I like to think of it as a happy serendipitous moment that brought me to the Sigma team, specifically the SD1 Merrill. As a studio photographer who specializes in food, I jumped at the chance to spend time with the Merrill and see how I could use it in my studio. Up until I had it in my hands, I had read quite a bit about the camera itself, and began to wonder how different using the Foveon sensor would be in my work.
I should back up just a bit. As a food photographer, color accuracy isn’t just important to me but also to my clients. But it goes beyond making sure the client’s PMS logo color is faithfully represented as we use color not only for aesthetics but for safety when it comes to food. Think about it this way: fresh vibrant greens turn pale when old, meat and chicken become brown from oxidation. We use these color cues to tell ourselves things are safe to eat, and without accurate color from a camera we might miss our mark. Fortunately, our eyes are great at doing this for us quite easily and automatically.
Granted, so much can be fixed after the fact, but part of my job as a photographer is to capture things accurately the first time. It was immediate when shooting with the SD1 that color would not be a problem; in fact, I’ve noticed such depth and density when shooting fruits and vegetables that I’m often reminded of transparency film scans: rich, deep, colorful. I really dig the color fidelity.
Ok, so I can get some gorgeous images from the camera, but how does it handle? Marvelously. Being a big fan of aesthetics (my background is in graphic design and art direction), the tactile sensation of the SD1 is a huge plus for me. It feels great. The magnesium alloy body looks sharp and in hand it’s quite comfortable. Sporty, even. And once turned on, the interface is extremely easy and intuitive for me to understand, which takes me that closer to creating a photograph instead of dealing with software and menus.
Because I believe in full transparency and being as honest as possible, there are a few things that the Merrill did that I found a bit quirky. For starters, this is a niche camera and very special, and I noticed that the speed in which it recorded to the card did take some time. It won’t win any speed contests, but when I realize that I’m a studio shooter and also take into account what the sensor’s doing with its color information, well, I get it.
Next month I’ll be exploring a few scenes with various lens options with the SD1 and, of course, I’ll continue to marvel at its color.
To see more of Matt’s work, check out his website!