If Nikon thought its 36-megapixel D800 would be the king of the resolutions this week, they were wrong. Sigma, it seems, didn't get the memo and has crashed the party, updating its DP1 and DP2 compacts with whopping 46-megapixel sensors. Okay, so technically it's three 15.3 megapixel layers (that also being the effective resolution), but we'll play along with the marketing spin. Rebranded as the DP1- and DP2-Merrill in honor of the sensor's co-creator, the refresh sees the compacts sporting the same imaging innards as the firm's flagship SD1 Merrill SLR. The LCD screen also gets a bump from 2.5 to three inches, which, we suppose, is to do better justice to those massive pictures you'll be taking. Sigma's keeping price and availability under wraps for now, but hit the PR after the break for more info.
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Sigma Corporation Announces Next-Generation Compact Cameras Named in Honor of Foveon Innovator

DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill now incorporate 46-megapixel, full-color image sensor

RONKONKOMA, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sigma Corporation of America (www.sigmaphoto.com), a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider for some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the new Merrill series of digital cameras with the introduction of the DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill. The Merrill series is named in honor of Richard "Dick" Merrill, the co-creator of the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor technology that powers Sigma's unique lineup of cameras.

"As an expression of Sigma's passion for photography and in honor of Dick Merrill's genius, we have named the latest generation of the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor the Foveon Merrill."

These upgraded, high resolution, fixed lens compact digital cameras now incorporate the same APS-C sized 46-megapixel X3 image sensor found in the company's flagship SD1 SLR, now also known as the Sigma SD1 Merrill. This name change not only pays homage to Merrill, but it also reflects new production efficiencies that will result in a substantial reduction in the camera's market price starting next month.

Merrill (1949-2008) was a brilliant engineer, talented photographer and Foveon co-founder. He tapped into his passion for electronics to build an innovative pixel structure that uniquely demonstrated the ability to capture RGB information in each pixel location. This revolutionary discovery led the Foveon team to the development of the X3 Direct Image Sensor and, ultimately, to the creation of some of the most vibrantly colored and detailed imagery the photography industry has ever seen. Sigma acquired Foveon in late 2008.

"This revolutionary image capture system reflects both the artistic and technological sides of Merrill's personality," said Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation. "As an expression of Sigma's passion for photography and in honor of Dick Merrill's genius, we have named the latest generation of the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor the Foveon Merrill."

The Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill each boast exclusively-designed, high-performance telecentric fixed lenses. The DP1 Merrill features a wide, 19mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera. The DP2 Merrill, however, offers a 30mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 45mm lens on a 35mm camera. Both cameras are compact and lightweight, and feature Sigma's own "F" Low Dispersion (FLD) glass, which performs like fluorite glass and significantly improves lens performance, as well as Super Multi Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting. With the 46-megapixel, full-color Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor, the new DP cameras capture all primary RGB colors at each pixel location with three layers, which results in incredibly detailed images with a three-dimensional feel.

The Sigma DP Merrill cameras also include the following features:

A dual, three-layer responsive ultimate (TRUE II) engine now incorporates two TRUE II processors to improve the processing speed and overall quality of the final image. Sigma's unique image-processing algorithm also provides high-resolution power and reproduces high-definition images with richly graduated tones that offer a three-dimensional feel.
RAW and JPEG format recording retains the full image detail of the utmost quality captured through the direct image sensor, as well as a JPEG recording format for convenience. The RAW data format provides pure data for high-resolution images, and uses lossless compression for more compact, yet uncompromised, data files. The RAW data format of the DP Merrill series keep brightness and color data in a 1:1 ratio without relying on interpolation. When the image is processed in Sigma Photo Pro, it will preserve the balance of the natural data for the best photos with the best image quality.

Sigma Photo Pro processing software converts RAW data quickly and easily. It incorporates functions such as a loupe, exposure picker, print, JPEG conversion, and batch white balance settings.

Manual focus is available for use when autofocus or focus-lock is not desired.
An advanced user interface is complete with a custom Quick Set (QS) menu and the metallic command dial to improve usability. The diaphragm, shutter speed and menu can be changed quickly using the command dial. The QS menu consists of the most commonly used functions and can be easily displayed by pressing the QS button, allowing photographers to change the menu content and the order depending on preferences.

A large, highly visible three-inch TFT color LCD monitor ensures great visibility even outdoors in the daytime. This approximately 920,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to capture details and check focusing and composition.
A hot shoe allows the use of the dedicated external flashgun EF-140 DG (optional) as well as Sigma electronic flashguns for SD series such as EF-610 DG Super (optional) and EF-610 DG ST (optional).
Movie mode enables movie recording with VGA (640×480) size, with 30 shooting frames per second.

Pricing and availability of the Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill are pending.