Top D-SLRs Under $1,000
Six cameras that deliver hot shots for a fistful of dollars
The SD14 features the unique full-color-capture Foveon X3 image sensor and a sensor dust protector that can be removed for instant infrared photography. The Bayer-array sensors used in other D-SLRs record just one primary color (red, green or blue) at each pixel site and then use data from neighboring pixels and complex proprietary algorithms to interpolate data for the other colors. To prevent moiré patterns and other artifacts, a low-pass filter is used over the sensor of all other D-SLRs, which blurs the image slightly.
The Foveon X3 sensor in the SD14 records all three primary colors at every pixel site, so no interpolation (or sharpness-reducing low-pass filter) is required. The X3 sensor in the SD14 contains 4.7 million pixel sites (2640 x 1760 pixels), each recording all three primary colors, while a 4.7-megapixel Bayer-array sensor would have 1.2 million pixels recording red light, 1.2 million recording blue and 2.4 million recording green. The bottom line is that the SD14's images from RAW files are noticeably better than those of Bayer sensors of equivalent horizontal-by-vertical pixel dimensions; i.e., than those of 4.7-megapixel Bayer sensors.
While there's no Live-View mode, the SD14's large SLR viewfinder shows 98% of the actual image area. Metering modes include 8-segment evaluative, center-weighted averaging and 7.5% center-area. The SD14 can shoot at 3 fps for up to 6 frames at maximum resolution.
Sigma offers more than 40 lenses for the SD14, from a 4.5mm circular fisheye and 10-20mm wide zoom to an 800mm super-telephoto.
Macro and super-tele shooters will appreciate the ease with which they can switch to mirror-lockup mode—there's a handy mode dial to select it, rather than digging through menus.
Sensor: 4.7x3-megapixel Foveon X3