Wedding photography with the Sigma SD14 – a user review

I have shoot numerous weddings with both film and digital cameras and upon til last year I used the film camera as the main camera during the ceremony and the digital camera used for almost everything else. This has been my way for some time mainly because of cost and less post processing time for each picture used. But since publication customers are preferring to have a real book instead of a hand made photo album with each picture clued on each page and making it more cost effective for me to switch completely to Digital. This article is a hands on review you could say on how I use the Sigma Sd14 for wedding and how it works out for me. This is not to be read as a professional review of the camera, you can google the camera and find many fine reviews were ISO performance is compared and so forth. I am sure many would recommend other digital cameras and say they were better suited for the task then the SD14. However I find the results I get from the Sigma more appealing than the Canon’s I have used so far and the cost for buying the Nikon d3x is, well.. just overwhelming.

My gear
My gear during weddings is as follows.
Sigma SD14
Sigma 20-40mm F2.8 EX lens (mainly used during the wedding ceremony)
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 EX
Sigma 50mm F2.8 macro (my portrait lens)
Sigma 28mm F1.8. EX
Two Sigma EF-530 Super DG flash

The lenses that I use the most are the 20-40mm and the macro 50mm.

I have no complaints about the handling of the camera but I wished the battery grip whould have a extra AF-select knob along with rotary knob and iris/shutter button. shotting portraits using the vertical grip is fine until you have to chance the AF point or adjust the exposure setting then you have to change the grip. The camera is neither heavy or cumbersome but then again I never thought the SD9/10 to be to big, they just looked pro and the SD14 looks also pro just a bit more stylished than the older cameras.

Auto Focus, speed, buffer and the meaning of life
I was a bit worried that AF would be a problem specially the top/bottom and left/right AF points. During my test’s they appeared to be not as reliable as the Center AF point there fore I reliy mostly on the center AF point when lighing is low, like during the wedding ceremony. The AF performance however is adequate and rarly did I get an out of focus photo, Even the AF-C setting worked well. The Af speed does slow down when it gets dark or the object is of low contrast but the Assist AF light on the flash helps a lot. The strange thing about the SD14 is that I cant seam to get a glear and focused image in the viewfinder when manual focusing. I dont know if this is something wrong with the camera since I have seen this in all the SD14 body’s I have tried or maybe just my eyesight. This problem was not on the SD10 but SD14 AF accuracy is better than the SD10 and I relied only on the SD14 Autofocus since I cant trust me manual focusing the camera. The main drawback of the camera is the limited buffer of only six frames to be taken consecutively before the buffer is full (only 5 when the camera is set at ISO 400). This did occasionally create a problem and I had to plan my shooting with this in mind. The SD14 is however quicker to clear the buffer than the SD10 was and I don’t have to wait as long for there to be enough room for another picture. From what I have read the SD15 has solved this problem with a 21 frame buffer which would be more than enough for my needs. And the meaning of life is 42.

I do process each photo in photoshop, mostly to get rid off the green cast in the photos and some photos get extensive processing to get the style I want (portrait session after the wedding for example). The quality of the photos in regards to color and specially black&white processing is fantastic and the main reason why I use the camera. The Sigma Raw converter is powerfull as far as processing the photos but the program is primitive compared to say the old Rawshooter essential or the newer Silkypix and I would wish Sigma would put more effort in creating a competitive Raw converter to speed up the work flow. For example being able to copy settings between frames without having to wait for the program to process the file is something I really miss. Prints from the Sigma cameras have a special look or flavor to them which I don’t seem to get as easily in the Canon cameras I have used, I doubt the customer would notice any difference but I notice it.

Closing words
One of the best thing about working with X3F pictures is the fact that these files hold alot more information than the 4.7MP they hold and I have made large prints that outperform 15MP cameras in print detail. Also processing 4.7MP files in photoshop is far lighter for the program than a 15MP files. With the introduction of the Sigma SD1 I no longer have to dream of buying Nikon D3x because prints from the SD1 will most likely (I will test it and report it here) have more detail than the Nikon. O so I hope

Birgir Freyr Birgisson

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