Sigma DP0 Quattro – First Impressions, Last Impressions

Human invention is littered with the weird and the crazy. Take for example the one wheeled motorbike, or the amphibious bicycle, or more recently the Segway, a device so technically advanced it’s capable of moving at walking pace whilst remaining upright!

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House

In the world of photography perhaps the current champion of oddness is the Sigma Quattro range of cameras. Despite every other camera manufacturer, from high-end Hasselblad to lowbrow Kodak, being just fine with Bayer sensors, Sigma bucks the trend with the left-field Foveon sensor; wraps it up in a camera body so weird looking that you’ll be afraid to get it out in public (I have to admit to quite liking it); superglues a lens on; and outputs a raw format so complicated it needs specialist software, a supercomputer, and 23 cups of tea to process.

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Rust

Now, as I’m faced with a pile of Quattro cameras at the DP0 launch event, I’m again wondering why?

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Flower

For money? Surely Sigma would do the lazy thing, join the Bayer party, stick a conventional sensor in a conventional looking body, add some high-end glass, and settle back to earn a decent living …

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Perhaps it’s groupthink, a small knot of like-minded engineers locked away from the outside world, convinced they’re sane and that it’s the rest of the world that’s plain crazy …

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Perhaps it’s downright stubbornness, a refusal to be carried away by the tidal of wave of mammoth ISO’s, myriads of autofocus points, and micro-second start up times …

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Wood

… Or maybe, just maybe, in our profit driven, cynical, world, it’s just for the love of photography; for the challenge of turning the theoretical promise of the Foveon design into reality; for the goal of producing a camera built purely and simply to create beautiful images. Now wouldn’t that be a thing?

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Group

So first impressions of the DP0 Quattro? Well to be frank who cares about the first impressions?

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Wing

The most important impression is the last; when you finally get to see the images this strange looking contraption produces.

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It’s no secret to (the few) readers of this blog that I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Quattro range to date, preferring to hang on to my clunky old Merrills.

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But sat here writing this post, and peering at the results on my Mac, the more I look the more I’m genuinely impressed*; the matched lens and sensor working together to combine colours, tones and detail, into something quite special.

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Whisper it quietly but with the DP0 Sigma may well have cracked their goal of medium format IQ  … and who cares why they do it? I for one am just glad they do.

For a more considered, balanced and technical take on the Quattro range, I’d recommend Paul Monaghan’s article at: https://www.photigy.com/sigma-dp3-quattro-camera-review/

Shooting Notes

All shots were taken with the Sigma DP0 Quattro (the Merrills were securely locked in the car boot for the day) some hand held, others on a tripod. All were shot in RAW with the inevitable post-processing in SPP v6.3 and Lightroom. Detailed crops are at 100%. Please note this is not in anyway a scientifically based test!

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*There’s some aspects, important to my needs, that I want to delve a little deeper into – dynamic range, noise levels at realistic ISOs, long exposures and night time shooting, to name a few, but I can’t wait to try this thing in the real world.