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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System...I've just read a review of the Sigma SD14 in a camera magazine. I can't reproduce the whole review but ...
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Old 04-06-2007, 13:39   #1 (permalink)
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Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

I've just read a review of the Sigma SD14 in a camera magazine. I can't reproduce the whole review but here is a summary -

"You could fill a page with the SD14's flaws. You could criticise its unsophisticated handling, the clumsy colour control and the noise at higher ISOs settings. But in the right conditions this camera produces image quality that you simply can't get from a conventional sensor. If all the SD14 manages to do is to bring Foveon technology a step closer to mainstream use, then it should be applauded for that."

For cameras Sigma is a small fish in a a big pond so how will their SD14 stand up to the big boys like Canon and Nikon? Although there are only 4.7 Mp Sigma states it has 14.1 owing to their unique Foveon sensor system. You can read the full specification here in our Equipment Review Section but here is a precis -

Megapixels - 4.7Mp
Zoom range - 0x
Shutter speed - 1/4000-30sec, bulb
Storage type - CF, none supplied
Battery type - Li-ion rechargeable, BP-21
Sensor dimensions - 20.7x13.8mm
Lens focal length - 1.7x
Exposure modes - Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual
ISO range - 100, 200, 400, 800
Weight - 750g

Do you think it will measure up in the current DSLR market. OR have you or do you intend purchasing one?
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Old 04-06-2007, 13:57   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

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Originally Posted by stepheno View Post
Do you think it will measure up in the current DSLR market. OR have you or do you intend purchasing one?
You're kidding? Right? It's STREETS ahead of old fashioned out of date Bayer technology and of COURSE I'll be getting it! (That is, unless I get the S5! )

And it was Digital Camera magazine and it was good to see a review written by someone who had a vague inkling as to what they were handling - instead of trotting out the usual banal comments (I actually saw, recently, a serious review state that "detail is poor at large sizes unless you upsize the file" PML!)
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Old 04-06-2007, 15:48   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

retailing ~1k GBP so not a cheap purchase,. the sensor is interesting for sure but(!) the main complaints I see about bayer pattern sensors are to do with lack of dynamic range / high iso noise,. neither of which is improved by Foveon tech?

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Old 04-06-2007, 16:31   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

I've always found the dynamic range to be very good. Noise is more of a problem but can be to a large extent controlled and avoided.

I have found that the colours are good and I maintain are more accurate (but since most own Bayer cameras this is hard work as most people assume their camera reproduces colours accurately - I'm talking outside macro/landscape, not well lit studio). The number of times I've suggested changes to green/yellow due to muddy/muted colours (and no big deal as easily corrected in PS). My theory is that it relates to the 2 green sensors to 1 red, 1 blue

And no, not cheap @ 1k but I do think that it competes favourably with 6-8MP (my SD10) and 8-10MP (SD14) because of it's resolving of detail
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Old 04-06-2007, 16:44   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

noise + DR are related to a large extent (well it's generally the case when you try and recover shadows you find noise not detail)

I am sure there's a good market for the sd14, it's just it doesn't fix the issues ppl raise with bayer pattern sensor cameras,. of course there's more to image quality than amount of noise or DR but those seem to be raised a lot on t'internet

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Old 04-06-2007, 16:58   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

If people are after low noise in a 'straight out of the box' P&S way, get a Bayer sensor. For DR get an S5.

Actually, I've never recommended a Sigma to anyone - people like the pics (or not!) and 'agree' to work within the parameters (or not!).

Tho' have to say that I'm irritated by the biggest detractors being them that have never used a Sigma and bang on about something as peripherally important as autofocus or framerate (not that they're bad but I tend to aim for anticipation on both fronts, making them relatively irrelevant! Plan the shot!)
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Old 04-06-2007, 17:17   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

I am not that bothered about noise for most of the images I take but it is important to some people (I think too much of it is made by some people like it's the only thing that matters!)

I do however disagree with the implied assertion(?) that noise can somehow be fixed even when a sensor has poor noise properties, camera jpeg engines trade noise for detail in slightly different ways but fundamentally noise / it's effects cannot be removed, there's all kinds of software that tries to remove it's appearance but they can only do so much..

btw, I know nothing about sigma cameras old or new I am talking in general terms

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Old 04-06-2007, 17:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

Like most things, it's a question of working around what can and can't be done - so noise can be minimised

Since noise is effectively interference I'm happy to go along with someone designing a filter to minimise it! The whole of digital photography is software algorithm driven - from camera to post production, so why not have a program to reduce noise? When you consider that 50-75% colour is software determined (in a Bayer matrix) so why not software to remove some of those colours? The trick is in knowing which ones to remove!
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Old 04-06-2007, 17:51   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

yes - the software to clean up noise will improve for sure but that approach can only be taken so far and if you start with cleaner data then the results will still be better

digital is still new and it's good that alternatives to the more common bayer pattern sensor are being developed,. it would be very boring it all cameras were the same

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Old 04-06-2007, 20:52   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma SD14 and the Foveon Sensor System

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Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
Tho' have to say that I'm irritated by the biggest detractors being them that have never used a Sigma and bang on about something as peripherally important as autofocus or framerate (not that they're bad but I tend to aim for anticipation on both fronts, making them relatively irrelevant! Plan the shot!)
That's a fair comment Mark. To me the Foveon sensor makes it an interesting proposition, it's just that the whole package doesn't interest me enough to want to buy.
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