|Burnt Building - Boron, California|
I've been asked more than once now to expound on this. Are Sigma Merrill cameras really the digital equivalent of film? Can Sigma's Foveon sensor really deliver film-like results?
|A Light In The Dark - Tehachapi, California|
But that does not mean that the cameras aren't "close enough" to some different films to draw comparisons.
|Autumn Tree Leaves - Tehachapi, California|
Fuji Velvia 50 is the comparison everyone wants to see, because this film is the absolute best for saturated colors. The colors are just so vibrant, and fine details are very well retained. The grain is incredibly fine, and if paired with a sharp lens, there isn't anything that can touch it. Not even Sigma Merrill cameras. At ISO 100, however, the Foveon sensor is close enough to Fuji Velvia 50 (in 35mm format, anyway) that you may find it acceptable as a digital doppelganger.
|Frozen - Stallion Springs, California|
Now these two films have different hue casts (Fuji is "cooler" and Kodak is "warmer"), and either one could be easily replicated by manipulating the white balance on the Sigma images.
|Color Lamp Abstract - Bakersfield, California|
Black & White
|On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California|
One area where the Sigma Merrill cameras cannot touch most black-and-white films is dynamic range. I've found that the dynamic range weak point in Foveon sensor cameras is in the shadows. The cameras actually retains details in highlights very well, but not in shadows. By overexposing by one stop and recovering in post processing, the dynamic range can be increased. However, it still does not quite match the dynamic range of film.
|Rolling Dough - Tehachapi, California|
On a side note, the way the Foveon sensor works is that it has three layers: one that captures red, one that captures green and one that captures blue. Since the entire images is captured with each color, one can adjust the color channels to simulate black-and-white filters without degrading image quality. Want a red filter effect? Simply use the red color channel.
|Abandoned Homestead - Tehachapi, California|
|Butterfly - Bakersfield, California|
Even the best software cannot keep fine details in highly saturated areas if the files are not capable. HDR might give the dynamic range of black-and-white film, but not without some trade-offs. You can decrease digital noise to replicate fine grain, but at the expense of sharpness.
|Covered Bridge - Stallion Springs, California|
So why do so many choose digital over film if film is better? Because digital is just so much more convenient. Sigma Merrill cameras are certainly not as convenient as most digital cameras, but at the same time most digital cameras can't match the image quality from the Foveon sensor at low ISO.
|Abandoned Bathroom - Mojave, California|
Each of these images were captured using a Sigma DP2 Merrill camera. I made no test shots. I did not do any side-by-side comparisons of images. Instead, I relied on over 15 years experience using film, including those mentioned in this post and many that were not mentioned, as well as about six months using a Sigma Merrill camera.