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Foveon still has a place in Sigma DP1

Sigma is revamping its DP1 compact camera, but the large Foveon image sensor still is at its heart.

Sigma's DP1 camera
Sigma's DP1 camera, shown here in prototype form in March 2007 Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

Sigma has delayed the release of its DP1 to revamp the high-end compact camera, but one thing that won't change is the Foveon sensor at its heart.

When Sigma said last week that it was changing the DP1's image processing "pipeline" to meet quality and performance goals and that the Japanese company "had to change some of the specifications that we had announced," I naturally wondered whether the changes might have evicted the image sensor.

Not so, according to Richard Turner, vice president of marketing and applications at the San Jose, Calif.-based start-up.

"Foveon is not able to comment specifically on Sigma's product plans or status. However, what we can say is that Foveon and Sigma continue to work together very closely, and Foveon's sensor will be used in the DP1 camera," Farmer said. "Foveon and Sigma enjoy a very good working relationship and we fully expect this to continue into the future."

Most cameras employ image sensors whose pixels gather either red, green, or blue light, with a checkerboard-pattern filter determining which color strikes each pixel. Later processing interpolates data so each pixel gets a value of red, green, and blue, a process called de-mosaicing.

Foveon sensors, though, record all three colors for each pixel. That can get around some articacts that de-mosaicing can produce in areas of fine detail. But Foveon's sensors haven't caught on widely.

Most compact cameras employ a small image sensor, but the DP1 is designed around a Foveon chip large enough for use in SLR cameras. Indeed, the chip is used in Sigma's SD14 SLR.