SPP 4.0, the good and the bad! [edit]

Alright, I guess this will be the first in at least two reviews of SPP4 and I want to concentrate on differences between this version and the old 3.3 image wise (will come back to selective noise reduction a bit more later on). Most things with this new version is good. It’s faster, has better colors and you can adjust amount of noise reduction. But, and there is a big but! Sigma forgot about all of us that loves BW conversions. :´(

Now you might wanna try out different WB´s instead of just fooling around with the color wheel. Each pre-white balance has been altered some and correct WB can sometimes make your day, more so with this version than with old 3.3.

If you have lots of ISO50 images around then you can go ahead and redevelop them because they will most likely look much better in this version, especially if some of that highlight was burnt. Higher ISO shots now has a much more vibrant look, greens are more green, reds are less yellow and less saturated at the same time but in this case this is all good. Also, you can now select white balance for a big bunch of images instead of having to select them one by one. Nice!

First, SPP manage to squeeze much more colors and life out of old high ISO images. Also, have a close look at that fire!!

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO400. You can see how fire has lots more dynamic range and the reflection in his face looks much improved. Also notice how the green trees behind looks more saturated and less dull. Both images has been treated the same, same settings, same WB (shade) and white balance picked from eye.

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO1600. Sigma worked hard to improve image quality in bad indoor light. Be careful with your WB selection as this one looked terrible with the wrong one selected. Also play around with that new noise reduction. Some images don’t need so much and you gain some nice saturation to leave it at lower levels.

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO50. What’s really amazing is how they improved ISO50’s dynamic range!  Take a look at the sky, and remember this image has lots of fill light applied. I think 0.8 on both SPP3.3 and 4.  Colors, especially reds looks better too. Less orange.

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
At first I thought SPP4 did a bad job, there seams to be less information in the highlight.

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
But after I pulled the exposure compensation slider back -2.0 you clearly see how much more dynamic range you get in this new version. Looks like a full stop or perhaps even more! ISO50 will certainly be more useful in the future especially with all these OS lenses coming! :)

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO200. Green has been more separated and it feels like you have more tones of green to play with. a very welcome addition! Not sure if Sigma beats Silkypix though, I think they’re still is ahead in the green departement. I know someone over at Dpreview complained about SPP4s green and I tried to find issues with it with many different shots from various cameras but without luck (or should I say, with luck?!) – and couldn’t really find any bad or flawed situations. Help me! :)

SPP3.3 vs SPP4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO400. Inside a shop, mixed light. And as you see red has been mighty improved! Now contains much less yellow and has a more realistic tone – also lots more tones and detail inside the red. Nice! (same settings on both images, DP2)

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO1600. Now to the BAD. As you know I’m a monochrome junkie and I love how SPP deals with black and white high ISO images. But that’s now history and we now have something that looks terribly bad.

I’m sure Sigma will do something about this and I hope that they at the same time realize the need of monochrome white balance in RAW mode so that we can enjoy high ISO shooting for real!

SPP 3.3 vs SPP 4
SPP3.3 on the left and SPP4 on the right. ISO1600. The only good is that with lower ISO (below ISO400) this mess isn’t applied.

Please Sigma, have an option to turn this strange massacre off!

Alright.. This was a first look. Comments?

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. :)
This entry was posted in High ISO/ASA (400+), ISO50, Review, Sigma DP1, Sigma DP2, Sigma Photo Pro, Sigma SD14 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to SPP 4.0, the good and the bad! [edit]

  1. Bob van Ooik says:

    yep, I noticed the the less than nice monochrome too! They actually are much nicer if you select monochrome in SPP and then open them up in Lightroom 3 beta 2. They are then rendered pretty nice and plenty of room to play with.

  2. Brian says:

    Carl; Have you come up with a reasonable work around for this black and white flaw? I too love high iso black and white. I was all set to buy a DP2s when they become available here in the USA, but now I am having second thoughts.

  3. Ubaldo says:

    in b/n you can try to use less luminance anti-noise.
    On windows edition there is a command for this, but I don’t see this in yours…

  4. Markus says:

    Maybe this b&w-thing was something like a mistake in SSP 3.3. You can have nearly the same in color just by changing the color space and shoot jpeg: in sRGB you have this washy, clumpy thing – in AdobeRGB it’s this more grainlike hardness. (DP2) Doesn’t make any sense, but … (And just try to shoot X3F and leave in camera color space in AdobeRGB, funny …)

  5. Markus says:

    DP2, ISO 800, JPEG Fine, ooc, left AdobeRGB, right sRGB:


  6. Markus says:

    and the same with in-camera–bw (and of course only iso 800):


  7. Ted Johnson says:

    I have looked at some older shots I developed in monochrome, and have found no difference, except an overall sense of having more shadow detail available. I have the camera set to capture in Adobe RGB, so like Markus says, that may make all the difference.

  8. It’s an interesting observation but I wouldn’t recommend anyone shooting jpeg as you loose much DR.. So in-camera stuff for me is not an option (and I often turn to BW above ISO800). But of course as long as I keep my old SPP3.3 this is not a problem but I really would like Sigma to take a second look at this as much detail os lost and to be honest, this grain that we’re presented to now is pretty ugly compared to anything.. It’s more smeary than nutella. hrmpf

  9. Retro says:

    Respect, Mr. Rytterlalk, you gave us a very elaborated report!

  10. Brian, I’m currently working on that one. :D

  11. Sebastian says:

    A partial fix to the BW issue can be to underexpose by 2 stops in iso 200 to get iso 800. But unfortunately the exposure slider stops at +2 so no iso 1600 or 3200 with the old style grain :(

  12. Markus says:

    What is or was happening when turning the WB to Monochrome? Is it a downsampling of all the color channels (it seems to look a bit on the red side)?

  13. Lee Morris says:

    A good read Carl, Thanks..

  14. Pingback: Sigma Photo Pro 4.0 - Sigma - Seite 4 - Bilderforum.de

  15. Etxebaiker says:

    And why not desaturate the image instead of selecting Monochrome WB?
    Great review Carl!

  16. Shaggy says:


    You really hit the spot with your remarks. Compared to its previous incarnations SPP 4.0 goes a totally different way in terms of NR at ISO400 and above – and IMO it’s not for the better….
    Even with Luminance NR at its lowest setting images now contain absolutely awful “speckles” which look like they were “created” by some compact camera NR-algorithms a decade ago.
    All the beautiful graininess is gone!

    Chroma NR works well indeed, but IMO Sigma still have a long way to go in colored Hi-ISO to be competitive.

    At the moment I feel like they smashed one of the most beautiful aspects of X3F: beautifully grainy BW-Photography.


    BTW, I really want to re-downgrade to SPP 3.5.2 (Windows) but I don’t have the installer anymore. (*Argh!!*)

    Anyone can give hints where I could obtain it ??! Pleeease!



  17. Manuel says:

    @Shaggy: I don’t have the installer, but if the exe and the sfy dll is enough for you, I will upload it to my dropbox. I tested it and it seems that those 2 files are needed to work. But I have no idea if you could change the language away from german… drop me you email if interested.

    Regards, Manuel

  18. flyingrooster says:

    As mentioned some posts earlier, I really love the algorithm on Chroma noise, but what I still dislike a lot is the sharpening slider. Zero sharpening is not zero at all. It results in significant halos around high contrasting borders as in previous versions of SPP, clearly oversharpened for my taste. I guess neutral (no sharpening applied) would be around -1, but here again it’s hard to tell where sharpening ends and smoothing begins – why the heck can’t zero just be zero…?
    Let zero just be zero, long live Kelvin, down with Celsius and Fahrenheit! Ok, slightly offtopic, but still not too far away. ;)

  19. Raist3d says:

    I agree with you on the B&W. Best is to take out the luminance and chroma- move them all the way to the left.

    The reds are definitively improved. For sure.

  20. Gecko says:

    To Shaggy,

    I’ve uploaded SPP3.5 for Windows to RapidShare :


    I’d renamed the file so it won’t get mixed up in my HDD.
    Hope this helps.

  21. Chunsum says:

    Carl, can you send me the RAW for the 2 B&W shots to play with? let me know. Thanks.

  22. Yes, of course! :) where and how? And btw, its only ONE. :)

  23. Shaggy says:

    Gecko, Manuel,

    Thanks 4 your efforts. I chose the rapidshare-file…which I’ll keep sacred from now on! ;)

  24. Alberto says:

    Hi All,

    recently i bought a Sigma DP2 camera, i think SPP 3.5.2 is a must,
    de rapidshare link doesn´t work, someone can put another link to that version?

  25. Gecko, can you upload SPP 3.5.2 below as a comment upload? Or, just email me and I’ll give you one FTP account you can use – I will then put up SPP for all to get.

  26. PC people. Here’s SPP3. http://www.rytterfalk.com/zip/SPP3.zip
    Try it and tell me if it works. I’m on a mac.

  27. Tom says:

    Hi Carl, do you have mac Version of SPP3?
    Can you upload it 4 me?
    I just bought the DP1 and wanted to test B/W images in both versions, old and new one.

  28. Tom Foss says:

    Hello. I have installed the Sigma photo pro 4.2 but the images guarded from this program go out with 180 dpi by default.

    Where is option in the Sigma photo pro 4.2 to form this parameter?

    Many thanks.

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