STOCK DIARIES - Does the Sigma Foveon Sensor work for Stock Photography?

STOCK DIARIES - Does the Sigma Foveon Sensor work for Stock Photography?
'The Foveon sensor with it's high-resolution ultra-sharp images would seem to be a likely candidate for shooting low ISO stock landscape / location / nature / travel material. And while that is certainly true, there are a few issues that make it less than ideal to use.'
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Sigma DP2 Quattro in 21:9 mode

Sigma DP2 Quattro in 21:9 mode
'In a previous article about the Sigma DP2 Quattro I wrote that it may well follow my usual Sigma Foveon sensor camera experience. Buy it, rave about the images quality, get frustrated by it, sell it. However, this time this camera is still around. And it's more likely (though not certain) to continue to do that since I've been exploring the various crop modes. You can shoot in 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and as above in 21:9. With the OOC double size jpgs. the camera produces, this crop still gives a large file of incredible quality and I have to say I really (really) like the compositions I can get with it. '
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Sigma DP2 Quattro - Three lens outfit

Sigma DP2 Quattro - Three lens outfit
'Regular readers will be aware that I do like an 'odd' camera / lens combination. Realising that with the addition of a 58mm > 49mm reversing ring I could attach my Fuji wide and tele converters to my Sigma DP2 Quattro, I gave it a try.'
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Nikon Df + Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART Lens + Raw file Samples for download + Multi-image panoramic stitches.

Nikon Df + Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART Lens + Raw file Samples for download + Multi-image panoramic stitches.
'And the Df has an ISO 50 setting with which I created the images at the top of the page and the combination of that sensor and one of the best lenses ever made is astonishing in terms of quality and the look it generates. Forget the rest, this is the best!!!.
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Sigma DP2 QUATTRO - Is this the best resolution I've ever achieved?

Sigma DP2 QUATTRO - Is this the best resolution I've ever achieved?
'So all in all a success story. This camera is a step up from the Merrills for my uses and the files I can create with the DP2 Quattro are jaw dropping. It isn't the best for dynamic range certainly, but running the jpg. files through Adobe Camera raw helps with that. As I said, not a camera for all situations, but used for what it's designed to do well, slow detailed high resolution images in good light, it's really in a class of it's own. Literally.'
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On location with the Sigma DP2 Quattro - shooting jpgs.

On location with the Sigma DP2 Quattro - shooting jpgs.
"This is the somewhat 'old school' option of getting everything right in camera and cutting down the editing workflow to a minimum. This process therefore turns the camera into a fast operator, somewhat surprisingly. This is achieved by the fact that firstly the metering is spot on and secondly by the fact that the internal jpg. processing turns out files that require very little levels adjustment in terms of contrast, that is much more akin to shooting transparency film than the 'elasticity' of digital. 'Buy a Sigma Foveon sensor camera and cut down on your editing time' is hardly something I expected, but I'm pleased to say for me that is indeed true. "
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Have Sigma finally got the Foveon Sensor right with the DP2 Quattro?

Have Sigma finally got the Foveon Sensor right with the DP2 Quattro?
"

Now I really wasn't planning to get one of these. After my experiences with The DP Merrills which despite their extraordinary image quality were 'difficult' cameras to use. (To say the least!) I had written Sigma / Foveon off as an interesting footnote in camera development, but one that wasn't going to be for me anymore.

I was persuaded otherwise by a friend who bought one and implored me to go and give it a try. I used it for a few hours and took some pictures with it. On returning I looked at the pictures on my screen and promptly ordered one there and then. Because in terms of both the image quality (expected) and the handling and redesign (unexpected) this is a very impressive camera."

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Nikon Df - Overpriced plaything or serious camera?

Nikon Df - Overpriced plaything or serious camera?

I've had some mixed feelings about this camera. I got all excited when Nikon were teasing it, but when it finally appeared I was somewhat disappointed. By the look and it's knobfest appearance and mostly by the price. However I always had it in the back of my mind that I would end up with one at some point. Reviews were mixed, but mainly focusing on the negatives.

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Is it a genuine Samyang? - Sigma ART lenses.




There's a nice semi-humerous little post at 1001Noisy Cameras - HERE about the branding identity of Samyang lenses. I'll let you read it yourselves.

I must say that the Samyang lenses I've used have been excellent optically. There have been a few issues about the depth-of field and focusing scales which on the 14mm I bought were way out. But in terms of image quality and value for money there wasn't a lot to complain about. Which of course makes the way they sell and their "identity" problems all the stranger.




There is a piece at MirrorlessRumors about the discounts available on the excellent 19mm and 30mm Sigma lenses. Plus a rumour that new "ART" i.e. apparently high-quality, versions are in the pipeline. Apparently the 35mm f/1.4 was the first ART lens and that has got amazing reviews. I like both the cheap Sigma primes for my NEX cameras and also the lenses on the DP1 and DP2 Merrills, so "souped-up" versions of both may well be worth waiting for.

Sigma seem to somewhat on an upward curve and there seems to be a new enthusiasm and ambition to come up with quality stuff. This after the original SD1 debacle. I hesitate to write this, but this does seem to have coincided with the death of the original CEO Michihiro Yamaki, and the takeover of the company by his son Kazuto.

Fairly shortly after this the SD1 price was dramatically reduced. I won't go into the complexities of Japanese family owned corporations, simply because I wouldn't know where to start, but it does seem that Kazuto Yamaki has given a new impetus to Sigma and the DP Merrills and the 35mm f/1.4 have attracted a lot of positive comments. 

As a long time Sigma user I've always been interested in what the company produces and regular readers will be well aware of my enthusiasm for the current Foveon sensor. Hopefully they can move forward again in their primary field, 3rd. party lenses. It will be interesting to see if these "ART" lenses appear and if they can follow on from the recent 35mm. and match its quality. They always were a decent alternative to the overpriced marque lenses from Canon and Nikon etc. and it would be nice to see them showing the big boys that there are some real high quality alternatives. 


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Mirrorless Expansion





From Mirrorless Rumors - http://www.mirrorlessrumors.com/zeiss-cosina-voigtlander-sigma-and-tamron-all-do-join-the-sony-nex-system/
In a flurry of activity over the past few days we have seen announcements that Zeiss, Schneider-Kreuznach and Komamura have "joined" micro-thirds in addition to Cosina-Voigtlander. Today Sony have announced that Zeiss, Cosina-Voigtlander, Sigma and Tamron are going to be "joining" the Nex system.


So it looks like we are going to be getting an expansion of what both these systems are able to offer in terms of lenses. Since both Panasonic and Sony have produced video cameras in addition to stills cameras that share the same mounts, some of what is planned is obviously destined for that. The ultra-expensive Zeiss movie lenses being an example. Zeiss is no surprise for the NEX system as they already make lenses for Sony.


The rapidly increasing sales of these compact system cameras is obviously of interest to 3rd. Party lens makers and they see an opportunity for sales and probably also don't wish to be involved in any "boat missing".


What will come out of all this in terms of products, we can only wait and see.
All this a day after Canon seemingly signaled their continuing non-involvement (non-interest?) in anything "mirrorless", with the announcement of the 600D and 1100D.


If nothing else all this should make for some interesting speculative posting over the next few days!


UPDATE.


Sigma are going to make lenses for m4/3 as well as NEX.




From 43 Rumors - http://www.43rumors.com/sigma-announces-they-will-join-micro-four-thirds/

2011 Predictions

Its a new year, and time to make a few predictions for 2011. Total speculation, since I have no insider knowledge, and with a few fantasy / wish list items masquerading as "possibilities". One day this terrible weather, dull and cold, might disappear and I could actually get out and take some pictures. Writing about cameras is fun, but I'd rather be using them.


NIKON

For what seems like years there's been speculation about a D700 upgrade. Basically people want the D3X sensor in a D700 type body. There's rumours of a D800 or D900 doing this and I can see it happening. The D3X is 2 yrs + old and Nikon probably feel that they can "allow" that sensor, or something like it, into a more enthusiast level (cheaper) camera. It will of cause get bought by professionals, who are as reluctant to pay high prices as anybody else.

The D300 is also getting somewhat old. It seems obvious that the D7000 sensor will get added to a higher end body & we'll get an upgrade. D400?

A D4 is due also. I would imagine slightly more pixels - 16MP? - with better video and the same high ISO performance as the D3, maybe not as good as the D3S. 

The rumour about Nikon and mirrorless, is for a small, interchangeable camera with a sensor somewhere between a compact camera and m4/3. They will introduce it, probably because they feel they should, but their heart won't be in it. Despite rumours to the contrary DSLR's aren't going anywhere for a while. With companies like Samsung and Olympus dropping out out of that field, Nikon have even less competition than before. Systems like m4/3 are very popular in the far east but the huge US and European markets are much more DSLR orientated and likely to remain so for some time. The DSLR isn't dead and likely to remain the dominant camera in these markets for years to come.

On lenses I'm no Nikon expert so I'm not going to attempt any predictions other than a new 24-70mm f/2.8 with VR.


CANON

A 1Ds Mk IV is due. Canon are currently behind Nikon in the MP race, so expect a pixel hike. The rumours are for a 32MP full frame sensor. Expect upgraded video also. I Imagine they will keep the same body shape.

At some point in the year a 600D is due, if Canon follow their usual timetable. However the 550D was such a well-specified camera its difficult to see where they can go. Would they add more MP's and make their low-end enthusiast camera have more than the 7D or 60D? I can't see that happening. So if no more MP's, there's not much point in upgrading. 

I can't see Canon only releasing one camera in the year, so will we see a 5D Mk III earlier than expected? If they follow the timetable it should be appearing at the end of the year, but maybe it will be announced late summer. I see this as a camera concentrating on video. My guess is that it will be the best specified video DSLR they can come up with. Slightly more MP's, maybe 25MP, to equal the D3X, articulated screen, raw output for video etc. 5D Mk II's are getting used to make movies and TV programmes so its logical to go in that direction.

My off the wall prediction is for some designed for video lenses for the continuous AF they will introduce in both the 1ds Mk III and 5D Mk III. How many and what type, I don't know, but I think Canon see themselves as the "inventors" of DSLR video and I think they are probably ticked off at people saying the Panasonic GH2 is a better camera for video. 2011 is the year they show the world that Canon is the leader in that field.

A mirrorless Canon? Everything I read and see tells me not. I don't think they believe in it and they are so far behind, they will have to get a lot of lenses on the market very quickly. The EIS system? Sounds total fantasy land me. A 22MP m4/3 size sensor, with ultra-fast small primes? Sounds great, and who wouldn't want it, but apart from the first rumour back in September everything has gone quiet. This obviously means it will announced next week!! 


SONY

OK, here's a real stick your neck prediction. Sony are a company that are big enough to try something daring and just shrug it off if it fails. They have a large range of DSLR's and will probably upgrade a few of them. They will also expand the NEX system and add more lenses, probably smaller than what they have. 

However I believe that the big news will come at the high end. I think they still want to be a player in the full-frame pro market. The A900 and A850 weren't the cameras to achieve this, so what do they do? I think they will go in another direction. My prediction is that they will go for a monster! A full-frame 32MP pellicle-mirror, EVF, full HD video with continous AF, raw output, hybrid stills / video camera. This will be an attempt to take out Nikon and Canon in one go, as they will price it at something like £3000. It will be their attempt to grab the pro / high end enthusiast market. It may also be a radical design, Sony have no qualms about that, and may look like the offspring of a DSLR and a video camera. They will also introduce a range of high-end video friendly lenses, designed with Zeiss, which will be phenomenally expensive.

So this is my (first) outrageous prediction for 2011. Read on for the second.

PANASONIC

The GH2 and GF1 are recently announced, so what will Panasonic announce? Well I see a 25mm f/1.4 and a "pro" zoom. Maybe the 12-75mm F/2.8 thats been talked about, which could explain the lack of a wide-angle prime so far. 

However, I see the big news as a collaboration with Leica on a GF1 follow-up. Despite both companies talking down their association, I see it as in both their interests to continue this. This camera will be primarily made by Panasonic, with design input from Leica. I believe it will have retro aspects but be modern. However in Leica tradition it will look uncluttered and simple. It will take the Panasonic EVF and have an optional optical viewfinder. To go with it there will a small number of Leica MF primes with a m4/3 mount. These will of course be very expensive and be outside of the current Panasonic range. 

So the second outrageous prediction, though I will admit this is bordering very closely on personal wish fulfillment!!



LEICA

See above. More S2 lenses - possibly an X2 announcement - dealing with all the criticisms of the X1. Some M-lens revamps. 



OLYMPUS

My initial thoughts on Olympus were "I haven't got a clue" On thinking about it more I came up with "I still haven't got a clue!" E-PL2, and E-P3 are obvious, with minor improvements. More lenses, including a 12mm prime. Apart from that I really can't see where they can go. They need something radical. A mirrorless vehicle for the 4/3 lens range is possible, but they don't want to hurt E-5 sales. Maybe a quiet year for Olympus.



PENTAX

I think they will build on the success of the K-5 and the 645D. A new mid-range camera is probably on the cards.

There are very strong rumours about a mirrorless camera. I think this may happen, and may be a vehicle for their existing range of small and pancake lenses. I don't think they will join m4/3 but will go their own way like Samsung and Sony. If they do announce something, and do remember Pentax aren't the fastest in this regard, then I think it will be an APS-C camera. I don't think it will be super small in order to accommodate their existing lenses, and may be designed to resemble their heritage cameras. Spotmatic or MZ series possibly?

SAMSUNG

We already know that its NX all the way. I see more cameras and lenses next year, with a Sony like strategy to include a camera at every conceivable price point. Maybe a new sensor with more MP's. A high-end compact could also appear.



FUJI


Fuji obviously have everything tied up with the X100. I see no more DSLR's from them. Everything depends on how good the X100 actually is and whether there is an appetite for this kind of retro styled compact in the mass market. If it remains a niche market then it may be heading for collectable status in a few years time. At its price point it has to be really good, otherwise it will sink without trace.




SIGMA


Is the SD1 with its 15MP (In real terms) Foveon sensor too late or is it going to blow everything else away. We will see. Probably neither. Always destined to be a niche product I think, though they do have an amazing lens range for it!!


I think 2011 will be the year that Sigma start producing lenses for the mirrorless / e.v.i.l systems. With the growth in this market, can they afford to ignore it? Maybe a few lenses to start with for m4/3 and Sony NEX.




RICOH


I assume we'll see more modules for the GXR. 




So there it is, my predictions for 2011. If these all come true, I'm off down the bookies for 2012!


David