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Sigma SD15 - Design and Features 2

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


Compared to most other contemporary digital SLRs the Sigma AD15 is distinctly short on features. While most of its rivals offer HD video recording, often with stereo audio, the SD15 has no video recording mode at all, neither does it have live monitor view. It has no image stabilisation system, although some Sigma lenses do feature optical stabilisation. It also lacks a sensor self-cleaning mechanism, but at least in this case it doesn't really need one. One unique feature of the Sigma body design is a sealed glass cover just inside the lens mount, protecting the sensor and mirror from dust.

The SD15 is also less well equipped in terms of creative photographic options than many of its market rivals. Most other DSLR cameras have a range of customisable pre-sets that can be set up for quick and easy use. The only image tone control available for the SD15 is a single menu option to adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness. It also only offers a maximum ISO setting of 1600, and that with very poor image quality. Several recent DSLRs offer three times this sensitivity. It could be argued that the reason the SD15 seems so limited is that it is primarily designed to be used in Raw mode, and that the custom functions that many cameras apply when shooting can be applied in post-processing, but this doesn't excuse the absence of useful modern features like video recording or live view.

The SD15 does at least have the basic necessary features for DSLR photography. It has a decent exposure metering system, with 77 segment evaluative metering, as well as spot and centre weighted metering, and the range of shutter speeds is on a par with most other DSLRs, 30 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. It also has other common features such as auto exposure bracketing, mirror-up mode, two and ten second self-timer, and it is also one of the few DSLRs on the market with an X-sync socket for use with a studio flash.

Josef Salon

October 22, 2010, 1:31 pm

Sigma should make lenses and forget about cameras, who needs this one especially for this price?

Philip Angell

October 22, 2010, 1:33 pm

I was wondering whether the foveon sensor might mitigate the problems of stage photography under LED lights?


October 22, 2010, 2:05 pm

I love Sigma Cameras, but the SD15 was just a quick money maker until they release the SD1, if I had bought this camera I would be looking at the SD1 spec sheet and crying.

But its still nice see the review, I hope you guys get to review the SD1 soon, that camera will either blow away the competition in image quality or its gona be a lemon.


October 22, 2010, 3:16 pm

What planet are they on, releasing a camera where ISO 400 looks comparable to ISO 12800 on a good body?


October 22, 2010, 5:35 pm

It almost makes me feel sick to imagine someone walking away from a shop with this camera, at that price.


October 22, 2010, 8:02 pm

Well, you don't know until you shoot with it. It has something Hasselbladish. It has an outstanding image quality, especially when it comes to details, but it's a camera that should be used only with controlled light environments, like studios. When it comes to price, it's something like Hasselblad - why pay 20.000pounds for an H2D-22 when it cant use high ISO and can't take more than 2fps? It's because they are the essence of photographic equipment, not gadgets who take photos from time to time. Even Nikont takes presentation photos with PhaseOne backs.

I own a few Nikons and used many Canons but my SD14 it's in a class of it's own (a low-end Hass).


October 22, 2010, 10:39 pm

"I own a few Nikons and used many Canons but my SD14 it's in a class of it's own (a low-end Hass)."

A very, very low-end Hass. About the only thing they have in common is the speed of use, or lack thereof!


October 22, 2010, 11:53 pm

Lordie me! Another over-priced, under-specified camera whose only true prowess will be in convincing the gullible to sell it to themselves on some fanciful grounds that it's a step on The True Path To Photographic Righteousness.

Thanks to Sapporodan for hitting this waste of time and money on the water-line, amidships. Camera brands should take clear note when they disappoint their own fans, but never pay attention to sycophants. Sigma should have avoided shooting themselves in the foot; they have a great and hard-won reputation as a lens outfit to nurture.

Have we had an SD1 review yet? If not that seems to be an excellent idea; give Sigma a chance to come up smelling of roses.


October 23, 2010, 3:21 am

Absolute short term financial desperation can be the only reason to release this camera. Shocking. It might be great under controlled conditions, but only if those conditions also include a limit on the size of the picture you're taking.


Ed 3

October 23, 2010, 4:46 am

I just can't imagine anyone choosing this over a Nikon or Canon, Samsung or Olympus, Sony or Pentax...why oh why...especially with that noise at iso 400! Mind boggling!

Ian Syme

October 23, 2010, 8:49 pm

As an SD14 owner I had hoped for great things from the SD15 but alas no......Still the same noise problems and processing speed limitations. Don't get me wrong, the SD14 takes superb images in the right situation but is not the camera to buy to do everything you want from an SLR. Forget serious work at anything higher than iso 100 and RAW format. Guess I'll just have to wait for the SD1 but judging from past endeavours it may be a long wait!


November 4, 2010, 10:47 pm

I have this camera for a few months now. I only shoot raw. It captures images that are better than anything I have seen in my life in this category (DSLRs below 1000 euro).

I agree with that it has serious limitations when it comes to features but image quality is superb.

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