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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Sigma sd15

So do the SD15's sophisticated metering options help its overall performance? Not exactly.

The standard multi-pattern metering mode proved distinctly unpredictable, especially with high-contrast subjects. A slight difference in viewpoint could produce big differences in exposure, possibly because of the shift in focus point and hence the way the meter reacted to the 'new' subject.

Otherwise, though, the SD15 is very impressive. If you haven't seen what the Foveon sensor can do, you'll be amazed at the clarity of the fine detail it produces. Each pixel is razor sharp. The 17-70mm Sigma lens supplied for this review proved rather good, too, with low levels of distortion, little chromatic aberration and terrific edge-to-edge sharpness.

This camera can't shoot RAW and JPEG files simultaneously, so it's likely most users will choose to shoot RAW. The conversions created by the Sigma Photo Pro software are rich, contrasty and highly saturated – perhaps a little too saturated now and again if you use the Sigma Photo Pro software's automatic setting.

You can also adjust the exposure, colour, white balance and other settings manually, or use the original camera settings. This gives more consistent results, even if it involves a little more work. At low ISOs there's no significant noise at all, but it does increase rapidly as the ISOs go up. This is one area where the SD15 does lag behind conventional D-SLRs.

Having said that, the conversions produced by the Sigma Photo Pro software from ISO1600 originals aren't at all bad, and you can trade off noise against smoothing to get a balance you're comfortable with.

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.