Produced in their legendary Aizu facility in Japan, Sigma is proud to present their DP1 Merrill digital camera. Packing all the features of a digital SLR into a portable and sleek body, the DP1 Merrill conquers new ground in compact digital camera design and technology. Building on the success of its predecessor, the DP1, the DP1 Merrill houses Sigma’s next generation Foveon X3 sensor which produces incredibly clear 46 MP images. Combined with a custom designed wide angle lens, the DP1 Merrill captures deep and rich images of a quality previously unachievable from a compact camera.
The Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor captures all 3 layers of light information at each pixel locationClick here to view larger
At the heart of the new DP1 Merrill is the Foveon X3 direct image sensor, a next generation sensor for a next generation camera. Developed over a 5 year period in Foveon’s Californian based research laboratory, the Foveon X3 is capable of capturing images in a market leading 46 MP detail. The sensor innovatively uses three layers of photodiodes to gather all RGB colour information contained within the light transferred, forming a unique full colour capture system. The system therefore creates 3 layers of detail at each pixel location, producing high resolution images and combating common problems associated with lower capacity sensors such as colour moiré. Every part of the sensor has been reengineered, from the use of more absorbent materials (silicon) to the increase in its size, in order to optimise image capture and production, the results of which are evident to see for all.
The Foveon X3 sensor has been completely re-engineered by design to optimise light captureClick here to view larger
To match such a powerful sensor, Sigma required an exclusive next generation processor capable of managing, at an acceptable speed, the large amounts of data being captured. Out of this requirement was born the Three-Layer Responsive Ultimate Engine II (TRUE II). The TRUE II processor has a unique in-built image processing algorithm which generates a high resolution power capable of deciphering the data that the Foveon sensor captures and turning it into incredibly highly detailed images. In order to ensure that this process occurs at almost real time speed, Sigma decided to include two TRUE II processors and thus double the power.
With a compact body and matt black finish, the DP1 Merrill looks as good as it feels in the hand. Measuring just 12.2cm x 6.7cm and weighing 360g, the camera is truly compact in dimensions. Despite the reduced size, the body still incorporates several features that give it a DSLR feel, including a manual focus ring on the lens, a large 3inch HD LCD display and a dedicated hot shoe for viewfinder and flash head attachments. A SD card slot on the bottom allows for easy and widely compatible memory expansion. The user interface has also been given a redesign with the inclusion of useful mode switching and quick set buttons as well as a command dial for intuitive control.
Sigma has built a compact 19mm wide angle lens to custom fit the DP1 MerrillClick here to view larger
Widely renowned for their lens technology, Sigma has produced a brand new and scaled down wide angle 19mm lens, engineered to work exclusively with the Foveon X3 sensor. The wide angle focal length creates images with a dramatic sense of perspective and astounding natural qualities. The optical construction has been designed to counter various forms of aberrations, common in wide angle lenses, and to be able to fit inside a compact barrel. It features one FLD, one high refractive index and two moulded aspherical glass lens elements, which all work in conjunction to increase light transmission to the sensor while combating optical aberrations along the way. Finally, Sigma applies Super Multi Layer coatings to all glass elements, which work to create an optimum colour balance by reducing the damaging effects of ghost and flare. The coatings also help maximise light transmission to the Foveon X3 sensor.
A new interface design gives users better and more customisable control over the DP1 Merrill's functionsClick here to view larger
As well as the design features, the DP1 Merrill also packs several internal functions that puts it on par with its larger DSLR cousins. On the highest quality (46MP) setting, 7 images per sequence or 4 frames per second can be captured in a continuous shoot mode. A manually operated exterior ring allows precision and control over focussing. Alternatively, the DP1 Merrill packs various auto focus functions including a “9 point select mode” which allows you to select a preferred focusing point from 9 different frames.
With a state of the art image sensor and high quality optical configuration, the DP1 Merrill required a recording format and editing suite to match. The RAW format was chosen by Sigma as it is the only recording format capable of retaining the incredible image detail and quality captured by the Foveon X3 sensor. The RAW format is a pure form of data storage which keeps image details in a 1:1 ratio without the use of interpolation. For those who prefer, the Jpeg image format is also available. The latest version of PhotoPro software can also be downloaded from Sigma’s website. Like with other DP1 components, this latest software edition has been completely optimised to work with the unique RAW image files and in doing so helps to preserve the unrivalled image quality produced by the camera. It incorporates several new features including various image enhancement tools as well as a faster image processing speed to render the larger 46MP image files.
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