Sigma prices Foveon-based DP3 Merrill compact, updates Photo Pro software


posted Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:47 AM EST

One of the key attractions of Sigma's fixed-lens and single-lens reflex digital cameras -- beyond their full-color Foveon image sensors, of course -- has long been the image editing software with which they're bundled. Sigma Photo Pro was a powerful yet intuitive photographer-centric tool long before the likes of mainstream photo apps like Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom and Apple's Aperture. An update issued a few days ago brings several new features and bug fixes to the app.

Part of the reason for Sigma Photo Pro's power is that it was developed by Foveon alongside the company's eponymous full-color sensor technology; the two were intended from the start to go hand-in-hand. Early Foveon-based cameras also didn't offer JPEG image capture, and so for some time, Foveon customers were completely reliant on Photo Pro. These facts meant that a really robust, friendly application was a must -- and Foveon delivered.

The update to Sigma Photo Pro adds monochrome support for recent Sigma cameras.

Eventually, Foveon was absorbed by Sigma, its largest customer. It's been quite a few years since Sigma brought the sensor supplier in-house, and the company has wisely continued development of Photo Pro, even though many alternatives -- including in-camera JPEG -- are now available to Sigma shooters.

The latest update is Sigma Photo Pro 5.5, and it includes six main changes from the preceding release. Key among these is a new monochrome mode available when shooting with the company's Merrill-branded cameras, as well as the original variant of the SD1 that shipped prior to that badge's debut. The monochrome tool includes a channel-mixing palette for control over tonal response, and a grain tool that recreates the look of black-and-white film grain. The company has also updated its fringing reduction algorithms, among other changes. In full, the list of updates is as follows:

  • Design change for fringing reduction
  • Updated adjustment settings: Selecting “Auto” chooses the appropriate preset value for the color mode (only compatible with the data of the SD1, SD1 Merrill, DP1 Merrill, DP2 Merrill, DP3 Merrill)
  • Ensures TIFF files save completely
  • Added Monochrome Mode interface (only compatible with the RAW data from SD1, SD1 Merrill, DP1 Merrill, DP2 Merrill, DP3 Merrill)
  • Ensures color consistency on Macs when viewing X3 files in SPP compared to the same file in JPEG opened with the default Mac preview mode
  • Ensures SPP reflects the data of the latest lenses on Windows

Alongside the new software, Sigma has also put a price and availability date on its recently-announced Sigma DP3 Merrill fixed-lens camera. The DP3, which couples a new 50mm f/2.8 prime lens with the same sensor found in its Merrill-branded siblings, will arrive in the US market from March 2013. Pricing is set at around US$1,000. More details in our Sigma DP3 Merrill preview.

Sigma's DP3 Merrill is set to ship next month in the US market.