Cruise Night, Somerville NJ
Lens Guides

Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome: First Look, First Photos

Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 is a significant update to the raw processor for X3F Raw files from Sigma’s cameras featuring the unique Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor as there is a completely new, dedicated monochrome processor for raw files from the original Sigma SD1 and all Merrill generation cameras, the SD1M, DP1M, DP2M, and the brand-new DP3M. And it is now available for download.

Eastern Willet, Sandy Hook, NJ
Eastern Willet, Sandy Hook, NJ. The dedicated black and white X3F RAW conversion mode in the newest version of SPP creates stunning silvertone images. Sigma SD1 and 50-500mm zoom. 1/640 F6.3 ISO 100. Converted to grayscale in Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome.
Black and White Swan
The combination of the signature superfine detail of the X3 sensor and a touch of the film grain effect makes for amazingly tactile black and white images! This swan was seen through the SD1 and 50-500mm at 1/1600 F6.3 ISO 400 fully zoomed.

I was lucky enough to have spent much of the week prior to the release going public working up a ton of my X3 files in the new software, and I’ve smiled a lot seeing just how beautifully the new monochrome mode renders detail and tonal gradations. And the film-grain option is simply wonderful for adding a classic feel to images. The results, truly, can be breathtaking. I’ve worked up close to fifty of my shots so far, and this new monochrome process has me excited to get out and shoot more images with my SD1 and DP2M specifically for monochrome output.

Cruise Night, Somerville NJ
Cruise Night, Somerville NJ. Sigma DP2 Merrill. 1/50 F8 ISO 100. Detail, contrast and tonal gradations are simply beautiful.
The Red Mill in Clinton NJ
The Red Mill in Clinton NJ, with the Film Grain effect applied for a shot with a classic, film-based feel to the final image. Sigma SD1 and 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC. 1/40 F14 ISO 100.

You can view a screencast tutorial here to see Sigma Photo Pro Monochrome in action. Here, we’re simply going to focus on the images. The results, I think, speak for themselves.

A view across the pond in Clinton NJ
A view across the pond in Clinton NJ. Look at the rich tonal range and fine detail! Can you see the fishing line waving in the breeze? Sigma SD1 and 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC 1/320 F6.3 ISO 100
Foggy day fisherman, Sandy Hook, NJ
Foggy day fisherman, Sandy Hook, NJ. Sigma SD1 and 50-500mm zoom at about 137mm. 1/8000 F5.6 ISO 800
The Lighthouse at Sandy Hook, NJ, Infrared
The Lighthouse at Sandy Hook, NJ, Infrared. The IR-cut filter was removed from my Sigma SD1 paired with the 17-50mm F2.8 for this shot, which was then converted to Monochrome in SPP5.5 Monochrome mode, with the film grain effect applied for a retro feel. 1/400 F7.1 ISO 200.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Infrared
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Infrared. Here is another angle on the Sandy Hook Light, again in Infrared. No film grain effect applied. 1/250 F6.3 ISO 200.

The controls are easy and intuitive, and the new processing behind the monochrome operations is outstanding in its ability to create black and white images with a serious degree of tactility, even on the computer monitor. And I’ve already printed a few of these out at large size–and wow, holding them in your hands is flat-out amazing. It really feels like these are big prints out of an old chemical darkroom.

Waterfall Comparison
This waterfall shot was made with the Sigma SD1 and the 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC. At right, a film grain effect is applied in Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome, and at left, it is not. Which do you prefer? 1/20 F13 ISO 100.
Composition of Orange Pumpkins
This composition of orange pumpkins and green grass is equally dramatic in silvertones. Look at how each blade sunlit grass just pops in this outdoor still life! We adjusted the color channel blending to bring more depth of shadow to the pumpkins. Sigma DP2 Merrill 1/320 F3.5 ISO 100
Spring Lake, NJ, Lilypads, Infrared
Spring Lake, NJ, Lilypads, Infrared. This was seen through the Sigma SD1 in infrared with the 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC lens. Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome mode really made the signature infrared foliage effect pop here.
Abandoned Diner, White House, NJ
Abandoned Diner, White House, NJ. Shot with the Sigma SD1 and Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM. X3F Raw file processed in Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome mode.

To put it in black and white: The Merrill Generation Foveon Sensor and the new Monochrome processing in Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 is a winning combination for photographers looking for outstanding detail and sharpness in silvertone images that have a timeless, classic feel.

Click here to watch a screencast demo of Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome in action.

View several of the shots showcased here in full resolution on Flickr

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