Sigma SD15 announcement! [UPDATED]

New comments added in GREEN further down!

The SD15 has taken a very long time to find it’s way out and during the long wait many of us has asked Sigma for some specific changes to be made from a SD14 point of view.We already knew that they wouldn’t use their next generation sensor but instead use the current SD and DP sensor but with the new image processing engine seen in DP2. And with magic image quality seen by todays cameras we can be certain of seeing improved magic!

So, here’s the main news, and I’ll try to comment a little on each

SD card
The SD15 adopts the SD card (compatible with SDHC) which is also used with the DP series of Sigma cameras, improving convenience to users of both camera systems.

My comment: This is actually something I wished for, SD’s are growing in size and speed and are now available as 30GB with 30mb/s and there is no real reason to stay with CF. Also New mac’s comes with SD reader built in. :D Saving speed should be similar to that of the DP2 and if that’s the case then 21 images will be cleared in about 21 x 2.6s = 54s. In reality my guess is that you will never notice a full buffer. Why? Because camera saves images when you’re shooting too. So this is all great news! :)

21 frames can be captured continuously in RAW mode
The SD15 is equipped with DDR II buffer memory which is twice as large in capacity as the SD14’s buffer. The camera’s high-speed image processing circuits are capable of handling the large data files generated by the high-resolution 14 megapixel sensor. The SD15 features a continuous shooting speed of 3 frames per second with up to 21 RAW Images that can be captured in continuous shooting mode.

My comment: 21 frames is a HUGE improvement from todays 6 images – and if it really can do 3fps – which was never really true with the SD14 which was closer to 2.3 – then I think we have a winner! I’d love to have 5fps but it seams like I can’t get everything. :) Oh. btw, the Nikon D3 and the SD15 now has the same amount of internal memory.

77-Segment AE Sensor
The SD15 features a new 77-segment AE sensor which allows advanced AE algorithms, improving exposure accuracy. Exact control and collaboration with the AF point ensures the camera exposes accurately even in difficult lighting conditions.

My comment: I’ve shot with lots of different cameras over the years and one thing that the Sigma does great is metering. And with this improved 77-segment AE sensor I’m sure it gets even better.  The Canon 7D has 63 segments and well, perhaps it doesn’t say much but it’s definitely a step up from 8-segments in the SD14!

Large, highly visible 3.0” TFT color LCD Monitor
The SD15 camera features a 3.0 inch TFT color LCD monitor. This 460,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to check focusing and composition. It is possible to review the captured images with a Contact-Sheet View (nine thumbnail images), Single-Image View or Zoomed-In View (it is possible to select the magnified area by using the 4-way controller). While reviewing images, it is possible to display the detailed shooting information such as shutter speed and F-value by pressing the INFO button.

My comment: 460,000 is a definite step up from 150,000 that the SD14 has. 3″ is also a an improvement from todays 2,5″ – I’m sure everything will look a lot better on this screen. But where is the Live view? They know how to do this as they already made DP’s with it. hmmrpf.

New, intuitive user interface
The improved user interface provides faster and more convenient operation of the camera. The Quick Set button activates the display of the most commonly used camera functions such as Color Mode, White Balance, Image Quality and Image Size on one screen. The 4-Way Controller ensures faster operation of these features. The FUNC button enables functions such as Flash Mode and Synchro Mode.

My comment: Well, this is all good, but has to be operated I guess. Will get back to this.

Improved Auto Bracketing function
In addition to the usual three frame bracketing, five frame bracketing has now been added to the Auto Bracketing function. It allows users to get a more detailed and accurate exposure.

My comment. Yes, this is exciting news and something I’ve been wishing for a long time! Together with a 21 image buffer I can already see those nice HDR panoramas coming to life. But why stop at 5 frames when you have a buffer of 21? I’d like to see 7 and 9. :) Not sure if I’ll ever need that many but it’s nice to get that perfect rolloff when doing HDR photography.

Dedicated rechargeable battery with a large capacity
The dedicated BP-21 Lithium-ion battery is supplied as standard with the SD15. It is possible to shoot approximately 500 images on one full charge. The battery takes about 120 minutes to fully charge with the supplied BC-21 Battery Charger. The optional AC Adapter SAC-4 enables the Sigma SD15 to obtain power from the main supply.

My comment: If you can get 500 shots from a single battery, then that’s great news! We should of course only compare to Sigmas here becuase if we compare to Nikon then we still have a long way to go. I wonder how many shots we’re able to squeezes with the additional battery pack?. :) My Vertical grip / battery pack is always on and I’m not sure If I can get 500 images with two batteries on the SD14

Article continued..

TRUE II image processing engine
The SD15 incorporates the “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engine which improves the processing speed and overall image quality. The unique image-processing algorithm provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with richly graduated tones.

My comment: This is the same engine seen in the DP2, and the DP2 has delivered very nice image qualities – even surpassing the SD14 in many cases (perhaps I should study this closer?!). Pretty amazing what you can do with data from the same sensor. Also, speed is of importance! Especially in an SLR type of camera.

ISO50 available
It is possible to select ISO sensitivity value from 100 to 1600. When the camera is in the extended mode, ISO 50 and ISO 3200 can be selected.

My comment: If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy the Silky smooth ISO50 taken with the DP2 then you really need to check these out. This is all good but what I also want is a monochrome white balance mode to be selected (or that I can select) when using higher ISO. Please Sigma, add this! It’s sooo helpful. You can select monochrome picture mode if you’re shooting JPEG’s – which I never do – but that mode is disabled if you go above ISO800 on the DP2. Now, this might be different on the SD15 but I doubt it.

Why? Carl, Why? I feel much more keen on higher ISO’s if I see the final image on LCD in monochrome white balance (WB means you can still go back to color if wanted in SPP4) – I get uncomfortable seeing less than perfect white balance or noise or whatever on the LCD. Especially when shooting musicians with a heavy change in light and colors and dark alleys at night with really really bad street light as main light source or even in a dark church trying to shoot a wedding without a flash and using high ISO. Please Sigma! This is important to me. :´(

Also – I want AutoISO – All the way (50-3200) and with full manual control so that I can decide what my lowest shutter should be, or what thumb rule it should follow. (like using a 70-200 and when using 70mm, then 1/80s is my lowest, but if I zoom in to 200mm then 1/200s is my lowest. etc)..

AFE(Analog Front End)
AFE (Analog Front End) converts the color data, which full-color capture systems record, to a digital signal. This enables the camera to reproduce high definition and richly colored images.

My comment: This sounds very cool, AFE!! Have no real clue yet about what it does but it sounds good. I seems like it will produce very good, rich colored images. :)

Bright viewfinder image by the incorporation of a pentaprism
The SD15 features a pentaprism viewfinder with 98% (vertical and horizontal) coverage, 0.9x magnification and an 18mm eye point. A diopter adjustment is also equipped which can be adjusted from -3 to +1.5 dpt.

My comment: On paper same as SD14.. Was hoping for something bigger here – not that todays is bad in any ways but hey, I want it round too, as Nikon F90.

Two motor systems for the prevention of camera shake
Two motor systems are driven by the mirror-drive and shutter charge which lowers the vibration of the mirror movement, preventing camera shake.

My comment: I was searching old SD14 information PDF’s etc to find out if this is same as on the SD14 but this looks like something new. And as you might know the SD14 has a VERY SILENT shutter already! It’s a joy to use on weddings in churches etc (especially compared to Canons and Nikons that sound more like machine guns) – Lower vibrations are always welcome and I know this was a real problem back with the SD9/10. Not so much with the SD14.

SIGMA Photo Pro 4.0 (supplied)
The supplied image processing software of “Sigma Photo Pro 4.0” converts RAW data quickly and easily. Incorporation of a new noise reduction algorithm reduces Chroma and Luminance noise when processing X3F files taken at ISO400 or more. It is possible to adjust the level of reduction for noise just by moving the slider in the control pallet. This software is compatible with multi core CPU’s, ensuring high speed image processing. It also incorporates functions such as Loupe, slideshow, Printing, JPEG conversion and batch white balance settings.

My comment: YES, finally I can adjust noise reduction to my own liking! I also hope that it’s as fast as it sounds. On the Mac, SPP has been a really slow beast and has often been beat by the windows counterpart even running side by side on a Mac running windows in VMWare. I have high hopes for this enhanced version! –

Also as a side note – the function to extract JPEG’s from the raw actually means that you’re always shooting RAW + JPEG when RAW is selected. This is true with the SD14 too but even more so with this new SPP4 as it gets easier to extract the jpg from the RAW file.

Plus, Right now we’re in the middle of the coldest winter in about two hundred years in Sweden and cold means bad battery performance. And bad Carl performance. I hate being out in the cold taking pictures. China where are you? My city in China is Kunming, and they have the hottest winter in many many years. Instead of the normal 10C they now have more than 23!

Finally, with the announcement of EX OS lenses we’re in for an exciting spring / summer and I feel that my up’n’ coming weddings must have the SD15 to work and I badly want all those new lenses. Linn?? :D

SD15 special site : www.SIGMA-SD.com/sd15
SD15 product page : www.sigma-photo.co.jp/english/camera/sd15/index.htm

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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27 Responses to Sigma SD15 announcement! [UPDATED]

  1. Love and Hate says:

    Small step for Sigma… No step for Foveom. Better than nothing. Looks lile Fuji S3 to Fuji S3 upgrade. Mostly for speed.

  2. Love and Hate says:

    I meant S3 to S5…

  3. russian idiot says:

    i want her

  4. fiatlux says:

    I am curious about the announced Sigma Photo Pro 4.0 software.

    I am a dedicated DP1 user but would really love a sensor update. Not so much for increased resolution but for increased sensitivity and an improvement of some issues such as the red channel clipping issues. The stand-still in the sensor area does not look too good…

  5. Myga says:

    Hehe, I knew this post is the first thing that I’m going to see here today. When sigma throws something new it’s always here :D

  6. spalbird says:

    What’s about better ISO performance and quieter shutter operation? Both together can give 2 stops advantage for handheld shots and low light! Maybe you have to postpone your wedding plans for another year, due to unanticipated gear costs :D

  7. Retro says:

    So I own a SD9 and a SD10, I.m not so interested for a new Sigma DSLR. But it is good to know that the line is still supported.
    From what I could gain is a SPP4…

  8. fiatlux, I’m also very curious about the next SPP! :) And I badly want a huge foveon sensor with updated everything. Now if possible. Let’s hope that that Red look great with the new SPP. Hope so.

  9. Spalbird, well. two stops you say? Because of less vibrating mirror (worth one stop?) and one stop higher ISO? :) That plus the 17-50 2.8 OS lens and we have a total of 6 stops won!!! YES

  10. Scotsman says:

    I’m curious at what the price might be, I’d like to upgrade the SD14 but I’m not sure the announced improvements will be enough for me if the price is set too high. In this year when my budget is still suffering from moving from the UK to the US at the worst possible economic timing I might be tempted to wait to upgrade the body and get the 50mm 1.4 that I have had my eyes on since it was announced, and the new 85mm 1.4 that I was hoping would be made.

  11. Greg says:

    It looks like Sony has a new patent out on a “Foveon” type sensor.
    ( patent application 20090303371)

    I was wondering if you would switch from Sigma Foveon cameras, if The market begins to move in the direction of “Foveon like” sensors and abandons the bayer sensor design at present.

    http://photorumors.com/2009/12/17/sony-and-panasonic-patents/#comments

    I enjoy your site tremendously!
    Greg

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  13. dr.noise says:

    Hi Carl! I’m very excited about SD15. My favourites are 500 shots and AFE. Dual motor for mirror/shutter is interesting too. Need to see :)

    I also like the new back layout, especially the busy LED :) Hope the memory card cover won’t be squeaky.

  14. Dave says:

    Seems the price is up on the German Sigma site- 899 Euro. Seems surprising it’s only 100 more than the new DP series cameras.

    http://www.sigma-foto.de/cms/front_content.php?idcat=134

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  16. Lee Morris says:

    £699 at warehouseexpress… I so want one, im selling lots of stuff to get one..

    Thanks Carl for turning me into a Sigma nut…
    Take care
    Lee

  17. Lee Morris says:

    Thats ok I forgive you….

    I E-mailed Warehouseexpress yesterday about the stock release of the SD15, they told me they didn’t have a definite date, but were hoping for April-May.. Let’s hope they stick to this..

    Take care
    Lee

  18. Sebashi says:

    I’m so exited too ! :D
    Here in France, it is listed at 720 € …

    I was going to buy a Nikon D300S after a huge selection between all the competitors, reading lots of review, theirs specs , isos , crops …

    But last week, I was curious and go further in that SD14 or what would I expect of an SD15 = Foveon x3 meant nothing to me at that moment …

    Then I felt on a versus between the 5D and sd14 : seen the pictures, and .. WOW, I really feel especially on two pictures what they(you also) were talking about “3d effect” …
    Seen a lots more of astonishing pictures taking with, coupled with a Leica was also superb.

    Its specs are centered on the essential => PHOTOGRAPHY
    I really want one now … ok , ok I’m an addict ;-p

    It is really strange, to leave the idea of a D300s fully equiped, without a cons, ore one maybe ( it doesn’t make coffe for instance ! ) for a SD15.

    I hope a real autofocus will be in the party .

    For that “new AFE”, maybe it will be the difference with the DP series :
    Look like a new A/D converter, with less noise … wait an see ^^

  19. Jeff says:

    Haha Sebashi…I too am eagerly awaiting news each day! ;)

  20. Edwin E says:

    As a long time Kodachrome devotee, I’m excited to see a digital camera that seems to finally be bridging the gap between price while maintaining image quality that is more natural and vibrant than anything else out there.

    As for resolution, I feel that SIGMA should adopt a feature similar to Sony, and include a ‘Sweep’ mode, but go one step further and allow continuous stitching on X and Y axis to quickly capture mosaics. I use a mosaic technique with a 7.1 MP Kodak digital that I bought for $10 at a pawn shop, and achieve impressive results that get many compliments. I have not made the jump to DSLR yet, but from what I have seen from the Sigma line, it is at the top of my list followed only by the Olympus EP-1, and Canon T2i.

    Sigma also needs to address the HD market. I was impressed by the quality of Canon’s T2i HD mode and it seems to be the new choice for filmmakers on a budget, but it is not perfect, and I feel this is where Sigma could lead. The Foveon sensor may or may not be suited for speed, but it could definitely produce a 1080p image, so why not at least 24fps? I don’t know if this is feasible, but a Sigma/Foveon capable of HD 1080p @ 24fps would rival many professional 3 CCD cameras out there.

    I am really rooting for Sigma to pull a few new tricks out of the hat on future models. I feel that they have the commitment to succeed with the Foveon sensor, and isn’t Bayer supposed to be for headaches anyway?

    When I see all the amazing photos here, I think National Geographic, Kodachrome, and all of those poor non-foveon cameras ending up in the classifieds, their owners clamoring for more and more mega-pixels, and never quite happy with their results. Sigma is the one to watch, and I inform everyone I can to look into them (no pun intended).

    Thank you Carl for such a great web-site. I will definitely be linking people your way, to see what the SD can do, and Hope that I can join the Sigma club very soon.

    • Hi Edwin, I have no idea what that “sweep” mode is – but I hope that Sigma does come out with some really magical sensor after the current one. I hope it’s lots more MP’s and bigger and can do HD recording. I can’t wait to see how RAW-processed video from a Sigma sensor would look like.

      You’re welcome to join our little three layered community anytime. :) Thanks.

  21. mark young says:

    i’m not sure if an upsized lower res image that is very sharp with very well articulated detail is not a good idea. I’ve often dumbed down overly detailed images to suggest enough detail without overwhelming the concept of the image. If this is deemed a propitious circumstance, and I will play with this concept with my new dp2 and my epson 4000, I may just have what I need now with no alteration to the foveon chip as is. This is of course just one perspective on the matter and is surely not to surplant the photo realist’s incessant quest for more resolution. I have for years now viewed this or that image which really shines because it seems to be minimalistic in detail, albeit that detail is present with adequate sharpness.

  22. Karthik says:

    Finally found the SD15 feature run down + comments..Thanks. :-)

  23. Karthik, Great! More will come. :)

  24. Jacques says:

    Hello Carl, in which mode of color do you shoot with the SD15, i think “standard” overexpose hightlights a bit… Sorry for my bad english… Thanks a lot for your work who make me discover the Foveon, I have switch of canon to sigma… I love my DP2 and SD15!

  25. Karthik says:

    Carl…can you compare this with Fuji S5 Pro? I know it’s an older model probably discontinued but was curious about any IQ differences between the 2. Thanks!

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