Sigma SD10

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Sigma SD10
Sigma SD10 front.jpg
Type Digital single-lens reflex
Lens Interchangeable (Sigma SA mount)
Sensor 20.7 mm × 13.8 mm Foveon X3 sensor
Maximum resolution 2268 × 1512 × 3 (10.2 million photoelements)
ASA/ISO range 100–1600 in 1 EV steps
Storage CompactFlash(CF) (Type I or Type II) and Microdrive(MD)
Focus modes One-shot, Continuous, Manual
Focus areas 1 point
Exposure modes Programmed, shutter-priority, aperture priority, manual
Exposure metering TTL, full aperture, zones
Metering modes 8-segment evaluative, center area (about 7.5%), Center-weighted average
Flash none, sync at 1/180 second
Shutter electronic focal-plane
Shutter speed range 30 s to 1/6000 s
Continuous shooting up to 2.5 frames per second
Viewfinder Optical, pentaprism
Image Processing
Custom WB 6 presets, auto, and custom
Rear LCD monitor 1.8-inch (45 mm), 150,000 pixels
Battery 4xAA NiMH or 2xCR-V3
Weight 785 g (body only)

The Sigma SD10 is a digital SLR camera produced by the Sigma Corporation of Japan. It was announced on October 27, 2003 and is an evolution of the previous SD9 model, addressing many of the shortcomings of that camera. The Sigma SD10 cameras are unique in the digital SLR field in using full-color sensor technology, and in that they only produce raw format images that require post-processing on a computer.

Foveon X3 image sensor[edit]

Like its predecessor, the SD10 uses a sensor with the unique Foveon X3 sensor technology. The 10.2-million-pixel raw file generated from this sensor is processed to produce a 3.4 megapixel size image file. Although the image file is smaller than images from competing 10 megapixel cameras it is made from the same number of measured data values because the Foveon sensor detects full color data (three values) at each photosite; the actual resolution contained in its 3.4 MP images is about the same as a conventional Bayer/CFA sensor of 7–9 MP.[1] Sigma and Foveon count each red, green, and blue sensor as a pixel, and state the camera has 10.2 million pixels; similarly, companies selling Bayer sensor cameras also count each single-color sensor element as a pixel.

Raw output only[edit]

Unlike other digital SLR cameras marketed concurrently, the SD10 performs no in-camera processing to common image formats such as JPEG and TIFF. Instead, it saves images in its own .X3F format, which retains all the information the camera captured. Processing on a computer is required to use these files. Sigma provides the Foveon-written SIGMA Photo Pro application for this purpose; in addition, Adobe Photoshop CS2 supports the format, as do several other image-processing applications.

Shooting modes[edit]

The camera supports single-shot, continuous, 2 or 10 second self-timer, mirror lock-up and auto exposure bracketing.

Exposure modes[edit]

4 different exposure modes are supported: aperture priority (A), shutter speed priority (S), manual (M) and program automatic (P).

Lens availability[edit]

The SD10 supports only Sigma SA mount lenses. Only Sigma produces lenses to fit this mount, although their range is fairly broad. Third-party converters exist for a number of other lens mounts, although no automatic features are supported. Many Canon EF mount based lenses can be converted to Sigma AF mount retaining autofocus and camera controlled apterture setting, however optical stabilisation will not work.

Pros and cons[edit]

The SD10 is an unusual camera with both advantages and disadvantages compared to most other digital SLRs, and tends to polarise opinion. It has a fiercely loyal base of support and some rather vocal detractors. Commonly cited advantages and disadvantages of the camera include the following:


  • Excellent color in daylight and good light.
  • Excellent detail, comparable to 6.5 MP Bayer-sensor DSLR cameras.[2]
  • Noise-free images at low ISO speeds.
  • Pixel sharpness achievable.
  • Moiré effects less visible when photographing high-detail patterns compared to Bayer senor based cameras; thus no need for sharpness-degrading antialiasing filters to reduce moiré effects.
  • High-quality PC software allows images to be tuned easily to the best quality.
  • Takes easily obtained AA or CR-V3 batteries instead of proprietary format.
  • Dust protector stops dust entering the mirror box while changing lenses.
  • Sports finder allows viewing area outside picture area, letting photographer see if a better composition could be made by zooming out.
  • Inexpensive when it can still be found, late 2005.
  • Shooting-priority user interface means always ready to shoot.
  • Unique histogram feature shows distribution of RGB values in zoomed-in area of image.
  • Simple and intuitive menu system
  • Mirror lock up on dial
  • Removing the dust protector converts the SD10 into an infrared-sensitive camera


  • Does not produce JPEG files in-camera.
  • Fewer photographs per image card because no JPEG mode available. RAW files are compressed to about 8 MB per image.
  • Slow to clear the shot buffer.
  • Originally expensive, listing at $1599 in U.S.
  • Only takes Sigma lenses; no third party support except via adapters.
  • Poor low-light performance; high-ISO modes produce noisier images.
  • Image quality degrades in long exposures (over 4 seconds).
  • No built-in flash.
  • Single autofocus sensor instead of three or more in competition.


  1. ^ "DPReview studio test of Sigma SD10". Sigma SD10 studio test. DPReview. 
  2. ^ Michael J. McNamara, "Hands On: Sigma SD14", Popular Photography, Nov. 27, 2006. online

External links[edit]