Sigma SD1 DSLR Gets Priced At Nearly Ten Grand

We heard about the SD1 back in September: a Foveon-based DSLR with 45 megapixels, as they define them, though the “megapixel” rating is difficult to compare when you have different sensor patterns going on. They’re confident enough to price this thing above even Canon and Nikon’s pro level cameras. Yes, it’ll set you back $9700. That’s $2000 more than a 1D mk III and $4000 more than a D3X or S.

Sigma is hoping that it’ll be picked up not as a superior pro camera but as a cheap alternative to medium-format brands like Hasselblad and Leaf. But there are a few problems there:

  • The Foveon sensor has its strengths, but it also has its weaknesses, and I doubt studio photographers are risk-takers. Is it really able to run against Hasselblads?
  • I’m not loving that low-resolution LCD. The screen on Canon’s sub-$1000 DSLR line is far sharper, and that resolution matters when you’re reviewing shots or checking focus.
  • In the end, definition is determined by the lens. Sigma makes a million lenses but for years I’ve heard their consistency trashed. No one is going to pay ten grand for a camera if you can’t guarantee a cherry lens every time. Nikon and Canon have this covered with their high end lenses, and the built-ins on medium formats are married to the sensor. Can Sigma compete?

Unfortunately for Sigma, I just don’t think the camera will be a hit at that price. It has a lot going for it, but when you’re putting it up against cameras four times the price while at the same time missing features available on cameras half the price, you’re not going to make a lot of friends.