Couldn’t Resist

First Walk With My New Sigma Foveon SD15.

I’m in the process of selling most of my photography equipment – cameras, scanners, darkroom material, bulk film, lenses, photo books, you name it. An M9 Monochrom, an M240, a Sigma SD Quattro with 17-50 Sigma DC EX HSM, a complete Ricoh GXR system ( 3 bodies with M-Mount/28mm module/50mm module/16mpix APC-S 17.5-55 Zoom module/ VHF viewfinder/ 28mm optical viewfinder/35mm optical viewfinder (killer deal)), an S2000 Nikon with full suite of VC S-Mount lenses, a vintage Leotax, two vintage Fockas, assorted VC lenses, a Pakon F-135 Plus Bulk Scanner with dedicated computer interface (greatest thing ever), bulk film, Valuable photography books coming out of my ears, etc. etc. If I don’t do it now, it’ll be left to my wife to deal with all of it, which, in addition to being patently unfair to her, would probably result in her giving away thousands of dollars worth of equipment to friends/family who’d have no idea of its worth and who’d dispose of it themselves. I’d prefer she at least have the money and none of the fuss.

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Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from just now buying a new camera, an SD15 Sigma for a ridiculous price from Japan. I figure it this way: We spend more on a few days groceries than I did on this thing. If there’s ever a time I’m entitled to some innocent fun it’s obviously now. If I die next month, Donna can throw the thing out for all I care; I’ve spent more on a steak dinner.

The “Mint” SD15 from Japan is new, obviously never been used, having been sitting in a box on a shelf somewhere in a Toyko camera emporium. Once I figure out the Japanese langue menu I’m good to go. Foveon sensor (have I told you how much I love Foveon sensors?), the same iteration that came with the compact DP2. 4.5/14.9 megs depending how you count the stacked Foveon sensor. While you’ll get 6×9 300dpi resolution prints, my experience is you can easily print Foveon files at lower rez output, say 220dpi and the output is still stunning. Let’s agree you can easily print to 8×12 inches with no up res. Of course, if you use newer AI generated up-rezing programs like Topaz Gigibyte, you can hang wall size posters with this little $200 toy. And you get the Foveon look too. Just keep the ISO at 100.

Herein are a few of the photos I’ve taken with it on my initial shakedown walk, all within walking distance of my house, shot in an hour our two, downloaded to Sigma Pro Photo 6.8 for Raw conversion to Tiff, then outputted to Silver Efex Pro for B&W conversion. Pretty simple once you learn the workflow.

We’re now firmly in the ‘Golden Era’ of digital photography with the cost/quality ratio having essentially flattened out but yet some many photographers still replacing perfectly fine equipment every two years or so. See the progression from the M240 to the M11; essentially a redoing of some bells and whistles. Yet you can pick up a cherry M240 with assorted goodies for $2500 while the M11 is going to run you $7999. To me that’s no choice at all.

Same with the Foveon series. In my mind, the 12 y/o SD15 4meg Sigma produces as tonally rich and satisfying files as does my $3700 M9 CCD Monochrom, proving you need not spend super amounts to get good digital results, especially when so many ‘obsolete’ models like the SD15 work just like they did new. And oftentimes they’re still impressive.

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