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1. Simplicity: Designed for professionals and advanced amateurs, the SD14’s design focuses on direct access to key controls, reducing the need for deep menus. 2. 2.5-Inch LCD:The LCD provides 100-percent coverage. If you prefer the optical viewfinder, it provides 98-percent coverage—very good by comparison with the optical viewfinder on most other cameras. 3. Pop-Up Flash: The SD14’s built-in flash has a guide number of 36 and coverage for focal lengths as wide as 17mm. There’s also a hot-shoe for accessory flash.
 

 

SIGMA SD14

ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $849 (body only)


Sigma’s third D-SLR, the SD14 is a no-nonsense shooting device—it’s versatile, yet easy to learn and use.

ROBUST LENS SELECTION: Best known as a lens manufacturer, Sigma offers lenses from a 4.5mm circular fisheye to an 800mm supertelephoto for the SD14. With the camera’s 1.7x focal-length factor, this translates to focal lengths equivalent to 7.65mm to 1360mm on a 35mm SLR.

MIRROR PRELOCK: Most D-SLRs that have a mirror prelock function make it hard to access. With the SD14, just rotate the left dial to “UP.”

REMOVABLE DUST FILTER: A filter over the image sensor protects it from dust and is far enough in front of the sensor that any dust that settles on the filter won’t be visible in the photos. You can remove the filter for infrared photography.

JPEG AND RAW FORMATS: Previous Sigma D-SLRs would shoot only RAW images. The SD14 also shoots JPEGs (but not RAW+JPEG simultaneously).
Most image sensors don’t see color; they see brightnesses. To get color data, conventional sensors used in other D-SLRs place a Bayer filter array over the pixels, such that each pixel is covered by a red, green or blue filter. Data for the other colors is provided for each pixel via interpolation using complex proprietary algorithms.

The Foveon sensor, exclusive to Sigma cameras, takes advantage of the fact that different wavelengths penetrate silicon to different depths by “stacking” three layers. The top layer records blue light, the middle layer green and the bottom layer red, much as color film works. Thus, all three primary colors are recorded at every photosite, doing away with the need for interpolation and an image-blurring anti-aliasing filter, and bringing the potential for sharper RAW images with more accurate colors.

 

The sensor design causes some confusion when trying to pin down its resolution. Sigma refers to it as a 14-megapixel sensor, which is true when you count the photosites on all three color layers. However, the SD14 doesn’t deliver a 14-megapixel file. The RAW files from this camera are 2640x1760 pixels—that’s a 4.6-megapixel file. From one point of view, that’s a much smaller file than is typical from a D-SLR. Sigma’s position is that the quality of the file is so superior to those derived from a conventional sensor that you can make prints much larger than the file size suggests without losing image quality.

The SD14 can capture images at three frames per second, for up to six frames at maximum quality. As the camera is targeted at the enthusiast and professional audience, exposure modes are limited to traditional ones like manual, aperture-priority and shutter-priority. You won’t find scene modes here.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The SD14 features the unique Foveon image sensor, which records red, green and blue color data at every photosite.
VERDICT: Not for point-and-shooters who love bells and whistles, but capable of producing remarkable image quality.

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