Photokina 2002: UPDATE: At last the sun is shining here in Cologne so we ran back to the Sigma booth and grabbed an SD9. These images are far more representative of what we had hoped and expected from Foveon's X3 technology and really show what an amazing step forward it is. I'm very happy with these images, and am looking forward to a full and final review of this camera sometime in October. UPDATE: Added more information about RAW converter, re-converted images.

Phil: After reviewing these images on a calibrated monitor (not my poor notebook LCD) I realized that my excessive use of the saturation and sharpening setting in the RAW Converter software had pushed unwanted (and normally invisible) noise to the surface, this had apparently been amplified by the JPEG compression. Additionally some of the images needed a +1.0 EV digital exposure compensation which wasn't noted on the original samples. You will now find a table of the adjustment settings used for each image in the RAW converter below the samples.

30/Sep/2002: Images have been updated again now I have returned home and back to a calibrated monitor (yes, the images did previously look quite yellow - thanks to my Notebook LCD).

Camera / image notes

Sigma and Foveon describe this camera as 'the last of the pre-production' so you can assume that image quality is close to what we'd expect from the final camera. This camera was a '600 series' pre-production which appears to have lower noise than other earlier pre-production units around the web. Note also that we have provided TIFF versions of two of the images, bear in mind that although we have saved the JPEG images at a very low compression level there may still be some JPEG compression artifacts.

All images below were saved straight out of the RAW processing software as TIFF and then re-saved in Photoshop as a JPEG Quality 11, no other processing carried out in Photoshop, no levels or curve adjustment, no additional sharpening. All shots taken hand-held. RAW .X3F images between 6 and 8 MB each.

Because of comments made on our Sigma SLR Talk forum I have also added Default and Auto processed images for four of the samples as they come straight from the RAW processing software.

Click here to discuss these samples on our new Sigma SLR Talk forum

Sigma SD9 pre-production camera image samples

105 mm, 1/125 sec, F16.0, ISO 100
(105 mm lens) **
Also: Default Adjustment, Auto Adjustment

105 mm, 1/125 sec, F16.0, ISO 100
(105 mm lens) **

105 mm, 1/125 sec, F16.0, ISO 100
(105 mm lens) **
30 mm, 1/45 sec, F8.0, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
51 mm, 1/90 sec, F11, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
Click to download TIFF (10 MB)
Also: Default Adjustment, Auto Adjustment
51 mm, 1/250 sec, F9.5, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
28 mm, 1/125 sec, F9.5, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
Click to download TIFF (10 MB)
40 mm, 1/180 sec, F8.0, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
28 mm, 1/90 sec, F9.5, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
Also: Default Adjustment, Auto Adjustment
30 mm, 1/180 sec, F9.5, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
28 mm, 1/180 sec, F8.0, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
Also: Default Adjustment, Auto Adjustment
45 mm, 1/350 sec, F8.0, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
38 mm, 1/45 sec, F8.0, ISO 100
(28 - 70 mm lens)
33 mm, 1/30 sec, F6.7, ISO 400
(28 - 70 mm lens)

** Credit for these shots must go to the Sigma stand photographer.

The rest of the images are Copyright 2002 Digital Photography Review. No image may be used elsewhere without prior permission.

Sigma Photo Pro (RAW Converter) adjustments for each image

Note that other than the odd +1.0 EV exposure adjustment and saturation / sharpness (which is my personal preference) all other settings are pretty much as the RAW converter's "Auto" setting would produce (when you click on Auto it decides the best combination of adjustments to make the most of the exposure). Most of the adjustments made are fairly subtle or are personal preference.

Because of comments made on our Sigma SLR Talk forum I have also added Default and Auto processed images for four of the samples as they come straight from the RAW processing software.

  Exposure Contrast Shadow Highlight Saturation Sharpness
SD9IMG04737 +0.2 EV 0.0 -0.6 -0.5 -0.1 0.4
SD9IMG04741 +1.4 EV -0.6 -0.6 -0.5 0.3 0.4
SD9IMG04745 +0.4 EV 0.1 -1.0 -0.3 0.3 0.4
SD9IMG04750 +0.1 EV -0.2 -0.1 -1.0 0.3 0.3
SD9IMG04771 +0.1 EV -0.2 -0.1 -1.0 0.3 0.3
SD9IMG04780 +1.0 EV -0.1 0.2 -1.0 0.2 0.0
SD9IMG04782 +1.0 EV -0.1 -0.2 -0.5 0.5 0.2
SD9IMG04792 +1.0 EV -0.1 0.1 -0.6 0.5 0.1
SD9IMG04810 +1.0 EV -0.5 0.1 -0.5 0.5 0.1
SD9IMG04817 0.0 EV 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.5 0.1
SD9IMG04837 -0.1 EV -0.4 0.1 0.1 0.5 0.1
SD9IMG04838 +0.2 EV 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.5 0.3
SD9IMG04839 -0.2 EV 0.1 -0.4 -0.4 0.0 0.1
SD9IMG04840 +0.2 EV 0.1 -0.4 -0.4 0.2 0.1

Sigma Photo Pro (RAW conversion software)

Here you can see the main thumbnail browsing window, from here you can navigate through the filesystem on your computer and browse X3F (X3 RAW) , JPEG or TIFF images (view only the last two). At this stage you can select multiple images and converter them in batch to JPEG or TIFF (8 or 16 bit) with either Default, Auto or Custom (saved) adjustment settings. Press CTRL+I (Windows) to get image information for the selected image:

Double click on an X3F file to enter the main manipulation / conversion page for a single image:

On the right side is the original image as shot with 'Default' adjustments, on the left side are the adjustment controls. You can opt for Default conversion (straight out of the camera), Auto where the software decides things like exposure compensation, contrast etc. (based on the histogram) or you can manually adjust any of the settings to produce a Custom Adjustment (which can be saved). The only other setting which isn't shown on the Adjustment pane is white balance which can be set by pressing CTRL+B (in Windows). Here are all the RAW adjustments:

  • Exposure (EV compensation +/- 2.0 in 0.1 EV steps)
  • Contrast (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Shadow (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Highlight (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Saturation (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Sharpness (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Color Adjustment (CMY balance adjustment)

For the image shown I opted for a subtle custom adjustment and as you can see from the two images below it was very easy to bring the sky out of over-exposure and correct any white balance or lighting cast.

Default Adjustments Custom Adjustments