Conclusion - Pros
- 'Single pixel resolution', pixel for pixel much better than Bayer
- Resolution of enlarged images virtually indistinguishable from six megapixel Bayer D-SLR
- Relatively good tonal balance although default curve can be a little contrasty
- Color accurate, improved color response compared to the SD9, especially green and blue
- Improved ISO range, low noise at higher sensitivities at the expense of color accuracy
- Very good automatic white balance, preprogrammed WB settings work well
- Color clipping / gray halos problem from SD9 now fixed
- Third EV exposure steps
- Nice channel split histogram, can magnify in histogram mode
- Undelete feature (recover last image deleted)
- Fast operation, good startup / operation time, although slow CF write performance
- Auto focus relatively fast, worked well even in lower light levels
- Sigma Photo Pro RAW got better, X3 Fill, memorized per-image settings, etc.
- New X3 Fill feature provides excellent shadow enhancement capability
- Firewire (IEEE 1394) and USB connectivity
- Easy to understand control layout
- Dust protector
- Once familiar the sports finder is useful, especially horizontal / vertical alignment
Conclusion - Cons
- No in-camera JPEG, storage implications of shooting RAW
- Very disappointing long exposure / night performance
- Gradual hue shift at higher sensitivities, softer images from ISO 200 upwards
- Heavier and bulkier than some of the competition (although never feels too big)
- Not as feature rich as other digital SLR's
- Sigma QC should ensure no dust on sensor from factory (we had none, others have had)
- Continuous shooting rate limited to 2 frames per second at Hi resolution
- No onboard PC Sync flash socket (req. optional adapter)
- The need to have Sigma SA mount lenses
Anyone with experience of the SD9 will see a noticeable improvement from the SD10. Both Sigma and Foveon have clearly spent quite a lot of time fixing some of the SD9's shortcomings and adding other improvements which advance the overall package noticeably. This has come about by a combination of changes to the camera and also the image processing in the new Photo Pro 2.0. The nice thing for SD9 owners (and probably SD10 owners in the future) is that with every update of the Photo Pro software they can also achieve better results by simply re-running their RAW images through the software.
I did have a couple of niggles, increasing sensitivity has the side effect of producing softer images and can lead to changes in saturation and increased levels of color 'bleed' (which can appear as a hue shift at very high sensitvities), additionally long exposures for night shots were pretty disappointing.
As I mentioned in my SD9 review shooting solely in RAW mode does require a slight shift in mindset although today it's even less of an issue if you consider the relative inexpense of Compact Flash storage and increasing processing power of today's computers. And interestingly once you begin to get used to the two stage workflow you begin to realize the real advantages of RAW.
Looking back at my SD9 review I stand by much of what I said about the X3 sensor being 'the first step in what must be seen as a revolution in digital photography'. Unfortunately the stranglehold the Bayer sensor and those mega-corporations who make them have on the market has ensured that we haven't yet seen the X3 sensor in another digital SLR.
The SD10 is certainly a significant and capable digital SLR, especially thanks to some of the improvements made since the SD9. It offers a level of image quality Bayer sensor cameras just can't match (pixel for pixel). Unfortunately for Sigma the digital SLR market hasn't stood still and ever cheaper six megapixel digital SLR's which can deliver the same levels of resolution (albeit in a larger output image) and with a more attractive lens mount, there's nothing wrong with the Sigma mount but most people have Canon or Nikon lenses, fact.
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.