It seems customers are going to have a wait a little while longer for the arrival of the Sigma DP1.

The digital compact was first unveiled in the autumn of 2006 at the biannual Photokina tradeshow but production has been beset with problems and slowed down by the need for revisions.

Nine months ago, a prototype was one of the highlights of another show, PMA, and boasted the addition of a hotshoe but the May launch that was muted at its unveiling didn’t happen. Now, Sigma in Japan has been forced to change the camera's "entire image-processing pipeline".

In a statement, chief operating officer Kazuto Yamaki admitted: "During our pre-beta work, we tried to optimise the image quality, but we found it was difficult to achieve image quality as good as in our other SD cameras. The images looked okay, but they clearly did not have the special image qualities that we see in our SD cameras: delicate, refined and three-dimensional images rendered in fine detail."

"At that time we had a choice between compromising image quality and moving forward or taking a different path". And it is the latter that the company has chosen opting to return to the concept of "a camera with the best still image quality in a compact body".

But, as a result, the camera’s specifications are to change and it is not known when it will arrive, although Sigma has said that alpha testing on the final design has begun. For the meantime though, it is a case of wait and see.

As Yamaki concludes: "Although we know that many people would like to know when the DP1 will be available for sale, we honestly cannot say at the moment. Much will depend on how smoothly the next development steps go".

"Also, we feel that it is much more important to get it right than release it early. I know it is difficult for some of you to wait a little more time, but we’re working very hard to deliver a camera that we think will be worth the wait."