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Sigma's DP1 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture! Sigma: Foveon X3-based compact
(Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 02:00 EDT)

In what may well be one of the bigger surprises of the Photokina show, Japanese company Sigma Corp.has unveiled a new compact digital camera based on the same Foveon X3 CMOS image sensor that's used in its SD14 digital SLR.

Details on specifications are few so far, but between the press release and photos of the DP1, and the specifications for the SD14 that shares the same imager, a number of facts can be gleaned. The DP1 will have a 4.69 effective megapixel resolution from 14.1 million photodiodes arranged in three layers, as per Foveon's by-now famous layout which records full color information at every pixel location. (Traditional Bayer-sensor cameras capture only one color at each pixel location, and interpolate the other two colors from surrounding pixels, leading to somewhat reduced luminance resolution, and a significant reduction in chrominance resolution and other color-related problems). It seems likely that the maximum resolution will be identical to that of the SD14 - 2640 x 1760 pixels, with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

The Foveon X3 image sensor will be coupled to a 16.6mm lens with a focal length crop equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera. The lens has a maximum aperture of F4. Keeping lens size and weight down for a compact camera that uses a sensor not a lot smaller than those used in most DSLRs must have proved quite a challenge, and the lack of an optical zoom and maximum aperture limitation hint at this. Manual focus should be possible, since the camera's rear is marked "MF".

There's no optical viewfinder on the DP1, nor any provision for attaching an external viewfinder. Instead, images are framed on a 2.5" LCD - the same size as is used in the SD14. While there's no optical zoom, it looks likely that a digital zoom or crop of some kind will be offered, given that there are controls on the camera's rear labelled both for playback zoom, and also as wide / tele. There's also a popup flash on the top of the camera, but no provision for external flash.

The DP1 will apparently also offer a movie mode as the mode dial includes a movie position - and when you consider this along with the fact that the DP1's only method of image framing relies on data streamed from the imager, this offers up an obvious question about the SD14 SLR. Could that camera perhaps offer a live preview function by locking the mirror up, something only a couple of other SLRs have yet achieved? Mention was made when first launched of Foveon's X3 imager's potential for movie capture, and we're now starting to see this come to fruition... The DP1's movie mode should include sound, since there's a speaker and microphone on the top of the camera body.

Other modes on offer in the DP1 should include auto, program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, manual, and an audio recording mode. Finally, there are controls for exposure compensation, and auto-exposure locking, plus for the flash and a macro mode. The DP1 will, says Sigma, offer both X3F Raw and JPEG image recording modes.

Pricing and availability are unknown at this time.

Sigma DP1
Sigma's DP1 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypeCompact
Model NumberDP1
Image Capture
Sensor Type0.98 Foveon X3 CMOS
4.69 megapixels (effective)
Filter TypeFull Color
Aspect Ratio3:2
Image Dimensions2640 x 1760 (4.6 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
100% field of view
Lens TypeSigma Lens
Focal Length16.6mm (actual)
28mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Rangef/4.0 - ???
Focusing SystemManual Focus possible
Movie Format Details unknown
File FormatCCD-RAW, RAW (.X3F), JPEG
Internal MicrophoneYes
Internal SpeakerYes
More Photos
Sigma's DP1 digital camera. Courtesy of Sigma, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:


Sigma DP1 high end point and shoot digital camera equipped with 14 megapixel direct image sensor.

  • 14 megapixel direct image sensor as used in the Sigma SD14 digital SLR.
  • Featuring Sigma’s new, unique “True” image processing engine.
  • 16.6mm F4 lens (28mm equivalent).

The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of the new, groundbreaking Sigma DP1 compact digital camera featuring a 14 megapixel FOVEON X3 direct image sensor (2652×1768×3 layers) as used in the Sigma SD14 digital SLR. Using three silicon embedded layers of photo sensors stacked to take advantage of silicon’s ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths. A 16.6mm F4 lens, with a wide angle field of view equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm film camera, has been developed to maximize the image quality in conjunction with the full color capture image sensor.

The DP1 takes advantage of the image sensor’s superior technology to capture accurate, full color image information.

Sigma’s unique and powerful “True” image processor is incorporated into the DP1, enabling it to handle the large image files produced by the 14 megapixel sensor and reproduce exceptional definition with image quality on a par with film. The Sigma DP1 is equipped with a large 2.5” TFT LCD monitor with 100% image preview, making confirmation of composition, focusing and exposure quick and easy. This point and shoot compact camera includes JPEG recording format for speed and convenience plus a RAW data (X3F) recording mode for retaining full image capture detail of the utmost quality.

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