Test Run The Sigma SD15

Sigma SD15 with 50mm f2.8 EX DG Macro

Sigma SD15 with 50mm f2.8 EX DG Macro Lens

I bought this camera with the intention to use it as a studio camera for portrait photography.  Since I am more of an old school photographer, I feel at ease with the Sigma SD15 though there are some noises in the net about it lacking some features found on other cameras.  What matter to me is the result.  I want to see if I can get to see again the sharpness like I used to when looking at the prints of the brides decades ago working part-time as a freelance wedding photographer.  So far I am still not satisfied with the results from my present gears.  Maybe it’s not the camera but the nut that holds the camera, but then it will still be the same nut that holds the Sigma SD15.

My original intention of matching the SD15 with Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM was scrapped in favour of the Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX DG Macro because of the macro capability, cheaper and at f2.8 it is still not bad if the eyes aren’t failing.  The camera bought online because I could not get it locally.  It came with an 18-50mm f2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM kit lens.  This lens will be handy when I need to shoot wide but for now I am more concerned with the 50mm prime lens.  Since portrait shootings are mostly on the tall side, at least in my case, I had also bought the power grip PG-21.

While contemplating who shall be the test subject and waiting for the opportunity to come, I took some still shots of a pineapple.  Then about two weeks ago, I had visitors and it was just perfect.  I must say that I am quite happy with the results straight from the memory card.  Here are the still photograph of a pineapple and the portraiture of one of the visitors after some editing in Gimp and Faststone.

Pineapple still

Pineapple still

My nephew

Portrait of a young lad

Update 16 Sep 2013

Well, I have cleaned the individual lenses in the Takumar 135mm f2.8 and took the liberty to cut the protruding aperture lever on the flange that prevented the lens to mount on the Sigma SD15 and took some shots with it.  Here’s one of them;

Speed 1000 f2.8 IS0 100. Shot RAW exported to TIFF from Sigma Photo Pro 5. Balanced, Colour Saturation value 3, Local Contrast Enhance and Smart Redux Sharpen in GIMP

Sigma Camera and The Foveon X3® Sensor


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.