A Pleasure To Use, Why SIGMA’s Cameras are especially suited to shooting monochrome by Karl Holtby, Black & White Photography magazine issue 212

A Pleasure To Use, Why SIGMA’s Cameras are especially suited to shooting monochrome by Karl Holtby, Black & White Photography magazine issue 212

Looking for something special from your black & white pictures? SIGMA UK camera ambassaor  Karl Holtby explains why SIGMA’s cameras are especially suited to shooting monochrome in ththe special technique article of Black & White Photography issue 212.
I was introduced to Sigma cameras in 2013, ever since I have predominantly shot with the SIGMA Foveon sensor cameras. I find that the foveon sensor gives a real depth and unique feel to my imagery, the foveon look often compared to medium format. Not only do my favourite Sigma cameras such as the DP0 Quattro and more recently the SD Quattro-H suit my style of imagery, I also find them a real pleasure to use, being solidly built and with all the functions I need, without a myriad of menus that I would never use. This ease of use, particularly via the ‘Quick Start’ menu, allows the photographer instant access to key functions.

This was composed in camera at an aspect ratio of 1:1, which has helped in producing the very bold, strong composition with every line and contour carefully considered. The detail is quite stunning, most definitely comparable to medium format. SIGMA SD Quattro-H with 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art lens, 30sec at f/10, ISO 100

As a photographer, around fifty percent of my output is black and white. This is another reason why I’ve chosen the Foveon route. The foveon cameras are wonderfully suited to monochrome photography, with beautiful but subtle tonal range and amazing level of detail to the images. A key feature for the black + white photographer is the the ability to shoot in ‘Mono’ mode, which captures the RAW image as a colour file, however we see the image as mono through the viewfinder. When the images are viewed in Sigma’s Photo Pro software, if shot in mono mode, images are imported as such (you can quite easily choose to process the colour file too) and they are instantly punchy and full of detail.
With Sigma Photo Pro you can hone your images and add little touches such as film grain and toning. If the thought of using Sigma’s own software scares you, other processing options that I use regularly are to export files as TIFFs and convert in Photoshop using Silver efex Pro. However, a recent update to the Foveon sensor has been the ability to capture images in DNG format, which allows for processing in your software of choice. I often use Capture One for my monochrome conversion, this additional facility to use other post processing software allows greater freedom for those thinking of purchasing a Sigma camera.
Composed in camera at 4:3, my aim was to show how the water carves the solid rock over time. These ecological processes fascinate me and make for wonderful abstract compositions. Here the SDQ-H renders a huge amount of detail and captures the wonderfully soft texture of the water. Sigma SD Quattro-H with 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art lens, 13sec at f/11, ISO 100

This makes a complementary diptych with the picture above. SIGMA SD Quattro-H with 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art lens, 15sec at f/14, ISO 100

Over these past few years, I suspect that some of the features of the Sigma cameras have swayed me in a certain direction. I’d describe myself as a fine-art landscape photographer, preferring to shoot a more intimate scene than a super wide vista, or perhaps a detailed study of ecological processes at work in the landscape. This emerging style has been helped by the ability to compose my images very accurately in camera, setting the aspect ratio of choice, usually 4:3 or 1:1. Composition is of utmost priority to me, working between these two aspect ratios helps me to very carefully consider the placement of elements within the frame.

I feel that the Sigma cameras are a fantastic artist’s tool, one which allows the photographer very careful consideration to composition with no unnecessary frills, perfectly suited to fine art and black + white photography. I’ve had the good fortune to have had the use of many different camera systems over the past couple of years, some of these costing literally ten times as much, when paired with Sigma’s range of Art lenses, the Sigma SDQ-H offers truly unique, outstanding image quality and unbeatable value for money.
Black & White Photography Magazine issue 212 Full Article: