COLOGNE, Germany--Sigma, the Japanese company best known for its lenses, announced an overhauled effort yesterday to expand to camera making as well with an SLR called the SD1 due to ship in February.
Like Sigma's current SLR, the SD15, the SD1 has at its heart a Foveon image sensor, an unusual design that departs significantly from prevailing industry practice with a design that captures red, green, and blue at each pixel site rather than just one of the three colors.
The Foveon sensor made Sigma's SD line stand out from the crowd--but often not in a good way. Some critics didn't like its images, Foveon delays set back Sigma products such as its SLRs and its DP1 compact camera that used it, and the cameras didn't live up to their revolutionary promise. In 2008, Sigma acquired Foveon.
Now Sigma is trying again with a larger, much higher-resolution sensor. It's awkward to compare megapixel ratings with Foveon and conventional Bayer-pattern sensors, because the latter must interpolate the missing red, green, and blue data for each pixel through a process called demosaicing, while the Foveon chips capture all that data. But what's clear is the new SD1 will be much more competitive.
Specifically, where the SD14 had a 4.6-megapixel sensor, the SD1 will have a 15.3-megapixel sensor, a "giant technological leap," said Chief Operating Officer Kazuto Yamaki at a press meeting at the Photokina show here.
He promised the 4,800x3,200-pixel sensor would have the superior color resolution and color sharpness and that its black-and-white resolution--a sore point for earlier Foveon designs--would be vastly improved, rising to the equivalent of a 30-megapixel sensor with a conventional Bayer pattern color filter array.
"It indicates a new beginning for Sigma cameras and Foveon sensors," Yamaki said. … Read more