Sigma SD15 review

Sigma's Foveon X3 sensor design is unique, but does the SD 15 move it any further forward?

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  • Great sensor
  • Back to basics approach


  • Muddled design
  • Keen price

Sigma's best known for its lenses, but it also produces two very interesting cameras. One is the DP1s/DP2s compact (same camera, different lenses) and the other is the SD series of D-SLRs.

First came the 3Mp SD9 in 2002, which was followed by an improved SD10 in 2003, and then by the 4.7Mp SD14 in 2007. The SD15 is a development of the SD14, but at its heart is the same Foveon X3 sensor.

But while other makers bring out new sensors every couple of years, Sigma's Foveon X3 technology moves more slowly. As a result, the SD15 is more of a redesign than a new camera, despite the fact that it's been three years since the SD14 hit the market.


The Foveon X3's low pixel count sounds unimpressive these days, but the figures are misleading. Because of the way the images are created, and the high levels of sharpness they display, the SD15 is a pretty good match for any other APS-C D-SLR. But even if it is as good as any other SLR, why buy the SD15?

First, the extreme sharpness of the images gives them a visual quality you don't get with other cameras, even if the resolution is lower. Second, 4.7Mp files take up a lot less space than 12-14Mp images. Third, the SD15 uses a traditional design that offers refreshing simplicity, and if you already know your way around a camera, it's nice not to have to negotiate layers of gadgets and automation to get to key controls.

The SD15 is only a modest upgrade from the SD14, but it now uses SD/SDHC memory cards and has a 100,000-cycle shutter mechanism and a good-quality 460,000-dot LCD display. And like other Sigma cameras, it comes with Sigma's Photo Pro RAW conversion software.

Card slot

You can open and convert its files with Adobe Camera Raw, but the Sigma software is better-tuned to the camera's own colour modes, and gives rather better performance at high ISOs.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Effective Camera Resolution14.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilySD
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, MultiMediaCard (MMC)
Brand NameSigma
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)680.4 g
Maximum Image Resolution2640 x 1760
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height106.7 mm
Width144.8 mm
Depth81.3 mm
Product SeriesSD
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
External FlashOptional
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSigma Corporation
Product ModelSD15
Product NameSD15 Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • (P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible)
  • (S) Shutter Speed Priority
  • (A) Aperture Priority AE
  • (M) Manual
Manufacturer Part NumberC24900
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationSigma's SD15 SLR camera is the latest model in Sigma's SD series. Powered by the 14 megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor it can capture all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location arranged in three layers. The new SD15 incorporates the "TRUE II" image processing engine which processes the large amount of data from the 14 megapixel direct image sensor. It also provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with impressive three-dimensional detail, rich in gradation. The camera adopts the SD card and incorporates a highly visible 3.0 inch LCD monitor, 77-segment AE sensor and AFE (Analog Front End). It provides high image quality and user friendly design. In addition, the durable shutter mechanism, which has a life of over 100,000 actuations, is ideal for the demand of digital photography.