Sigma SD-1: What's really up?

Sigma has announced the Sigma SD-1, a 15.4 Mpx DX (1.5x crop) DSLR with a “street-price” of USD 6899!

And they've put sample images online. Simply put, the images are not what you would expect from USD 6899 camera.

But to be fair, the sample images Sigma has put online are first and foremost suffering from some very bad processing. It is probably impossible to tell anything from them about the SD-1's potential image quality. The images come across as obviously oversharpened, exhibit plenty of stairway artifacts, highlights are often burned out, some are clearly out of focus, and colour has the artificial high-contrast look of amateur slide shots from the 1960ies. None of the sample images that currently online has that special Foveon look&feel I get from my Sigma SD10.

As a long time Sigma and Foveon user, I am mildly disappointed, but not surprised. While I also shoot with the Canon and Nikon systems, I still use and enjoy my Sigma SD10 (bought at a premium just after it was released). But any model released after the SD10 has IMHO not been enough of an improvement to warrant an upgrade. From the look of the sample images now online, the SD-1 is no different.

Like everybody else, I wonder what Sigma's management is thinking. I own some good quality Sigma glass to go with my SD10. A quick calculation tells me that instead of upgrading(?) from the SD10 to the SD-1, it would still be cheaper for me to just dump all of it, and just start afresh with some other camera system! (For instance: To duplicate my present Sigma kit, I could buy the following from my favourite dealer: Nikon D300s body, Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Tamron 90mm macro, Nikon 10-24mm, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8. And if I had $6899 to start with, I would still have some spare cash at the end of the day.

Maybe this is some sort of inscrutable Japanese face-saving move? Sigma management can't say straight out that they've stopped making DSLRs. So instead, they make a DSLR that absolutely nobody wants to buy. In the future, Sigma management can just point to a dusty warehouse full of unsold SD-1 stock, and insist that the company is still in the DSLR business.

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