Sigma SD1 Merrill review

Now a fraction of its original price, but is a revolutionary sensor enough?

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We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using the DXO Analyzer software to give noise and dynamic range measurements at every sensitivity (ISO) setting.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) generally indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

Our lab tests indicate that the Sigma SD1 Merrill produces JPEG images that have a similar signal to noise ratio to those from the Canon EOS 5D Mk III, Nikon D800, Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D7000, at lower ISOs, but it drops off from about ISO 800 and above.

Raw signal to noise ratio

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

The Sigma SD1 Merrill's raw files (after conversion to TIFF) start off with some of the highest signal to noise ratio values, matching the Canon EOS 5D Mk III up until the mid-range sensitivities, when it dips to scores closer to the Nikon D800, Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D7000. However, its performance is much lower than the other cameras at higher sensitivities (ISOs).

JPEG dynamic range

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

This chart indicates that the dynamic range of the Sigma SD1 Merrill's JPEGs compares poorly with that of the Canon EOS 5D Mk III, Nikon D800, Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D7000 images. Though it starts off at the same point as the Canon 5D Mk III at ISO 100, it falls slightly below the Canon 60D until about ISO 400, when its dynamic range tails off sharply.

Raw dynamic range

Sigma SD1 Merrill review

This chart indicates that the Sigma SD1 Merrill's raw files fare better than the JPEGs for dynamic range at low ISOs. It shows a greater range than the Canon EOS 5D Mk III, Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D7000 at low sensitivities, but begins a sharp fall after ISO 800. The Nikon D800 boasts better dynamic range than the Sigma SD1 Merrill throughout the whole range.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Wireless LANNo
Effective Camera Resolution46 Megapixel
Memory Card SupportedCompactFlash (CF) Card
Image StabilizationNo
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameSigma
DurabilityWeather Proof, Splash Proof
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)700 g
Image Sensor Size23.50 mm x 15.70 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4704 x 3136
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height113.5 mm
Width145.5 mm
Depth80 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW, TIFF
External FlashOptional
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSigma Corporation
Product ModelSD1
Product NameSD1 Merrill Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • (P) Program AE
  • (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE
  • (A) Aperture Priority AE
  • (M) Manual
Manufacturer Part NumberC26900
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

This truly groundbreaking digital SLR camera incorporates a 46 megapixel (4,800x3,200x3 layers) 24x16mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor. The SD1 is Sigma's flagship digital SLR model housed in a solid magnesium alloy body making it extremely lightweight with an overall nice feel and pleasant handling. The splash proof feature protects the camera from the effects of harsh weather conditions. Incorporating a 24x16mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor, dual "TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II" image processing engines and the 46 megapixel sensor ensures that high resolution images are processed quickly with high definition and a smooth and subtle graduation of color delivering an image size of approximately 35/45 mp in raw/tiff files. This latest technology meets the strictest standards and requirements of professionals and enthusiast photographers for all types of photography.