Interactive Lens Reviews and Opinion.
Digital Camera Reviews

Reviews Views Date of last review
2 44624 9/24/2009
Recommended By Average Purchase
100% of reviewers $1,300.00
Reader Review Rating Averages
Readers' rating for
Construction Quality
Readers' rating for
Image Quality
Overall Rating

  • 4.69 megapixel CMOS sensor with "X3" technology from Foveon has 14.1 million effective photosensors
  • ISO from 100 to 800 (ISO "boost" to 1,600)
  • 3fps for 7 frames at High resolution (4.64 million pixels: 2640×1760 pixels)
  • 5-point AF system
  • Large and bright pentaprism viewfinder with 98% coverage
  • 2.5” 150,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor
  • Sigma SA lens mount

(From company literature) The new SD14, powered by the 14 megapixel Foveon X3® direct-image-sensor, can reproduce high definition images rich in gradation and impressive three-dimensional detail.

The SD14 Digital SLR camera features four JPEG recording modes, a large and bright pentaprism viewfinder with 98% coverage, a built-in flash with a Guide Number of 11, 5-point AF system, a large 2.5” 150,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor as well as a new user friendly design. The durable shutter mechanism has over 100,000-cycle life and is ideal for the demands of digital photography.

Sigma introduced its first digital SLR camera, the SD9, to the market in October 2002, and has established strong support from a wide range of photographers both amateur and professional alike. The second model, the SD10, released on to the market in November 2003 continued to build on the support of loyal photographers. However, demand for JPEG’s greater convenience in image handling has increased and in order to meet this demand the new SD14, powered by Foveon X3® direct image sensor, now includes JPEG mode with high image quality, high performance and versatility.

The Foveon X3® direct image sensor featured in the Sigma SD14 digital SLR can capture all primary RGB colours at each and every pixel arranged in three layers, insuring the capture of full and complete colour. Using three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked to take advantage of silicon’s ability to absorb red, green, and blue light at different respective depths, it efficiently reproduces colour more accurately and offers sharper resolution, pixel for pixel, than any conventional image sensor.

Until now, all other image sensors have featured a just single layer of pixels and each pixel captures only one colour of light, which has been filtered through a single colour filter. Since mosaic-based conventional image sensors capture only one-third of the colour, complicated computations are required to interpolate the colours they miss. Interpolation leads to colour errors, colour artifacts and a loss of image detail. Low pass filters must then be used to reduce colour artifacts. The use of low pass filters adversely affect sharpness and resolution of the final image captured.

The SIGMA SD14 incorporates both RAW and JPEG image recording formats enabling photographers to capture the highest possible picture definition and small file sizes. JPEG recording, also built into the SD14, can be used for the following printing sizes;

  • Super High (14.1 million pixels: 4608×3072 pixels) can be used for A3 (297x420mm/11.6"x16.5") or larger prints.
  • High (4.64 million pixels: 2640×1760 pixels) for A4 size (210x297mm/8.2"x11.6") printing.
  • Medium (2.1 million pixels: 1776×1184 pixels) can be used for regular size printing.
  • Low (1.03 million pixels: 1296×864 pixels) can be used for web-page and e-mail transmission.

There is a choice of three JPEG quality settings: Fine, Normal and Basic.

The SD14 comes complete with SIGMA Photo Pro 3.0 software, a RAW image developer that converts all RAW data quickly and easily. Adjustments can be made in three separate modes. The X3F Mode stores the original settings of the image at the point of capture. In the Auto Adjustment Mode, the software analyses and automatically makes adjustments to the RAW data. The Custom Mode allows the photographer to make individual adjustments (exposure, contrast, shadow, highlight, saturation, sharpness and fill-light for example). The photographer can make subtle or dramatic changes easily and quickly by simply adjusting the slider controls within the software. The X3F Mode stores the original settings of the image at point of capture. Photographers' personal modifications can be saved to the RAW, X3F file for future use.

SIGMA Photo Pro 3.0 supports 8-bit TIFF, 16-bit TIFF, and JPEG file formats and also outputs images in sRGB, Apple RGB, Adobe RGB and ColourMatch RGB colour spaces. The default setting for output resolution is the same as the resolution selected when capturing the image on the camera (High, Medium, or Low). It is also possible to half, (for sending via e-mails) or double (for high quality enlargements, max. 18.58 million pixels: 5,280 × 3,520 pixels)the resolution when processing the image.

Most digital SLR cameras are typically vulnerable to dust entering the body especially when the lens is removed for changing. Dust and dirt entering through the lens mount of a digital camera can be seriously detrimental to image quality. The dust protector of the SIGMA SD14 prevents dust from entering and adhering to the image sensor. Even if dust adheres to the dust protector it will not have an adverse influence on image quality as the dust protector is located away from the image sensor and is therefore out of focus.

The SD14 is equipped with a newly developed pentaprism viewfinder, which has 98% (vertical and horizontal) coverage with 0.9x magnification, an 18mm eye point and –3 to +1.5 dpt dioptric adjustment.

The SD14 camera features a new, large 2.5 inch, 150,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor. The LCD monitor displays 100% of the image, allowing the photographer to easily and accurately confirm the image composition. It features playback options including single frame, thumbnail display (9 images), and three types of magnification (which is achieved by use of the 4-way controller). Shutter speed, aperture and other settings can be seen by pressing the INFO button. The large menu interface makes reviewing images and navigating menu options easy.

The durable focal plane shutter mechanism has life cycle of over 100,000 exposures. The shutter is ideally suited to the requirements of digital cameras. This new shutter dramatically reduces the amount of dust and dirt from the shutter mechanism. The photographer can enjoy taking pictures without worrying about dirt and dust adhering to the image sensor either from inside or outside the camera.

The new auto focus sensor features 5 focusing points (center, left, right, up and down) ensuring consistently fast and precise focusing. The AF metering features a cross type sensor in the center of the screen. Selecting the AF point can be done automatically or manually by photographer.

The SD14 features a continuous shooting speed of 3 frames per second. Continuous shooting can be accomplished in conjunction with the camera’s predictive auto focus function when photographing fast moving subjects. The camera’s high-speed image processing circuits are capable of handling large data files generated by the high-resolution 14 megapixel sensor. The number of images that can be captured in continuous shooting mode is dependent upon the resolution setting; High - 6 frames, Medium - 12 frames and Low - 24 frames. These figures apply in either RAW or JPEG mode.

The Sigma SD14 camera’s built-in flash offers an angle of coverage of 17mm (equivalent to 28mm with 35mm full size) lens with a guide number of 11 (ISO 100). Built-in flash can be synchronized to a shutter speed up to 1/180 sec. This built-in flash enables automatic S-TTL shooting, which allows simple, easy control of advanced photography techniques.

The new layout of control buttons insures quick identification of the desired functions and easy use of the multifunction interface in operating camera settings. Clearly marked buttons make it easy for the photographer to display and adjust the most important settings, namely ISO, resolution, JPEG quality and file type, and white balance on one screen, using one button. The top LCD panel incorporates a backlight, which enables the camera to be easily controlled in low light or dark conditions.

The mirror lock-up mechanism raises the mirror thus preventing vibration when the shutter is released. This prevents camera shake, and is especially effective for macro photography, using extremely long telephoto lenses or scientific work. Use of a remote controller (sold separately) or cable release (sold separately) also reduces the possibility of camera shake.

The Sigma SD14 is equipped with three types of metering mode: 8-segment Evaluative Metering, Center Area Metering and Center Weighted Average Metering. This enables the photographer to select the metering mode depending on subject and situation. Exposure compensation function allows the photographer to override the exposure value set by the camera’s exposure meter.

Auto Bracketing function allows the exposure to be adjusted by 1/3 EV increments up to ±3 EV from the exposure automatically set by the camera. In situations where it is difficult to determine proper exposure, the auto bracketing function allows a sequence of pictures to be taken of the same subject at three different exposure levels; Appropriate Exposure, Under Exposure and Over Exposure.

The Lithium-ion Battery BP-21 (included with the camera) can shoot approximately 500 images on one full charge. It takes about 120 minutes to fully charge with Battery Charger BC-21 (also included). The optional power grip PG-21 has a vertical shutter release button and can hold two BP-21 batteries, supplying more than enough power for most shoots. The AC Adapter SAC-21 (sold separately) enables the Sigma SD14 to obtain power from the mains supply.

The top LCD panel allows the photographer to quickly and accurately confirm information such as resolution setting, metering mode, battery status, and the number of images that can be recorded on the CF card. It also incorporates an orange backlight which enables the camera to be easily controlled in low light or dark conditions.

The SD14 can be used with over 40 Sigma lenses such as ultra-wide, ultra-telephoto, macro, and fisheye. The EF-500 DG SUPER, EF-500 DG ST, and EM-140 DG flashguns offer fully automatic S-TTL flash dedication. Other accessories include the power grip (PG-21), cable release (CR-21), remote controller (RS-31) and the AC adaptor (SAC-21). These accessories ensure that the SD14 system is both user-friendly and versatile.

* Foveon X3 is the registered trademark of Foveon.

Post your review below!

Keywords: Sigma SLR CF 3x4.6MP


Registered: September 2009
Posts: 3
Sigma SD14 review by BPederson
Review Date: 9/24/2009 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,300.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: Fantastic Images!
Cons: Poor battery life. Potential noise in some situations.

I've seen MANY cameras that work poorer, the image sucks more, and the battery life is worse.

I believe Sigma, with it's back-to-basics, ethic have manufactured a superb camera. The PROS easily out weigh any of the CONS you can come up with.

When I was shopping for a camera years ago. I could have chosen anything. Why Sigma? I wanted a "no hassle" camera that just did what I wanted it to do. The images that go through the SPP software are easily tweaked. The images (assuming no user error) come out naturally sharp. I spend no more than a few seconds on each frame in processing. I love this camera! Am I gonna upgrade to the SD-15? Only if my SD-14 dies. And I don't see that happening anytime soon.

The user interface is easy. I don't have any issues at all changing common settings.

The SPP Raw conversion software does the job, but not much more.

Sure I've shot it handheld at ISO 800 in a dark museum. The results look pretty good to me.

Sure my wife can pick it up to grab a shot of the kids.

Over 2 years of use and I'm still AMAZED by the natural sharpness of a capture. How I can look at a shot on the computer screen at 100% and not think to myself "how can I sharpen that?"

This is not a camera for those that feel the need to constantly update their gear. This is not a camera for those who think more megapixels makes a better image. This is not a camera for those who need to shoot 100 frames at 6-8fps to catch that 1 shot you wanted.

You want to become a better photographer? Buy a Sigma camera.

You want to fulfill for techno-gadget-got-to-have-it mentality? Shop for something else.

I could go on and on.

Registered: July 2007
Posts: 36
Sigma SD14 review by touristguy87
Review Date: 8/5/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 8 

Pros: very sharp images
Cons: somewhat awkward to use, poor high ISo performance

since no one has reviewed this camera here (which is a shame) I am going to post a space-filler...based on what I've read about it, it has exellent IQ at low ISo but gets a bit noisy and suffers from color washout at high ISO.

Also the camera is not easy to operate and functions relatively slowly, takes a long time to write data out to the card.

But for a 4MP (4MP in RGB) camera it is excellent in terms of IQ at low ISO. If you don't know anything about Foveon sensors relative to Bayer sensors you really ought to read up on this, but I will summarise the issues by mentioning that a Foveon sensor has RGB pixels co-located, a Bayer sensor has the RGB pixels arranged in a color mosaic...requiring a demosaicing to form the original image. Even then a 4XMP Bayer-sensor camera has only 2XMP green pixels and just 1XMP of red and blue, so you need a Bayer sensor with 16MP to match the full-color resolution of a 4MP Foveon sensor. The long and short of it is that Bayer-sensor technology cannot match Foveon for image-sharpness but it beats Foveon in spatial resolution, ISO and color-accuracy with increasing ISO. Foveon, therefore, is for the most part, low-ISO "digital film". Very sharp, but very slow, especially for a DSLR where the lenses are normally stopped-down to F8 and the camera often shot at ISO800 and faster even in broad daylight.

But in bright light or shot from a tripod, this is not a camera to be sneezed at and a lot of people are happy with them. Another major problem is that Sigma is using a Sigma lens-mount on the SD14 and that means that for the most part only Sigma lenses will work with it. But if you want great IQ this is a great camera to use, even if you have to shoot it from a tripod.

At least, so I hear, and looking through shots on Flickr from this and the other Foveon cameras, it's no joke. But I have only seen one serious review of this camera out there, and in that review, in terms of image-sharpness, the SD14 ate a Canon 5D for lunch. However in terms of practical use, even a 35mm film camera would make more sense. This camera seems to be mainly for the hardcore digital shooter who doesn't mind using a tripod a LOT yet who doesn't need large prints, as even if the 4MP shots can be upsampled to 16MP with little loss of sharpness, that still can't match a 35mm enlargement not to mention a MF enlargement. So it sits somewhere between the mainstream DSLR market and the film market.


This document copyright © 2009-2018,, all rights reserved.