On February 22, 2013, Sigma released a new version of their proprietary Sigma Photo Pro software (version 5.5). Ever since the release of the latest Foveon sensor, Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) has been the only way of converting the large Foveon X3F RAW files (Adobe has yet to provide a RAW converter that can handle these files, despite the time the sensor has been in use).
Up until now, my experience with SPP has been mixed. Previous versions have been slow compared to other RAW converters running on the same CPU’s, and the functionality lacking relative to my experience with the latest releases of Photoshop and Lightroom.
SPP 5.5 appears to be an entirely different story. For one thing, the software now has a monochrome section that permits adjustments along the lines of what is possible with Adobe’s RAW converter, which for me is promising in that I’m firmly of the belief that the Foveon may well be the best digital sensor for black and white still imaging (Fuji and Leica notwithstanding).
So, ever since I’ve downloaded the software, I’ve gone back to some of my original X3F files and have been reworking them with SPP 5.5.
This image was taken with the SD 1 Merrill with Sigma’s 30MM 1.4. While I’m generally satisfied with the lens, I’ve just recently learned that Sigma has an ART line replacement for this lens coming out soon that will allow USB plug in firmware updates. The weather was very overcast when I was shooting, and the building in the background was enshrouded in a dense fog.
Up until SPP 5.5, I was dissatisfied with the post on this image as provided by previous versions of the software. So I was pretty happy when I loaded the original X3F file into version 5.5 and, without any manipulation whatsoever, the winter brown and gold colors popped with the vibrance I recall when I set-up the shot.
All in all, very encouraging in that Sigma appears to have a good pulse on the expectations of their users. Their latest series of lenses are reviewing as good as, or better, than what is available from Canon or Nikon (some are even saying Zeiss), and the SPP updates are unleashing some of the capabilities of the Foveon relative to, at least, the Bayer type sensors. That being said, I almost religiously shoot at ISO 100, and occasionally 200 with the Foveon, as noise at higher ISO can be significant.
Unfortunately, my camera is in the shop (Sigma tells me the sensor was cleaned, fortunately under warranty, but the need for them to do so is puzzling in that the sensor section has a very unique and ingenious dust filter that has not been removed). I’ll be happy to get it back, and happier if my images no longer have annoying spots on them.
The focus point of the lens was squarely on the building when I shot and, despite the fog, and the distance, the image holds up well on high resolution, with graffiti and a significant hole in the roof slates (the latter from Hurricane Sandy) both discernible.
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