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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 7 reviews
on February 10, 2011
I have owned several Sigma cameras and have a love/hate relationship with the breed. To generalize, I find them like an old person---rich in capability but somewhat slow and cantankerous to live with. I rail at my Sigmas but miss them when I leave them home.

In any case, I purchased this SD15 to replace my SD14 which had white balance issues that I was tired of dealing with. This slightly refreshed version is vastly better at analyzing light and properly rendering it. Other improvements include better burst rates, improved processing engine, SD storage of images, and(importantly) a much cleaner user interface than presented on the SD14.

Other comparably priced cameras are faster and more pixel-dense, yet I have found no substitute for the anticipation I feel when processing Sigma photos---they aren't just records of images but, often, impressive interpretations of them.
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on August 17, 2016
A little background is required. For the past 3 years I have been mainly a Fuji “X” photographer, having owned, or currently own, the following models: X20, X-M1, X-Pro1, X-A1, X-T10 and X-100. Prior to that I was using Olympus Pen system (E-PM1 and OMD EM5).

This summer I got to experience a Foveon X3 system when I bought a DP2 Merrill for my wife for her food photography.

Impressed, I managed to put together a used Sigma DSLR system, in excellent condition, from vendors on Amazon and eBay for a grand total of just under 700 USD shipped! This included a Sigma SD15 DSLR and the following lenses: 18-50mm F2.8-4.5, 30mm F1.4, and 70-300mm F4-5.6. The zoom lenses are optically stabilized.

The SD15 is rated at 14MP, due to the triple layer Foveon X3 sensor, but in reality it renders 4.6MP (2640 x 1760) RAW or jpeg images. It also has a crop factor of 1.7, giving equivalent focal lengths of 30-85mm, 51mm, and 119-5100mm respectively for the three lenses mentioned above. The sensor design eliminates the need for an anti-aliasing (AA) filter, so the sharpness is excellent for a 4.6MP file format.

My decision to get the SD15 and not the SD1 Merrill was due to the fact that I can “borrow” my wife’s DP2 Merrill at leisure if I need the extra resolution. Besides the SD15 has better continuous shooting performance than the SD1 Merrill due to the much smaller RAW files, which are “only” 12MB in size. The Sigma Photo Pro 6.3 software is much kinder and quicker with these smaller files.

The SD15 is refreshingly simple to use for a Fujifilm X-T10 user, with P, A, S, M modes and no special scene modes. It does not do video. The camera looks large feels heavy for a 1.7 crop sensor, but handles well and the viewfinder is quite nice.

There are “only” five auto-focus points, but that was not an issue for me. The LCD screen is, well, adequate at best, and there is no live view. The top LCD display panel is great for changing settings quickly, without having to look through the viewfinder. The attractive orange backlight can be enabled if necessary.

The icing on the cake is the ultra soft shutter, which almost feels like shutter on a mirrorless camera. This helps minimize camera shake. There is also a setting to keep the mirror up after composing your shot, which reduces shake even further when the shutter is triggered.

I recommend upgrading the firmware to the latest (1.04, as of this writing). This brings improvements to functionality, including the inclusion of the RAW+Jpeg image capture mode.

Although rated up to ISO3200, this camera is best used in the ISO 50 - 200 range. You can go as high as ISO 800, but that would really be pushing it, as color noise starts to make an appearance at ISO 400.

The auto white balance works well overall, but can often get thrown off. This is not a major issue, since you will most likely be using Sigma Photo Pro 6.3 or SilkyPix for RAW conversion, where you can tweak the white balance setting easily.

I found Sigma Photo Pro 6.3 software to be pretty stable and simple to use. I prefer to shoot in the “Neutral” picture mode, and use SPP 6.3 to fine tune the results. After converting the RAW file to jpeg, I use Apple Aperture 3.6 for final touch ups. I find this work flow to be quite simple overall.

When used within its ideal range of ISO 50 - 100, the SD15 can produce stunning results. The color accuracy, shadow detail, dynamic range, rendering of subtle tones and micro-contrast are amazing. The images are extremely realistic under the right lighting conditions, and also very 3 dimensional.

In summary, I am extremely pleased with my Sigma SD15, despite it being a discontinued 2010 model. Having said that, due to the limited useful ISO range, the SD15 is better paired with another camera system, which will give you the high ISO capability.

If you treat this camera just as you would a film camera with ISO 100 film, and understand the limitations, you will do well with this camera.
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