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0 16954 3/11/2006
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  • 3.43-megapixel sensor with "X3" technology from Foveon has 10.29 million effective photosensors for unparalleled sharpness and resolution
  • "Full color" pixels eliminate color moire in fine, high-contrast detail
  • RAW-format image capture preserves full image data for post-exposure adjustment
  • Improved sensor provides lower image noise and increased ISO range
  • Photo Pro software from Foveon offers excellent post-exposure color and tonal adjustment

Foveon and Sigma have made remarkable strides over the last year, as evidenced by the dramatic improvements in the performance of the new SD10 camera over the earlier SD9 model. Many of the limitations of the SD9 have been addressed, and the improvements in image noise levels and high-ISO capability are impressive. Color rendering has also seen substantial improvement, to the point that I'd now rate the SD10's color as "very good to excellent," something I'd not have said about the SD9. While Sigma and Foveon are trying to position the SD10 and its sensor as 10.2 megapixel units, my own tests to date suggest that the camera delivers resolution more equivalent to that of its six-megapixel competition. (I have in mind some additional tests to explore the resolution issue further, but I don't know if I'll be able to get to them, given the current review overload.)

A lot of the success of the SD10 will depend on the price point at which it ends up being sold, and on how the established band of SD9 enthusiasts react to the "look" of its pictures. My earlier conclusion that there were sharpness differences between the SD9 and SD10 appear to have been the result of random variations in performance between the 50mm lenses I originally used to test the two models, despite their being the same model. Repeating the test, using the same lens on both the SD10 and a SD9 seems to show that the two cameras are virtually identical in their sharpness characteristics. So bottom line, the new SD10 should appeal to the same folks who liked the "look" of the original SD9's images, as well as a much broader segment of the market now that image noise has been improved and high-ISO shooting is possible. As with the SD9, the SD10 also has in its favor the relatively low cost and high optical quality of the Sigma lenses, making it quite affordable to build up a considerable "kit" of lenses. I suspect a lot of its success will depend on the price point it hits the market at. If it's priced competitively, it might steal some business away from Nikon and Canon at the low ends of their lines. If it's priced higher though, I'm afraid it will have a difficult time getting traction with consumers.

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Keywords: Sigma SLR CF 3x3MP


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