Sigma Photo Pro - Performance Refined.
13th April, 2018
For those who does not know, Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) is a RAW conversion and editing software for RAW images taken with Sigma cameras. If you own any Sigma camera with Foveon sensor, this is the first software you need if you are capturing RAW images in X3F or X3I format.
SPP has a long standing reputation of being slow and unresponsive. It takes a good amount of time to load images, displaying previews, editing and even exporting. It is also very basic compared to other RAW editors, but it does the job with X3F and X3I files.
Sigma released Sigma Photo Pro 6.5.0 which promised improved performance and many new features, specially for Sigma dp and sd Quattro RAW files. But there were many issues too, specifically with various GPU models and their drivers. It slowly improved though, and currently it stands at version 6.5.4. It is quite refined now and performance is smoother than before. Performance have been improved in many areas including the responsiveness and quick display and exporting files.
Since I will be using SPP 6.5.4 for my test, here are the release notes for SPP 6.5.0 - 6.5.4 to show the improvements, fixes and features they have implemented.
Release notes for the SPP 6.5.0:
* It is compatible with RAW data (X3F files, X3I files) of the sd Quattro H.
* It increases the processing speed of RAW data in the Review Window and when it saves images, by utilizing the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) (RAW data of sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series only).
* It is compatible with thumbnails and shooting information of DNG files shot with the sd Quattro H (If the files are edited using other processing software compatible with DNG files, they will not be displayed).
* It has an improved algorithm in Super Fine Detail Mode so that minor gaps between each frame are less visible.
* It has an improved algorithm in noise reduction when developing RAW data for the sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series.
* It has an updated Auto development algorithm of RAW data adjustment setting for the sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series.
* It corrects the phenomenon whereby the parameter of Auto development is different when Display Quality or Display Speed is prioritized.
* Preference Settings incorporates a mode whereby images transferred from Sigma Capture Pro will not open in the Review Window.
* It incorporates an Update Information Notification function. It displays messages for some functions by way of a pop-up notification.
Release notes for the SPP 6.5.1:
* It is possible to open the X3F files of Quattro series even when the driver of the graphic board is not updated to the latest version.
Release notes for the SPP 6.5.2:
* It has improved the noise reduction during the RAW development from the X3F files of dp Quattro series and sd Quattro series.
* It has improved the processing speed when the GPU Acceleration Mode is activated in the environmental setting (based on the computer environment, the effect may vary).
* It corrects the phenomenon that some operational errors occur in specific computer environments, when GPU Acceleration Mode is activated.
* It corrects the phenomenon that depending on a computer environment, an error occurs during RAW development, when the GPU Acceleration Mode is activated and multiple images are selected.
Release notes for the SPP 6.5.3:
* It is compatible with the X3I files taken in the SFD Mode of the SIGMA dp Quattro series.
* It has optimized the effect of the overexposure correction function.
Release notes for the SPP 6.5.4:
* It is compatible with the RAW data (X3F files, X3I files) of SIGMA sd Quattro (FW Ver 1.06) and SIGMA sd Quattro H (FW Ver 1.02).
* It has improved the color reproduction for highlighted areas when processing the RAW data (X3F files) of SIGMA sd Quattro H (FW Ver 1.02).
* It incorporates the function indicating if new version of the software and lens data update are available when booting up SIGMA Photo Pro.
My test method is very simple. I chose 11 sample raw files from each of the camera: Sigma SD1 Merrill, Sigma dp2 Quattro, and Sigma sd Quattro. I batch exported the to their original size, and double size and logged the time to measure whether SPP 6.5.4 is faster than the last released version of SPP without major performance improvement: SPP 6.4.1.
CPU: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X (16-Core / 32-Thread) @ 3.70GHz
RAM: 4 x 16GB G.Skill TridentZ DDR4 PC3200MHz
SSD: Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
OS: Windows 10 Pro Falls Creators Update
Software: SPP 6.4.1 / SPP 6.5.4 (Extra memory allocation for acceleration ON for both SPP 6.4.1 and 6.5.4 and GPU Support ON for SPP 6.5.4)
Driver: NVIDIA Driver version 391.35
Performance of SPP 6.4.1 and SPP 6.5.4 with Sigma cameras. SPP 6.5.4 manages an impressive performance over SPP 6.4.1
The performance margin remains strong even when exporting double size images.
As we can see, export performance seems to have improved significantly over the previous versions, and it will only going to get better. SPP 6.5.4 shows signs of responsiveness in almost everywhere such as displaying preview, in developing module and exporting files.
As for now, we are all waiting to see what Sigma does next, be it a new camera or newer version of SPP. It is an exciting time for cameras, and Sigma is keeping us waiting.
I would like Sigma to release a Full-Frame mirrorless next, preferably with a better sensor. An improved Merrill sensor would be nice. Imagine what a FF Merrill sensor with 24-36MP in every layer could do!