Sigma SD14 Digital SLR Review - Sigma SD14 Digital SLR Review

There are two on-screen menus, one a simple four-way selector for quick adjustment of picture quality, ISO setting and white balance, and a main menu which is concerned primarily with camera set-up functions, such as language, date and time, memory card formatting and the like. There are no on-camera options to adjust colour balance, noise reduction, dial-in white balance, compression rates or any of the other things that you’d probably expect to find on a modern high-end DSLR.

The reason that the camera control seems so limited is that the SD14 is primarily intended to be used in RAW mode, in conjunction with the Sigma Photo Pro 3.0 RAW processing software that is supplied with it. Unlike the previous Sigma DSLRs, the SD14 does have a JPEG mode (but still no RAW + JPEG), but it is in the RAW mode that all the versatility is found. The Photo Pro 3.0 software is specifically designed for use with the SD14 camera, and I have to say it’s one of the nicest RAW conversion programs I’ve used. It is quick, easy to understand and very versatile, and produces excellent results quickly. It does lack a couple of features that I’d like to have seen however, such as batch processing or integration with Adobe Photoshop, but as a stand-alone program it is very good. Speaking of Photoshop, many photographers use Adobe Camera RAW to convert their RAW files, but this is not recommended with the SD14; the results are very poor when compared to the results from the Photo Pro 3.0 software.

The software performs well, and so does the camera itself, although it does have its limits. Like most DSLRs it starts up very quickly, and is ready to take a picture in well under a second. The AF system is also impressively quick and accurate. It has five AF points which can be quickly selected individually or set to auto wide mode or predictive mode for fast moving subjects, and even in quick action shots it seldom misses the target.

Continuous shooting speeds vary depending on the image quality settings. At the lowest quality it can rattle off an impressive three frames a second for about twenty frames before it has to pause to write to the memory card, but at the highest quality setting it shoots only six frames at two frames a second before the buffer is full. Even with a high-speed card, writing speed is very slow, taking around 50 seconds to empty the buffer. Fortunately the buffer is progressive, so once the first shot has been saved it is possible to shoot again, but in maximum quality JPEG mode this does mean a wait of nearly nine seconds. In RAW mode shooting speed is just over two frames a second, but the buffer does empty faster, in around 40 seconds.

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