First Look: Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens replaces the very popular 30mm EX DC HSM lens as the fast, standard prime designed exclusively for DLSRs with APS-C sensors including the Sigma SD1 Merrill, the Canon EOS Rebels, 60D and 7D and a number of Nikon models including the D7100, D90, and D5100. And based on the updates and upgrades, the 30mm F1.4 Art lens is going to make a lot of photographers very happy.

The shallow depth of field at F1.8 draws your eyes right to the hands and starfish. The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens is a super-sharp standard prime for APS-C cameras. 1/3200 F1.8 ISO 100 on the Canon Rebel T3i.

As an Art lens the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A is built to the same design and performance standards introduced with the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens, the first lens in this line to be announced. In fact, this lens feels like a scaled-down version of that fast, full-frame prime lens. And it’s not simply a cosmetic change. The new 30mm F1.4 has a completely new optical design, with more lens elements, including a double-aspheric lens which minimizes spherical distortion.  As far as focusing goes, there’s been a lot of advancements since the original 30mm F1.4 was released in 2005.  The autofocus is much faster, and much more quiet. And the full-time manual focus ring is very responsive for complete creative control. And as a Global Vision lens, each and every 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is individually tested on the A1 MTF device at the Aizu, Japan factory.

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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. 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.
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. Continue reading Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome: First Look, First Photos

Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 Monochrome: Video Tutorial

Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 now offers dedicated Monochrome processing for X3 raw files from the original SD1 and all cameras in the Merrill Generation, the SD1 Merrill, the DP2 Merrill, and the new DP3 Merrill.

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.

The X3 processing has completely re-engineered for exceptional monochrome results, with great control over tonal range, contrast, subtle gradations, and a simply beautiful film grain option for expressive creative control.

In this demonstration, I work up three images captured with the Sigma SD1. One is a very low contrast image, the second a very high contrast image, and the third, an infrared shot through an IR-passing filter with the Infrared cutting filter in the SD1 removed.

Learn more about Sigma Photo Pro Monochrome, and view many more sample images.


The Vision and Passion of Dick Merrill

Today, Sigma officially launches three new digital cameras, the Sigma SD1 Merill, the DP1 Merill, and the DP2 Merrill.  Each of these cameras wears the name “Merrill” in honor and recognition of the passion, drive and vision of Richard “Dick” Merrill, a founding father of the Foveon sensor that is at the heart of Sigma’s Digital cameras.

Prior to being a member of Foveon’s team at its founding  with Carver Mead and Dick Lyon among others in 1997, Merrill worked on semiconductor research and design at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, as well as National Semiconductor. Foveon colleagues talk warmly about Merrill as a prolific inventor, explorer, and problem-solver who owned an oscilloscope at the age of ten.  His genius for tackling challenges in design and function is evidenced in the many patents awarded Merrill, and it is here, fueled by Merrill’s passion and brilliance, where so much of the story of Foveon and Sigma Digital Imaging truly unfolds.

Dick Merrill of Foveon, photographed by Dick Lyon, made with the Sigma SD14 DSLR.

Foveon’s first full-color digital imaging system, introduced in 1999, involved three image sensors aligned to the three exit planes for red, blue, and green light from a prism. This first device was capable of producing high-quality color images that recorded all primary colors at each pixel, but the prism manufacturing and assembly process was very complex. Guided by that singular focus–the creation of images in one shot that are comprised of three complete color image planes–was to be Foveon’s driving force throughout its evolution.

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Sigma SD1 and SD15 for Digital Infrared Photography

Infrared photography involves capturing light at wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum. Infrared energy is reflected quite differently than we are accustomed to by many organic and inorganic surfaces, and the results of landscapes bathed in infrared light has long been a favorite style of photography for fine art photographers since the silver halide days of centuries past. A unique design advantage of Sigma’s DSLRs allows creative photographers to quickly and easily swap between visible spectrum and infrared photography.

Lilypads, trees, and clouds are highly reflective in Infrared wavelengths, as this scene from midday in Spring Lake, NJ, illustrates. Camera: Sigma SD1 with IR blocking filter removed. Lens: 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Infrared Filter: Cokin P 007 (89B) Infrared passing filter (50% transmission at 720nm) | Exposure: 1/80 at F/13.0 ISO 100 X3F Raw Capture. Converted through Sigma Photo Pro 5 to monochrome.

All digital SLR sensors are sensitive to infrared wavelengths–but these wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum are prohibited from reaching the sensor by IR-blocking filters. In the Sigma SD1 and SD15 Digital SLR cameras, the Infrared blocking filter is just inside the lens mount–and above the reflex mirror. It easily pops out to enable sensor cleaning, and this also allows energy of infrared wavelengths to hit the sensor.

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Sigma SD1: On Location with Robert Lopshire

by Jack Howard

A while back, I had an idea for a blog posting involving models, the Sigma SD1, social media connections, and a Sigma fan who’d never touched the Sigma SD1 before. I wanted to see what sort of photos an experienced photographer could make, straight out of the gate, with this high-end camera. And that’s where photographer Robert Lopshire enters this story.

He had posted a few macro photos to our Sigma Facebook wall right when I originally joined the Sigma team earlier this year, and has been an active participant on our Facebook wall for a long while now.  He has also shared several pictures through our site’s Photoshare feature including a fantastic macro shot that made it into this video (at 4:07). Through some of those very strange small-world channels that sometimes become visible at just the right time, it also turns out that Robert lives just a few miles down the road from me, and stranger still, is neighbors with one of my Photo Assignment Editors back from my newspaper days!

We handed photographer Robert Lopshire the Sigma SD1 and a Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens and let him work with the camera, and his models at his Frenchtown, NJ home studio. After the jump you can see the great shots he produced in this test drive of the SD1!

So, out of the blue a few weeks back, I sent Robert an email asking if he’d be interested in taking part in a blog posting for us involving a crash-course test drive of the Sigma SD1, the Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX DG HSM, and some of his modeling clients.  A few moments and his emphatic reply later, we began to set up a shoot at his Frenchtown, NJ location involving two of his favorite models, Chelsea Landry and Ivana Vranjes.

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Sigma SD1: My First Shoots by Jack Howard

by Jack Howard

The Sigma SD1 has been generating a lot of conversation since its launch. And I’ve already said a lot about my first impressions of the camera itself in this blog posting So now, finally, we’re going to focus on some of the images I’ve made so far with this amazing new Foveon-chipped SLR with a variety of Sigma lenses. “Film-like”, “tactile”, “rich”, “vivid”, “crisp”, “vibrant” are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of adjectives and descriptors for many of these shots.

Here’s a sampling of my first test shoots with the new Sigma SD1 SLR  from all around the Garden State. All shots were captured as full-resolution X3F Raw files, and converted to16-Bit Tiffs in Sigma Photo Pro before final touches and downsampling in Adobe Camera Raw and/or Photoshop CS5 or HDR programs. (And be sure to click on each photo to view it in full-screen mode!)

Let’s have a look at some images made with the Sigma SD1. Here’s a detail of a simple single-light portrait cropped in to just my eyes. This shot was made with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 on the SD1 at 1/160 @ F/16 @ ISO 100, and processed in Sigma Photo Pro as a Double-Sized 16-bit Tiff, which was then cropped in to just my eyes. (File dimensions before web optimization: 6272 x 4181 px, here it is optimized for the web at 1500 x 760 px) After the jump we’ll look at a slice of this shot at the “actual pixels” level.

Continue reading Sigma SD1: My First Shoots by Jack Howard

Sigma SD1: It’s All About the Image

by Jack Howard

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a little bit of time with a prototype Sigma SD1 over the past week, and I have got to tell you: I am very excited about spending more time making photos with this new flagship Foveon-chipped SLR.

This rock-solid camera feels like a classic film-based 35mm SLR, with a gloriously uncluttered mode dial that lets you shoot in full Program, Aperture and Shutter Priority Program, and Manual mode. That’s it. This is a purist’s camera. On the LCD side of things, the menus and interfaces are clean, uncluttered, and intuitive on that 3-inch 460K LCD. This is a camera focused on making images, not navigating submenus.

Continue reading Sigma SD1: It’s All About the Image

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