The 14-megapixel SD14 is the third DSLR from Sigma to employ the unique triple-layered Foveon sensor. Has the company got it right this time?
When it behaves itself, the AF system can lock on quite swiftly, but this isn’t guaranteed. All too often the SD14 moves the lens (as if focusing) then proudly illuminates an AF point in the viewfinder to indicate it has locked on when quite clearly it hasn’t. At other times it will make the lens twitch and spasm for a frustratingly long time as it tries to lock on its target (often unsuccessfully). On occasion it doesn’t even do that – you half-press the shutter release expectantly and… nothing. No lens movement, no AF confirmation, it just doesn’t bother. Setting a single AF point seems to rectify this to some extent, but even with one active AF point there are still ‘false’ focus confirmations and tedious hunting episodes.
Poor LCD Screen
When it comes to reviewing your images, after a second or so the first image pops up. Scrolling through your shots is a relatively brisk exercise, and we particularly like the dual ‘compact camera style’ zoom in / out buttons on the back. However, the whole experience is let down by the woeful rear LCD screen, and we have to question why Sigma thought to fit a ‘high end’ DSLR with such a poor screen. The 2.5in size is fine, but the LCD’s 150,000 pixel resolution isn’t, making images appear ‘grainy’ on playback and menu text decidedly jagged around the edges. There’s just no excuse for this – countless compact cameras contain 250,000 pixel 2.5in LCDs, as do most ‘entry level’ DSLRs. The SD14 should too.
Yet despite the failings of the LCD and the AF system there is a glimmer of light at the end of the matt black SD14 tunnel – the pentaprism viewfinder. Offering 98% coverage it shows you virtually everything that will appear in the final image and the view is bright. Not only that – it’s also easy to see the corners of the frame and the green LED viewfinder information at the same time, so you don’t have to move your eye around, which is again excellent. Ultimately though, this is only a small consolation for one of the weakest performances we’ve experienced for a while.