another open letter to Sigma

Started May 14, 2012 | Discussions
mike earussi
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another open letter to Sigma
May 14, 2012

Please quit listening to your marketing people when they tell you that resolution is the most important feature photographers want. Your latest experiment with the SD1 chip that is really only useful at iso 100 and produces banding in the sky and noise in the shadows when shot at any higher iso has eliminated a lot of people's desire to own one.

What we're wanting is the "old" Foveon look with no noise or banding in the sky and high dynamic range. My suggestion for a really good Foveon based camera is a full frame 12 mp chip without the AFE that seems to have had the negative side effect of lowering the DR at the same time as it added banding to the sky.

A 12mp high quality Foveon chip will provide enough resolution for most ordinary needs and the addition of a large buffer, similar to the 21 shot one on the SD15, will enable the easy production of pano stitching when needing larger resolution files for landscapes.

So a 12mp full frame camera with large noise free pixels providing a high DR coupled with a good buffer and fast processing time is much better than a 15mp one with small noisy pixels, poor DR, small buffer and slow processing time. I'd even be happy with a minimum iso of 25 if that would help to enhance overall IQ.

Please remember that what attracted people to Foveon in the first place was a beautiful 3D image than no Bayer chip could come close to. We miss that look and would really appreciate a FF higher resolution version of it, just not at the expense of the original IQ that we loved.

rpo83
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012

I think you are on the money Mike, i would love a FF Foveon and 12MP would be more than enough.

I can't comment on your views of the SD1 as i have not used one, but my next camera will definately be FF, i have been taking my old MInolta XD7 out with me shooting Velvia, looking through a decent viewfinder and seeing the world as it used to look is very refreshing.
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Mostly Lurking
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012

While I'm certainly no expert, I don't think any digital camera delivers everything you're asking for.
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William Wilgus

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Johan Borg
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012

I have a feeling the number of pixels doesn't have much to do with the rest of the issues, as the AFE effects can be seen in earlier cameras (can we get an option to turn off AFE, please?).

A full frame sensor with the same pixel size as the SD1 would end up around 36MP, or if you prefer speed, 9MP in half-size RAW. Now that sounds tempting...

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D Cox
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012

The problem with your suggestion is that 16 Megapixels is nowadays pretty standard for entry-level cameras. Although the Foveon has "better pixels", I don't think there is any market for cameras with less than 16 except for the cheaper point-and-shoots.

More serious cameras are running at 24 Megapixels for APS-C and 36 for Full Frame.

Sales of your proposed camera would be limited to a sub-set of current Sigma camera owners.

A better approach for Sigma would be to work on improving the current design to give more speed and less noise, as no doubt they are doing.

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Tom Schum
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to D Cox, May 14, 2012

D Cox wrote:

A better approach for Sigma would be to work on improving the current design to give more speed and less noise, as no doubt they are doing.

I agree. Improving the existing APS-C sensor would not require redesign of the SLR optics. Changing to full-frame would require huge changes and the only existing designs Sigma has for that are their film cameras such as the SA-9. I don't think Sigma has the resources to do it all, so improving the existing sensor seems to make the most sense. Actually though, the existing design is really good. I don't mind the noise in my SD1 at the moment.

Maybe they could call it a SD1 V2 or something, and put the X3 logo on the front again. I'm guessing they could get at least a 30% price premium on it too ($3,000 selling price).
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joaquin100
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012

mike earussi wrote:

So a 12mp full frame camera with large noise free pixels providing a high DR coupled with a good buffer and fast processing time is much better than a 15mp one with small noisy pixels, poor DR, small buffer and slow processing time. I'd even be happy with a minimum iso of 25 if that would help to enhance overall IQ.

Please remember that what attracted people to Foveon in the first place was a beautiful 3D image than no Bayer chip could come close to.

$ can be saved if the Cam is packed in a SD14 Body and this $ can be used in a good AF module.

Brilliant idea is to sell the camera bundled with good Lenses CALIBRATED TO THIS CAMERA with HIGH QUALITY CONTROL.

PPL from overseas dont buy that easy Sigma Gear cos QC is known as poor. quite a big hole in Sigmas pocket.

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rainbyrd
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pride
In reply to joaquin100, May 14, 2012
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michaeli
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+1
In reply to mike earussi, May 14, 2012
 michaeli's gear list:michaeli's gear list
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Bruno2005
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 16, 2012

‎ I agree with you Mike, but, as a lot of people has already written open letters to Sigma, giving ‎them quite interesting advices, and little has come out from those hints, I therefore suggest you to ‎write a “close” letter to Sigma Headquarters.‎
I did once and they answered me with a very polite thank you.

Sigma managers, as regarding ‎camera commercial policy (the lens are something apart) reminds me of ‎those stubborn japanese soldiers who stayed hidden and still fighting in the forest, long after WW II ‎was over.

And the nuclear issue confirmed this sort of national stubborness; in other words: they ‎decided to quit this type of energy only after the disaster (very simple to forecast even for an ‎illitterate, because of Japan previous records) stroke the country. So, today, Sigma needs someone ‎to inform them that a lot of their faithful customers want a practical Foveon camera with not all ‎those billion pixels which, in most cases, won’t be used.

Informally reviewing, in 2008, the first DP ‎camera (the text is in english http://www.testiweb.com/dp1.htm ) I suggested how the next DP ‎model should have appeared: well, they came out with a clone, that is the DP2, and long after with a ‎DP Merril, which cannot be considered as a camera for all the seasons.

The technological tsunami that could strike, soon or later, Sigma, could come from another ‎japanese company (say Sony or Panasonic, or a foreign trendsetter as once was Foveon), having ‎built a new three layers sensor.‎

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Gesture
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to Bruno2005, May 16, 2012

Bruno 2005, fantastic writing and images, some of the best I've seen online from the DP1.

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dr.noise
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to mike earussi, May 16, 2012

mike earussi wrote:

SD1 chip that is really only useful at iso 100 and produces banding in the sky and noise in the shadows

Are banding in the sky and noise in the shadows proven to be an inherent characteristic of the SD1's latest Foveon chip, or are they just complains from some owners?

Or maybe these are dependent on SPP, not on the chip?

I'm asking because I don't know where these issues are coming from. I don't own an SD1, but last time I checked, its image quality was far better than SD15 in every department. And SD15 wasn't the camera that is only useful at ISO100.

Did something happen lately?

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ChromeLight
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to dr.noise, May 16, 2012

It pops out if you have a faily steep "S" curve in your photo. But I would not charcterize such an "S" curve as unusual. It might be unusual for me, but a lot of photos have strong contrast to them. I can see the vertical bands in one of my ISO 100 photos at 15x20 210 dpi in the dark areas only. But it is there because I have pushed the shadows +2.0. If I didn't do that, it would not be visible. It is barely visible and only visible because I looked for it. So it's kind of a problem but kind of not a problem if you know what I mean.

dr.noise wrote:

mike earussi wrote:

SD1 chip that is really only useful at iso 100 and produces banding in the sky and noise in the shadows

Are banding in the sky and noise in the shadows proven to be an inherent characteristic of the SD1's latest Foveon chip, or are they just complains from some owners?

Or maybe these are dependent on SPP, not on the chip?

I'm asking because I don't know where these issues are coming from. I don't own an SD1, but last time I checked, its image quality was far better than SD15 in every department. And SD15 wasn't the camera that is only useful at ISO100.

Did something happen lately?

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dr.noise
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to ChromeLight, May 16, 2012

ChromeLight wrote:

So it's kind of a problem but kind of not a problem if you know what I mean.

Thanks for clearing it out. I've seen that exact "banding problem" in at least three different brands cameras, starting from Canon 10D iirc, and while I consider it a kind of problem too, I sometimes even like the pattern.

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jbr
jbr
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to dr.noise, May 17, 2012

The sd1 actually has two kinds of vertical banding noise. The type that shows up in properly exposed skies is a pattern type noise and will be seen when pushing contrast in the sky areas. The second type turns up in underexposed areas and this is the type of noise that some other cameras have but occur at much lowers levels than with the sd1.

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Bruno2005
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to Gesture, May 17, 2012

Thank you for your comments. Actually the best pictures in that review come from some Sigma Forum regular visitors who allowed me to embed in that page some of their works of art.

As for the text the inspiration came out from Sigma unique quality, an admiration which I'm still holding though dampened by their eerie commercial choices.

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Roland Karlsson
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Re: Not an in particular good idea IMHO
In reply to mike earussi, May 17, 2012

So - you want a 12 MP FF Foveon?

I would say that a 48 MP FF Foveon with 4x binning to 12 MP is an extremely more versatile camera.

You get what you want, the Foveon aliased ultra sharpness.

And others gets what they want, a smooth nice ultra sharpness. And with very good lenses you might even get pixel sharpness a which would be extremely impressive.

And yes, at pixel level the quality of 48 MP is worse than 12 MP. But scale the 12 MP to 4 times its size and the comparison will be totally different.

Then, of course, Sigma will have a very tough time selling a 12 MP camera. The only reason why Nikon can get away with doing such a thing is that the camera has 12 FPS and that some pro photographers are looking for a Nikon that can do just that.

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ToasterFlyer
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Re: another open letter to Sigma
In reply to joaquin100, May 17, 2012

joaquin100 wrote:

Brilliant idea is to sell the camera bundled with good Lenses CALIBRATED TO THIS CAMERA with HIGH QUALITY CONTROL.

I suggested this long before the SD1 was ever released!! No dice.

Rich
ny

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mike earussi
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Re: Not an in particular good idea IMHO
In reply to Roland Karlsson, May 17, 2012

Roland Karlsson wrote:

So - you want a 12 MP FF Foveon?

I would say that a 48 MP FF Foveon with 4x binning to 12 MP is an extremely more versatile camera.

You get what you want, the Foveon aliased ultra sharpness.

And others gets what they want, a smooth nice ultra sharpness. And with very good lenses you might even get pixel sharpness a which would be extremely impressive.

And yes, at pixel level the quality of 48 MP is worse than 12 MP. But scale the 12 MP to 4 times its size and the comparison will be totally different.

Then, of course, Sigma will have a very tough time selling a 12 MP camera. The only reason why Nikon can get away with doing such a thing is that the camera has 12 FPS and that some pro photographers are looking for a Nikon that can do just that.

I'd thought of that actually, but wasn't sure Sigma would be able to pull off the pixel binning successfully given their attempt with the SD1 being less than spectacular. Besides four small pixels would have less total area than one large one since each pixel requires a certain amount of (wasted) space around them. So, as tempting as a 48 mp semsor is (but just try to find a lens capable of using them) I still believe that 12mp would produce an overall better image than a 48mp binned one.

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Roland Karlsson
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Re: Not an in particular good idea IMHO
In reply to mike earussi, May 17, 2012

mike earussi wrote:

I'd thought of that actually, but wasn't sure Sigma would be able to pull off the pixel binning successfully given their attempt with the SD1 being less than spectacular. Besides four small pixels would have less total area than one large one since each pixel requires a certain amount of (wasted) space around them. So, as tempting as a 48 mp semsor is (but just try to find a lens capable of using them) I still believe that 12mp would produce an overall better image than a 48mp binned one.

Due to micro lenses you dont lose as much as it first seems by having more pixels.

But - the biggest problem is that the competition will have at least 50 MP by the time Sigma releases this 12 MP FF camera. And then only you and a handful people more will be interested. If the camera dont have something extra spectacular of course. And ... how likely do you think that is?

 Roland Karlsson's gear list:Roland Karlsson's gear list
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