The Sigma SD1 Merrill features seven colour modes - we used the Landscape setting in the shots above to accentuate the blues and greens.
Processing Sigma Merrill SD1 raw files in Sigma Photo Pro 5.2 is a slow experience, and the controls on offer are a little limited. It's worth persevering, though, because the results have the potential to be much richer and more dynamic than JPEGs produced in the camera. Here, we added a touch of X3 Fill Light - it's best to use this subtly, since otherwise it produces an effect close to overcooked HDR.
As with other Sigma DSLRs, the SD1 Merrill features a removable dust protector that sits just behind the lens mount. It's generally an effective 'first defense' against sensor dust, although we noticed the blob you see here too late for our first batch of test shots…
Using the Auto White Balance resulted in an image that was initially much too cool, but switching to the Daylight preset yielded a colour balance that reflected the scene much more accurately.
We selected the Landscape Colour Mode in Sigma Photo Pro software to boost the blues and greens here. The Sigma SD1 Merrill comes with seven preset Colour Modes, including Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Black and White.
Oddly, you can't select the Black and White option (or the Sepia one) when you're shooting raw files or raw+JPEG. This means you won't get a monochrome preview on the rear screen. Even more oddly, Black and White is listed under the White Balance options in Sigma Photo Pro.
Due to the darker conditions here, we had to shoot with a wide aperture at ISO 800. ISO 400 is about the limit for clean files out of the Sigma SD1 Merrill. This isn't a camera for handheld shooting in low light, but keep to the 'sensible' end of the sensitivity range and it's hard to be disappointed.
We found that the battery life indicator on the Sigma SD1 Merrill wasn't entirely reliable - something to be wary of when shooting longer exposures. We managed to get around a day's worth of shooting from a single charge (disappointing, but workable with a spare).
Exposure compensation can be applied in 1/3 steps from -3 to +3 EV on the Sigma SD1 Merrill. We needed to open up 2/3 of a stop to bring back the brightness to this overcast scene.
The Sigma SD1 Merrill's 3-inch TFT LCD screen offers a 460,000-dot resolution for reviewing shots. This would have been considered very good a few years ago, but cameras such as the Canon EOS 7D are pushing over 921,000 dots these days. The playback information screen is a bit cramped too, particularly the RGB histogram, which can be difficult to judge accurately.