The Sigma SD14 is a fast and responsive digital SLR camera with a rugged build and intuitive uncluttered control layout.

Acclaimed third-party lens and accessory manufacturer Sigma has bravely – but hitherto not totally successfully – attempted to cut out the middleman and launch its own series of digital SLRs, boasting a unique Foveon sensor with a three-layered pixel configuration – one layer each for red, green and blue light.

Sigma claims that while conventional CCD or CMOS sensors are good at detecting the intensity of light, they miss a lot of colour information.

The Sigma SD14 - Sigma's third attempt at a digital SLR - now comes with a Foveon X3 chip and according to Sigma delivers results equivalent to a 14Mp model.

Image quality is, of course, about more than pixels. The Sigma SD14 then has other features including a removable dust protector, light sensitivity ranging from ISO100 to ISO1600 and the ability to shoot common Jpeg as well as best-quality RAW files.

However, unlike Sigma's cheaper and often acclaimed lenses for the likes of Canon and Nikon, the Sigma SD14 is actually more expensive than comparable cameras from both. So Sigma has a difficult sell from the outset, and various delays haven't helped allay suspicion that the SD14 may be a lame duck.

Turn the Sigma SD14 on and you're up and shooting in a flash. However, the writing of images to memory is surprisingly sluggish.

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The Sigma SD14 is a fast and responsive digital SLR camera with a rugged build and intuitive uncluttered control layout.

Given Sigma's claim of delivering colours like no other, we were expecting great things from our test shots and were a little disappointed with the results from our portrait session with the Sigma SD14. Although a pleasing degree of highlight detail had been retained, there was an overall painterly softness to the image and the late afternoon sunlight appeared to have foxed the auto white balance into bathing the image in a yellow wash.

Colours were also muted in our ISO1600 test shot. Still, a quick check of the JPEG file info meanwhile revealed pixel dimensions of 4,608x3,072 – the 14Mp as claimed.

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Sigma SD14: Specs

  • X3 CMOS, 14.6Mp (effective)
  • ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec, Min Shutter Speed: 30 sec
  • Custom, Presets, Automatic white balance
  • RAW, JPEG
  • 3 frames per second continuous shooting
  • exposure range: EV 1-20 (ISO 100)
  • Self Timer
  • Hot shoe
  • Pop-up flash
  • Auto mode, Red-eye reduction, Flash OFF mode, Slow flash mode
  • optical viewfinder
  • 2.5in, colour 150,000-pixel display
  • 1 x USB, 1 x Composite video output, 1 x DC power input
  • supports CF
  • TTL phase detection
  • Autofocus, Manual focus
  • 5 Auto Focus Points
  • 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery (included)
  • 145x81x107mm
  • 0.7kg
  • X3 CMOS, 14.6Mp (effective)
  • ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec, Min Shutter Speed: 30 sec
  • Custom, Presets, Automatic white balance
  • RAW, JPEG
  • 3 frames per second continuous shooting
  • exposure range: EV 1-20 (ISO 100)
  • Self Timer
  • Hot shoe
  • Pop-up flash
  • Auto mode, Red-eye reduction, Flash OFF mode, Slow flash mode
  • optical viewfinder
  • 2.5in, colour 150,000-pixel display
  • 1 x USB, 1 x Composite video output, 1 x DC power input
  • supports CF
  • TTL phase detection
  • Autofocus, Manual focus
  • 5 Auto Focus Points
  • 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery (included)
  • 145x81x107mm
  • 0.7kg

OUR VERDICT

The results from the Foveon chip are certainly different, but those of the much cheaper Nikon D80 are more pleasing to the eye straight out of the Sigma SD14.

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