A horse of a different colour

  • Saturdays blog post reached almost two thousand people!

Today we’re back to photography – specifically the most eccentric digital camera I’ve ever used.

The Sigma Merrill series of cameras see the world differently than any other camera. They are tiny marvels. Their unique sensors read all of the colours simutaneously, as opposed to filtering out red, blue and green side by side (like the TV screen in reverse). The result is a very different ‘look’ and a sharpness that is far beyond their native resolution. Each of these little wonders has a high grade lens designed to exactly match the sensor. The camera’s output can under certain circumstances match that of medium format equipment costing tens of thousands of euros. I have photographed artwork for a client using it and the colours are just stunning.

And there’s the rub. The cameras are impossibly slow to use. Even when pre-focussed, when you press the shutter it might fire immediately, or it might wait for up to a second – its completely random as far as I can make out. The sensor design means that it can’t be used in anything less than fairly bright daylight without a tripod. The battery lasts about as long as a packet of jelly beans in a creche. That’s all just about forgivable, but what isn’t is that it can take up to five seconds before I can check the image on the cameras screen, and as the files are unlike any others, they can only be processed by Sigma’s bespoke software, which, despite its ability to produce absolutely beautiful files, is one of the most diabolical pieces of code ever written, with a user (un)friendliness from hell.

What kills it completely is the realisation that if the processing power and beautiful user interface of my normal imaging software, the worlds best digital image processing engine:  Capture One Pro could be used on these files, then these little cameras would give a fantastic financial return for a very small investment. And without the back-breaking-ton-of-gear a photographer often has to lug about on jobs. As it is, they are magnificent curiosities: just about useful for landscapes, still lifes, and the odd portrait, with a very patient sitter. Its like seeing a pearl, always just beyond reach…..

I want to sell it, but I can’t bring myself to.

Not, at least until I get a much better main camera system. But instead of a saddling up our horse of a different colour, we’ll postpone dipping into that particular kettle of fish for another day!

If you are up for it, I’ll make you a portrait using this camera – www.gerlawlor.com for contact details etc.


All photos are for sale.

In lovely frames too…..


One thought on “A horse of a different colour

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