Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

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Introduction

The Sigma SD15 is a new DSLR camera which utilises the the same 14.06 megapixel Foveon X3 sensor technology as its predecessor, the SD14, and the company’s range of premium DP-branded compacts. Other key features of the long-awaited SD15, which was first announced way back at Photokina 2008, include the True II processor, a 3 inch, high-resolution 460k dot LCD screen, extended ISO range of 50-3200, 77-segment AE sensor, a continuous shooting speed of 3 frames per second for up to 21 RAW images, and a 100,000 exposure shutter life. The Sigma SD15 is available now for around £900 / $989.

Ease of Use

Sigma’s expertise and renown is in providing good value lenses and accessories to Canon, Nikon and Sony digital SLR users who don’t want to fork out top dollar for those maker’s own branded products. Back in 2002 Sigma decided that, since it already had optical expertise, why not partner with someone who can provide the requisite sensor technology, cut out the middleman and bring out its own class leading DSLR?

That was the sound enough theory. In practice it’s worked out less smoothly for this plucky underdog. Sigma’s three other DSLRs to date – the SD9, SD10 and SD14 – have enjoyed a mixed reception, falling short on delivering on the promise indicated at the time, and simply puzzling many.

The 14.06 effective megapixel SD15, which succeeds 2006’s SD14, was mooted over a year ago but has only just made it to market at a suggested £900, body only. While that may sound pricey and such a delay foreboding, it’s worth recalling that its predecessor was launched at around £1,100, and the SD15 can now be picked up for a more realistic £780 online. It’s only Sigma’s fourth DSLR since 2002, which seems like 100 years ago in the fast-moving world of digital photography.

Even after all this time, Sigma’s system still feels untried and untested. So why should one take a chance and opt for the SD15 over what Canon, Nikon, Pentax, or Sony could offer for the same price from their respective ranges?

Sigma’s not so secret weapon, and to be honest its DSLR’s main selling point, is the Foveon X3 CMOS sensor at the heart of the SD15 and its predecessors. While conventional (non-Foveon) sensors are good at detecting the intensity of light, they miss a lot of colour information claims Sigma.

To combat this the Foveon chip features a unique three-layered pixel configuration – one layer for red light, one for green and one for blue. Or to get more scientific, by utilising its three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked to take advantage of silicon’s ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths, Sigma claims it reproduces colour more accurately than conventional sensors. Certainly it delivers images with a different look and feel than we are used to, with subtle tones and shading that makes shots appear less obviously digital and in fact a little more painterly. A polite way of saying they can look a little soft.

For the duration of our test period we were also supplied with a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG Macro and a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS lens, available from around £300 and £400 respectively; the telephoto zoom stabilised to avoid blur at longer focal lengths. This solid pairing could be conceivably the only set up the keen amateur may need, though they will have shelled out nearly £1600 for the privilege. Sigma claims the shutter release mechanism will last 100,000+ captures, so plenty of opportunity to capture that winning shot.

Sigma SD15 Sigma SD15
Front Rear

Without lens attached, the SD15 feels deceptively lightweight, yet solid to the touch. Deceptive, because the camera actually weighs a not inconsiderable 680g without attached glass. With 24-70mm lens screwed onto the front however it’s like you’re hefting a couple of bricks. Its body-only dimensions are a tank-like 144×107.3×80.5mm.

Other enticing features include dust protected mount (protection removable should this not prove 100% effective and you need to clean the sensor after all), light sensitivity stretching from ISO100 to ISO1600 (expandable to ISO50 and ISO3200 at either end) plus the ability to shoot common JPEG (Fine, Normal or Basic compression levels) as well as best quality RAW files, but not in tandem. Sigma Photo Pro 4.1 software for RAW file conversion is supplied on a pair of CD ROMs in the box; one each for Windows and Mac users. Photos are written to the widely available SD and higher capacity SDHC cards, thankfully housed in a separate compartment to the battery, beneath a side-mounted flap. When it comes to action photography, maximum shooting speed is a fairly modest three frames per second (fps), albeit as RAW files for up to 21 consecutive frames.

Shoot a JPEG though and, because of the quirks of the sensor, you’re left not with a 14MP image however, but one comprised of a total of just 4.6 megapixels. OK, so the end result might look more like an eight or 10 megapixel shot when viewed on your desktop, but £900 for a four to 5MP camera sounds like something from the 1990s. Eschewing convention further, there’s also no video mode nor Live View compositional facility to be found on the SD15.

Since the shooting mode dial has been pared down to the creative quartet of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual, the top plate layout appears a little unfinished at first, as if its designers have just stepped outside for a moment.

The SD15’s back plate layout looks similarly sparse at first glance, with quizzically small buttons that seem dwarfed by its frame. In fact all the essentials are there, save for a rear command dial commonly found on rival DSLRs in this price bracket. Unlike other pro-level DSLRs, the Sigma comes with both pop up flash and vacant hotshoe for accessory flashgun.

Pictures are composed via a decent sized optical viewfinder offering 98% coverage and 0.9x magnification factor, with an equally adequate 3-inch LCD just below, that, in offering a 460k resolution, falls between entry level and semi pro DSLR in terms of spec. It’s not the most user friendly camera we’ve handled – again, Sigma has no truck with current conventions and as we’ve mentioned the screen cannot be used for shot composition, just reviewing – but again the essentials are all here, located via a press of the ‘QS’ (Quick Set) button. With practice operation speeds up.

Viewed front on, the Sigma SD15 appears angular and tank-like; not always a bad thing, especially as you want a camera built to last and able to withstand the odd glancing knock if spending near £900 for the privilege.

Sigma SD15 Sigma SD15
Front Front

A pop up integral flash hides just above the lens, set forward of a vacant hotshoe for Sigma’s EF-530 accessory flashgun, to name just one recommended option from its extensive range.

Top right of the lens mount, looking at the camera lens-on, is a sensor for use with an optional RS-31 remote control. Tucked closer still are a button for adjusting the flash, and of identical size below it an unmarked button that is actually a depth of field preview button, should you want to get an impression of how your shot will look before you actually take it. As we’ve found on its DP series compacts, Sigma seems to like its unmarked or oddly labeled controls, which at times make its cameras seem like puzzles to be unraveled.

Over to the left hand side of the lens mount, we find near the base the lens release button – smaller than those of competing brands but perfectly workable – plus directly above, a large porthole shaped window housing the noticeably bright AF assist lamp.

This snuggles next to the large, textured handgrip, around which it’s possible to comfortably wrap three fingers, leaving the thumb to rest in a padded indentation on the backplate. This of course leaves the forefinger comfortably free to hover over the shutter release button, unusually encircled by the command dial. But so far, so ergonomic, and as we’ve noted, after some initial head scratching over Sigma’s quirky way of doing things, things start to fall slowly into place.

The SD15’s top plate resembles an old Roberts transistor radio, with not one but two rangefinder-like dials. Viewing the camera from the back as anyone using it will, over to the right we have a shooting mode dial that again looks a little empty, featuring just the four options of program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual. Not for Sigma the tomfoolery of a plethora of auto, scene and subject modes usually found on all-singing, all-dancing DSLRs in this price bracket and below.

Next to this right hand side dial we have a smaller than average top plate LCD window displaying key shooting information at a glance, such as battery life indicator, number of shots remaining, metering mode, selected aperture and shutter speed; the latter pairing adjustable with a finger flick of the command dial. Just in front of this sits a small button marked with self explanatory bulb icon for turning the handy LCD illumination on/off, and on the forward slope of the handgrip, the aforementioned shutter release button/command dial configuration.

Across at the left hand side of the top plate we find the second dial, or ‘drive dial’. As it sounds, with a twist the user can swap between single shot and continuous/burst shooting. This also doubles up as the on/off switch, radio-stylee, and additionally includes settings for two or 10 second self timer, mirror up and auto bracketing modes. Looking down on the above the user benefits from not being confronted with an overly cramped or busy display, meaning it’s relatively simple to quickly get to the desired feature or function.

Sigma SD15 Sigma SD15
Top Pop-up Flash

With a flick of this dial to single shot shooting mode the user can be up and taking pictures in a couple of seconds. OK, not the fastest ever, but then Sigma cameras are best appreciated by those who prefer their art at a more leisurely pace. The 5-point AF system is, on paper, nothing to write home about, but in practice swift in response, though busier scenes can confuse the auto focus, the lens audibly shifting back and forth trying to lock onto target. Single shot JPEGs are committed to memory in just under three seconds. Raw files are more like five. Both are perfectly adequate given the circumstances.

Moving to the backplate where the 3-inch, 260k-dot LCD screen takes centre stage, the user is presented with 14 small buttons dotted about the space like chocolate drops sprinkled on a cake, their positioning feeling almost that random. Also, with key options spread between separate function, menu and quick set buttons, it’s initially difficult to know what you should be pressing first – though the latter is the best bet.

Still, drawing the eye like a beacon immediately above the screen is pentaprism viewfinder offering 98% coverage and 0.9x magnification factor. Whilst not the biggest nor the brightest optical viewfinder found on a DSLR, it’s again adequate for purpose. Just above it sits a large diopter adjuster slider, much easier to access than the tiny wheel-type affairs set into the side of other DSLR’s eyepiece cups, and compared to them given undue prominence. Perhaps research has indicated that most of Sigma’s customer base are spectacle wearers?

To the left of the viewfinder is the ‘func’ (function) button as aforementioned. Press this and the user is presented with a grid-like virtual version of the view through the optical viewfinder. To the left, the right and along the bottom of the screen are more key essentials. To the left the current shooting mode, metering mode and ISO setting are presented, and on the right shutter speed and aperture, shots remaining and exposure compensation setting.

A toolbar along the bottom meanwhile presents the selected drive mode, flash options (standard fill-in flash, red eye reduction, slow sync, rear curtain sync and wireless TTL flash mode) and remote control channel setting. The options on this bottom toolbar can be tabbed through and selected using the four directional control pads to the right of the screen that encircle a familiar ‘OK’ button. The others on the main part of a screen require a corresponding press of dedicated button or twist of a dial to effect and implement any changes.

Just below the function button is the self explanatory ‘menu’ button; press this and a long list of mainly set up options appear on the LCD, clean legible white type on black, each subsequent option illuminated in non threatening baby blue as the user tabs through them. It’s here the user can carry out a custom white balance or tweak ‘picture settings’ to include contrast, sharpness, and saturation plus swap between SRGB and Adobe RGB colour space in camera. It’s also in this menu that the ‘extended mode’ needs to be first enabled before the photographer can access the extended range of ISO options, beginning at ISO50, instead of ISO100, and going up to ISO3200. Card formatting, date and time settings, file numbering and auto picture rotation are among the more regular suspects you’d expect to find in such a set up menu.

The next button down from menu is the equally familiar playback button for reviewing shots at leisure. A pairing of buttons to the top right of the camera back allow the user to variously zoom into images to check detail or display a sequence of recent shots as thumbnails. A press of the ‘i’ (information) button one down from playback brings up a plethora of shooting info pertaining to the shot on screen at the time, including histogram revealing not only areas of brightness but also individual colour channels, along with white balance selected, ISO speed, focal length, date, time and the ilk.

Sigma SD15 Sigma SD15
Battery Compartment Memory Card Slot

Staying to the left of the LCD, the next button down is illustrated with an enigmatic asterisk, which the SD15’s manual identifies as the ‘modify menu’ button. Press it when in capture mode and nothing happens. However in review mode another press and the user is presented with the ability to earmark certain images or groups for direct printing, kick start a slideshow, manually rotate images, or mark and lock them for preservation. By contrast then the bottom button of the five to run down the left hand side of the screen is a very useful dedicated delete button.

Moving over to the right hand side of the SD15’s screen and top right we have a pairing of buttons for auto exposure lock and aperture/exposure compensation, and, just below and to the right, a further three for summoning up and adjusting ISO speeds, swapping metering modes and adjusting the AF point when in capture mode (or zooming in when in review mode).

Just above the previously mentioned control pad is probably the most consistently used button on the SD15’s backplate, the ‘QS’ or Quick Set button. As it sounds, this pares proceedings down to the bare essentials to save time. It’s here you get a creative choice of capture options, ranging from pre-optimised portrait and landscape settings to sepia and black and white, neutral and standard colour options, plus vivid setting. There’s also the ability to swap between Fine, Normal, Basic or Raw shooting options in a thrice, and between standard auto and manually selectable white balance settings.

Changes are effected to all of the above by simply selecting the corresponding button on the four-way control pad and scrolling through the options presented at the four points on screen. The last button on the back plate is a slightly extraneous cancel button, a press of which in most instances simply turns off the LCD screen.

With a slot for SD/SDHC card nestling under a  sliding door on the camera’s right flank – if still viewed from the rear – to the left hand side we get a rubber flap covering separate USB 2.0, AV out and power in ports, and above and below, variously PC sync and cable release sockets, indicating if needed the SD15’s semi pro mettle.

At the sturdy base of the camera we have a screw thread located not at the mid point of the base but the mid point of the lens, plus sliding catch protecting the battery compartment, lithium in cell hidden within the base of the handgrip. Battery life is good for a respectable 500 shots from a full charge. Again, whilst not up there with the best performing DSLRs, it’s again perfectly adequate.

In all then the SD15 displays a rather average feature set for a DSLR, with notable omissions in lack of video capture and Live View facility. Will its images then transcend its shortcomings in other areas? Read on to find out…

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel High JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 2.5Mb.

The subtle tones and shades picked up by the Foveon sensor that rivals miss provide a more rounded, almost three-dimensional impression, or at least that’s what Sigma would have us believe. As we’ve noted in the main text, this almost proves to be the case and works best for photographing still life arrangements and portraits using the 24-70mm macro lens provided, where the subtleties of skin tones are brought to the fore.

There’s an attendant softness to the images that you either like or don’t, along with the smaller file sizes, but when using the longer 70-200mm lens, to pull subjects closer and throw the background out of focus, we did start to get images with a little more drama, but occasionally visible image noise as well, especially noticeable in the shadows. Still, we could achieve even exposures straight out of the camera.

In terms of colours, selecting the standard and neutral picture modes delivered a distinctly washed out feel, and only by selecting the vivid mode did we achieve the visual punch we were looking for straight out of the camera. Of course, by playing around in Photoshop you can tease more out of the images – even if just adjusting brightness and contrast – and they benefit from that process.

As also noted, under normal circumstances light sensitivity runs from a modest ISO 100 to ISO 1600, the sort of spec you’d find on a pocket camera; but by delving into the menu system and switching on the ‘Extended mode’ this can be extended to ISO 50 or ISO 3200 at either end of the scale. However it has to be said that at ISO 800 and above quite severe noise starts to affect detail, delivering a distinctly gritty look and feel to the images, which is not something we’d normally expect from a £900 DSLR.

Like its predecessors the Sigma SD15 comes across as interesting yet flawed. Just not as flawed as said predecessors.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Sigma SD15. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW files.

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web – Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Flash

The Sigma SD15 camera’s built-in flash offers an angle of coverage of 17mm (equivalent to 28mm with a 35mm camera) lens with a guide number of 11. The built-in flash can be synchronized to a shutter speed up to 1/180 sec. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Off – Wide Angle (24mm)

On – Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Off – Telephoto (70mm)

On – Telephoto (70mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

On

On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Sigma SD15’s maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there’s also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/2 second at ISO 200.

Night Shot

100% Crop

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

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Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sigma SD15 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Sigma SD15 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We’ve provided some Sigma RAW (X3F samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/160s · f/5.6 · 40mm · ISO 100
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/250s · f/8 · 51mm · ISO 1600
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/400s · f/9 · 51mm · ISO 3200
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/50s · f/3.2 · 51mm · ISO 50
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/50s · f/4 · 119mm · ISO 100
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/125s · f/5.6 · 119mm · ISO 100
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/60s · f/4 · 119mm · ISO 100
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/640s · f/11 · 119mm · ISO 200
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/320s · f/8 · 119mm · ISO 200
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/400s · f/10 · 127mm · ISO 400
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/500s · f/9 · 425mm · ISO 400
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/640s · f/8 · 510mm · ISO 800
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/1000s · f/11 · 510mm · ISO 1600
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/1600s · f/14 · 510mm · ISO 3200
Download Original

Sample RAW Image

Download

1/1s · f/2.8 · 40mm · ISO 200
Download Original

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

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Product Images

Sigma SD15

Front of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Front of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Front of the Camera / Flash Raised

 
Sigma SD15

Isometric View

 
Sigma SD15

Isometric View

 
Sigma SD15

Rear of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

 
Sigma SD15

Side of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Side of the Camera

 

Sigma SD15

Top of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Bottom of the Camera

 
Sigma SD15

Ports

 
Sigma SD15

Battery Compartment

 
Sigma SD15

Memory Card Slot

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52

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Specifications

Format Interchangeable lens SLR camera
Compatible Lenses SIGMA SA mount interchangeable lenses
Lens Mount SIGMA SA bayonet mount
Angle of View Equivalent to approx. 1.7 times the focal length of the lens (for 35mm cameras)
Image Sensor FOVEON X3® Direct Image Sensor (CMOS)
Image Sensor Size 20.7×13.8mm (0.8 inch×0.5 inch)
Number of Pixels Total Pixels 14.45MP(2,688×1,792×3 layers)
Effective Pixels 14.06MP(2,652×1,768×3 layers)
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Storage Media SD Card/Compatible with SDHC, Multi Media Card
Still Image Format Exif2.21, DCF2.0
Recording Mode Lossless compression RAW data(12-bit), JPEG(High,Medium, Low)
Color Mode 7 types (Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, B&W, Sepia)
Number of Pixels (File Size) RAW High 2,640 x 1,760 (Approx.15.4MB)
JPEG High Fine 2,640 x 1,760 (Approx.3.3MB)
Normal 2,640 x 1,760 (Approx.1.9MB)
Basic 2,640 x 1,760 (Approx.1.4MB)
Medium Fine 1,872?1,248 (Approx.1.6MB)
Normal 1,872?1,248 (Approx.0.9MB)
Basic 1,872?1,248 (Approx.0.7MB)
Low Fine 1,312?880 (Approx.0.8MB)
Normal 1,312?880 (Approx.0.5MB)
Basic 1,312?880 (Approx.0.3MB)
White Balance 8 types (Auto, Sunlight, Shade, Overcast, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash and Custom)
Viewfinder Type Pentaprism SLR viewfinder
Viewfinder Frame Coverage 98% vertical, 98% horizontal
Viewfinder Magnification 0.9x (50mmF1.4- ∞)
Eye point 18mm
Diopter Adjustment Range -3dpt to +1.5dpt
Focusing Screen Fixed, all matt screen
Mirror Quick return
Depth of Field Preview Depth of field preview button
Auto Focus Type TTL phase difference detection system
AF Point 5-points (center AF point:cross type)
AF Operating Range EV 0 to +18 (ISO100)
Focus Mode Single AF, Continuous AF (with AF motion prediction function), Manual
AF Point Selection Automatic Selection, Manual Selection
Active AF point indicator Superimposed in viewfinder
AF Assist Light White Color AF Assist Light
Focus Lock Shutter Release Halfway-Down position
Metering Systems 77 segment Evaluative Metering, Spot Metering, Center Area Metering, Center-Weighted Average Metering
Metering Range EV 1 to 20 (50mm F1.4?ISO100)
Exposure Control System (P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible), (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE, (A) Aperture Priority AE, (M) Manual
ISO Sensitivity AUTO(ISO 100-200) : With Flash (ISO 100-400)
Equivalent to ISO100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 (ISO50 and ISO3200 with Extended Mode)
Exposure Compensation ±3EV (in 1/3 stop increments)
AE Lock AE lock button is pressed or shutter release button is pressed halfway
Auto Bracketing With 3 frames bracketing : 1/3EV Stops Up to ±3EV
With 5 frames bracketing : 1/3EV Stops Up to ±1.7EV
Shutter Type Electronically Controlled Focal Plane Shutter
Shutter Speed 1/4000 – 30 sec., Bulb (up to 30 sec. With Extended Mode: 2 min.)
External Flash Sync. X-Sync(1/180)
Flash Type Manual Pop-up Built-in flash
Built-in Flash Guide Number GN11
Built-in Flash Coverage Range 17mm lens angle covered
Flash Metering System S-TTL Auto Flash
Flash Compensation ±3EV(1/3 stop increments)
Compatible Flashguns EF-530DG SUPER, EF-530DG ST, EM-140 DG
Sync Terminal Available
Connectivity Hot shoe (contact X synchronization at 1/180 sec. or less, with dedicated flash linking contact)
Top LCD Shutter speed display, Aperture value display, Exposure meter display, Shooting capacity display, Exposure mode display, Battery status display, Remote controller mode display, Exposure compensation value display
Drive Modes [1]Single, [2]Continuous, [3]Self-timer (2 sec./10 sec.), [4]Mirror Lock-up
Continuous shooting speed 3 frames?second
Maximum number of frames for continuous shooting 21 frames
LCD Monitor Type TFT Color LCD Monitor
Monitor Size 3.0″
LCD Pixels Approx. 460,000
Coverage 100%
Reviewing Images Single frame display, Multi display [9 frames], Zoom, Slide Show
Highlight Display Available
Histogram Available
LCD Monitor Language English/Japanese/German/French/Spanish/Italian/Chinese (Simplified)/ Korean/ Russian
Interfaces USB (USB2.0), Video Out (NTSC/PAL)
Battery Li-ion Battery Pack BP-21, Battery Charger BC-21, AC adapter SAC-4(optional)
Dimensions 144mm/5.7″(W) X 107.3mm/4.2″(H) X 80.5mm/3.2″(D)
Weight 680g/24oz (without batteries)
Operating Temperature 0 – +40?
Operating Hunidity Range 85% or lower
Accessories Li-ion Battery Pack BP-21, Battery charger BC-21, USB Cable, Video Cable, Neck Strap, Eye Cap, Body Cap, Eyepiece Cap, SIGMA Photo Pro Disc, SD15 Instruction Manual
Optional Accessories Battery Grip?Power Grip PG-21
AC Adapter?SAC-4
Remote Controller?RS-31
Cable Release Switch?CR-21
Electronic Flash?EF-530 DG SUPER, EF-530 DG ST, EM-140 DG

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52

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We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended”. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.

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Conclusion

Although less of an obvious odd fish than its forebears, the Sigma SD15 is still not an easy camera to deliver an unequivocal verdict on. But it’s fair to say that, if your main aim when choosing which DSLR to buy is to find the best value all rounder, full to the brim of the latest must have specification, then the SD15 isn’t for you. A body-only price of a penny under £900 (lenses costing extra), not to mention the lack of obvious hand holding – although Sigma admittedly have gone for a slightly friendly user interface this time around – places the camera out of most casual amateurs league. This is therefore not a ‘budget’ DSLR but a long-term investment for those who are really serious about image quality first and foremost.

However, when it comes to said image quality the SD15’s performance is a bit of a mixed bag, although this time around our images didn’t suffer from as many odd colour casts and white balance issues straight out of the camera as previous generation SD models. So a step in the right direction at least, especially if you avoid the higher ISOs.

There’s still the fact that the SD15 is relatively untried and tested as a system, but at least it does have a fair amount of manufacturer support. As accessories are Sigma’s most prominent product line, the advantage here is that the SD15 is compatible with over 40 lenses, not to mention flashguns, remotes and adapters. OK, not quite up there with Canon’s 60+ optics for its EOS DSLRs, but not bad at all.

So will you love the SD15 or hate it, and do you really want to spend £1500 finding out? Probably not, which places the camera out there as something of a luxury item, or rather one for the more intrepid photographer who looks forward to a challenge. You probably wouldn’t want it as your one and only DSLR.

That said, we can’t bring ourselves to actively dislike the Sigma SD15. Deep down there may even be admiration growing for this oddity that is not quite like anything else out there.

3 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3
Ease-of-use 3
Image quality 3
Value for money 3

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

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Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sigma SD15.

Canon EOS 550D

Canon EOS 550D Review thumbnail

The Canon EOS 550D (called the Canon EOS Rebel T2i in North America) is a new DSLR camera that boasts a class-leading 18-megapixel and the ability to shoot 1080p high-definition videos. Other key features of the 550D / T2i include continuous shooting at 3.7fps, a 3-inch LCD screen with 1,040k dot resolution, ISO range of 100-12,800, 14-bit image processing and Canon’s Digic 4 processor. Is the Canon EOS 550D / T2i the best mid-range digital SLR camera on the market? Read our expert review to find out…

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D Review thumbnail

The Canon EOS 7D is a brand new 18 megapixel DSLR camera, complete with 8fps continuous shooting, high-res 3 inch LCD screen, Live View and Full HD movies. The Canon 7D also features a number of significant improvements to its auto-focusing, metering, viewfinder and flash systems, which all add up to make this one of the best-ever specified EOS cameras. Find out if the Canon EOS 7D can also take great pictures by reading the World’s first expert review…

Nikon D300s

Nikon D300s Review thumbnail

The Nikon D300s is the latest camera to join the growing ranks of DSLRs that can shoot HD video. Heavily based on the previous D300 model, the 12 megapixel, DX-format D300S adds a continuous shooting speed of 7fps, dual CF and SD memory card slots and a new Quiet drive mode. With camera prices escalating in recent months, the Nikon D300s will set you back £1499.99 / €1821.00 / $1799.95 body only. Zoltan Arva-Toth finds out if the D300s is worth considering…

Olympus E-620

Olympus E-620 Review thumbnail

The Olympus E-620 is an affordable mid-range digital SLR camera that offers a lot of bang for your buck. The 12 megapixel E620 features built-in image stabilisation, a free-angle LCD screen, compact dimensions and light weight, 7-point autofocus system and 6 Art filters. Is the E-620 the best Olympus DSLR yet? Read our expert review to find out.

Pentax K-7

Pentax K-7 Review thumbnail

The new Pentax K-7 digital SLR camera is one of the big surprises of 2009, offering a multitude of desirable features in a compact, weatherproof body. The K7 is the latest DSLR to feature a HD movie recording mode, in addition to its 14.6 megapixel still images. Other highlights include a dedicated HDR mode, improved 11-point auto-focus, high-res 3 inch LCD screen and optical viewfinder with 100% frame coverage. Can the Pentax K-7 take on and beat the likes of the Nikon D300 and Canon EOS 50D? Read our in-depth review with test shots, JPEGS, RAW files and movie to find out…

Sony A550

Sony A550 Review thumbnail

On the eve of Photokina and the usual avalanche of new photography products, we take an in-depth look at the Sony A550, currently the company’s flagship mid-range digital SLR camera. Offering 14 megapixels. a high-resolution screen, 7fps burst shooting and one of the best Live View modes around, is the year-old Sony A550 already getting too long in the tooth? Read our expert Sony A550 review to find out.

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Sigma SD15 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52

with special Valentine Day bonuses (two eBooks, Vivid Wonderland preset pack, & Creative Sky Overlay pack) included for free until February 19.

Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10 on Luminar.

We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended”. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

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SOURCE:http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/sigma_sd15_review