Sigma SD14 vs Kodak 14nx

I want to show you an interesting comparison between SD14 (4.6MP) and the Kodak 14nx (14MP) which is the only semipro bayern camera that has 14MP and not utilizing a AA-filter (softening filter in front of the sensor).
Words and scans by David Millier, images shot by and © Erik Muehlberger

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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13 Responses to Sigma SD14 vs Kodak 14nx

  1. Ivor says:

    I am wary about such comparisons until both original files used for the crops are provided for download.

    Just recently on DPR Sigma Forum was a similar “comparison” where the same file is masqueraded for 14n vs SD14.

    With the exception of one or two participants no one on the forum, including David Miller, had problems with such a fraud. I find it simply outrageous.

  2. VIgor says:

    Good test.
    As sigma sd9 owner I’m now even more convinced do buy sd14 asap.
    But I think that the test should be performed with the same lenses at same aperture, than could be even more difference between pictures or not.
    thx for this.

  3. Agree, but they did try to get as close as possible. remember, the 14nx is a FF sensor and it’s not easy to get equal numbers. I’d like to see the same test again but with ISO50 on the SD14 this time. :D

  4. Ivor.

    Could you explain more what was wrong? You believe that they used Kodak 14nx on both images? Or you think it’s unbelievable because lack or full size from both systems?

    I’d like to know more.

  5. Ivor.

    Sorry, I thought we talked about the same comparison but now I see that the one Brian showed looks fake. I tried to find original but can’t (only the Kodak image that I think I see on both crops) and I don’t understand his full size crop.

    To my eye it looks like a fraud too. :( The SD14 and Kodak can’t look the same at “full size” crop. If the SD14 isn’t resized to match or the Kodak downsized.

    I will ask Brian (Zone8) to come here and show us what’s real. I think it’s a mistake of some sort.

  6. Regarding the two comparison 100% crops being discussed, I did post additional messages on that specific thread, because from the comments, I reckoned I must have made a genuine mistake. I was working with both the Kodak and Sigma files open to make the crop and think I must have inadvertently taken crops from the same image. I did check back (with some difficulty as they were crops) and found in fact, they were actually both from the SD14 image file, which is why they obviously looked similar. It was NOT a deliberate attempt to defraud – I think most people will know me much better than that after some 6 years posting on the Sigma dpreview forum.

    At that time (not an excuse – more an explanation) I was in a somewhat difficult situation due a genuine fraud. Someone in the UK (I live in Spain) had managed to clone my bank debit card (that I only use in Spain in my bank here) and had cleared the account. I had only just discovered this when I went to draw some money to pay into my bank here in Euros. (No, I’m not going into lengthy details why I do this rather than a direct transfer).

    So, in effect, the comparison was being done to somewhat, hopefully, take my mind off the other serious matter. Earlier back round the end of July I had taken some simple comparison shots of same subject with the SD9 (owned since day one), the new SD14 and the Kodak DCS 14n. I took them away after a reasonable time but if you want to use those, they are back and anyone can feel free to download (suggest the originals) those test comparison shots. I would mention that since that time I have had time to adjust the SD14 in-camera colour settings, so don’t assume they are always of such colour balance. Hope you find those of greater use and interest.

    Thanks to Carl for alerting me – I am glad to set the record straight, although I did post all the above info on the dpreview thread but assume not read. That’s the problem with dpreview – messages get out of order, can seem to be a reply to one when really a reply to another and they whizz down the page and out of sight quite rapidly. Here’s the promised link:

  7. I did mean to add an observation that I think the accusation of “fraud” was because it was thought the image samples were so good, it seems an assumption was made that they were from the full-frame Kodak and “claimed” to be from the SD14 – whereas, as I mentioned, when I researched back, I found it was in fact a case of both being from the SD14, which only goes to show that it really does produce excellent resolution. Anyway – the posted shots of the old Olive Factory here in Spain should give plenty to work with.

  8. Thanks Brian for clarifying and correcting!

  9. Ivor says:

    Thanks for feedback.

    Still not the files posted on DPR thread. The new files from the link here are okay. One wonder though why for a thoroughly executed comparison and for a subject at a moderate distance sun lid from above lenses had to be stopped down at f22 until they perform at their worst. I am not nit picking the choice of a particular lens but question why completely disregard basic principles in photography. In terms of resolution no lens for the 35mm film format, ever, performs even moderately good (within it’s performance envelope) when set at minimum aperture.

  10. Sorry Ivor but with many years experience, including practical research, I totally disagree with what you state in terms of practical results from the lenses used. This generalised assertion that lenses perform poorly when stopped down is in practice not actually correct for many lenses, although often quoted as a general matter of principle. I know that there are two camps out on this but loss due diffraction is not always of practical value (it totally depends on the individual lens) compared to other benefits using small apertures. The reason I use small apertures is to maximise both depth of field and corner to corner coverage and sharpness.

    Some lenses may have a declared “ideal aperture” – usually a couple of stops down from the maximum but that often fails to recognise the overall improvement at corners and is generally related to central performance. Years ago, the Swiss Alpa lenses were deliberately designed for overall frame sharpness, rather than most lens designs to maximise central sharpness.

    Yes, it is a complex optical situation but as one example, a retired teacher of science (member of the ZPS) has just carried out practical tests to determine diffraction as claimed – and found the practical results from the lenses in his possession (for 35mm Nikon and 6×6 Mamiyaflex) showed better overall resolution when stopped down, the diffraction not seeming to reduce the quality as the aperture was reduced – i.e. he agreed with my findings (from practical tests over many years). In theoretical evaluations, a lot is assumed and claimed. However, I only believe what I see from practical application, which I think and believe is what actually matters. That’s why I prefer to use smaller apertures with my own tested lenses – because they give the required results practically, no matter how much generalised theoretical claims are made.

    I do know that some zooms do give inferior results at smaller apertures but I use smaller apertures with the lenses I have AFTER practical testing of same. Hope that clarifies “why” but I can agree that like people, some lenses are born more equal than others.

  11. This is indeed interesting. Would this include wide angles as well? I will test and see if maybe corners will get more accurate with my 10-20 using F22. If center is some what less sharp isn’t a big problem (it’s VERY sharp at f8)

    If I understand these MTF charts correct they also have corner sharpness included and you can easily see that it’d degraded (with any lens) when stopped down “too much”.


    and If I look at the 24-70 MTF chart I can see that corner and center “meet” at F32 – even if it’s now much less sharp over the whole image.

  12. There are always problems with lens testing methods – that’s why I prefer to see what happens in practice with the sort of subjects I generally prefer. Anongst the “problems” are things like change of focus as a lens aperture is changed – there is a clear illustration of this on Michael Reichman’s website in an article on diffraction, where poorer performance as a specific lens is closed down (illustrated) is clearly due change of focus, for which no correction was made and diffraction is blamed totally for the poor resolution, instead of the real culprit. As an example, with longer focal length lenses on a 5×4 (mentioned as wider angles, especially zooms for 35mm format and now of course for the sensor format, are more prone to focus changes) it was always necessary to check focus at the working aperture as often a tweak to set the focus between best for centre and best for corners could produce a far better overall result.

    In general, I would expect the wider zoom to have similar focus-shift characteristics plus of course, actually getting smaller apertures on such lenses in reality is very difficult due physically small openings for the iris diaphragms. Clearly for many compacts with “equivalent” focal lengths, the actual focal lengths are so short that getting anything smaller than f8 is abandoned as being almost mechanically impossible with any degree of accuracy. Another major factor in definition terms is the use of iris diaphragms with few blades, so the ideal of a perfect circle opening is far from achievable. I well remember the 150mm Xenar for 5×4 having 5 blades and that factor ruled it out for any real sharpness in the real world – but it was a budget priced lens.

    Photographing test charts is also not from the real world of 3D subjects and in reality, would only provide sensible information for process-type lens constructions (APO-type designed for copying, as one example – darkroom enlarger lenses were of similar type but in a reversed form of course due use for projection from one flat object (the negative) to another (the paper).

    Interesting that years ago, when many 35mm cameras had 3-element lenses, compared to the better 4-element ones (usually Tessar-type construction) where the 3-element suffered a bit from curved field at the film plane but that if understood could be used to advantage by photographing landscapes through, say, an archway of trees. The curvature worked in the photographer’s favour as rendered the archway sharp and the distance sharp – whereas the better corrected (?) 4-element would struggle to achieve the same. It really is, therefore, a simple case of trying out your lenses to find out what they can achieve, rather than taking such as MTF tests as being sacrosanct.

  13. Just to note that to complete the rectification, I have posted full size (meaning 12″x8″ @ 180ppi) image files of the autumn trees to replace the somewhat mixed crops posted originally. Link is same, i.e.

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