With soon 5 Merrill cameras available on the market, Sigma has promised to turn its attention to the software side of its “ecosystem”. SIGMA Photo Pro 5.5 is compatible with Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 8 and comes with various bug fixes and the all new monochrome mode. I have processed some of my pictures using Sigma’s latest RAW converter.
The first thing you notice in the “Adjustment Mode” on the top control panel is two new tabs, “Color” and “Monochrome”. The design of “Color” tab panel has been slightly changed, while in the “Monochrome” tab everything is new. This Black & White tab is divided into Tonal Adjustments, Color Mixer, Film Grain and Noise Reduction. In Tonal Adjustments you move sliders to set exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, sharpness and X3 Fill Light (similar to fill-in Lightroom, only better).
In Color Mixer you select a tone from a colorball and apply it as a digital filter over the entire image – works a bit like those real filters screwed in front of the lens in times of film photography.
Film grain is what it says it is. You add graininess to your picture by adjusting size and roughness of the grain.
Noise Reduction should be rather self-explanatory for anyone who has been interested in photoghraphy. This function filters out the luminance and banding noise. Of course, as in any other software, this has a rather destructive effect on fine detail.
After two evenings of experimenting with SPP 5.5 I can say I really like its new functions. Although it is rather unusual to create B&W photographs directly with a RAW converter I think it’s because only a few proprietary converters (not Lightroom) offer more in this area than adjusting saturation to 0. I also believe that SPP 5.5 is more accurate when choosing white balance when it’s set to “Auto”. Many of my pictures taken over the last several weeks were taken under gloomy weather and it is often very difficult to determine the right WB in such lighting. I case of pictures I have edited in Color mode, it seems like WB was immediately perfectly adjusted, I did not need to change anything. That makes life a lot easier. The B&W mode settings are much faster to adjust than Color ones. Starting from moving the sliders, assessing the impact of changes till saving in the end. It’s really fun to rediscover ones “B&W roots”.
I hope you enjoyed it. You can find more DP2m shots on Pinterest or in my Flickr Set.