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Friday, August 1, 2008

D-SLRs For The Landscape

Choose the best camera for your landscape photography

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Sigma SD14
The big feature of the SD14 is its unique Foveon X3 image sensor, of course. The X3 sensor records all three primary colors at every pixel site by taking advantage of the fact that different light wavelengths penetrate silicon to different depths: blue, not very far; green, farther; and red, the deepest. So the Foveon sensor stacks three layers of pixels, recording blue in the top layer, green in the middle layer and red in the bottom layer. In effect, that’s how color film works. There are three light-sensitive layers, the top one recording blue light; the middle, green; and the bottom layer, red. There’s no interpolation, no demosaicking, no need for a blur filter. The results are more accurate, purer colors and greater sharpness for a given horizontal-by-vertical pixel count. Color and sharpness being key elements of landscapes, the SD14 is certainly worth a look by any serious landscape shooter.

Other SD14 features of particular note to landscape photographers include a large SLR finder that shows 98 percent of the actual image area, a sensor-dust protector that can be removed for infrared photography and a 7.5% center-area metering mode.

Sensor: 4.7x3-megapixel Foveon X3, 1.7x
LCD: 2.5 inches
Anti-Dust: Removable protective cover
Stabilization: Via OS lenses
ISO Range: 100-800, plus 1600
Spot Metering: 7.5%
Estimated Street Price: $800
The SD14 accepts a wide range of Sigma lenses, ranging in focal length from a 4.5mm circular fish-eye (equivalent to a 7.65mm circular fish-eye on a 35mm camera) and 10-20mm superwide zoom (equivalent to a 17-34mm in 35mm camera terms) to an 800mm supertelephoto (equivalent to a 1360mm lens on a 35mm camera). So whatever your landscape vision, there’s a lens for it and the SD14.

Lineage: The SD14 is Sigma’s third D-SLR. All have featured Foveon X3 sensors, the first two—the SD9 and SD10—utilizing lower-resolution (3.4x3-megapixel) versions and shooting in RAW format only.

Cool Factor: Mirror lockup, a tool many pros use for landscape photography, is instantly accessed by a dial on the camera rather than having to scroll through complex menus.


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