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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!



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.



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



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 …


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 …


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 …



… 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?



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



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


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.


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.


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:

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!

*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.

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