The Sigma sd Quattro H

Some of the more interesting specs. From -

  • 'The two new cameras are as compact and lightweight as cameras in the SIGMA dp Quattro series and offer the same level of outstanding image quality.'
  • Featuring the SIGMA SA mount, the two new cameras are compatible with all of the SIGMA GLOBAL VISION lenses in the Contemporary, Art and Sports lines, and they are designed to take full advantage of these lenses’ superb optical performance.
  • The SIGMA sd Quattro H features an APS-H size sensor measuring 26.6 x 17.9mm.

As you can see the upsized sensor in the H isn't that much bigger than the 'standard' APS-C sensor Sigma use. Which leads me to speculate that the new APS-C ART lenses may well cover it. The actual sensor size on the sd Quattro is 5,424×3,616 which is just under 20MP. The H is 6,200×4,152 which is just under 26MP. So this is going to be a fair size for the raw files.

Like with the DP Quattros the camera will be outputting a Super Hi jpg. In this case it will be 8,768×5840. which is just over 51MP, which is where Sigma get that figure from. To give you an idea of what that's like, that is almost identical to the output from the Canon 5Ds (It's slightly larger). So Sigma are confident they can upsize their jpgs. to the largest current file size from a non-MF camera. 

  • The new Super-Fine Detail (SFD) exposure mode brings out the full performance of the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor. One push of the shutter generates seven different exposures, creating RAW data in the X3I file format.
  • Focus peaking function. This function puts a coloured outline (white, black, red, or yellow) around the subject in the viewfinder for instant confirmation of the person or object currently in focus.

  • The high-resolution 2.36 mega-pixel electronic viewfinder features near-100% viewfinder coverage and a 1.09 magnification ratio.

  • O-rings and sealing material effectively seal buttons and seams to prevent the intrusion of dust and water, making the camera an excellent choice for pros working under tough conditions.

  • 14-bit RAW data

  • Continuous shooting of up to 14 images in RAW format

So some interesting features. No video of course, since I imagine the 3 layer Foveon sensor makes that impossible. No idea on the AF speed and the speed of committing these images to the card, but I imagine (hope) Sigma will have improved these. 

Previous experience would indicate that this camera will be far from DSLR or top of the range mirrorless speed, the Foveon sensor and processing sees to that, but I would imagine it's not that bad and seems that Sigma are suggesting it can be used for most non-specialist picture taking. However, the emphasis is obviously on very high quality low ISO output for photographers who don't need to rush. And I have to say that's refreshing. Too often mirrorless manufacturers pretend that their cameras have DSLR functionality when in fact they fall short of that.

I also love the fact that with it's adapter style lens mount there is already a decent lens range in place. Now some of the Sigma SA mount range of APS-C lenses may well not cover the 1.3x crop H sensor, but I imagine the camera will include an option to switch to the smaller size. And 26MP to 20MP is somewhat less of a jump than the APS-C option on FF cameras. 

And this is also obviously a different kind of camera. Though Sigma claim this is as 'compact and lightweight as cameras in the SIGMA dp Quattro series' the addition of DSLR sized lenses to the body is obviously going to make it a lot bulkier than many mirrorless cameras. But then I doubt it will be that much different to the Sony FE series.

Price? Who knows. Sigma don't sell their Foveon cameras cheap. When the DP Quattro cameras came out they were around £800. So a body only option with an interchangeable lens mount, built in viewfinder with a better sensor? More certainly, but I'm hoping Sigma will realise that they have some serious competition in the mirrorless field and keep the price reasonable. Around £1000 would be great and would mean they sell quite a few of these I'm sure, £1500 would be reasonable, but the closer they push the price towards £2000 I think they will dampen the enthusiasm of many. Any more than that and they will struggle to sell in any quantity and get an internet 'bashing' as well. 

Sigma are at this years photography show in a few weeks time and I'm hoping they will have this on show. It's certainly going to very interesting to see this in the flesh. And it's going to be even more interesting to see some samples and some experiences in use from those who have some appreciation of what's going on here. Because Foveon sensor cameras take a bit of getting used to. I've had a few and got rid of them because of the lack of what this new camera addresses. I had one of the early DSLR's which was great quality but the files were too small. I also had a couple of the Dp Merrills and one of the Quattro compacts. Theses were much better at providing usable images, but were slow and with no viewfinder difficult to use. They also had fixed lenses and the idea of buying 3 (or 4) different cameras was a bit of a nonsense. 

Another thing the DSLR's suffer from is they are dust 'hoovers.' Probably the electrical charge on three sensors makes them drag it in. I noticed that in Sigma's specs they make a big thing about dust protection, which is good. One thing however that may be difficult to overcome is the poor battery life. Foveon sensors require a lot of power to create the files and save them. Three sensors worth. However, the battery in this new camera is the same as in the Quattros. Now I might well criticise this and say that Sigma have an underpowered battery, which is probably true. But then these days that isn't that unusual.

So all in all plenty to look forward to and plenty to anticipate. Have Sigma finally got Foveon technology in an attractive usable package that will move it out of it's niche market? Lets hope so.