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Sigma SD15 review

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7

I've been following the development of the unique Foveon X3 sensor since its first appearance in the Sigma SD9 back in 2002. Sigma now owns the Foveon company, and has continued to use this innovative technology in its cameras, including the DP2s compact camera which I reviewed back in June, as well as Sigma's most recent DSLR the SD15.The Foveon X3 sensor works in a different way to the standard CCD and CMOS sensors found in every other digital camera.

Conventional camera sensors only record brightness, relying on a red, green and blue mosaic filter to provide colour information, and interpolating the full colour image from the results. The X3 sensor records full RGB colour at every photocell site on the sensor, thanks to three photocells embedded at different depths in a silicon wafer. You can find a fuller explanation with a diagram here. This difference causes some confusion when it comes to describing the true resolution of the sensor. Since it contains approximately 14 million individual photocells Sigma insists on calling it a 14 megapixel sensor. However the final image size is only 2640 x 1760 pixels, or 4.64 megapixels.

This lack of final resolution is also hard to ignore when one considers the price of the SD15. It is currently selling for £789 body only, which is very expensive compared to other digital SLRs. For the same price you could get an 18 megapixel Canon EOS 550D with an 18-135mm lens, a 14.6MP Pentax K-7 with a weather-resistant 18-55mm kit lens, or a Nikon D90 with an 18-105mm VR lens.

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?

Sapporodan

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.

piesforyou

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?

piesforyou

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.

copilus

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).

lifethroughalens

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!

ThatOne

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.

Greg17b

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.





Avoid.

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!

mpetya

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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