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Sigma Photo Pro 2.0

As with the SD9 the SD10 only supports RAW format output, this means that image quality is to a large degree dependent on a quality RAW converter. We covered the original Photo Pro in some detail in our Sigma SD9 review. These pages are designed to give a brief overview of the updated application as well as samples of the new X3 Fill Light feature.

Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 vs. Photo Pro 1.0

Feature / Issue Photo Pro 2.0 Photo Pro 1.0
Set WB in browser (single / multiple images) Yes No
Store settings per X3F file Yes No
JPEG output quality 4:4:4 (better) 4:2:0*
Gray halos around clipped color No Yes
Noise reduction at higher ISO Yes No*
X3 Fill Light Yes No

* Were fixed in Photo Pro 1.1 which was released in May 2003

Foveon & Sigma have stuck to the 'RAW is best' approach with the SD10 which outputs only X3F RAW images. The advantages of RAW format are numerous, and Photo Pro 2.0 is a good example of that, new features which enhance and improve the usability of images from the camera (and even for SD9 owners). The disadvantages of RAW are primarily the storage overhead and the inability to quickly take a JPEG from the camera and transmit it over a slow link (in a photo journalist type situation).

The Photo Pro application provided with the SD10 is the only tool currently available which can view / manipulate / convert the SD9's X3F RAW files.

Captures below are of Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 running on Windows XP, the software is provided for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Browser / File manager

Here you can see the main image browsing window, from here you can navigate through images on your computer or on the camera (if connected). You can browse X3F (X3 RAW), JPEG or TIFF images, you can of course filter out and just see X3F images if you prefer.

As you can see the user interface is slightly unconventional, it looks like a Windows user interface but doesn't work like one (there's no right-click support). You can multi-select using SHIFT-click and CTRL-click, you can also drag and drop images to move them to other folders however there's no capability for creating folders. You can mark, lock, delete and rotate images either one by one or as a selected group. You have four choices of display in browse mode: Small thumbnails, Medium thumbnails (shown above), Large thumbnails and Thumbnails with brief detail.

Selected images can be 'Reviewed' (viewed full screen with the ability to adjust) or saved by clicking on the 'Save Images As...' button. One thing you can't do in batch is modify white balance, the only setting which is actually stored in the X3F file. It would also be nice to be able to apply previously saved adjustment settings to selected or marked images rather than having to be selective about your processing (see below).

Save Images As...

Clicking on 'Save Images As' displays the dialog box shown below. You can process all images in the folder, marked images or selected images. Adjustments can be X3F (settings recorded in the X3F file), Auto or a previously saved Custom adjustment set. Images can be output at the same, half or double size in a variety of color spaces (sRGB, Adobe RGB, Apple RGB, Colormatch RGB) and you can choose from TIFF (8/16-bit) or JPEG (EXIF/JFIF) formats.

Information window

Another option at the browser stage is to display the information window, this can be positioned beside the browser and will display detailed shooting information for the selected image (as shown below). Note the new 'Saved X3F Settings' pane which relays the image parameters applied and stored in the RAW image (from a previous Photo Pro session). It's probably also worth noting the new 'Image Unique ID' field, interesting (potential use in forensics?).

Review mode (Single image adjustment)

Double click on an X3F file from the browser to enter 'Review' mode. This is the main mode for adjustment of individual images or the creation of adjustment sets. Here the Review window is shown Adjustment window shown on the left (click on 'Adjustment Controls' to show / hide this window).

The 'Adjustment Mode' pane has now changed, you have three options; X3F, Auto, Custom. Selecting the X3F option applies image parameters previously saved into the X3F file (stored in the header, not actually applied to the data). To save new settings simply make your adjustment and click on the round X3F button to the left of the adjustment mode selector. This is a major enhancement as previously you would have to either memorize, note down or use custom saved settings for a particular image.

As I commented in my SD9 review the best thing about Review mode is instant feedback from image parameter adjustment. As you change any of the image parameters the preview image and histogram are updated in real time. This is simply invaluable and both increases productivity and delivers higher quality results because you can make fine adjustments with time penalty.

Note that you can enable a Magnification Loupe (as above) which allows you to inspect an area of the image under the mouse cursor at a choice of magnifications (although obviously 100% is most useful). This is smooth and fast and keeps up with mouse movements instantly. It also provides a readout of the RGB value at the mouse position.

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)
  • X3 Fill Light (+/-2.0 in 0.1 steps)
  • Color Adjustment (CMY balance adjustment)

White Balance

One other setting which isn't described above is white balance, you can change the image white balance by selecting the appropriate menu option or pressing CTRL+B (Windows). This displays the white balance selection window (see below), when white balance is changed it is saved back into the X3F file, this is the only setting which is tied to the individual image. You can't do this in the browser window and it really should be on the adjustment window pane for quick access.

It's worth noting that in addition to selecting the nearest white balance you can also fine tune this by applying a color adjustment, this is simply a case of placing the eyedropper over a grey or white area of the image and clicking, Photo Pro will calculate the correct color adjustment to ensure perfect white balance.

Exposure Warning Indication

The Adjustment window also allows you to enable under / over exposure warnings. When enabled any area of the image which exceeds the maximum warning level (250 default) is shown in red, any area of the image which is lower than the minimum warning level (10 default) is shown in blue. As you can see below there are areas of the bridge in this deliberately 'pushed' image which exceed the maximum warning level and that the boat in the foreground may be under exposed or so dark it is loosing detail. You can change the minimum / maximum warning levels at will.

Warnings Not Shown Warnings Shown
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