Sigma DP Camera Workflow

The Sigma DP series of cameras have absolutely phenomenal image quality, but they output a proprietary RAW file (*.x3f) from the Foveon® system that makes them awkward to work with. Here’s how I get great photos out of this camera:

The Workflow

  1. Transfer the files from the camera to computer. I put them into a folder marked by year and a sub-folder with the date. I drag and drop the files from the camera to the computer, then use a renaming program to sort them.
  2. Use the Sigma Photo Pro software to decode the X3F files. I make these adjustments:
    1. Exposure +0.3
    2. Contrast +0.1
    3. Shadow 0.0
    4. Highlight 0.0
    5. Saturation +0.1
    6. Sharpness -1.0
    7. X3 Fill Light +0.3
    8. White Balance Auto
    9. Color Mode Standard
    10. Highlight Control 1.0 Restore
    11. Chroma Noise Reduction middle
    12. Luminance Noise Reduction middle
    13. Banding Noise Reduction middle
    14. Chromatic Aberration Lens Profile 1.0
    15. Fringe Correction green and magenta both checked
    16. Ghosting Color Reduction on (if available)
  3. Then I save the photos as 16-bit TIFF files. The Sigma software is needed because it reads the X3F files and none of the other programs like Lightroom or DxO do.
  4. I then import the files into Adobe Lightroom and follow my normal workflow of editing with various software programs, returning to Lightroom at the end.
  5. Last, I export as JPEG files from Lightroom as I do with my regular workflow.

The DP cameras create incredibly sharp and well-defined images so I actually have to reduce the sharpness using the Sigma Photo Pro software. That is unusual as I am usually seeking sharper images from standard Bayer sensor type of cameras.

This is a simple and quick workflow that allows me to get the most out of my Sigma DP cameras and the spectacular photos it produces. By far the largest hazard in post-processing these photos is over-processing them. They are so good right out of the camera that they don’t need much post-processing.


If you don’t have a Sigma DP camera, they are definitely worth checking out as they have the best and sharpest image quality I have seen in any camera short of a medium format. And, the Sigma DP is a compact camera. It is hard to believe the quality of the image that comes out of this small, hand-held camera!