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First try with digital SD14 - somethings wrong !



I took my 1st few pictures w/SD14. The results are not sharp. I stop there and won't compare my experience and results vs. analog film. Why aren't the images sharp? I have don't know. They really stink. Could it be me? Everything was set on the more automatic preferences, the lens is the 20-300mm kit lens w/OS enabled.

No contrast, no sharpness consistently on every photo.

I'm not sure I really want to pursue the cause - I can do a focus test but a bad result means sending it to Sigma which is crazy to me since this has to be calibrated at the factory else give me upgrades to the firmware to allow fine tuning...

there's gotta be something wrong w/me or the camera because this is disposable drug store camera quality. yes, the lens is sufficiently stopped down too.

Any ideas?


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In Sigma Photo Pro, call up one of your photos and click on the Information i button. This is the EXIF data which carries nearly every detail of the camera's settings when the photo was shot. Click on "Copy to clipboard" and then paste it into a post here along with a size reduced JPG version of the photo.

This was we can see what the SD14 was doing and the photo. It would be difficult to say what's going on with out knowing this information and seeing a sample photo.


I took some shots w/Super-Takamaur 35mm wide angle I haven't looked at them yet to compare. I need help knowing the procedure using MF lenses. How do I properly set the exposure, how to properly use AF with the lens? I read somewhere that the AF will ping when it's focused... Links for this please ? Also not having split-screen/microprism focusing screen is a MAJOR issue - I need this bad, it's mandatory IMHO.

Please stand by for the metadata and shots, I will post tomorrow. Thanks. SD14.


Ouch, a web search reveals no way to upgrade focusing screens on the SD14. That's a lock. I must have that. Picts seem washed out too. I need more saturation and balls in the color. I still have to post samples...


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Hi Leegold,
Are you shooting in RAW? If you are shooting JPG it'll take a lot more skill to ensure everything is right on to get the contrast you want.
Check your ISO too. If the ISO is too high the colors will seem washed out. Try to stay below 400 if the light is good enough. Although once you get more experience you can go up higher. There are threads on here showing you how.

As for the sharpness, try changing your settings around or shooting in different light. It might be the auto settings on the camera setting it for a dark atmosphere. Try shooting with the camera on a tripod or a table to test it too.

There is an explanation of how the AF works in the SD14 manual too. It shows you how to set different focus points and all that stuff.

Hope this helps.


Well-Known Member

Hi Leegold

Any ideas? Sure!

Possibilities regarding focus are:
  1. There is a focus issue with this particular lens on this particular SD14. (See further down)
  2. There is a fault with the lens. (New? Second hand?)
  3. You work with too slow shutter speeds even for the OS to work.
  4. You use a tripod with OS ON. (Should be turned off)
  5. You only view the images on the LCD screen (it is almost impossible to jugde sharpness on the LCD)
  6. You use a RAW developer that do not support the X3F files (not that should affect focus, only colors/noise...)
  7. You shoot JPEGS; and have set Sharpness to minus something.
  8. You have not tested precisely where your AF points ACTUALLY measures, compared to the markings in the screen.
  9. You have selected another AF point than you believe.
  10. You have selected all AF points, and the camera picks another than you believe.
  11. You have a kit lens, a zoom, that may not be very good, sharpness wise.
First, you need to read my SD14 compendium:
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Next: The SD14 has shortcomings. But to achieve comparable Image Quality you have to pay a lot more with other brands. So, you have to decide for your self if you want to accept the compromises.

Third - focus:
It is quite possible that there are focus issues with your camera/lens. Why should you be more lucky than me? :). Of course, everyone wants to receive a perfect copy. Unfortunately, with every brand there is issues. Noone can afford to have 0 tolerance in production.
Every item is produced and tested within specs. Many regards the specs to be too wide for a system designated for the artist. But even with two items within specs ( a camera + lens) the result can be bad. So it is the combination, where they both enhance the problem. A slightly off camera + a slightly off lens, may either be bad or good, as the errors can eitehr be ebhanced or balanced.

If you verify that it has focus issues, there is no other way than sending both camera and all the lenses in for calibration. Sorry. Forget all thoughts about firmware allowing for AF calibration. It sure would be nice, but actually I doubt if we will see another firmware upgrade for the SD14 - even if it is badly needed. Even if we get another FW update, it ain't gonna have AF calibration.
Remember also that a zoom is less sharp than a prime.
SPP automatically add sharpness to the picture when you process the RAW. Slider at -0.7 roughly equals no sharpening. Remember also that X3F images often respond better to sharpening than Bayer images. Often a soft image can be saved in SPP by applying 1 - 1.3 in sharpness.
Here is a roadmap for you:
a) Adjust the dioptre
- remove the lens
- adjust until both ring and focus marks are sharp
b) test focus (see my document for reference to a test chart)
- camera on tripod, aimed 45 degrees at the surface with the test chart. Well lit, preferably daylight.
- TURN OFF OS when working on a tripod
- take notes.
- largest aperture
- take 5-10 shots (un-focus manually between each. Warning!: With some lenses, you have to switch to MF to unfocus, or it may destroy AF mechanism)
- test with all your lenses
- test AF and test MF (it is perfectly possible that AF and MF yields different result, and that neither is correct)
Use SPP to judge the images, to avoid any RAW processor incompability issue. (CS2 reender X3F wrongly)
Based on this, you have to decide for your self if you want Sigma to calibrate for you.

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Do you get focus beep wuth your Sigma lens?
If you insert a battery, and turn the camera ON with a Sigma lens on, you can swap lens to a non-Sigma lens, and retain the AF beep.
Other than that, you cannot of course use AF with the lens,a s ther are no electrical connection.

It is correct that there are no valid split-screen available. THere IS actually a chinese one, but the quality is not good. Katz Eye, which made the split screen for the SD9 and 10, have been reluctant to make one for the SD14. They think the build quality of the screen housing is causing problems. It cumbersome to install, and it is too easy to install it incorrectly, making people believing that it is the Katz Eye screen that is bad.
Another option is to use a magnifier. I use MF most of the time, and find it not particulary easy to focus the SD14, but I manage. I'll get a magnifier soon.

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Do you use a calibrated screen?
Do you use Custom WB?
Washed out colours:
- High ISO (800 and 1600) desaturate the pictures. There are posts on this forum on how to regain the saturation.
- I have seen test shots of a gretag color patch chart with recorded RGB values, indicating that certain WB settings may even affect contrast.

If you need more saturation, options are:
a) get another camera. :)
b) use batch processing with a pre-saved Saturation setting in SPP.

kind regards
Øyvind Strøm


I don't get an audible beep but a dot appears in the viewfinder when the AF says it's in focus. Or at least I assume the dot means focusing in achieved. With a MF lens the dot will appear to indicate focus only when the mf lens is wide open - then it works. Close the MF lens down even one stop and AF doesn't seem to work. If that's not what the dot's for sorry - I'm still going thru the manual slowly pg by pg. I don't get a beep...


Well-Known Member

Its the green dot as *STEADY* is your focus confirmation when shooting in manual focus mode. Once you stop the lens down enough that he can't get enough light, he is not going to confirm anything to you. Press and hold the shutter half way when you are focusing and trying for confirmation.

Otherwise, if you keep pressing and releaseing the shutter button while turning the focusing ring, the beeping and red flash is misleading and it has been my experience to be very difficult, to interpret anything useful. As far as I can tell, (the way my shooting preferences are): each time you press the shutter button in manual focus mode, he will confirm the press with one beep (there might be a menu setting for this as on/off - - mine is on) and the one focus point that you have selected will flash red once with the beep.

Some tips: Press and hold the shutter, then turn the focus ring very slowly, it is very easy to run past your focal point. If you hit the green confirmation and it does not stay lit, you probably past it, back your focusing ring up, and very slowly, if it lights and goes out again...then turn back the other direction .. you follow my drift,,, it takes a little playing.

Learn in very bright light, to get the feel of what your lens is doing. This was critical for me. Low light will not give a confirmation.. I am unsure as to what the threshold aperature value is on the SD14. but you can use your eye as a judge, if it seems a little too dark for you to focus, don't expect that the camera can do it either.

You are on the right track.

I think this is the solution to one of the problems I am having.
but the link is not opening. I have read the compilation before buying my sd14, its time to revisit this section to learn how to test my focal point.
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Thank you, OyvindSand good luck Leegold,



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Here are two examples from past weekend using the method I described.
these are my first posts using spp3.5
it looks like he might have striped the exif, my firefox addon is not seeing it
I was using the center focus point, try to put it on the strongest point of contrast when you compose.



The distance was approximately 300 feet, camera to subject.


Well-Known Member
A simple method to improve focus is to use Aperture priority mode and select an aperture with a greater depth of field. When needing to focus quickly, this can help you get a focus which is "close enough", but you'll then risk your subject plus foreground and/or background being in focus resulting in a potentially cluttered image.

Another technique would be to calculate the hyperfocal distance of your lenses. If you then set the focus ring to correspond to the hyperfocal distance, the lens will now bring everything from one half of the hyperfocal distance through to infinity into sufficient focus. Again, you will need to use Aperture priority mode since the aperture setting varies the hyperfocal distance.

For example, the Sigma 28 mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro lens has a hyperfocal distance of 24m at f1.8 and of 2m at f22 (I have not calculated the values between these)

If I set the f to 22 and focus simply by the numbers on the focus ring to 2m, I'll be pretty close to having an ideal focus for 1m to infinity.

Knowing that the maximum hyperfocal distance is 24m, if I can find an easily focusable object greater than 24m away, regardless of aperture setting, I'll be very close to a perfect focus for a subject with a less than ideal focusability. I apply this to my astrophotography. I can't focus on the stars directly, but I have a couple antenna towers about 2 miles away with beacons that are easy to focus. Afterwards, everything in the sky is focused perfectly.


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AF confirm beep


Check if the Beep is enabled. There should be a Sound symbol at the upper LCD, just left of Metering Mode indicator.

If there are no Sound symbol, here is how to activate it:

Press the Func button 5 times and hold.
Look at the top LCD:
On - means focus confirm audible beep On
-- means OFF
Use the Command Dial to change the setting.

kind regards

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Hi Øyvind...I'm afraid that none of the Sigma kit lenses is going to give you really good image quality...You need prime lenses, not zoom lenses for the best possible quality and the faster the better too so you can blur out any distracting backgrounds.
The primes lenses I use that cover the range of your 28-300mm kit zoom are currently the Carl Zeiss 28mm f2.8 Distagon T*, Nikon 35mm f1.4 AIS, Canon FL 55mm f1.2, Carl Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar T* (just got a Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L too), The Nikon 105mm f2.5, the Sigmatel 135mm f1.8, the Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm f2.8 "Olympic" sonnar and the Tamron 300mm f2.8 LD IF. All of which are extremely sharp and most have very good bokeh quality too...Which can be just as important as sharpness.