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Sigma's vaunted DP1 camera due soon--for $999

The 14-megapixel compact camera, eagerly awaited by enthusiasts frustrated with today's small-sensor models, won't be cheap when it goes on sale this spring.

Sigma's DP1 should go on sale this spring for $999. This working model was on display at the PMA show in Las Vegas. Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

LAS VEGAS--Sigma announced its delayed DP1 camera Thursday, a high-end compact model whose unusually large image sensor is matched by an unusually large price tag.

The 14-megapixel camera likely will ship this spring for a retail price of $999, said a Sigma representative, Desiree Gaige, at the Photo Marketing Association trade show here.

The camera uses the same Foveon X3 sensor as Sigma's SD14 SLR camera. In comparison, compact cameras almost invariably have sensors that are much smaller and cheaper, but that are at least theoretically responsive for a given megapixel count.

The camera uses a 16.6mm f/4 fixed-focal-length lens, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm film camera terms. It produces raw image files for those who want the higher quality possible from using the unprocessed sensor data.

Sigma showed off the DP1 at the PMA show in 2007, and the camera has caught the attention of photo enthusiasts who want a large, sensitive sensor in a compact camera body. However, Sigma delayed the DP1 because it had to redesign the image-processing components later that year.

Probably the closest thing to an SLR shooter's compact camera today is Canon's PowerShot G9, a 12-megapixel model with raw-image capture, a 6X zoom lens, a price tag under $450, and a sensor that's larger than average for compact cameras if not actually as large as the DP1's.