Digital IR - Sigma SD10
In the fall of 2004, I began to look for a replacement for my Canon EOS 10D digital SLR camera which was well beyond its generally accepted shutter expectancy of 80,000 frames. Initially, I was considering an EOS 20D which had been recently introduced but, simultaneously, I began wondering about replacing the 10D with a less expensive Canon DSLR and buying a second body to convert to infrared (with film, I had always used two cameras, one for colour and one for black and white or infrared, so it made sense to think this way with digital cameras as well). Since I sold my 35mm SLRcamera in 2003, I had been unable to work with infrared film. It was during this process that I started considering the possibility of buying a Sigma SD10, a digital SLR built with a removable hot-mirror filter, just as the Kodak DCS760 was. The more I read about this camera, the more I wondered if it would be the answer to my dilemma.
As thing unfolded, it seemed almost fated for me to purchase the camera. Though the camera store I worked at, I managed to get a good deal on a demo model of the sigma camera with two basic zoom lenses, and, for substantially less than the cost of the converted Canon Digital Rebel, I now had a DSLR that I could dedicate completely to working with infrared light.
Initially, I had planned to work with a Hoya 72R filter, which blocks all available light but, after some testing, I determined that under many circumstances, the same filter I used with HIE, the deep red No. 29, worked beautifully. This took care of a couple of problems, the first being the slow pace of framing and focusing an image and then pausing to put on a filter. With the #29 filter, I could focus though the filter and still get the strong infrared effect I adore.
A major drawback of purchasing the Sigma camera was that it only took Sigma lenses which severely limited my lens choices. I could not afford to exactly duplicate my preferred lens set and the quality of the two kit lenses was disappointing. I found composing through the lens, both zooms, and processing two RAW file formats more difficult than I had anticipated. I did locate a company in Asia that makes adapters for the SD10 to allow it to take old screw mount lenses but this added the additional issue of manual focusing. I did purchase an adapter, and a very nice Yashica 50mm f/1.4 lens, but the slow pace (even for someone used to working with an 8"x10” view camera) of first composing, then putting the filter on the camera, finding the exposure, then checking the focus, and only then, usually minutes later, making the image, was very taxing, not to mention demanding on the models. I found myself very frustrated with the Sigma SD10 as an infrared solution and ended up selling it when I learned of the potential to convert a Nikon D70 DSLR to infrared.