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First Images Out of the Sigma SD-14!

laurence2

Well-Known Member
I'm quite excited! In fact, I am rather awestruck.

I am showing this rather mundane image from the SD-14 because it is a great baseline image with its very difficult contrasts and shadow details. The initial
image out of the camera was way too overexposed to my eyes. The sunlight was VERY harsh!

I want to say right now that Klaus' suggestions on RAW processing using the Sigma software works WONDERS. I frankly have never received
results like this before, where the beach cobbles look EXACTLY how I perceived them with my eye. Just look at the shadows.
To me, this is a revelation.

I followed these steps in taking the picture and in processing the image:

  • Shot with SD-14 using histogram, pushing highlights up to, and slightly over, the right hand "blow out" edge of the histogram.
  • In RAW X3F, used the overexposure indicator and adjusted back down into the histogram window. The Green Channel was the "big player" here.
  • Used the Fill Light function (I love it) to gently tone down the highlights.
  • Used the Highlight and Shadows slider VERY sparingly to bring the image to where I wanted it to be, to reflect what I saw.
Klaus was right! The Sigma stores a LOT of information in the highlights. Amazing.

I tried out the Auto correction feature, and while it gave a very nice output, it didn't quite match what my eyes perceived. Might be very useful in future images though.

The SPP program seemed rather sparse when I first looked at it. But, with corrective results like these, it appears to be extremely efficient. The "processing" is a bit slow,
but who cares when you can get such finely tuned results?

This is not a "beauty shot", it simply a difficult shot to "get right" - and the Sigma camera and software passed with flying colors!

Here is the shot of the beach cobbles, first shot out of the camera, second shot out of the SPP software. No sharpening used:
 

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foveonfan

Well-Known Member
Laurence, I do believe you're about to give Velvia the big flick.

Now, that might be a bit harsh, as Mr Fuji did keep us in the game and sustain our appetite for quite a few years, so maybe I should rephrase that with revised terminology along the lines of "graceful retirement". :)
 

laurence2

Well-Known Member
Laurence, I do believe you're about to give Velvia the big flick.

Now, that might be a bit harsh, as Mr Fuji did keep us in the game and sustain our appetite for quite a few years, so maybe I should rephrase that with revised terminology along the lines of "graceful retirement". :)

Well, while I won't give Velvia a graceful retirement yet, I should say that the clarity, dimensionality, and exposure values in the Sigma image are simply outstanding. I took some shots of this same scene with the Revueflex film camera and 35mm Velvia 50, so I will be interested in comparison, once the film is developed.

Frankly though Jim, I TRULY haven't seen more "true" rendition of the original scene in any of my photography equipment, going back 45 years. Finding this forum, and listening to the suggestions and observations has led me to this probably fantastic system.
 

foveonfan

Well-Known Member
Laurence, your assessment of your first test is an identical view of my own transition from film to digital photography.

That is why I have never really accepted many of the published results in photo magazines from "expert" camera testers that suggested the results you and I and other members of this site are capable of achieving with our Sigma/Foveon tools are simply not possible.

When one of these "experts" actually said it was impossible to print our RAW files larger that A3, I was astounded and sufficiently angered to defend my (at that time) SD10, but to no avail. It almost seemed like a conspiracy perpetrated by the "rest of the herd" to discredit the Foveon technology out of existence.

These days I just take pictures and where possible, share them with other "believers" that know "a thing or two" about how photography actually works. An area where many "expert" testers fear to tread in case they might end up with a mental hernia. ;)

Sincere regards, Jim R
 

laurence2

Well-Known Member
Laurence, your assessment of your first test is an identical view of my own transition from film to digital photography.

That is why I have never really accepted many of the published results in photo magazines from "expert" camera testers that suggested the results you and I and other members of this site are capable of achieving with our Sigma/Foveon tools are simply not possible.

When one of these "experts" actually said it was impossible to print our RAW files larger that A3, I was astounded and sufficiently angered to defend my (at that time) SD10, but to no avail. It almost seemed like a conspiracy perpetrated by the "rest of the herd" to discredit the Foveon technology out of existence.

These days I just take pictures and where possible, share them with other "believers" that know "a thing or two" about how photography actually works. An area where many "expert" testers fear to tread in case they might end up with a mental hernia. ;)

Sincere regards, Jim R

I must admit that I was swayed by the hype. At least it's an admission to show that I can learn from my mistakes - or mistaken assumptions.


I read with interest, many reviews of many cameras, for the past 5 years or more, watching the digital realm "grow up". However, I had sort of dismissed the Sigma and its Foveon sensor as just another "player" that was too finicky and too inferior to the big names.

So, in the meantime, I tried to make a good dive into the digital photography fields. I wanted to augment my film camera capabilities that I learned through "hard knocks" over the past half-century. I went through quite a gamut - the Canon D30, the Digital Rebel, the Minolta A-1, the Pentax K110D.

What was I looking for? Well, for one, I sought the "film look" as much as possible. However, the above cameras showed flat, unremarkable, and almost "plastic" tonal renditions. I was still able to easily keep film images at the top, using Provia and Velvia, as well as HP5 and Plus-X, as my films of choice. I went from Cibachrome prints and Dye-Transfer techniques for many years, to finally end up using scanners to digitize the film for enlargements. But it was STILL not "there" for me yet.

I know that I was possibly being too fussy about all this, but I still felt that there must be something that could come closer to film "looks" in the digicam world.

Enter the Sigma. I was surfing around in photographic search engines, and came across this site. Wow, here was a small group of people who WEREN'T articulating the Sigma as an inferior overall camera. And then, by changing parameters in searches, and utilizing the links found on this forum, I was able to get qualitative and "non pixel peeping" concomitant imagery that gave the real-world conclusions rather than what the camera was - or wasn't - capable of when going to almost microscope sizings.

Though I was "taken in" by the pixel peepers, I should have known better, since my mind was telling me that these weren't really meaningful things about what a camera was capable of.

So there's a nutshell history, and you can't imagine my joy at having that picture above of a bunch of beach boulders look REAL! When I exposed to the right, I was nervous about how "blown" the image looked. But then, when utilizing just a few tools in the SPP software, the image almost was like seeing an image come creeping up on the substrate in the darkroom!

So, here is a new paradigm, a new "starting point" for me. And let me tell you, I LOVE the REAL WORLD result so far. Amazing. And, I think that knowing what I want helped me here. I already knew what needed to happen in ANY imagery, be it digital or film, and from all these years of practice, knowing HOW to get to that point. Although I have a lot to learn in digital imaging, I feel that this remarkable camera (and its surprising software) is going to keep me satisfied.
 

laurence2

Well-Known Member
Laurence, your assessment of your first test is an identical view of my own transition from film to digital photography.

When one of these "experts" actually said it was impossible to print our RAW files larger that A3, I was astounded and sufficiently angered to defend my (at that time) SD10...
Sincere regards, Jim R

Based on what I'm seeing, Jim, and recapitulating that I did NO sharpening, Unsharp Mask, or noise reduction on the image of the beach cobbles, I would have full confidence in an A4 and higher image out of the printing machine. And one only needs to look at your very large prints to see the proof in the pudding.

In fact, I am going to print this "first real Sigma image" at my HP 8550 printer's maximum size of 13x19, and see how it looks. I'm betting it will be just fine. I doubt that I would hang a picture of a bunch of stones on the wall
but it will certainly take a place as a baseline print.
 

foveonfan

Well-Known Member
Laurence, me being ever vigilant when it comes to cutting costs, and you having disclosed that you have no interest in hanging this image, why not just pick say 25% of the image and print it at A4, thus saving the "big" sheet for one that you do consider worthy.

I'm just saying. ;)

Sincere regards, Jim R

PS. I'm very happy to read of your satisfaction too. BTW. your print was airmailed yesterday.
 

dirk

CI-Founder
Hi Laurence,

I am also a big Velvia and Provia Fan. I used to use these films all the time with my various equipment from Contax & Leica up to Nikon, Minolta and so on...

Like you, Jim and many others, I was always disappointed about digital images - no matter which camera - as soon as I compared them with my old slides.

The other DSLRs made very goof images, sharp etc. But never close to the impression a Velvia or Provia 100 slide is giving me. The "reality", was missing. No matter which brand, no matter which model.

Until I finally saw Sigma Sd14 images on the German sister sites of Camera-info :)

I bought one week later an SD14 kit. I added brand new Zeiss ZS lenses to it and some Sigma EX lenses.

I can tell you, although the SD14 is sometime more difficult to handle than i.e. a Nikon D300, I finally got my Velvia and Provia in digital form, which no other model was able to so far.

I can not tell you whether the Foveon sensor or the AA filter is responsible for this "Sigma effect" (actually I do not care), but the effect is there!

The transparency, the clarity and reality of all the Sigma photos (no matter whether Sd14 or DP1) is impressive. It is a feeling like if you would look through an open window.

With all other brands, the window is closed and sometimes has even not a clean glass :)

I just smile, when I see those images...

So welcome to the Club of the Sigmaholics... :z04_photos:
 

laurence2

Well-Known Member
Laurence, me being ever vigilant when it comes to cutting costs, and you having disclosed that you have no interest in hanging this image, why not just pick say 25% of the image and print it at A4, thus saving the "big" sheet for one that you do consider worthy.

I'm just saying. ;)

Sincere regards, Jim R

PS. I'm very happy to read of your satisfaction too. BTW. your print was airmailed yesterday.

Perhaps my mind is just too smitten by the possibilities of printing, that I totally let that possibility pass me by! :z04_auslachen: Of COURSE I'll print it using a crop-out. That 13x19 glossy paper is not cheap you know!

So...thanks! My brain maybe needs to go on vacation for a while (with a Sigma camera and perhaps the Pentax 645 in the bag of course).

GREAT on the print...the early spring car show is coming up in a month or so, so the timing is good.

Yours, Larry
 

laurence2

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the great information Dirk. I have been reading posts from the past on here, in order to compile information that will assist me in using the SD-14 and the SPP software to advantage. I see that your contributions to this forum have been wonderful.

Dirk wrote:
I am also a big Velvia and Provia Fan. I used to use these films all the time with my various equipment from Contax & Leica up to Nikon, Minolta and so on...
Dirk, I too have a legacy with the transparency films and it looks like I went through more or less the same gamut as you - Contax RTS, Leicaflex SL2, Rolleiflex 6006, Zeiss Ercona III, Yashica Mat 124, Canon AE-1, Nikon F1, etc.


Like you, Jim and many others, I was always disappointed about digital images - no matter which camera - as soon as I compared them with my old slides. The other DSLRs made very good images, sharp etc. But never close to the impression a Velvia or Provia 100 slide is giving me. The "reality", was missing. No matter which brand, no matter which model.
Yes, and I must say that there are some wonderful results from digital images from all the sources of gear out there. I'm not taking anything away from good photography from good photographers who can pull out some fantastic images using digital. But the ONE thing (as you mention) seemed to be the realism, at least to me.


Until I finally saw Sigma Sd14 images on the German sister sites of Camera-info :) I bought one week later an SD14 kit. I added brand new Zeiss ZS lenses to it and some Sigma EX lenses. I can tell you, although the SD14 is sometime more difficult to handle than i.e. a Nikon D300, I finally got my Velvia and Provia in digital form, which no other model was able to so far. I can not tell you whether the Foveon sensor or the AA filter is responsible for this "Sigma effect" (actually I do not care), but the effect is there! The transparency, the clarity and reality of all the Sigma photos (no matter whether Sd14 or DP1) is impressive. It is a feeling like if you would look through an open window.
Regarding the difficulty of handling, I agree that the Sigma has its own foibles. I noticed right off the bat that I'm best off using the histogram to advantage and just continuing to shoot, rather than "chimping" images. Once I had a camera-settings-baseline that allowed me to apply a +0.7 exposure value, I was able to shoot knowing that the exposure was very close to the highest light levels on the histogram.

Just the fact that I didn't feel I had to chimp the images, has pushed a much better degree of "seeing" what I'm shooting. The other little nuances of the camera that might enrage some people (as I see on some "testing" forums, it was almost as if they were in a rage...) are actually keeping me slowed down, which is in keeping with what I've always done with film imagery.

I find that I still use the Manual settings though, probably it's just that I'm comfortable there - although I did switch to Program (and the override capability to customize the aperture I needed) about half the time. And get this: I STILL like to use my light meter here and there, and used it for the first day of Sigma shooting
. But one has to forgive me a little, as most of my shooting in the morning was in the supremely difficult lighting of the Hoh Valley rainforest. Once I got out to the ocean later in the day, I was able to kick the light meter back into the car.


And a final thing, Dirk, is that I realize that there will be things that I don't especially love about the camera, and will have to work around. But I don't see that as any different from any other brand out there. I just wonder at the somewhat acrimonious "reviews" of the Sigma contingent...is it "brand loyalty" or something else that I'm just not seeing? Bottom line though...I like what I see and that is good enough for me!
 

dirk

CI-Founder
.....
And a final thing, Dirk, is that I realize that there will be things that I don't especially love about the camera, and will have to work around. But I don't see that as any different from any other brand out there. I just wonder at the somewhat acrimonious "reviews" of the Sigma contingent...is it "brand loyalty" or something else that I'm just not seeing? Bottom line though...I like what I see and that is good enough for me!

Yes, I agree. It is like working in the garden cutting small and tall tries. I will use different saws, depending on the trees.

Same with DSLRs. You use the one which is fitting best for the kind of shooting you are planning to do. Of course I can use the Sigma or Nikon or Canon for everything. But none will be best at everything I want to do.

Every camera has disadvantages. The Sigma has a longer learning curve though. And here in the forum we try to help each other to learn workarounds for the "not so good" situations with the Foveon sensor ;)

Best wishes
 
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