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Throwback Thursday: Sigma SD1

Tue, 23 Feb 2016 17:00:00 Z

The Sigma SD1 was an APS-C DSLR that featured the then-new 15MP (times three) Foveon X3 sensor. Previous models, such as the SD15, had 4.7x3MP sensors with a 1.7x crop, so this was a pretty big jump in resolution as well as a move to a more common sensor size. Foveon sensors capture color in a completely different way than Bayer sensors, with each 15MP layer capturing different color information. Thus, 45MP of total data is captured at 15 million locations, to give what the company claimed was equivalent to a 30MP Bayer sensor. Other features on this SA-mount camera include an 11-point 'twin-cross' AF system, 3" 460k-dot LCD and a weather-sealed body. The SD1 was originally announced in 2010 with an MSRP of $9,700 but the company then emphasized that it expected it to have a 'street price' nearer $7,000 by the time it hit the market in mid 2011. Early the following year, the camera was renamed the SD1 Merrill and relaunched for a more down-to-earth $2,300. As with all Foveon 'X3' sensors, while the SD1's low ISO resolution was great, image quality fell apart quickly as the sensitivity climbed. For those who wanted to carry around something a bit more 'classy,' Sigma released a model with a burl wood veneer, which was priced at €10,000, at least in Germany, where it was announced. The body was described as 'emphasizing the camera's premium appeal by adding a casing made from Amboyna Burl, an expensive and decorative veneer taken from complex growths on a Southeast Asian tree. The case takes around 60 hours to cut, mill and polish.' Wow. Sample Gallery Sigma has announced two mirrorless ILCs: the Sigma sd Quattro and the sd Quattro H. Both cameras use the company's full-depth SA lens mount as used in its SLRs, and are built around APS-C and APS-H sized sensors, respectively. The cameras share a body design with a built-in viewfinder that, while unusual, appears more ergonomically conventional than the recent DP Quattro series of large-sensor compacts. Both cameras feature on-sensor phase detection as part of a hybrid AF system, which should mean they work effectively with existing SA-mount lenses. The down-side is that it reduces the range of lenses that could be added via adapter. Both cameras use the latest, 'Quattro' version of Sigma's Foveon technology, which measures different color information based on how deeply into the sensor it is able to penetrate. The Quattro design features full resolution at the top (predominantly blue-sensing) layer but then 1/4 of that resolution for the two deeper layers used to interpret information about red and green color components. The APS-H sensor features 25.5MP in its top layer, which the company considers equivalent to the capture of a 51 megapixel sensor using the conventional Bayer design. This 26.6 x 17.9mm sensor is around 30% larger than the more common APS-C size, but it's currently unclear what proportion of Sigma's 'DC' lenses designed for APS-C offer a large enough image circle for use with the camera. The APS-C version uses a phase-detection capable variant of the sensor used in the existing DP Quattros, offering 19.6MP on its top layer. Sigma says this should offer a level of detail comparable with a 39MP Bayer chip. (Foveon explained the logic of these claims when we spoke to them a few years ago). The cameras feature two rear screens, one of which displays the camera's current settings. They also feature USB 3.0 interfaces. A vertical/battery grip will be available. Press Release: Sigma Announces Two New Mirrorless Cameras: Sigma sd Quattro and sd Quattro H Interchangeable lens APS-C and APS-H Foveon Quattro sensors in state-of-the-art camera systems KANAGAWA, JAPAN — February 23, 2016 — Sigma Corporation of America, a leading camera, DSLR lens, flash and accessories manufacturer, today announced the new high-performance, compact Sigma sd Quattro and Sigma sd Quattro H mirrorless camera systems with Foveon Quattro sensors. The Sigma sd Quattro features an APS-C sized sensor and the Sigma sd Quattro H touting a larger APS-H sized senso[...]

Sigma UK gives pricing and availability for dp2 Quattro + Specs

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:55:00 Z

Sigma UK has revealed pricing and availability for its dp2 Quattro, along with a press release that gives much more information about the camera than we got when it was announced in February. The latest, 45mm-equivalent, model features dramatic styling and a fundamental re-think of the company's Foveon multi-layer sensor design. It will be available in early July with a suggested retail price of £899.99 including VAT. In the USA availability is estimated as early August and the street price will be $999 Jump to: Press Release Specifications Press Release: Reinvention of camera, reinvention of DP SIGMA dp2 Quattro Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd is pleased to announce that the dp2 Quattro will be available in early July with a suggested retail price of £899.99 including VAT. Unique and without peer among image sensors, the Foveon direct image sensor is similar to traditional color film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. Along with Sigma’s proprietary image processing technology, this sensor produces incredible resolution, precise gradation, gorgeous color, breathtaking realism with a 3D feel. In other words, full-bodied image quality. For the new dp series, we rethought and redesigned every aspect of the camera, including the sensor, engine, lens, and body. While retaining its famous textural expression, which seems to give form to the air itself, the updated Foveon direct image sensor produces images that are more colorful, rich, deep, and faithful than ever before. To a radical degree, the new-generation dp series embodies Sigma’s philosophy of creating cameras that produce works of art. Featuring the highest level of fundamental performance, this series unites artistic expression and daily experience as no other cameras can. With every element optimized for lens and sensor performance, this camera is simple yet powerful To deliver full-bodied image quality with all of its rich and colorful detail, we rethought and optimized every element of the camera, including the ultra-high-resolution sensor, the top-performance lens, and every component involved in motion and operation. Unchanged from the first generation is a key element of the specification, the fixed focal length lens, which we selected as the optimal way to deliver the highest possible level of image quality. The dp is able to process high volumes of image data at a level similar to that of a high-end DSLR, and the shape, weight, layout, and other camera elements all come together in a compact body to deliver outstanding image quality. In addition, the dp offers superior handling and highly intuitive operation. In sum, these features allow the photographer to concentrate fully on photography itself, leveraging the camera’s potential to produce outstanding images. In everyday life, the dp series lets photographers find unexpected opportunities for experiencing emotion and enjoying photography and personal expression in exciting new ways. It is an outwardly simple yet extremely powerful embodiment of Sigma’s philosophy of photography. The world’s only image capture system to use vertical color separation technology Leveraging the light absorption characteristics of silicon, the sensor comprises three layers of photodiodes, each at a different depth within the silicon and each corresponding to a different RGB color. Since it is the only sensor to use this superior vertical color separation technology, it is also the world’s only direct image sensor. The Foveon direct image sensor captures color vertically, recording hue, value, and chroma accurately and completely for each pixel, enabling the expression of rich gradation and tone. Moreover, there is no low-pass filter needed to correct the interference caused by a color filter array, unlike the data from other sensors, which requires artificial interpolation to “fill in” missing colors. The data from the Foveon direct image sensor is complete with ligh[...]

Sigma unveils radical DP2 Quattro with re-thought ~19.6MP Foveon sensor

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 07:44:00 Z

Sigma has revealed the next generation of its DP series of APS-C sensor, fixed focal length cameras, with the dp2 Quattro. The latest, 45mm-equivalent, model features dramatic styling and a fundamental re-think of the company's Foveon multi-layer sensor design. The Quattro sensor still uses three layers to detect color information but now only captures its full, 19.6 million pixel resolution in the top layer, with lower two layers capturing 4.9MP of information each. The sensor will also appear in 28mm and 75mm equivalent dp1 Quattro and dp3 Quattro models. The company says the 4:1:1 ratio maintains most of the color resolution advantages of the existing Foveon design while reducing the amount of data that needs to be handled - speeding up processing and improving the noise characteristics. The idea is that the top, 19.6MP layer will capture the majority of the luminance information, that is interpreted as resolution, with the deeper layers providing the color information. The Foveon X3 'Quattro' sensor samples 19.6MP of data at its top layer, but only 4.9MP at the two lower levels, meaning it captures higher luminance resolution than color resolution (something that's also true of conventional 'Bayer' sensors). In principle we'd expect this to lose a little of the color resolution that Foveon chips have been known for, but until we've had a chance to play with one, we won't know how much difference it'll make. The company promises 'the same exacting standard of image quality' as its existing models. In addition to offering JPEGs at its 19.6MP luminance resolution, a 'Super-High' 39MP JPEG mode will also be offered (14-bit Raw files will include full 16.9+4.9+4.9MP data). The dp1, dp2 and dp3 Quattro models will continue to feature 19mm, 30mm and 50mm F2.8 lenses, offering 28mm, 45mm and 75mm equivalent fields of view, respectively. The lens specifications, in terms of numbers of elements and groups, and minimum focusing distances, remain unchanged from the existing 'Merrill' models. All three models will have 920k dot rear LCDs and 9-point contrast-detection autofocus systems. At 395g (13.9oz), without battery or memory card, the dp2 Quattro will be 40g heavier than its predecessor. However, it is based around a new, BP-51 battery, so the difference in shooting weights may be greater. Price and availability have not yet been announced. Press Release: Reinvention of camera, reinvention of dp SIGMA dp Quattro The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the new generation of high image quality compact cameras “SIGMA dp” that incorporates a newly developed Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: “Quattro”). Unique and without peer among image sensors, the Foveon direct image sensor is similar to traditional color film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. Along with Sigma’s proprietary image processing technology, this sensor produces incredible resolution, precise gradation, gorgeous color, breathtaking realism with a 3D feel. In other words, full-bodied image quality. For the new dp series, we rethought and redesigned every aspect of the camera, including the sensor, engine, lens, and body. While retaining its famous textural expression, which seems to give form to the air itself, the updated Foveon direct image sensor produces images that are more colorful, rich, deep, and faithful than ever before. To a radical degree, the new-generation dp series embodies Sigma’s philosophy of creating cameras that produce works of art. Featuring the highest level of fundamental performance, this series unites artistic expression and daily experience as no other cameras can. Special Features With every element optimized for image quality, this camera is ready to produce works of art Thanks to its optimized design featuring a fixed focal length lens and integrated body, the dp series offers both sensor and lens performance at the highest level. The result is full-b[...]

Canon still pursuing Foveon-style multi-layer sensor design

Thu, 23 May 2013 18:32:03 Z

Canon has patented a color-sensitive multi-layered sensor design, showing the company is still pursuing the technology. Like Sigma's Foveon chips, the multi-layered design allows each of the sensor's pixels to capture color information without the need for colored filters. The patent, discovered by the Japanese Engineering Accomplishment blog, suggests a system to promote resonance within the sensor, in an attempt to make the lower layers of the sensor more sensitive.

The Canon patent includes a structure (40) designed to induce resonance within the sensor, in an attempt to boost sensitivity to red light.

Canon already uses a two-layer sensor in the iFCL metering system introduced with the EOS 7D, to make it color aware. At present only Sigma, with its Foveon technology, uses a multi-layer design as its main imaging sensor. The principle is that different colors of light have different energies, allowing them to penetrate to different depths within a sensor. Existing designs have not been able to offer the same degree of light sensitivity as more conventional, filtered sensors - at least partly because the red can be lost in the sensor, rather than being recorded.

Canon's iFCL metering sensor (as first used in the EOS 7D), uses a two-layer design to provide an understanding of the color, as well as the brightness, of a scene.

Although the fine detail is not clear (a combination of being written in repetitive 'patentese' and in Japanese means it doesn't lend itself to precise machine translation), it seems Canon's design uses a physical structure that causes light to resonate within the sensor, increasingly the likelihood of the red light being captured.

Canon is not alone in working on layered sensors - Sony has also published several patents in the area, hoping to avoid the risk of color moire and loss of color resolution that exist in the conventional Bayer design. (from Egami blog)

Sigma launches DP3 Merrill with Foveon sensor and 75mm (equiv.) lens

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 07:00:00 Z

Sigma has announced the DP3 Merrill, the latest iteration of the company's enthusiast large sensor compact camera. Nearly identical to the earlier DP Merrill models, this camera features the familiar 15x3MP APS-C Foveon X3 sensor, but it is now mated with a 50mm (75mm equiv.) F2.8 lens. The lens lends itself to portraiture and, with a minimum focus distance of 22.6cm, offers respectable 1:3 magnification. Video recording is still limited to VGA resolution but the DP3M can shoot at up to 4 frames per second for 7 frames in Raw. Press Release: The Sigma DP3 Merrill, the latest in the series of compact cameras incorporating the 46 megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor. SIGMA DP3 Merrill LAS VEGAS — Jan. 7, 2012 — Sigma Corporation (CEO: Kazuto Yamaki) is pleased to announce the new SIGMA DP3 Merrill, featuring a 50mm F2.8 lens, will join the lineup of the “SIGMA DP Merrill” series. The SIGMA DP3 Merrill is the next generation of high image quality compact digital cameras. Equipped with the Foveon X3 image sensor, the DP3 Merrill ensures outstanding resolution and natural rendering with rich gradation as well as a three-dimensional feel. Featuring a high performance 50mm F2.8 lens (a focal range equivalent to 75mm on a 35mm SLR camera), the SIGMA DP3 Merrill offers incredibly high levels of optical performance and takes in every detail of the subject's information. This state of the art lens also offers enhanced macro functionality as well. The SIGMA DP3 Merrill completes this series of compact cameras by satisfying the mid-telephoto and macro range shooting. The SIGMA DP1 Merrill is designed for wide angle images, the SIGMA DP2 Merrill is for standard range, while the DP3 Merrill rounds out the series with a camera for all shooting situations. Key Features • 46 megapixel, 23.5×15.7mm Full-color Foveon X3 Merrill sensorThe 23.5×15.7mm full-color Foveon X3 direct image sensor (Generation name “Merrill”), featured in the SIGMA DP3 Merrill, incorporates 46 effective megapixels (4,800×3,200×3 layers) and 44 recording megapixels (4,704×3,136×3 layers). The Foveon X3 direct image sensor captures all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location with 3 layers, ensuring the capture of full and complete color. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required, meaning light and color are captured by the 46 megapixel 23.5×15.7mm full-color X3 Merrill sensor with a three-dimensional feel. • Dual TRUE II image processing engineThe dual “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engine dedicated to Foveon X3 direct image sensors improves the processing speed and overall quality of the final image. By incorporating two TRUE II processors, Sigma’s unique image-processing algorithm provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with richly graduated tones as well as a three-dimensional feel. • Exclusively designed high performance 50mm F2.8 lensThe high-performance 50mm F2.8 lens has the equivalent angle of view as 75mm on a 35mm lens, and it has been designed exclusively for the SIGMA DP3 Merrill to maximizes the sensor performance. The use of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass accompanied by aspherical lens elements not only compensates for a variety of aberrations, but also allows for a more compact size. The superior telecentric optical design improves image quality throughout the frame by passing on information about subjects to the sensor. The DP3 Merrill has a minimum focusing distance of 22.6cm (8.9”) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3, which can offer quality macro shooting. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting, ensuring sharp, high contrast image quality even under severe conditions such as taking photos against or towards the sun. • Advanced User InterfaceThe custom quick set m[...]

Sigma US announces DP1 Merrill at $1000, arriving in mid September

Fri, 31 Aug 2012 05:00:00 Z

Sigma Corportation of North America has announced that the DP1 Merrill will be available from mid September at a price of around $1000. The DP1M is the version of the company's fixed lens, APS-C compact camera with a 28mm equivalent, F2.8. It uses the same Foveon X3 sensor as the company's flagship SD1 DSLR, which captures three colors at each of its 14.6 million pixel sites. The quoted price is the camera's 'street price' reflecting what Sigma thinks the camera will actually sell for, rather than a more speculative recommended selling price. Press Release: Sigma Corporation announces pricing and availability of Sigma DP1 Merrill New generation compact camera to hit US shelves in September for street price of $999 Ronkonkoma, NY, August 31, 2012 – Sigma Corporation of America (, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider for some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, has announced that the Sigma DP1 Merrill compact digital camera will be available in the United States in mid-September for the street price of $999. This upgraded, high-resolution, compact digital camera with a fixed lens 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. It differs from its predecessor, the DP1x, because its lens now includes one “F” Low Dispersion glass element to correct aberrations, and its resolution has grown by moving from Foveon’s 14.6-megapixel APS-C size image sensor to the 46-megapixel APS-C image sensor found in the company’s flagship SLR, the Sigma SD1 Merrill. The full-color Foveon X3 direct image sensor ensures outstanding resolution, richly gradated tones and images with a three-dimensional feel. A focus ring and custom Quick Set (QS) mode also improve the user interface. “We are extremely pleased with the engineering and design involved in the upgrade of the DP1 Merrill,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “Its wide focal length, fixed lens and impressive sensor capture stunningly sharp images that are truly incredible, especially given the compact nature of the camera’s design.” The Sigma DP1 Merrill boasts an exclusively designed, high-performance, telecentric 19mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera.This camera differs from the DP2 Merrill, which was released in June, due to its wider focal length. The DP2 Merrill has a 30mm F2.8 lens, which is the equivalent to a 45mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera. Both cameras are compact and lightweight, and feature Super Multi Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting. Other features of the Sigma DP1 Merrill camera include: A dual, three-layer responsive ultimate (TRUE II) engine that now incorporates two TRUE II processors to improve the processing speed and overall quality of the final image RAW and JPEG format recording to retain the full image detail of the utmost quality captured through the direct image sensor, as well as a JPEG recording format for convenience Sigma Photo Pro processing software to convert RAW data quickly and easily Manual focus for use when autofocus or focus-lock is not desired Easy-to-use auto focus with a “nine-point select mode” which can select the desired focusing point from nine different frames, and a “free move mode” that allows shooters to select their desired focusing point An advanced user interface complete with a custom QS menu and the metallic command dial to improve usability Continuous shooting capabilities to capture up to seven RAW images per sequence A large, highly visible, three-inch TFT color LCD monitor for great visibility A hot shoe for the use of the dedicated external flashgun EF-140 DG (optional) Movie mode for movie recording with VGA (640×480[...]

Report: Sigma at PPE 2011

Sat, 29 Oct 2011 16:37:24 Z

Report: Sigma at PPE 2011 Sigma is at PPE, showing off its huge range of lenses and (smaller) range of cameras, including the innovative SD1 DSLR. We got our hands on some of the latest products and met up with Rudy Guttosch of Foveon, the company that creates the innovative X3 sensor in Sigma's SD-series cameras.  Sigma is showing off its wide range of lenses and its SD range of compact and DSLR cameras at this year's PPE show. Sigma makes lenses in all different shapes and sizes, for many different lens mounts.  This is the flagship SD camera, the 14.7MP SD1, which uses a unique Foveon sensor.   The new 120-300mm f/2.8 zoom is a monster, but optical stabilization makes it potentially very useful for sports and wildlife shooters.   Whereas the 85mm f/1.4 prime is ideal for portraiture and low light work.    This is the updated 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 superzoom, and ideal 'carry everywhere' lens for APS-C DSLR photographers   And this is Rudy Guttosch of Foveon - the Sigma-owned company that created the sensor inside the SD1. We spoke to Rudy, and other Foveon executives in 2010 about the SD1.   And here's that sensor. An APS-C format, X3 sensor with an output resolution of 14.7 million pixels, although thanks to its innovative design, Sigma claims that actual resolution is significantly higher. {ShowReportIndex:PhotoPlusExpo2011}[...]

Exclusive: Sigma and Foveon discuss the forthcoming SD1

Tue, 05 Oct 2010 08:57:00 Z

One of the few real surprises at Photokina 2010 was Sigma's announcement of its forthcoming SD1 DSLR, and that at its heart would be a new Foveon sensor that would offer 15.4x3MP resolution rather than the existing 4.7x3MP. We spoke to Sigma Chief Operating Officer Kazuto Yamaki, Foveon Vice President for Technology and Operations, Shri Ramaswami and its Vice President for Strategic Marketing, Rudy Guttosch about the work that's gone on. The latest chip, with 46 million photodiodes providing full color information at 15.4 million positions will be at the heart of the SD1, which is due in early 2011. But work started two years ago, the companies say: 'Foveon was working on a different project when we bought to company, after the acquisition we started work', explains Yamaki. It was immediately clear that higher resolution was needed, he says: 'We want to be able to offer the best image quality, the highest resolution. Our customers appreciate the color detail and crisp image quality. If we enlarge the images from our current sensors they still look good but we knew we needed to increase resolution.' 'We knew we could make pixels smaller due to the previous project we'd been conducting for mobile phones,' says Guttosch: 'this gave us the confidence to be able to propose a small pixel, high pixel count sensor. It was discussed during acquisition: the goal was by Photokina 2010 to have a sensor with the right characteristics to make a big impact.' 'It gave us a good chance to reflect on what the strengths of the X3 technology are', he says. 'The spectral response of human visual system has its peak in green. The Bayer design takes advantage of that by having two green pixels in every four. With our X3 technology every darned pixel captures green. The only way to take advantage of this difference is to get to the same pixel size. What we do better than anyone is provide that green luminance information, which is perceived as image sharpness.' 'We knew this advantage but hadn't really made the most of it', admits Yamaki. 'We responded by driving pixel size down to equivalent sizes,' says Guttosch: 'a sensor with an equivalent number of pixels has a √2 resolution advantage over Bayer for the green channel and about 2 times for other colors. Clever demosaicing reduces the gap but you still have an anti-aliasing filter with Bayer. And, if you look at the maximum resolution of most Bayer cameras, they give a figure that's around 70% (1/√2) of the potential maximum value (Nyquist), whereas we can get right up towards the Nyquist frequency. For a sensor with the same pixel area there is a √2 resolution advantage in the visually most important, green channel. Real-world resolution assessments tend to show Bayer sensors give results very close to this theoretical figure of Nyquist/√2. By this logic, a 15.4x3MP Foveon chip, which should produce resolution at around the Nyquist frequency, is comparable to a Bayer sensor with 30MP (a pixel count that is √2 larger along each axis). 'The [15.4x3mp] goal was set at the beginning', says Ramaswami. The team was confident that the 15.4x3mp figure would be high enough to make the required impact, he says: ''It's hard to know where someone else is going to be but looking at historic trends, the rest of the industry has kept pace with what you'd expect, maybe a little late but not hugely so.' 'We'd been working on cellular phone sensors which was a greater challenge in terms of sensor design. But, while working on this much larger scale is technically a little easier the image quality challenges are so much harder. In terms of image quality and dynamic range, for example.' This also explains the move from the smaller 1.7x crop size of previous Foveon sensors up to full 1.5x crop APS-C size, says Ramaswami: 'We don't want the pixels much smaller than they are: not too big, not too small.[...]

Silkypix Pro release candidate for Sigma Foveon X3

Fri, 16 Oct 2009 09:33:00 Z

(image) Japanese software developer Ichikawa Soft Laboratory has announced a 'release candidate' version of its Silkypix Developer Studio Pro raw converter that supports Sigma's SD14, DP1 and DP2 digital cameras. The new version also extends raw suppport to most cameras including the Nikon D300S and Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and offers features such lens aberration controllers, noise reduction, color accuracy and batch processing. The Sigma RC will be available as a free download until November 30, 2009. The release candidate label indicates the update is tested, but not yet the finalized version.

Click here for more information and to download the test version

Sigma buys sensor developer Foveon

Tue, 11 Nov 2008 09:12:00 Z

(image) Camera and lens maker Sigma has bought Foveon, the sensor technology company that develops the sensors it uses. Foveon's technology uses three photosensitive layers to detect red, green and blue light at each pixel. Sigma says owning the company will allow the development of new types of sensors and improved integration between the sensors and its lenses.

Press release:

Kawasaki, Japan, November 11th, 2008 - Sigma Corporation (Location: Kawasaki, Japan) has acquired 100% of the stock of the company that developed the original three-layer image sensor, Foveon Inc. Foveon will continue its sensor development operations in San Jose, CA, USA.

Foveon made history when it developed and patented the world's first three-layer image capture technology, placing a stack of RGB pixels in each pixel location. As a result, Foveon sensors detect all three primary colors in every pixel location, producing images that are sharper and have significantly reduced image artifacts compared to competing image sensor technologies.

Since Sigma first worked with Foveon in 2000, both companies have enjoyed a cooperative working relationship directed toward developing highly-efficient DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras and compact digital cameras which take the best advantage of the X3 sensor technology. Sigma Corporation has employed Foveon's technology in its entire digital camera line, producing images which are acclaimed by both amateur and professional photographers all over the world for their high resolution and for their three-dimensional look. Both the latest DLSR, the SD14, and the compact DP1 camera - which packs the full spec of a DSLR into a compact camera - have met with similar acclaim. Two additional Sigma camera products based on Foveon's image sensor technology have been announced for 2009.

The acquisition of Foveon will not only enhance the development of new types of image sensors for high quality digital cameras, but will also create a synergistic effect with Sigma's camera and lens business by improving the integration between the camera and sensor. This will result in camera products which will uniquely meet the widely ranging functional and image quality needs of demanding photographers.

As the digital camera market continues to expand, Foveon and Sigma will continuously evolve and improve the X3 sensor technology, thus expanding the company's photography-related business. In addition, Sigma remains firmly committed to preserving and nurturing the culture of photography.

Foveon 1/1.8" X3 Image Sensor

Mon, 21 Jun 2004 18:03:10 Z

Foveon has today issued a press release announcing the F19 1/1.8" Type CMOS 'Direct Image Sensor'. This press release essentially puts a name to the sensor to be used in the Polaroid x530 digital camera which was announced at PMA. As with previous X3 sensors the F19 captures three individual colors (red, green and blue) for each pixel location, in this case 1440 x 1080 x 3 layers. Hence this new chip is being labelled as a '4.5 Megapixel CMOS Direct Image Sensor'. This sensor is also designated to be used in the new HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera which is aimed at industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications. Press Release: FOVEON INTRODUCES THE FIRST SMALL FORMAT FULL-COLOR IMAGE SENSOR 4.5 Megapixel Direct Image Sensor Brings Revolutionary Patented Foveon X3 Full-Color Technology to Medical & Science Applications Captures Color Like Film in 3 Layers Santa Clara, CA, June 21, 2004 – Foveon Inc., a technology leader of award-winning high-quality digital camera image sensors, announced today the availability of the Foveon F19 sensor (FO18-50- F19), a 1/1.8-inch 4.5 Megapixel CMOS direct image sensor that incorporates Foveon’s breakthrough X3 technology to directly capture color in three layers, just like film. The company also announced that the F19 image sensor has been designed into the HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera for industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications. Advanced Design of Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor The F19 direct image sensor employs Foveon’s unique X3 stacked-pixel design. Each stack of pixels contains a red, green, and blue pixel, eliminating the need for color interpolation and blur filters which are required for conventional CCD and CMOS image sensors. Color interpolation is used by CCD and CMOS image sensors to estimate the missing color information inherent in these image sensors, which only have a single layer of pixels. Blur filters are also used in CCD and CMOS image sensors to eliminate the color artifacts, which are introduced as part of the color interpolation. The Foveon X3 F19 direct image sensor avoids these image quality compromises by utilizing the X3 stacked pixel design. As a result, the Foveon X3 F19 sensor delivers the highest degree of full color, image sharpness, and artifact-free color detail possible with a 1/1.8-inch image sensor. Variable Pixel Size Technology The new Foveon F19 sensor also features Foveon’s powerful VPS (Variable Pixel Size) technology. VPS groups neighboring pixels together to form larger pixels that are optimal for high frame rate, reduced noise, and dual mode still/video applications. Other advanced Foveon F19 features include low fixed-pattern noise, ultra low power consumption, and integrated digital control. New Camera for Scientific and Industrial Markets Foveon also announced today that the F19 direct image sensor has been designed into the HanVision HVDUO-5M, a digital camera designed for industrial, scientific, medical and communications applications. Boasting 30-bit digital color output, real-time color processing, support for still and video sensor scan modes, and a CameraLink interface, the HanVision HVDUO-5M was made for applications needing exact color detail and flexible readout options. The camera is compatible with a wide range of C-mount optics and frame grabbers. It includes an automatic internal dark-frame shutter mechanism and controls for synchronized illuminators for flexibility in exposure control. Current Line of Digital Cameras Using the Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor Sigma SD9 – The first digit[...]

Polaroid x530 with Foveon X3 sensor

Mon, 09 Feb 2004 15:03:32 Z

Pre-PMA 2004: Foveon today announced that Polaroid's new x530 digital camera will use a 1/1.8" size X3 Direct Image Sensor. The x530 will have a three times optical zoom lens and is designed around a typical point-and-shoot digital camera body, similar to the Canon A70. The sensor used is Foveon's 'X3 5M' Direct Image CMOS Sensor (three layers of 1.5 million pixels each) which is the industry standard 1/1.8" Type size (7.1 x 5.3 mm effective). In a big step forward for Foveon the x530 can now produce JPEG images in-camera. Phil: I'm glad to see the X3 sensor making its way into a consumer camera, although we will have to see how this camera can compete against the plethera of cheap four and five megapixel consumer cameras. I'm looking forward to seeing the output from the camera. Click here for more information on the X3 5M Direct Image Sensor Exclusive images Disclaimer: the images below are of an x530 design model, essentially a hollow case intended to give an impression of the final dimensions and layout of the camera. Of course the final camera's finish quality and exact detailing will be different / better than this. Press Release: NEW POLAROID X530 POINT-AND-SHOOT DIGITAL CAMERA USES FOVEON X3 DIRECT IMAGE SENSOR Anticipated arrival of consumer camera with advanced technology due in 2004 LAS VEGAS, Nevada, February 11, 2004 – Foveon Inc., a technology leader in high-quality digital image capture products, announced today that a new Polaroid brand digital camera will incorporate the 4.5 megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor. The camera is the world’s first point-and-shoot digital camera to incorporate X3 technology. Foveon X3 direct image sensors are the only image sensors that directly capture color in three layers, just like color film. This results in richer colors, warmer tones, and sharper images than are available through traditional image sensors. First introduced in 2002, the X3 image sensor has only been available in a professional class digital camera. Now with the introduction of the Polaroid x530, consumers are able to enjoy the many benefits of X3 technology in an affordable full-featured point-and-shoot digital camera. The Polaroid x530 is scheduled to ship to retailers in June 2004 with a suggested retail price of $399. The Foveon technology enables the Polaroid x530 digital camera to produce superb 8” x 10” images – the largest print size that most consumers will print. The camera takes advantage of several key features of the X3 direct image sensor including X3F raw file format image capture, video clip capture at VGA resolution, and Foveon’s recently introduced X3 Fill Light software. The X3 Fill Light software tool digitally simulates the photographic method of "dodging and burning" adding extra light to shadow regions, while preserving highlight detail. It is a powerful method for simultaneously adjusting overexposed and underexposed areas of a digital image with a single simple control. Foveon has received numerous technical awards and recognition including: Popular Science’s Best of What’s New Award, Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of the year, the European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) award and the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) Award. The Polaroid brand x530 digital camera is made by World Wide License Ltd under exclusive license by Polaroid and distributed in the United States through Uniden America Corporation. Information about the Polaroid x530 d[...]

Foveon X3 Fill Light

Mon, 27 Oct 2003 00:03:18 Z

Foveon today announced that Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 (for the SD10, also works with the SD9) has a new and important feature called 'X3 Fill Light'. This feature works by lightening dark areas of the image much in the same way a flash fill light would (auto dodge and burn or 'locally varying tone correction'). As the new X3 Fill Light operates using the RAW data stored in the X3F file it appears to produce far better results than we have seen from any similar Photoshop plug-in type enhancement. The new X3 Fill Light feature is implemented as an adjustment slider in Photo Pro and its setting can be stored in the X3F file along with all other rendering adjustments (another new feature of Photo Pro 2.0). Phil: Personally I was amazed at the difference this adjustment can make, it's far more sophisticated and capable than anything I've seen to date and because it's operating on the X3F RAW data the results are bound to be better than attempting the same kind of 'fix' on a JPEG. Press Release: FOVEON ENHANCES DIGITAL IMAGES WITH ‘X3 FILL LIGHT’ New technology easily corrects lighting problems in digital photos Santa Clara, CA (October 27, 2003) – Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high-quality digital image capture, today announced the release of X3 Fill Light, a powerful new technology that dramatically improves the quality of digital images affected by difficult lighting conditions. The technology is incorporated as a new software feature in the Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 application for the Sigma SD10 digital Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. The X3 Fill Light feature simulates the photographic method of “dodging and burning” adding extra light to shadow regions, while preserving highlight detail. It is a powerful method for simultaneously adjusting overexposed and underexposed areas of a digital image with a single simple control. The feature is bundled exclusively with the new Sigma SD10 digital SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) camera, which uses a Foveon X3 direct image sensor. X3 Fill Light is designed for images taken under lighting conditions such as indoor-outdoor scenes, backlit portraits, or scenes with mixed lighting. Use of the X3 Fill Light feature creates natural-looking images that can be faithfully reproduced in a print. “Challenging lighting conditions, such as backlighting from a window or subjects in front of snow, can result in disappointing images. The X3 Fill Light technology allows photographers to make excellent prints from poorly exposed images which otherwise would have been discarded due to poor lighting and exposure.” said Eric Zarakov, Foveon’s vice president of marketing. X3 Fill Light is implemented as a simple slider interface that allows the user to control the amount of correction. By increasing the amount of X3 Fill Light, the brightness and contrast of the shadow regions are increased to add visibility into areas that have been underexposed. Simultaneously, the contrast in highlight regions is automatically increased and the brightness is adjusted to avoid saturation. The Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 software, incorporating Foveon’s X3 Fill Light, is shipping with the Sigma SD10 digital Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera from Sigma Corporation. X3 Fill Light samples The samples below were shot with a pre-production Sigma SD10, output from Photo Pro 2.0 at the half-size 1134 x 756 (to save bandwidth). Adjustments noted below the images were made in Photo Pro before saving. No adjustment +2.0 EV Exposure Compensati[...]

Foveon updated X3 Pro 10M sensor

Mon, 27 Oct 2003 00:03:18 Z

Foveon today announced an updated version of its X3 Pro 10M sensor, this new sensor is used in the new Sigma SD10 which has also been announced today. While the sensor has the same resolution as that used in the SD9 (2268 x 1512 x 3) Foveon has finally taken the step to calling this a 10.2 megapixel sensor. The new sensor is said to have improved dynamic range and color response as well as increasing sensitivity by utilizing a microlens over each pixel location, sensitivity for the SD10 is up to ISO 100 to 800 with ISO 1600 available as an extended option. Press Release: FOVEON INTRODUCES NEW 10.2 MEGAPIXEL DIRECT IMAGE SENSOR Sigma SD10 Digital Camera First To Incorporate Improved Foveon Image Sensor Santa Clara, CA (October 27, 2003) – Foveon Inc., a technology leader in high-quality digital photography, announces the immediate availability of the F7X3-C9110, an enhanced version of the Foveon X3® PRO 10M direct image sensor. The improved 10.2 megapixel (red + green + blue pixels) image sensor doubles the sensitivity and maximum exposure times and offers increased dynamic range over its predecessor. The new Foveon sensor is used in the Sigma SD10 digital Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. The new Foveon X3® PRO 10M direct image sensor will allow users to capture outstanding photographs at higher shutter speeds ideal for sports action as well as in low light situations requiring long exposures up to 30 seconds. The new Foveon image sensor is a result of design and fabrication process improvements that result in higher image quality and superb color fidelity. “These improvements demonstrate the speed at which we are evolving the technology and support our confidence that X3 is the most advanced image sensor technology for capturing color images,” said Federico Faggin, Foveon’s CEO. The first camera to incorporate the new image sensor is the newly introduced Sigma SD10 digital Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. The camera supports an ISO range from 100 to 800, plus an extended mode option to ISO 1600, and exposure durations of up to 30 seconds. “The choice of image sensor is becoming a top criterion, when choosing a digital camera, because it is the primary factor that determines the image quality. We believe that with Foveon X3 technology, the Sigma SD10 digital camera offers color resolution and color fidelity comparable to other cameras costing four times the price,” said Faggin. The Foveon X3 PRO 10M direct image sensor has a total of 10.2 million red, green, and blue pixels that are organized into three layers (2268 x 1512 x 3 layers). About Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensors Foveon X3 image sensors are the world’s only direct image sensors, which capture red, green, and blue light at every pixel location, and are the first image sensors that leverage silicon’s inherent color separation property. When silicon is exposed to light, blue light is absorbed near the surface, green light is absorbed in the middle, and red light is absorbed deep within the silicon. Pixel sensors are stacked at the corresponding depths within the silicon so that red, green, and blue light is captured for each pixel location. Other image sensors on the market such as CCD and CMOS image sensors have only one layer of pixels and use colored filters to capture a single color per location, resulting in color artifacts and image blurring. Foveon X3 technology is highly scalable for a wide range of cameras including digital still/video cameras, PDAs, cell phones, security cameras and scie[...]

Foveon X3 5M 1/1.8" type sensor

Fri, 08 Aug 2003 06:35:03 Z

Foveon has released specifications for the 'Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor'. This is a very interesting sensor because it is the same size as the now almost standard 1/1.8" type used in many of todays compact digital cameras. The X3 5M has 4.53 MPS (million pixel sensors) in an array of 1420 x 1060 x 3 layers. This sensor is also capable of 640 x 480 full color video (3 colors per output pixel) at an impressive 30 frames per second using Foveon's Variable Pixel Size (VPS) capability. Could this be a sign that we will soon see consumer level digital cameras with X3 sensors? (Note: According to our friends at Imaging-Resource mention was made of this sensor back in March but until now we had not seen the specifications). Click here for help on x/y" type sensor sizes Click here for the Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor Datasheet (460 KB, PDF) Product Brief: Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor (F19X3-A50) The Foveon X3 5M is a 1/1.8-inch CMOS image sensor that incorporates the breakthrough Foveon X3 technology. Foveon X3 image sensors capture full-measured color images through a unique three-layer pixel sensor design. By capturing fullmeasured color images, the need for color interpolation and artifact-reducing blur filters is eliminated. As a result, the Foveon X3 5M delivers the highest effective resolution possible without color artifacts for the 1/1.8-inch optical format. The Foveon X3 5M features the powerful VPS(Variable Pixel Size) capability. VPS provides the on-chip capability of grouping neighboring pixels together to form larger pixels that are optimal for reduced noise, high frame rate or dual mode still/video applications. Other advanced features include: low fixed-pattern noise, ultra-low power consumption, and integrated digital control. Features Foveon X3® Technology Three pixel sensors are layered at each pixel location to achieve full-measured color. Images have improved sharpness and immunity to sampling artifacts (moiré).   Variable Pixel Size (VPS) Capability Several neighboring pixels can be averaged together on-chip to obtain the effect of a larger pixel. Enables flexible video capture at a variety of resolutions. Enables higher ISO mode at lower resolutions.Reduces noise by combining pixels.   On-Chip A/D Conversion Integrated 12-bit A/D converter running at up to 40MHz. Color sequential row readout onto a 12-bit tri-state output data bus.   Integrated Digital Control Minimal external control logic required. Data bus from the image sensor can be connected directly to DSP or video capture bus. Image sensor control is via simple three wire serial interface.   Ultra Low Power Advanced CMOS process technology results in ultra low power requirements. Power consumption is less than 200mW during readout, less than 40mW in standby mode,and less than 1mW in power down mode. (Preliminary)   Low Noise The Foveon X3 image sensor offers extremely low-noise readout and high dynamic range. Proprietary readout circuits suppress fixed pattern noise artifacts associated with CMOS image sensors. Specifications Effective Pixel Sensors 4.53 MPS (million pixel sensors) 1.51 million pixel locations x 3 layers (1420 columns x 1060 rows x 3 layers) Total Pixel Sensors 4.7 MPS (million pixel sensors) 1.57 million pixel locations x 3 layers (1[...]

Foveon license X3 to National Semiconductor

Mon, 10 Mar 2003 18:28:42 Z

Foveon has today announced a license agreement for the manufacture and distribution of X3 technology to National Semiconductor. "Foveon has developed a large portfolio of image sensor products and image capture technologies that we are bringing to market through partners. Through National's worldwide sales and marketing organization we will see the accelerated adoption of X3 based products in key markets," said Jim Lau, president and CEO of Foveon, Inc. Press Release: FOVEON® ANNOUNCES NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR AS LICENSEE OF X3 IMAGE SENSOR TECHNOLOGY License expands market reach of Foveon X3 technology Santa Clara, CA (March 10, 2003) - Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high-quality digital photography, announced today a license agreement for the manufacture and distribution of Foveon's highly acclaimed X3 image sensor technology to National Semiconductor. The agreement expands Foveon's market reach for the Foveon X3 and related technologies. "Foveon has developed a large portfolio of image sensor products and image capture technologies that we are bringing to market through partners. Through National's worldwide sales and marketing organization we will see the accelerated adoption of X3 based products in key markets," said Jim Lau, president and CEO of Foveon, Inc. Foveon has gained industry wide recognition in digital photography as a leader in the development of image sensor technologies for digital cameras. The most recent innovation by Foveon is the Foveon X3 image sensor, the world's first full-color image sensor to capture red, green and blue light at every location in the image plane. The image sensor utilizes Foveon X3 Silicon Color Filter technology, which leverages the fact that silicon absorbs different wavelengths of light at different depths. The technology uses the placement of photodetectors at different depths within the silicon to detect blue, green or red light. "Foveon's X3 technology fundamentally changes the way that image capture devices are designed," said Brian L. Halla, National's chairman, president and CEO. "We look forward to incorporating Foveon's world-class image sensor technology into National Semiconductor's portfolio of imaging products for our customers." About Foveon Since its founding in 1997, the company is focused on the development of image capture technologies and products for digital cameras that enable new system capabilities and higher levels of image quality not previously possible with today's CCD technology. The breakthrough Foveon X3 full-color image sensor is currently shipping in the Sigma SD9 digital SLR camera. Foveon is a privately held company. Investors include: National Semiconductor Inc., Synaptics Inc., New Enterprise Associates and Franklin Templeton Investments. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at About National Semiconductor National Semiconductor (NYSE:NSM) is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on analog-based semiconductor products, which include stand-alone devices and subsystems in the areas of power management, imaging, display drivers, audio, amplifiers and data conversion. The company targets key markets such as wireless, displays, information infrastructure and a broad range of portable applications. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.5 billion f[...]

Foveon and Sigma reveal SD-9 pricing

Fri, 20 Sep 2002 23:08:47 Z

Pre-Photokina 2002: Foveon and Sigma have today revealed the list price and shipping date for the SD-9 digital SLR, the first digital camera to use Foveon's ground-breaking X3 sensor. The SD-9 (body only) will have a list price of $1800 in the US and £1299.99 inc VAT in the UK and should be available in late October. Taking into account the difference street price will make this places the SD-9 in an extremely competitive position compared to the Nikon D100 and Canon EOS-D60. You can order the Sigma SD-9 from our approved affiliate by clicking here (Orders help support this site) The Foveon / Sigma SD-9 Story so far Foveon X3 technology overview (11/Feb/02) Foveon's revolutionary X3 sensor (11/Feb/02) Sigma SD-9: Foveon X3 sensor (11/Feb/02) Foveon X3 exclusive preview (11/Feb/02) [A MUST SEE EXCLUSIVE] Foveon announces Adobe and Microsoft support (23/Feb/02) 2002 DIMA Innovative Digital Product Awards (26/Feb/02) Sigma SD9 - from the show floor (25/Feb/02) Four new affordable D-SLR's (23/Feb/02) When is a pixel not a pixel? When it's three (6/Mar/02) TIPA awards 2002 - 2003 (18/Jul/02) Jump to: Foveon Press Release, Sigma UK Press Release Press Release (Foveon USA): WORLD'S FIRST DIGITAL CAMERA TO INCORPORATE FOVEON® X3™ IMAGE SENSOR TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE IN OCTOBER New Sigma SD9 digital camera with Foveon X3 technology captures the highest level of sharpness and color detail in its class Photokina, Cologne, Germany, Hall 10.1, Stand C8 - (September 24, 2002) - Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high quality digital photography and Sigma Corporation, a world class optical manufacturer, jointly announced today that the new Sigma SD9, high-definition digital Single Lens-Reflex (SLR) camera powered by the new Foveon X3 image sensor will be available for sale on October 21, 2002 for a list price of (U.S.) $1,800. The Foveon X3 image sensor in the Sigma SD9 contains over 10.2 million color photodetectors, which are organized in 3 layers within the sensor to form 3.54 million full-color pixels. By dedicating three color photodetectors for each pixel, the SD9 produces images that are sharper, have better color detail and are more immune to color artifacts than currently available six megapixel digital SLR cameras. The Foveon X3 image sensor is the world's first full-color image sensor that captures red, green and blue light at every pixel in a single exposure. The Foveon X3 technology breakthrough is accomplished by embedding three photodetectors in silicon at each pixel. "We are delighted that internationally renowned Sigma Corporation has chosen to incorporate the Foveon X3 image sensor technology into their new Sigma SD9 digital camera," said Jim Lau, Foveon's CEO. "The Sigma SD9 is the first product to reflect the major breakthrough in price performance that is made possible by Foveon X3 technology. With the introduction of the new SD9 digital camera, Sigma is offering photographers an unparalleled photographic tool to help capture digital images of exceptional quality." Unlike image sensors used in current digital cameras that use a single layer of photodetectors and only capture one color per pixel, Foveon X3 image sensors use three layers of photodetectors and capture all three primary colors (red, green and blue) at every pixel. As a result, Foveon X3 image sensors deliver increased image sharpness, better color det[...]

Foveon X3 exclusive preview

Wed, 20 Feb 2002 04:00:00 Z

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Almost three months ago we had an exclusive opportunity to test Foveon's new X3 sensor technology for ourselves. Foveon provided dpreview with an early prototype sensor in a standard Foveon studio body (the same used for their Foveon II Portrait Camera). The prototype setup was a tethered only solution and despite the prototype nature of the this sensor the results were very impressive. Three Foveon X3 articles: Press release, Technical Overview, Exclusive Hands-On Foveon X3 prototype sensor 'test-bed' As mentioned above the test-bed setup used the standard Foveon studio casing (Canon EF mount) which operated tethered to a notebook via Firewire. The sensor itself was an early square aspect ratio 4.19 megapixel (2048 x 2048 x 3) prototype X3. The prototype try-out was almost three months ago and represented one of the first level of prototype production. I used the camera connected to my Elinchrom Style 300S studio flash units, software started on the notebook and we were ready to shoot. Foveon X3 prototype sample crops Foveon have (understandably) asked that I do not post full size samples from this very early sensor but instead I can provide a few crops from some of my test shots to give you an impression of how much more resolution and colour detail the X3 sensor is capable of producing. Below you'll find a thumbnail (240 x 240) of the test image along with one 100% crop. Please remember that these images are from an early pre-production sensor. Thumbnail 100% crop UPDATED 17th Feb - Crops above are from 2048 x 2048 TIFF images, re-saved as HIGH quality JPEG to maintain as much colour information as possible. Colour space used: sRGB. Resolution chart notes: Shot at the 1:1 aspect ratio using a Canon 50mm F1.4 lens (VERY SHARP). This resolution chart is marked vertical lines per picture height. Remember, this is not the chip which will be used in the upcoming Sigma D-SLR, the chip I tested has more vertical resolution and will therefore perform better on this resolution chart. As you can see the sensor's ability to capture detailed resolution, both in the grayscale and colour resolution goes way beyond what we could expect from even the best Bayer pattern sensors. Images from the new Foveon X3 sensor are more reminicent of super high quality slide scans, but go even beyond that with no trace of grain. Very impressive. This could be the first sensor to truly surpass film. Better than that the new Sigma D-SLR (Sigma lens mount) which will be the first camera to use the X3 sensor is set to retail for around US$3,000. So not only do we have revolutionary new technology but it arrives at an affordable price. It can only be a matter of time before we see other manufacturers using Foveon's technology to produce consumer level cameras. My only concern would be (a) can Foveon keep up and (b) could Sharp, Sony or Matsushita come along and simply do it themselves?[...]

Sigma SD9 D-SLR: Foveon X3 sensor

Mon, 18 Feb 2002 04:00:00 Z

Pre-PMA 2002: Sigma's new SD9 D-SLR will be the first digital camera to utilize Foveon's recently announced X3 sensor technology. This new camera has a 3.43 megapixel (effective) X3 sensor which outputs 2268 x 1512 x 3 pixels. Each pixel is 9 microns which makes the sensor 20.7 x 13.8 mm (a 1.7x focal length multiplier). The SD9 has a Sigma lens mount and a unique dust protector just behind the lens mount to stop dust from attaching itself to the sensor. Price is expected to be around US$3,000. Click here to place your order for the Sigma SD9 (orders help support this site) More information on Foveon X3 technology: Press release Technical Overview Exclusive Hands-On Sigma SD9 digital SLR specifications Model Sigma SD9 Digital SLR Sensor Foveon X3 CMOS (3.54 million pixels x 3) Effective pixels 2268 x 1512 x 3 (3.43 million pixels x 3) Other image sizes Med: 2268 x 756 x 3 Low: 1134 x 756 x 3 Sensor size 20.7 x 13.8 mm (9 microns per pixel) Focal length multiplier 1.7x (strictly speaking this is a FOV 'crop') Lens mount Sigma SA Bayonet mount (dust protector just behind lens mount) Auto focus Single AF, Continuous AF AF operating range EV 2 - EV 18 (@ ISO 100) Metering 8-segment evaluative, center metering, center-weighted average Metering range EV -1 to EV 20 (50mm F1.4 @ ISO 100) Sensitivity ISO 100, 200, 400 (NOTE: We have been asked by Sigma to remove ISO 800) Shutter speeds Bulb, 30 sec - 1/6000 sec Shutter type Vertical-travel metal focal plane shutter Continuous All resolutions (speed unknown) Auto bracket +/-3 EV in 0.5 EV steps (3 frames) Ext. Flash Hot shoe (Contact X) Flash X-Sync 1/180 sec Exp. compensation +/-3 EV in 0.5 EV steps White balance 8 modes Storage Compact Flash Type I / II (supports IBM Microdrive) Image formats RAW (Can be converted to TIFF or JPEG later by software) Viewfinder Pentaprism SLR viewfinder (98% horiz, 97% vert view) Sports finder Special mode which allows portion outside capture area to be seen through viewfinder, sensor area is indicated inside a grey box. LCD monitor 1.8", 130,000 pixel Review mode Single, Magnify, 9 image thumbnail, slide show Connectivity USB 1.1, Firewire (IEEE 1394), Video Out Power 2XLithium CR123A+2XCR-V3 or 4xAA Alkaline Dry Cell or NiMHx4pcs or AC adapter Menu languages English, Japanese, French, German Dimensions 152 x 120 x 79 mm (6.0 x 4.7 x 3.1 in) Weight (body no batt) 803 g (1.8 lb) Expected price "Not decided yet" You may also be interested to read about recent 'super-wide zoom' lenses announced by Sigma: Sigma AF 15-30 mm F3.5-F4.5 Sigma AF 20-40 mm F2.8 Click here to place your order for the Sigma SD9 (orders help support this site)[...]

Foveon X3 technology overview

Mon, 11 Feb 2002 04:00:00 Z

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: As a part of our coverage of Foveon's X3 sensor technology this news article is a reproduction of a technology overview presentation provided by Foveon in its standard press kit. This overview summarises the method of the existing mosaic sensors and the way in which the new X3 sensor works. Three Foveon X3 articles: Press release, Technical Overview, Exclusive Hands-On Patent 5,965,875 Back in October 1999 Foveon filed patent 5,965,875 which clearly describes the technology behind the X3 sensor, it's essentially a stack of silicon doped to absorb different wavelengths of light. Click here for Patent 5,965,875 Click here for associated images and diagrams (very interesting) Overview presentation Apologies, some of the text on these reduced-size images may be a little hard to read, but it was the only way to provide as much information as possible. More information on the Foveon website.  [...]

Foveon's revolutionary X3 sensor

Mon, 11 Feb 2002 04:00:00 Z

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Foveon has today announced a new, revolutionary image sensor called the X3. A traditional digital camera sensor works by capturing just one colour (red, green or blue) at each pixel location. These individual pixels are then combined in software to produce a full colour pixel. The X3 is the first sensor which is capable of capturing full colour for every pixel in its array. The X3 does so with a special photosite which is measures different colours at different 'depths' within the silicon. The first camera to use the new sensor will be the $3,000 Sigma SD9 D-SLR (Sigma lens mount), Kodak have also shown an interest in using the X3 technology. Three Foveon X3 articles: Press release, Technical Overview, Exclusive Hands-On The dpreview April Fool link Back on April 1st, 2000 I posted an April fools joke about Canon developing just such a fulll colour layered sensor array, what I didn't know at the time was that Foveon had already begun designing the X3. Where did I leave that patent form?.. When Foveon first contacted me about this technology I nearly fell off my chair, the similarity to my April fool's joke of 2000 is uncanny. The hands-on I had with a prototype chip and the quality of samples from that sensor were very impressive (more detail in my X3 preview article). If you read to the bottom of this press release you'll also note that Foveon has prepared a sensor in the 4/3" size, a size which appears as though it may become the new large size sensor standard. This could be the single most significant leap forward for digital imaging since the original CCD. Press release: FOVEON ANNOUNCES WORLD’S FIRST IMAGE SENSOR THAT CAPTURES THREE COLORS AT EVERY PIXEL New Foveon X3 Technology Delivers Twice the Sharpness of Existing Digital Cameras SANTA CLARA, CA – (February 11, 2002) – Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high quality digital photography, announces the introduction and immediate availability of its new line of Foveon X3 image sensors. The image sensors utilize the company’s new Foveon X3 technology and are the world’s first to capture red, green and blue light at each and every pixel. This technology innovation results in sharper images, better color, and freedom from color artifacts common in present digital cameras. The Foveon X3 image sensors are the first to detect color by embedding three photodetectors in silicon at every pixel location. The benefits of Foveon X3 technology will be available for all classes of digital cameras, ranging from high-end professional systems to lowcost point-and-shoot cameras. "Foveon X3 technology enables the immediacy and excitement of the digital photography experience with the quality that consumers have previously come to expect only from film," said Jim Lau, Foveon’s CEO. "Current image sensor technology has not enabled digital cameras to realize their full potential. We believe the breakthroughs of the Foveon X3 technology will form the foundation of a new generation of digital cameras in all classes." The name X3 comes from a unique capability that the Foveon X3 technology brings – the ability to capture three colors at each single pixel location. Foveon X3 image sensors capture the full color of an image without using a color mosaic filter and without the expense, complexi[...]

Foveon to challenge with 16 megapixels

Mon, 11 Sep 2000 04:00:00 Z

Just two weeks ago Kodak announced a range of new / improved CCD's. Today the NY Times (online) is carrying a story of a new prototype camera from Foveon which also sports a 16 megapixel imager, this time a CMOS device at a considerably lower price (according to them) than the Kodak device. They say " to capture digital images with a resolution of 4,096 by 4,096 picture elements - or pixels - per square inch. That, by some measures, is about twice the resolution of 35-millimeter film." NY Times article: Low-Price, Highly Ambitious Digital Chip Suddenly the future of digital photography seems to be becoming much clearer. Only two weeks ago, Eastman Kodak announced a chip able to capture digital images with a resolution of 4,096 by 4,096 picture elements — or pixels — per square inch. That, by some measures, is about twice the resolution of 35-millimeter film. Today, a company founded by one of Silicon Valley's pioneer chip designers, will announce an image-sensing chip capable of the same resolution as the Kodak chip, but made using a technique that could be much less expensive. Executives of the company, Foveon, said they had given a prototype camera based on their chip to a photographer in Los Angeles, Greg Gorman, who had used it to make a portrait of a cowboy. In that image, no pixels, or dots, were visible to the eye, even with the photograph blown up to a size of 8 feet by 4 feet. Already, digital cameras being sold on the consumer market for less than $1,000 are rivaling 35-millimeter film cameras. Digital images of the clarity achieved with Foveon chip could begin to challenge even the much more expensive 4-by-5 film cameras made by companies like Hasselblad that are used by professional photographers for portraiture, advertising and fashion. "We're headed to flat-out replace the film camera," said Carver Mead, the founder of Foveon, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif. Mr. Mead, a pioneer of the chip industry, became a Silicon Valley legend in the 1970's by helping develop techniques that for the first time enabled chip engineers to create circuits containing tens of thousands of transistors. Industry analysts say that the new technologies could affect much more than still cameras. High-resolution images, if produced in quantities that made the new generation of image-sensing chips cost only several dollars apiece, could become a staple of cellular telephones and other hand- held devices and might bring the cost of a consumer video camera below $100. And the contest is not only between film and digital sensors, but between two kinds of chip-making techniques. Foveon's planned announcement, coming on the heels of Kodak's, suggests a sharpening battle between the two competing manufacturing technologies at the heart of a billion- dollar market for digital photographic sensors. The Foveon chip is based on a low- cost semiconductor industry technology known as Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor, or CMOS (pronounced SEE-moss). The Kodak chip's sensor is based on a more expensive manufacturing [...]