Sigma Camera – One More Time

Sigma-sd-Quattro-H_SThe Foveon sensor has intrigued me since the first Sigma DP cameras were introduced. The three layer design seems to be a much better idea than a bayer array. No matter how you finesse a bayer chip you are losing resolution and interpolating missing information. When you add in an anti-alias filter matters get worse. The whole bayer thing seems like an engineering song and dance.

Unfortunately for Sigma the imaging sensor is just part of a camera package. You have to combine all the right functional components with a brilliant camera design to hit the mark. So far they have been unable to get the handling qualities of their cameras to a high enough standard. That may have changed with the last Quattro line of cameras but the design is unconventional to say the least. The latest Sigma cameras are more or less standard mirrorless ILC designs. That is a good thing.

Over the years I have seriously considered buying a Sigma compact camera. But reviews talking of handling issues, poor high ISO performance and slow focus have stopped me. Still I have a very strong desire to own a camera with a Foveon sensor.

I’ve never seen a full size un-retouched image file from a Sigma DP camera. They seem to be rare items. The best finished images I have seen are outstanding. They have qualities unlike anything I can achieve with my bayer sensor cameras. That is not to say that my skill level when processing Raw files is all that good.

This new interchangeable lens body design and APS-C/H chips sure seem to hit all the right notes. If they handle and perform as good as they look then this release could finally be the breakthrough that Sigma has been working toward for such a long time.

They Once Walked Here

Big Bend National Park, Texas

The canyon has a wide flat floor with ample evidence of natural violence from flashfloods. In places it is more than a mile wide. Huge boulders cracked and carved by the elements litter the valley floor.

At sunrise and sunset when the light is at a low angle you can see the remains of dozens of fire rings. Each was warm security for humans. Deep stone mortars are evidence of bounty gathered over long occupation of the land.

We can’t know their lives in the distant past. We can know them as we know all people.


My Eye Is the Camera

eye_2Lately I’ve been reading articles about vision augmentation. That got me thinking about William Gibson Zeiss-Ikon eyes and other such fictions. Is there a future where journalists or average people can stream live video directly from their eyes? Will there be a time soon when we can store and reason using augmented visual information? Maybe but I have no knowledge of such things.

A quick internet search turned up someone who has a wearable artificial eye capable of streaming video. It is the ultimate point-of-view device at least until someone figures out how to integrate imaging with the visual cortex in full fidelity. Rob Spence, the gentleman who experimented with the video capable artificial eye may have moved on to more commercially viable ventures. In any case you can see for yourself what he accomplished at EyeBorg Project. It is quite impressive given the state of technology at the time.

It is rather extreme to even consider replacing your eyes with imaging devices. Perhaps not so extreme if the devices were genetically engineered replacement eyes rather than electromechanical devices. Either way, when they become available many people will opt for the prosthetics.

None of the devices I’ve seen even hint at anything like eye replacement. Current research seems to be about providing useful information for navigation. Finding nearby services just as mobile phones do today. One area where augmented vision has great promise is in complex manufacturing where product details could be highlighted as overlays directly into your field of view. That sort of technology combined with good speech recognition could have far reaching scope. However it is more likely that specifications and product guides will be available hands-free as a first step.

Vision augmentation poses the same sort of social and privacy concerns that were experienced by Google Glass users. The difference is that you can tell if someone is wearing Google Glass but you might never know if someone is scanning you with a more subtle device. We also need to consider what the government and military will do with such technology. It is a Brave New World.