A week plus with the SD1 (long.....very long)

Started Jul 7, 2011 | Discussions thread
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rick decker
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A week plus with the SD1 (long.....very long)
Jul 7, 2011

What can you expect taking the SD1 with you on vacation and doing a week or so of shooting?

I just finished a trip with my wife and daughter to Amsterdam and the fjords of Norway (cruise). To give you a sense of the camera, I have posted a gallery of 50 full-size images. Pick and choose what you want to look at. The photography is a mixture of hand-held and tripod. I had 4 lenses – the 8-16, 18-50 f2.8, 70-200 OS, and the 18-250 which was for my daughter although I used it one morning in Amsterdam. Much of the morning photography in Amsterdam was ISO400. I have also included a few ISO800 shots. Weather for the trip was generally overcast and/or misty and/or rainy. We had some sun when we left port and had one day of mixed sun and clouds in Stavanger which happened to be hosting the international beach volleyball championships. The camera I was using is a production camera with production software.

Some thoughts and comments about the camera and SPP (Windows):

The in-camera jpeg looks very noisy from ISO200 up. This jpeg is a portal to the camera, as a cover is to a book. It should have some/more NR done in the camera.

The camera with SPP produces better ISO200, 400, and 800 than any of its predecessors.

AF is improved both single point and multi-point. However, I tend to agree with the person who said that it is still not equal to an entry-level DSLR by Nikon or Canon.

The SD1 is more difficult to manually fine-focus in low light than is the SD15 – especially with slower lenses such as the 18-250 OS. The image as seen through the viewfinder is darker than that of the SD15.

At medium res, the buffer can hold 14 shots. At low res, the buffer holds the same amount. Time to fill buffer was 3 seconds for each. At high res, the burst speed is considerably faster than that of the SD15.

The diopter adjustment rubs on the rubber eyepiece cup.

The battery icon does not come up when you turn the camera on. I am not sure what causes it to display; it just comes on after a while.

Burst mode or continual shooting will drain the battery enough that it will temporarily drop down a bar and then come back up a short time later.

I generally changed or recharged batteries before they ran down. I suspect that 200 shots is about the maximum you can expect out of a battery.

Time to process and save one full-size image with a Lexar Professional 8gb 133x speed card is about 18-19 seconds. From one source shooting the latest and greatest and fastest 16gb UDMA, it is 14 seconds.

There are some significant differences in the implementation of SPP for the SD1 versus earlier cameras. Foremost is that Vivid and Landscape are much more usable with the SD1 images. My experience with the SD1 is that when shooting scenes with a lot of grass, “Neutral” often leaves me with greens that are weaker than I would like – too much blue and not enough green/yellow. The best color setting to correct for this is “Landscape”, although “Vivid” produces very similar results.

SPP Auto produces a different result with the SD1 than with previous cameras. Gone are the days when “Auto” would produce an image popping with contrast. Very rarely does Auto apply any tonal adjustments other than exposure. A significant percentage of my images had an exposure adjustment of -.7. It appears that, for the SD1, Sigma has decided to export a flatter image out of SPP Auto (relative to other Sigma cameras) and to let the user handle the tonal adjustments rather than trying to export a fully-processed image.

Activating the magnifier and eye dropper can be a pain in the neck. You have to hit the “full res” button at least once, meaning that SPP then does a full processing of the RAW file based on your settings. When SPP first displays the image, it is a scaled-down version done in order to improve performance, enabling you to decide if you want to have SPP spend the time (you too) processing the full image or want to skip it. If you decide to change certain settings (Noise, WB, Color), the image is re-set to a scaled down version and the “full res” must be hit again to activate the magnifier and eye dropper.

I don’t like Sigma’s decision to have the NR sliders default to the middle tab. I see a conceptual difference between the NR sliders and the tonal sliders (which default in the mid position). I would prefer to have the NR sliders default to the left-most position – the least noise reduction. If you forget to set these sliders you have to go through the whole processing procedure all over again.

Because there is a flatter image coming out of the camera, more work needs to be done to produce the desired results and more care needs to be taken. I found (more cases with this camera than with other Sigma models) that SPP could not give me the desired results that I wanted. Many of my images have been enhanced with the NIK filter set.

Conditions were demanding at times. The fjords were narrow with steep rock walls. The light was very “cool” despite overcast conditions which should have warmed the light. Resulting low contrast was a big challenge for the camera and resulted in images needing more-than-average work.

The images are full-size and are at:

http://www.pbase.com/rickdecker/sd1

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