LOCATION - Alongside the River Avon, Warwick, UK
GEAR - SIGMA SD QUATTRO 8-16mm Zoom
WHEN - Autumn / Afternoon
For me the Sigma SD Quattro produces the best out of camera jpgs. I've ever seen. Setting the camera to shoot S-HI jpgs. only (you can't shoot raw at the same time if you do this) I get near perfect images every time, without having to bother with raw. Sharpness is excellent, as is dynamic range and colour and these really do finally, justify what Sigma have been saying about the Foveon sensor for years, i.e. that the three layer sensor output really is the equivalent of a larger sensor, in this case 39MP.
This also allows me to shoot 21:9 ratio panoramas in camera and get a 25MP file that needs very little work in Photoshop. I shot the images below with the ultra wide 8-16mm APS-C sensor zoom, which suits the format really well. And I was veryl pleased with them.
Now the SD h is about to appear and it would seem to be a better camera, with it's 1.3 crop sensor as well as producing .DNG raw files. However, it is almost twice the price of the 'standard' SD. Plus with quality of the jpgs. from the SD I'm not that bothered about raw conversion, 1.3x and 1.5x aren't really that different and there is currently no information on what APS-S lenses (if any) would work on the SD h. Apparently the h version does set an APS-C crop automatically, but I gather that can be turned off. Plus even if those lenses could be used to cover the sensor my 8-16mm zoom (equivalent to 12-24mm on 35mm) doesn't really add a lot on a 1.3x crop. So instead of 12mm equivalent at the wide end I would get just under 11mm (10 2/3?) To be honest I'm not sure it's worth it, though the in camera S-Hi jpgs. would be 45MP.
I may well stick with what I've got since it works so well. Plus I really don't want two Sigma SD's and I would loose a fair bit selling what I have. Because, much as I appreciate the quality of the results, my SD Quattro is a camera I will be using sparingly anyway. I only have two lenses for the SD, the zoom and the 30mm f/.4 and I really don't want to buy any more. Yes the images are incredible quality and when the Hassleblad and Fuji new MF cameras are released I've love to see a comparison between them and the Sigma, but I do shoot other things than landscapes in bright sunshine and my days of carting a tripod around on my stock shooting walks are long gone. Plus Sigma lenses are big and heavy including all those fast ART primes. However having said all that, should the h version support the use of my APS-lenses and any samples that appear look really good I may well be tempted.
I do like the images at the moment and there is no doubt that the SD Quattro is by far the best Sigma / Foveon camera so far. And i see lots of subjects it will be great for during a year. But stock photography is about more than just IQ and the SD Quattro or the h version isn't the all-round camera that I need for a lot of my work. It's nice to have it and if I was just shooting landscapes as I once did then I may well be tempted to build a system around Sigma / Foveon as the level of resolution is breathtaking and for me puts those new MF cameras in the 'why bother?' category. Because they are seriously expensive and in my opinion unnecessarily so. Particularly since the SD Quattro is £700 in the UK. And for me it's MF quality from an APS-C sensor at a decent price. But then if people are tempted to spend 10x that on a MF digital, who am I to stop them?