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New ways to Sigma Aerochrome

I’ve put my infrared video work on the shelf for now, returning once again to photography with the Sigma SD1. As many of you know, the Sigma Foveon sensor makes it possible to get a full spectrum look which is reminiscent of the old Aerochrome films. Two methods have been promoted and explored already:

1. “Rich” full spectrum: Remove the hot mirror, get a custom white balance on grey/white card, almost no post-processing is needed. This will get you a wide variety of red and yellow and magenta hues in the vegetation and blue skies (link).

2. With additional green filter, for example the Hoya X1: Remove hot mirror, choose “light bulb” as WB preset, install the filter and shoot. This will get you magenta tones and more accentuated, cyanish skies (link).

I always had my problems with both of these methods:

1. The “rich full spectrum” method just lacks the magic and mood of old Aerochrome. It’s hard to pinpoint the specific issues. For me, it lacks the stark contrasts, the dark skies and the surreal lighting of the scenery. It just looks too natural/normal for my taste.

2. The green filter method gives you more of that Aerochrome charm, but it has greenish/cyanish skies, and the magenta tones are quite uniform and too pinkish for my taste.

No custom white balance

So yesterday, I spent an afternoon in my atelier and just tried out different filters with my SD1, in the hopes of achieving ways to a more authentic Aerochrome-style emulation. I tried to get a good custom white balance, which is so difficult with Sigma cameras.

I tried a classic red filter from Tiffen, the 25… I got a custom white balance whitout filter on, because I just couldn’t get a CWB with the filter on the camera. The result was a very yellowish image with red trees in it. I thought that this would never work out in post-processing. But I was wrong. So here’s what I did in Sigma Photo Pro and the final result with additional white balance optimization in the Photoshop raw converter:


I also tried out a combination of the red and the green (Hoya X1) filters. Unfortunately the lighting conditions were very poor. But I also came up with a good solution in post-processing:


So now I will try to test both methods in clear sunlight, hoping to see if they produce more Aerochrome-like dark skies and colorations.

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