Sigma Camera and The Foveon X3® Sensor

SD15

I was taken aback by the price when Sigma released its flagship camera the Sigma SD1 almost two years ago that I wrote a piece of my mind on this blog here. But I guess Sigma is sober now and is down to earth from its high, pun intended.  It is too late for me to hold the SD1 in my hands as I now have the Canon EOS 6D in its place.  Nevertheless I still admire the Foveon sensor.  So to make up for the lost opportunity, I have ordered the Sigma SD15 instead.  The camera will be used for studio works for small print portraiture, even a 20 by 16 inch print if that is possible, and the lens that I shall be attaching to the camera will be a 50mm prime lens.  Just for the sake of nostalgia, in retrospect, I used to have black and white portraits taken in studios with wooden box cameras and exposed to a medium format negative films.  No flash, no strobe, just incandescent lights.  After he had done the framing, focusing and before releasing the shutter, the cameraman would say, “Hold still.”  You then heard the shutter releasing sound something like “Kertack” or some would say, “Kodak.”   All of that are irrelevant now.

The crop factor of the Sigma camera sensor is about 1.7x, this makes a 50mm lens equivalent to 85mm on the 35mm film or full frame format. That is just about the lower end of the popular range for portrait photography. (Note: It is still a 50mm lens, same perspective, so not so much squash effect as compared to the 85mm on full frame or film.  Only get to work a little further back because of the crop factor. On film, the 135mm is my choice for head and shoulder, sadly you don’t see much of this prime lens any more.  It is cheap, sharp, bright, and have good contrast, any brand.  Maybe that’s why they don’t make it anymore.  I have a Takumar and Tamron 135, for sure I will try them both on the SD15.)

I regretted that I did not keep the Rikenon 50mm f1.4 and though I have the Pentax 50mm it is only f2.  I have ordered a used Sears 50mm f1.7 online but actually in all fairness I should really go with the Sigma 50mm lens to save the trouble of not having autofocus.  The other alternative for me to go on the cheap side is to modify the Canon 50mm f1.8.  The thing about Sigma camera is that the SA mount is almost similar to Pentax K mount but the communication between the body and the lens is Canon like.  Let see if I can transplant a K mount flange onto the Canon 50mm f1.8 as I have a few K mount lenses that can be cannibalised or even plastic body cap since the Canon 50mm f1.8 body is plastic.  No heart pain if the surgery went wrong and the transplant will be my first priority.  If it proves too troublesome, then using K mount lens is a possible choice.  The drawback to this setup is the full manual mode shooting.  No autofocus, the aperture stays at the last setting, and the consequence is that no fully opened aperture during focusing.  It has to be manually reset to the max during focusing and then set to the desired aperture setting for exposure.  All said, surely the best of them all is to buy a Sigma 50mm f1.4 lens albeit it being the most expensive choice.  It carries a lot of weight and also Sigma lenses for Sigma cameras are generally cheaper than Sigma lenses meant for other makes.  It is the most desirable of the three choices.  I merely mention the others as a thought because I’m a DIYer and that I am still very much attached to K mount lenses.  Writing this article just made it more concrete.

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