The Sigma DP1 Quattro: A Rolling Review

What a view! Mt. Rainier, Washington. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

What a view! Mt. Rainier, Washington. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

The Sigma has been in my hands for just over a month now and I’ve had a chance to shoot it in a number of conditions to expose its strengths and weaknesses. This will be the first part in a number of reviews on this unique camera.

A tiny bit of life popping up in the sand. Seaside, Oregon. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

A tiny bit of life popping up in the sand. Seaside, Oregon. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

My impression of the DP1Q after nearly 1000 exposures, I love it, BUT there are a few limitations.

A few of the basics:

  • 28mm equivalent fixed lens
  • f/2.8 maximum aperture
  • 29mp Foveon Sensor
  • Native ISO100 to ISO6400
  • 14bit Raw+JPEG capture
  • In its highest JPEG setting (no raw available) it captures 5424×3616
  • Contrast detect autofocus
  • Full manual along with shutter speed, aperture, and program modes
  • 3 inch LCD

First, this camera, shot in the proper conditions out resolves anything I’ve ever owned, including the Sony RX1r, the Leica M9 and the Canon 5D MII. Of those three listed only the RX1r would even have a chance at matching the Foveon sensor in the Quattro. And yes the Sony does come close, but falls short in the end.

The body shape has grown on me to the point where it doesn’t really feel odd in my hands. Every camera has a slightly different grip/hold and we always quickly adapt to our new gear. The Sigma is no different. One strange benefit of the ‘reversed grip’ on the Quattro is that when it’s on a neckstrap it lays across the chest nice and flat and tends be be more secure around the body. The reversed grip adds a little stability to the camera while it sits across your body.

The camera is really about maximum image quality though and that’s where I’ll let some of the images speak for themselves.

Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

One of the Foveon's strengths is its ability to represent colors in a natural, vibrant way. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

One of the Foveon’s strengths is its ability to represent colors in a natural, vibrant way. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

This won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that has done some reading about the DP1Q, it’s low-light performance is behind the rest of the sensor makers. If you’re looking for a low-light camera look to the Sony A7s. However, with good light and/or a tripod you won’t be let down by the Sigma’s noise characteristics. I’ve posted a couple ISO400 samples below. In an upcoming review I’ll look into ISO800 and beyond.

This old Studebaker pick-up was shot handheld at ISO 400. (Sigma DP1 Quattro)

This old Studebaker pick-up was shot handheld at ISO400. (Sigma DP1 Quattro)

Ducati Motocycle. Shot at ISO400. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

Ducati Motocycle. Shot at ISO400. (Sigma DP1 Quattro, handheld)

*If you are interested in seeing one of the images in its full resolution, just let me know and I’ll send one your way. Thanks.

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