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Thread: D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Talking D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

    Hello everyone,

    after working with it for a while and getting familiar with my new SD1, I decided time has come to do a comparison between it and my workhorse Nikon cameras, in particular with the D800E - today's king of high-resolution DSLRs. As always, I approached the problem from an user's point of view, so I didn't start shooting charts and the like but I used "real world" subjects and light. I couldn't find any such comparisons on the web, and I thought that publishing one might be of great help for those trying to figure out whether the SD1 is the camera for them or not, and whether they really need to fork out D800E money to get such high IQ out of their camera and camera system.

    In the first instalment of what will be a long comparison, I choose to deal with the classic, "fast normal" 50mm f/1.4 lens (35mm f/1.4 on the SD1, of course). My conclusions are very positive for the SD1, which turned out to be a very impressive camera - though with many caveats - and for the 35mm f/1.4 as well: both by themselves and when compared with the King Of Resolution, the D800E equipped with Nikon 50mm f/1.4.
    For those interested, you can read my article

    HERE

    Hope you'll find it interesting. Best,

    Vieri
    Vieri Bottazzini
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    Re: D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

    Very interesting and detailed comparisation. Thank you.

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    Senior Member Malina DZ's Avatar
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    Re: D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

    Vieri, thank you for an interesting comparison article.
    I compared the crops and see no SD1 Foveon superiority in sharpness over D800E, even though Sigma 35A is far sharper than Nikkor 50/1.4 especially @ F1.4. From F2.0 D800E resolves details better across the image circle.
    When Sigma develops a FF Foveon sensor DSLR with at least 24Mpx, I'll consider it as an alternative to D800E.
    Vieri, do you still use DP Merrills? I'd like to see your next review with them against D800E.

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

    Vieri

    Wow! What a test. Very interesting to read. The Nikon is a fantastic camera no doubt and I if I ever go back to a DSLR system, a Nikon system is what I would buy. As I continue to have back problems the Sigma DP series has been an absolute godsend. As you rightly point out, you have to work within the limitations.

    Of course, and this is being a bit provocative, it would be very interesting to see a comparison of the Sigma DP2M and the D800E with the 50/1.4 - especially as that lens is consistently reported as such a good performer.

    I have been putting together some comparison pictures between my Sigma DP2M and my Sony RX-1 - nothing as scientific as your tests but I will endeavour to show them at some point in the near future.

    Thanks again - an outstanding piece of testing.

    Louis
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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: D800E vs Sigma SD1 Merrill: the saga begins!

    Quote Originally Posted by crsc View Post
    Very interesting and detailed comparisation. Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malina DZ View Post
    Vieri, thank you for an interesting comparison article.
    I compared the crops and see no SD1 Foveon superiority in sharpness over D800E, even though Sigma 35A is far sharper than Nikkor 50/1.4 especially @ F1.4. From F2.0 D800E resolves details better across the image circle.
    When Sigma develops a FF Foveon sensor DSLR with at least 24Mpx, I'll consider it as an alternative to D800E.
    Vieri, do you still use DP Merrills? I'd like to see your next review with them against D800E.
    Hello, thank you for viewing and commenting. I think that the fact that the Sigma system is up there with the D800E, differences of resolution, price and so on notwithstanding, is a serious testament to the work Sigma has been doing lately. Of course, a FF Foveon system would be a great thing to have, but I'd not hold my breath. An upgraded SD2 would be a welcome addition though.

    Sadly, I sold all 3 of the DP Merrill cameras, so I am not able to add them to the comparison any more.

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    Vieri

    Wow! What a test. Very interesting to read. The Nikon is a fantastic camera no doubt and I if I ever go back to a DSLR system, a Nikon system is what I would buy. As I continue to have back problems the Sigma DP series has been an absolute godsend. As you rightly point out, you have to work within the limitations.

    Of course, and this is being a bit provocative, it would be very interesting to see a comparison of the Sigma DP2M and the D800E with the 50/1.4 - especially as that lens is consistently reported as such a good performer.

    I have been putting together some comparison pictures between my Sigma DP2M and my Sony RX-1 - nothing as scientific as your tests but I will endeavour to show them at some point in the near future.

    Thanks again - an outstanding piece of testing.

    Louis
    Hello Louis,

    thank you for viewing and commenting. It would be very interesting to have a DP2 Merrill comparison, but sadly I sold my DP Merrill already. I got a Leica Monochrom though, which would be interesting to put into some comparison as well...

    As far as what to buy, of course the D800E-based is the most versatile and complete system, and the one with the best performing camera; the Sigma SD1 Merrill-based system is a very specific-need system, but a very good one at what it does, especially for the price. It's good to have the choice though!
    Vieri Bottazzini
    Leica Ambassador | Formatt-Hitech Ambassador | ABIPP EP
    VIERI BOTTAZZINI PHOTOGRAPHER | VIERI BOTTAZZINI WORKSHOPS | VIERI BOTTAZZINI FINE ART

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