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Author Topic: Sigma SD1 review  (Read 43958 times)
fredjeang
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« on: July 17, 2011, 07:06:36 PM »
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This is an extensive evaluation that I had interest and pleasure to read.

Thanks to Michael and friends for the work done.

I completly agree with MR that the "Foveon look" reminds me more of an Agfa than a Kodachrome. Anyway,

I had some of their products (and still own a compact DP that I hardly use) and yes, more or less I was expecting what I read except that boost in reso,
it completly matches my past experiences with the SD line.
Nothing really new under the sun, the samples match, I see the same goodies and no-goodies but it seems that the body is more acheive on this model in terms of quality.

By the way, the palette is not a mistake, this is the same with previous models.

For the passionate amateur who print a lot it could be a nice option if it wasn't so expensive; for the pro, just pass your way and go to the bar. It's cheaper.

Good review.


PS: I had a good laugh when at one point of the review I saw all the cautions, care and choosen words Michael displayed when it comes to not irritates the scientists about the differences between numbers and human perception and the spirit his reviews are made. Pure art of social journalism. Is it that bad in the mailbox?

 
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 07:43:31 PM by fredjeang » Logged
tom b
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2011, 07:34:56 PM »
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I found these sentences most interesting:

"Let's be frank. The SD1 is ridiculously overpriced. It's a decent APS-C camera with mid-level built quality; at about the $1,000 level. It has neither the features nor specifications of a Pro camera such as a Nikon D3x or Canon 1Ds MkIII, let alone a 5D MKII or Sony A900. And with new 30+ Megapixel versions of these three company's flagships coming in the months ahead, along with not having video, no Live View, no tethering, and no pro support program, the SD1's price is simply untenable.

Know anything that we don't?

Cheers,
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Josh-H
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 08:52:15 PM »
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Quote
And with new 30+ Megapixel versions of these three company's flagships coming in the months ahead

I thought that was just stating the obvious....
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 03:46:49 AM »
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Hi,

Just some observations:

1) Going from 24 to 30 MPix is a minor step

2) I'm not really sure that it is obvious that 30+ MP cameras arrive this year, my guess may be just before Photokina 2012

Best regards
Erik



I thought that was just stating the obvious....
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Josh-H
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 04:39:08 AM »
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Hi,

Just some observations:

1) Going from 24 to 30 MPix is a minor step

2) I'm not really sure that it is obvious that 30+ MP cameras arrive this year, my guess may be just before Photokina 2012

Best regards
Erik


Perhaps I should have said 'The Inevitable..."  Grin
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fredjeang
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 05:28:09 AM »
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I don't think that the coming 30MP ish models from CaNikon are the real problem with this camera.

The potential people who would be interested in it are basically (IMO) looking for a different proposal-look in a dslr wrapper for their printings
or precisely an alternative to the CaNikon dslrs, wich was my case. I bought Sigma in the past because I was looking for a different sensor's approach,
but not as a replacement to the pro line Canons, because it's not. It was like adding another palette in my tools.

Then, as I hardly print now (or never), the strengh of that formula wich resides in the printing output didn't make any sense to me, because the body is
absolutly unusable in a professional workflow.

The real issue with this camera is the price. It simply does not have the value Sigma is asking for. It should be a 2000 euros body and that's where all the dilema is.

I've stressed many times that the Foveon is a great tech but in the wrong hands. Sigma is a too small company to develop properly all the potential of the sensor.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 08:51:35 AM »
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The conclusion seemed to be buy an A900 and have the AA filter removed..  Grin Grin Grin
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 12:44:48 PM »
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Hi,

Just some observations:

1) Going from 24 to 30 MPix is a minor step

2) I'm not really sure that it is obvious that 30+ MP cameras arrive this year, my guess may be just before Photokina 2012

Best regards
Erik

Well, the key is the + at the end of 30+.  current rumor for Sony is 39mp.  At that fine of pixel pitch, the AA filter may not be necessary, so even if it exceeds lens resolution, a big improvement.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 02:07:36 PM »
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Wayne,

A good point. On the other hand the Alpha 55 correspond to 36 MP when recalculated to full frame.

I have noticed some aliasing/moiré on my Alpha 55 so I guess that it may lack AA-filter.

As a side note I did a comparison of Michael's samples upscaled to same size (with Pentax 645D as reference), in my view the picking order was quite clear:

Pentax
Sony A900 and Leica M9
Sony A55 and Sigma SD1

Now, those images were intended for display on the web, not really optimal for this kind of comparison. I also noted that the picking order may be affected by viewing distance.

In general I'd suggest that increasing resolution is a good thing. Aliasing is reduced, AA-filtering is always optimized for pixel pitch, so smaller pitch means weaker filtering. You are right that the AA-filter may be removed, but my sample from the Alpha 55 indicates that artifacts can arise. By the way, that image is taken with 400/5.6 and 1.4x extender at f/10, I did not really expect moiré but I think it's quite clearly there.

The Foevon sensor would of course not have any color moiré, but it could still have some jaggies and false resolution artifacts. An example of that is clearly visible in DP-Review test of the DP2, also enclosed. We can see that the line pattern turns mush around 1800 but shows fake resolution at 2000 and up, this is an example of contrast inversion. It is possible that the effect is not visible on normal pictures.

Best regards
Erik


Well, the key is the + at the end of 30+.  current rumor for Sony is 39mp.  At that fine of pixel pitch, the AA filter may not be necessary, so even if it exceeds lens resolution, a big improvement.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 02:24:57 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2011, 05:13:08 PM »
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Thoughtful and well-written review.  One question that came to mind for me since the Foveon technology has existed for some years prior the Sigma acquisition (and I assume they own the intellectual property now) is whether Canon & Nikon evaluated it and decided that the potential benefits were not worth the development costs.  I don't know the full history here and it maybe that they did.  I chuckled at the 1970s Agfachrome statement since in my exuberant youth I shot rolls and rolls of the stuff thinking how great it was.  When I started to digitize all my slides a couple of years ago, I awoke from the stupor to realize that it really wasn't as good as Kodachrome.
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2011, 05:31:11 PM »
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Thoughtful and well-written review.  One question that came to mind for me since the Foveon technology has existed for some years prior the Sigma acquisition (and I assume they own the intellectual property now) is whether Canon & Nikon evaluated it and decided that the potential benefits were not worth the development costs.  I don't know the full history here and it maybe that they did.

Canon at least has hedged their bets.
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Mike Sellers
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 08:48:58 PM »
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I was hoping to see Michael make some large 30x45 ish prints from each system to see how the SD1 held up to the others.
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ndevlin
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 09:03:35 PM »
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I was hoping to see Michael make some large 30x45 ish prints from each system to see how the SD1 held up to the others.

Perhaps it didn't come across clearly in the review, but we did that. The results were exactly as Michael described. The 645D pulled clearly ahead, to my eye the Leica was in second place, and the A900 and SD1 were very close with the A55 bringing up the rear by a small margin.

- N.
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Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 10:49:56 PM »
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Thanks for the great review. Even if Sigma slashes their price by half it won't be good enough. I wonder why they went into production. They had to know this (the costing issue) would happen, right?
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 11:43:29 PM »
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Hi,

My impression is that the problem is not the cost but the value. The cost is similar to the Nikon D3X and the Leica M9. The value is in the eyes and hands of the beholder. Both the M9 and the SD1 lack live view for instance. The Sigma may lack the solid build of the Nikon D3X and the M9. Also, Sigma may lack some of the high quality lenses available for Nikon, Canon and Leica.

In general, a larger sensor has advantages. A larger sensor delivers more photons to the sensor and the sensor can hold more electron charges. A larger sensor is also able to deliver more MTF to the sensor than a smaller one, at least if pixel count is the same.

To some photographers image quality is all that counts. If the Sigma SD1 really delivers it may be perfectly enough for those customers. On the other hand I'm quite skeptical that Sigma SD1 can really keep up with top of the crop full frame DSLRs.

Best regards
Erik

Thanks for the great review. Even if Sigma slashes their price by half it won't be good enough. I wonder why they went into production. They had to know this (the costing issue) would happen, right?
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2011, 12:43:20 AM »
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Perhaps it didn't come across clearly in the review, but we did that. The results were exactly as Michael described. The 645D pulled clearly ahead, to my eye the Leica was in second place, and the A900 and SD1 were very close with the A55 bringing up the rear by a small margin.

- N.

The only reason I can surmise for the high price is the fact that there is no other crop-format camera on the market with such 'effectively' high resolution. 30mp for a cropped format DSLR is impressive, hence the impressive price.

The A900 is a heavier camera and lacks the advantages of the cropped format, such as better DoF at the same aperture, and lighter lenses when such lenses are designed for the cropped format, and lighter lenses always in relation to an 'effective' focal length, even with full-format lenses.

The Sigma SD1 is offering a level of performance, in certain respects, that no other camera currently available is able to offer. That's the reason for the high price.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2011, 12:57:30 AM »
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Hi,

Yes, there are some advantages to cropped format. On the other hand there may not be so many really high quality lenses optimized for APS-C, especially not with Sigma bayonet. The Sigma 18-50/2.8 is known to be very good, but I'm not aware of any other.

I guess that Michael is right that a price tag around 2500 USD would be reasonable for a camera like this.

Four thirds is a different issue, the lenses for 4/3 are made for that format.

Best regards
Erik



The only reason I can surmise for the high price is the fact that there is no other crop-format camera on the market with such 'effectively' high resolution. 30mp for a cropped format DSLR is impressive, hence the impressive price.

The A900 is a heavier camera and lacks the advantages of the cropped format, such as better DoF at the same aperture, and lighter lenses when such lenses are designed for the cropped format, and lighter lenses always in relation to an 'effective' focal length, even with full-format lenses.

The Sigma SD1 is offering a level of performance, in certain respects, that no other camera currently available is able to offer. That's the reason for the high price.
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2011, 02:52:50 AM »
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Hi,

Yes, there are some advantages to cropped format. On the other hand there may not be so many really high quality lenses optimized for APS-C, especially not with Sigma bayonet. The Sigma 18-50/2.8 is known to be very good, but I'm not aware of any other.

I guess that Michael is right that a price tag around 2500 USD would be reasonable for a camera like this.

Four thirds is a different issue, the lenses for 4/3 are made for that format.

Best regards
Erik


Erik,
I think there's a misconception that companies price their products on what's reasonable or fair.

Rather, I suspect that companies price their products on what price they can get away with. Sometime an exceptionally high price indicates 'exclusivity', and therfore appeals to the rich. Sigma with the SD1 have gone down this path. They've got a unique product and they are exploiting that fact.

People who buy designer clothes at three times the price of a regular item which is just as good, will buy the DS1.



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Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2011, 05:18:23 AM »
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Quote
Rather, I suspect that companies price their products on what price they can get away with. Sometime an exceptionally high price indicates 'exclusivity', and therfore appeals to the rich. Sigma with the SD1 have gone down this path. They've got a unique product and they are exploiting that fact.

According to the review, this is what I could gather about Sigma:
1. No support for third-party lenses
2. Only a few good lenses in its stable
3. Not good enough pro support
4. No weatherproofing
5. Very poor software for RAW processing
6. A very subjective color style
7. Poor resale value, because of
8. Poor brand value and image among professionals - you only go for a sigma if you can't afford a Zeiss or Leica, Canon or Nikon.

The only major advantage is its 30MP image. The D3X has 24MP, which is only an inch or so smaller in terms of resolution (when printing) when compared to the SD1, but has features that put every other camera to shame - at almost the same price point. I'm not an expert but I'm not too sure Sigma has a unique product.
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2011, 05:54:40 AM »
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According to the review, this is what I could gather about Sigma:
1. No support for third-party lenses
2. Only a few good lenses in its stable
3. Not good enough pro support
4. No weatherproofing
5. Very poor software for RAW processing
6. A very subjective color style
7. Poor resale value, because of
8. Poor brand value and image among professionals - you only go for a sigma if you can't afford a Zeiss or Leica, Canon or Nikon.

The only major advantage is its 30MP image. The D3X has 24MP, which is only an inch or so smaller in terms of resolution (when printing) when compared to the SD1, but has features that put every other camera to shame - at almost the same price point. I'm not an expert but I'm not too sure Sigma has a unique product.

30mp on a cropped format is significantly different from 24mp on full frame. I've made many comparisons with my Canon cameras comparing full frame with cropped frame at higher pixel count. The Sigma SD1 is definitely unique in terms of resolution for a cropped format camera, assuming it is true that the pixel count on the Foveon is equal to double the pixel count of a Bayer array.
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