Sigma SD14 10 Year Recap/Review

Gosh, it’s been ten years since Seng Merrill loaned me her Sigma SD14 and a couple of lenses.  I’d like to thank her for the faith in a young artist/photographer, and of course thank her late husband Dick Merrill for being one of the architects of the unique Foveon sensor design.

I’ve had great fun using it on many shoots and outings over the years.  For the last month down here in “boring old Georgia,” I added it into my fourth option slot and used it as much as I could on my random walks or shoots.

If you’ve been following my site since the beginning, you know I’ve always been into cameras and digital technology, regardless of brand, and have spent a good chunk of change and time on the gear to capture our silly moments.  Anything that can take a picture, I’ve probably thought about its particular strengths and weaknesses.

Not going to lie, the Sigma cameras and Sigma Photo Pro are pretty challenging to use, especially if you’re used to the out of camera ease of a Canon DSLR, or the ultimate dynamic range and shadow recover-ability of a Nikon RAW file.

I would compare these cameras to the really hard video games from Japan’s From Soft.  It’s about putting in the wrench time, and I take great delight in using gear that might be considered the underdog.  Though the relentless march of imaging technology has made even the mighty DSLR seem like a dinosaur in the rise of the mobile phone–there’s just something about a traditional camera (optical DSLR or film camera) that will always be the first choice for me.

The SD14 is now a 12 year old camera that most wouldn’t give a second look to, but again, everything has its own special ability.  Below are some photos of what I got in the last month.  The Sigma Foveon cameras are still the closest to film that I’ve found, and if shot right with good discipline, show a sharpness and clarity that is just so nice to look at.

Again, regardless of what you use to make/take a picture I hope that everyone out there realizes the differences in all the gear is really minute, and that the real enjoyment is enjoying the day and brief times we have together.

All the images below were shot with the Sigma SD14 and edited with 1) Sigma Photo Pro 2) Nikon Capture NX2 and finally 3) Adobe Photoshop

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from full Color  |  This really friendly pit bull greeted us as I got out of the car at the temple, walked with us up the hill, posed for a picture and then disappeared!

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | The sky and tone wasn’t this coffee tint, but I thought it worked

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from full Color

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8 | Black and White Conversion from full Color  |  The Sigma shares a mount similar to the Pentax K, so with an adapter it gave life to this no name m42 lens.  I think you can get these lenses for less than $10 on KEH all the time.

 

Sigma SD14 + 17-70mm | Black and White Negative Scanning | Just experimenting with using a full color sensor with no AA filter to “scan” a film negative.  Black and White is super easy to invert, but color negs are still very tricky in my experience

 

Sigma SD14 | Black and White Negative Scanning

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Just some shots as I was walking to a gig in Atlanta.  This is actually light traffic.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm |  So I bought this SA mount lens from KEH for $16 dollars.  Surely something that cheap and unwanted can’t be useful?!

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from IR

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm | Black and White Conversion from full Color

 

Sigma SD14

 

Sigma SD14

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm  |  I wasn’t happy with the colors I was given, so in post made it look like a Turner painting or some other one you’d sometimes find in an antique store

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm  |  The Sigma SD14 really suffers from a green yellowish tint to the files, but this one was a best case example actually

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  This is from a height of over 3,000ft and the light really responded differently on the Foveon Sensor.  Toned to look like film that I still enjoy marveling at.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm  |  Black and White conversion from full Color

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 10-20mm  |  Can’t remember if I shot this one or not.  And yes I know it’s focused on the mountains.

 

Sigma SD14 + Anamorphic Lens

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  This is another best case scenario out of camera.  This was a front lit subject and the sky really was that pure and blue.  Too bad all the leaves in the south this year have dropped or just turned ugly.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  This is an example of back lit leaves

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  | I specifically bought the $16 70-300 to see if I could get good portraits with it.  In my experience the Foveon sensor really marries well with almost any modern lens.  I normally don’t shoot with the subject towards the sun, but the earlier leaf pictures demonstrate that the SD14 really likes a ton of light.  Again, lower contrast and toned to look like a film scan.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  This black and white treatment reminds me of the low contrast prints I used to get back in school.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm |  This was another best case scenario example of a backlit in shade portrait.  The 70-300 is no super light gathering instrument by any means, but it is workable.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  This was shot with a really low shutter speed, and showed too much motion blur.  1/50 I believe, way too long for a handheld 70-300 shot.  Instead of just deleting the image, in Sigma Photo Pro I turned the sharpness all the way down and got an image that is somewhat usable.

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm  |  Again, if the SD14 doesn’t get enough light or time, green and yellow tints really creep into the image.  I added lots of magenta and red color control points in Capture NX2 to get this look.

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8

 

Sigma SD14 + 70-300mm

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8

 

Sigma SD14 + m42 28mm f/2.8


So what about the past ten years of images?  Well, I decided to make myself a photo book just the other day!  As I was laying out the photos, it really morphed into a series of images with the Black and White/Infrared strengths of the Foveon sensor.  The images to me look like the book covers of mystery novels.  I really do miss the days of book fairs in elementary school.

Thanks again euy Seng for entrusting me with using your camera to hopefully create some art and memorable images.  The process really does slow down with this camera, and in our fast paced world of likes and swipes, that’s a good thing.


meHi! My name is Boon. I’m an Atlanta based Artist. I draw, I take pictures!

I’ve been covering events and documenting the multi ethnic Asian Pacific Islander community here in Georgia since 2004! Feel free to share with the links below. Thanks to all for posing for photos!

All Artwork and Photos © Boon Vong. For image usage feel free to Contact Me.

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