With the Sigma SD Quattro who needs MF? - Sigma SD Quattro H

The above image was taken on my Sigma SD Quattro camera with 8-16mm zoom. This is from a Super Hi-Res .jpg (39MP from 3 sensors > 112 MB file) I ran it through Iridient Developer and upsized it to 50MP, the same size as these new Hassleblad and Fuji MF (well a bit bigger than FF actually) cameras. I don't know about you, but the 100% blow up looks pretty impressive to me. The Foeveon sensor only gives results like this at low ISO settings, but if that's what you use (as I do) this is superb resolution. And I have to say, theses are somewhat sharper images than I've seen from the raw samples of the Fuji and Hassleblad output. 

This does of course beg the question, what will the 1.3x crop sensor of the Quattro H produce. Admittedly it's not much larger, but Sigma claim 50MP resolution from this (from combining the 3 sensors) and from what I've seen from the SD 1.5x cropped sensor, this is perfectly feasible. Now initially I wasn't going to get the H because initial reports suggested a price of around £1500, almost double the price of the plain Quattro. However, this has come down and I was offered a decent price from a Sigma dealer, so I have ordered one. This added to my discovering just what the camera I have can deliver plus some interesting information I found has convinced me to get it.


Below are some statements from Sigma:-

  • The SIGMA sd Quattro H features a Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: Quattro) in an all-new bigger APS-H size. It has all the image quality of the Foveon X3 direct image sensor with even more resolution. In fact, the SIGMA sd Quattro H offers 51- megapixel-equivalent resolution
  • In additiontoSIGMA’soriginalRAWformat(X3F),DNG(DigitalNegative)format is available. DNG is the RAW image data that is developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated. 
  • The Sigma sd Quattro H incorporates an APS-H sized image sensor, and it automatically switches to DC Crop Mode when DC lenses are attached. Also, it is possible to select On/Off of the DC Crop Mode manually. 

 There is also a list of what lenses have full AF compatibility with the H:-

17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM | Contemporary
18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art
18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | Contemporary
18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | Contemporary
50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art
30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art

12-24mm F4 DG HSM | Art
24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art
24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art
120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports *1
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary *1
20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
24mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
500mm F4 DG OS HSM | Sports *1

Now this is with regard to AF, whether this means that the lenses can be used in non-crop mode, who knows. 

Here is a comparison of the sensor size.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 17.00.27.png

As you can see there isn't a lot in it and hopefully Sigma were aware of this camera coming and made their newest DC lenses to cover this sensor. Since I have the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art I will soon know. Now I'm sure that other Sigma fans will be VERY interested in knowing whether the 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art and 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lenses will cover the larger sensor. 

There is also Sigma's version of the Olympus multi-shot super high resolution mode -

New Super-Fine Detail exposure mode

  • One push of the shutter generates seven different exposures, creating RAW data in the X3I file format.
  • Using this data with the SIGMA Photo Pro software package, the photographer can create noiseless images with an extensive dynamic range.
  • From each X3I file, individual X3F files may also be generated.
  • The value of SFD exposure mode is especially apparent in studio photography.

So as with the Olympus restricted to tripod use only.

They have also developed a dual AF system - Phase Detection AND Contrast Detection, both will be used and the camera will (apparently) work out the best combination depending on the 'luminosity value of the subject'. On top of this there is a 4.4 fps mode allowing 8 raws to be shot in sequence, a 2.36MP EVF with near (???) 100% magnification, focus peaking for MF and some dust and splash resistance. 

So it's obvious that Sigma are going for a market that craves sharpness and detail resolution over all else and isn't that bothered about high(er) ISO performance. Aimed straight at me of course. And I have to say that since I can upsize my current camera files to 50MP with astonishing results, what can I get from the H? Certainly around 60-65MP I would imagine which is really making a lot of 'faux' MF (the aforementioned Fuji and Hassleblad cameras) and seriously challenging genuine MF digital cameras, with the benefits of smaller, lighter and certainly cheaper. 

Now even without the H, this newest version of the Foveon sensor is finally justifying all the claims that Sigma have made over the years. Some of which have proved a tad overoptimistic. However, as I have written in previous posts I'm totally convinced by the performance this time and also pleased that the cameras themselves are much more usable. Now there is never going to be high-end DSLR / mirrorless performance from these cameras (The three layer sensor sees to that) but it's now, for the market it is intended for, acceptable. And if you own or are contemplating owning one of these, chances are that incredible image quality is why you do and you are inclined (as I am) not to get to fussed about what's lacking.

And I have to say that in past I have loved the Foveon sensors quality but have been less than impressed by the cameras that housed them. Taking 5 batteries out for a days shooting with my DP Merrill compact, for example, certainly didn't impress me. And the consequence of all that meant I didn't hang on to the cameras for that long. However, these DS Quattro's are certainly a step in the right direction and rather than get rid of the one I had, I'm going to be using two and I've invested in some more lenses. And as much as I enjoy smartphone shooting, I still have a fondness for super sharp, super high resolution images that can record levels of details I cannot see with my eyes. Sigma seem to heading to dominate that marketplace without charging ridiculous amounts of money for quasi medium format that probably can't better the performance from these remarkable Foveon sensors. Interesting to see whether anyone actually compares the Sigma Quattro H with either the Fuji or Hassleblad. However, I'm more tan happy with what my Sigma gives me already, and so I suspect are the people who buy my pictures. And for the difference in price and the savings made, you could buy a fair number of Sigmas amazing ART lenses. 

So to conclude, if you considering either the Fuji or Hassleblad, have a look (if you can of course) at the Sigma's to see if what you want is available at a significantly lower price. I'm convinced it is, but then that's my opinion and others may disagree. But whatever the conclusions that people come to there is no denying that these DS Quattro cameras are capable of quite astonishing results and I'm very happy to take full advantage of that.