Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 – Fade to Grey

Sigma Photo Pro 5.5 – Fade to Grey

fade_to_greySigma Photo Pro has been a steady compainion of the Foveon-based camera range, from the SD9 to the latest DP3 Merrill. Right now we’re in the same situation we were when the SD9 first launched, reliant on a dedicated processing application from the manufacturer, and in an era of widespread third party support it is a little unusual.

Sigma themselves have responded to this retrograde step (the earlier models are well supported by applications such as Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw) by increasing the pace of development with SPP, and the latest major release supports faster processing on multicore systems, lens corrections and the aforementioned Monochrome mode.
 
DPMerrillFirmwareUp
The latest firmware for the Sigma DP Merrills – 1.03 on the DP1, 1.04 on the DP2 – introduces a raw Monochrome colour mode (on the left); previously the B&W mode was only available when capturing to JPEG files (and the Sepia mode remains similarly limited).
 
Previous versions of Sigma Photo Pro have supported a monochrome White Balance setting, which offered little further control over the conversion:
MonoWB
But with SPP 5.5, a new tab has been added in the top right of the palette – Monochrome. This converts the file into the format required by SPP 5.5 so it cannot be read by earlier versions.
MonochromeMode
Once selected, this brings up the new tool for the dedicated Monochrome processing.
SPPMonoMenu
Monochrome mode acts on the raw file and includes different approaches to noise reduction and sharpening as a result. It’s possible to make very good use of the 1600 and 3200 ISO files from the DP Merrill, relying on the film grain function to add noise to lower ISO images and bring in consistency as well as the effect of real high ISO monochrome media. The unique capture technology of the Merrill Direct Image Sensor ensures quality comparable to dedicated monochrome solutions such as the Phase One Achromatic or Leica Monochrom models – which use sensors without Bayer filters added – with the bonus of being able to produce a colour image from the raw file as well if desired.