SUPER FINE DETAIL (SFD) MODE
This mode was first introduced in the sd Quattro, and it promises lower noise, higher definition images by capturing 7 shots in different exposure (+/-2EV) and combining them into a RAW file in X3I format. As Sigma as rightly put it, it create noiseless images with an extensive dynamic range…or more commonly known as HDR. My first hand experience was not the best as there is no tolerance for anything that moves, not even a little. The jagged artifacts are almost impossible to retouch although the gain in dynamic range is very good.
Enter Version 2.0. Much have been done to improve the quality and usability of this mode. In fact it is now almost practical to use it on moving objects. I did an acid test by shooting moving waves with it, and the result is astonishing! It is still not perfect as there are still some minor artifacts on the clouds, but largely the moving wave merged well without any requirement for retouching. If this can be further improved with some anti-ghosting software algorithm in Sigma Photo Pro, the SFD mode will definitely be a killer feature. As it is now, I am loving it already.
A simple way is to blur off the artifacts using the Blur Tool in Photoshop to produce the final image based on my preferred color and contrast adjustments via ACR Filter.
Tips on shooting in SFD Mode:
- Always use a stable tripod
- For most shots, meter the exposure without any compensation unless deliberately required
- Use a fast SD Card with at least 85MB/s write speed.
- To improve the performance in SPP, turn on the GPU acceleration, run the files from a SSD if possible to speed up the I/O read/write.
- Export the file in TIFF-16 for maximum editing headroom.
- Don’t frown when you see a very flat image after the initial processing. Just color grade it and do the necessary contrast adjustments (very similar to a video editing workflow) in post (Adobe Lr/Ps or any other preferred software)