, but producing a flatter-looking image.

Interested in comparing these shots to the Davebox images shot with other current d-SLRs? Here are links to my shots of this target taken with the Nikon D100, Canon D60, and Fuji S2 Pro. (I generally shoot this target with whatever the camera's default exposure is, figuring that part of what's being tested is the camera's exposure system. - I'm going to reshoot the Davebox images with the other cameras though, adjusting the exposure for each so as to produce the most closely comparable images possible, to facilitate detailed color and noise comparisons. I'll do these reshoots after I get the SD9 review itself taken care of.)

I'll have a lot more photos in another day or two, as well as some things to help you compare shots from the SD9 with those from other current d-SLRs. For now though, I thought to go ahead and post these, so everyone who's been emailing me asking when I'd have SD9 photos could give it a rest. ;-)

Stay tuned, we should have some more samples posted in the next day or two, with the full review shortly thereafter...

Meanwhile, if you have a specific question about the SD9 that you'd like me to investigate, you can post a note in our Sigma SLR discussion forum and I'll try to answer it based on what I find with the production unit.

If you've seen enough to know that you want to buy an SD-9, you could hardly do better than to place an order with today. Ritz' huge buying power translates into volumes of cameras and earlier deliveries to their waiting lists than most dealers. They're a solid company to deal with, never charge your credit card before the product ships (and always call before shipping to confirm that you still want it), and have a stellar track record with our readers. Best of all (at least in my eyes ;-), a portion of every purchase made through our links benefits this site, helping us to continue to bring you the sort of detailed information that's become our trademark.

(Outdoor shots and random "pretty pictures" from the SD9 will be a few more days coming though, as we're in the midst of an exceptionally dreary, overcast string of weather here in the Atlanta area.)