Sigma SD14 Digital SLR Review - Sigma SD14 Digital SLR Review

Of course the whole point of the SD14 is its final picture quality, and here is where it excels, but it’s worth noting a few points when comparing it to other cameras. The Foveon X3 sensor captures all colours at all pixel locations, but calling it a 14-megapixel sensor is bending the truth a little. In fact it has a sensor resolution of 2,652 X 1,768 pixels, which is only 4.7 megapixels, but this is multiplied by three because there are three separate sensors at each site, which is where the 14-megapixel figure comes from. Comparing images shot with the SD14 to the numerous 10-megapixel DSLRs that I’ve tested over the past year or so, the overall level of detail is clearly higher, although not by much. However it is in colour reproduction and dynamic range that the SD14 really shines. Converting the lossless 12-bit RAW images to 16-bit TIFF image files produces results that I would compare favourably to high quality colour transparency film, with a dynamic range of around eight stops, which is significantly higher than most other DSLRs.


The only real downside seems to be image noise at higher ISO settings. At 100 and 200 ISO image quality is good, but starts to break down at 400, with reduced saturation and a slight green colour cast. The maximum ISO setting is only 800, but at this setting images lack colour saturation, and suffer from a nasty mottled green colour cast and heavy noise across the whole image. This is an unfortunate weak spot for an otherwise extremely impressive camera, and one which I hope is addressed in future models.


”’Verdict”’

The Sigma SD14 is a unique camera with some unique capabilities. It is solidly made, well designed and handles considerably better than its forerunners. Performance is generally good, although the slow write times are a handicap. In terms of image quality, overall detail and sharpness are superior to any 10MP DSLR, but it is colour reproduction and dynamic range that are the camera’s real strengths, with an almost film-like quality. While it may not suit everyone, I suspect the SD14 will find its fans among professional photographers who are prepared to put in a bit of work to get the best out of it.