Sigma SD15 review

With its bulky body trumpeting a semi professional status, the SD15 offers 14.06 effective megapixels. But, because its unique sensor is triple layered, with one silicon-embedded layer of photodetectors each for absorbing red, green and blue, the pixel count for any JPEG shot is actually around 4.6 megapixels. The best way to retain maximum quality is to shoot unadulterated Raw files instead, which is where Sigma cameras come into their own.

The company claims the sensor array translates into more life-like colours and therefore a more realistic, three-dimensional effect. Pictures have an almost hyper-real quality to them that is at odds with the overly processed images we’re used to seeing from digital cameras.

This isn’t a camera for pointing and shooting. There aren’t the usual truck-load of automatic, subject-optimised shooting modes squeezed around the top-plate dial, just the creative quartet of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual.

There’s no video facility here, nor HDMI output. When it comes to action photography, maximum shooting speed is a fairly modest three frames per second, albeit as Raw files, for up to 21 consecutive frames.

Under normal circumstances, light sensitivity stretches from a modest ISO100 to ISO1600, the sort of spec you’d find on a snapshot camera but, by dipping into the menu system, this can be extended to ISO50 or ISO3200 at either end of the scale. Don’t bother though, as above ISO800 image noise levels are spectacularly bad. The 5-point AF system is swift in response, though busier scenes can confuse the auto focus.

OUR VERDICT

If your chief aim when researching which DSLR to buy is to find the best-value all rounder, crammed full of the latest tech, then the SD15 isn’t for you. Since accessories are Sigma’s stock-in-trade, the advantage here is that the SD15 is compatible with over 40 lenses, plus numerous flashguns, remotes and adaptors. Probably the best audience for the SD15 is the fine-art photographer happy to lend their images a different look and feel to stand apart from the crowd, and who will enjoy tweaking their exposures in Photoshop to the nth degree.

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