Got IQ? The Sigma DP2 Quattro Review.
Here I am again with yet another Sigma DP body. This time, the newest super funky DP2 Quattro model. I have never seen ANYTHING quite like the design of this Quattro and after using it and shooting with it I can state up front that I actually adore the style and design. For my hands, it feels superb when out shooting and when held correctly it really is easy to shoot with, and a joy. The last time I was with a Sigma camera it was when I reviewed the DP2 Merrill. I loved the Merrill for its amazing image quality, which was the best I have seen in any small camera. Very much like Medium Format and in some ways even better. Now the Quattro has taken that image quality, improved the AF speed and other aspects and then jammed it into an all new body that is worthy of a whole conversation in itself.
Out of camera JPEG of my Fiancee’ Debby. This is complete OOC. Just resized to 1800 pixels wide and no sharpening. You can see the larger size if you click the image. For me, this is gorgeous out of camera color and IQ. From detail to color to bokeh. It looks fabulous.
So what is the Quattro?
The Sigma DP2 Quattro is a super funky designed camera that houses a new Foveon sensor and it will give you some of the best image quality you have ever seen, period. Even when shooting JPEGS. IN fact, I much preferred shooting the enhanced resolution JPEG’s over shooting RAW as shooting RAW is a process. Why you ask? Well, shooting RAW means you have to process those files in the Sigma Slow Photo Pro software as the files from the Foveon chip are not compatible with any other software. This means, no using lightroom for your Sigma DP2 files.
The Quattro has a 29MP Foveon X3 Quattro CMOS image sensor which will give you 5424X3616 files. The color and detail in these files is absolutely beautiful. Some of the best I have ever seen.
The Quattro has a unique design as well and does not look like any other camera I have seen or used. It is long, oddball and with a strange reverse grip. When I first held it I was saying “OH NO! What have they done? The grip does not feel right”!. Then after few hours of use I was saying “This feels great! Shooting with two hands feels natural and easy”.
My Quattro Video Overview
Basically, the design..while odd..is very effective for me. I have small hands but the camera fits me well and the buttons and dials are easily within reach.
Image quality is through the roof and when browsing over images I took, which were mainly quick snapshots, I was continually blown away by the complete lack of adjusting the photos. No need for changing or adjusting color, no need to sharpen, no need to fix exposure and no need to change ANYTHING. Out of camera JPEGS were just so pleasing with a rich file and crisp 3D feeling images. The Quattro, IMO, offers the most pleasing IQ from any DP camera to date though I have found the Dynamic Range to be on the lower side when compared to other cameras like the E-M1, A7, etc. When you blow a highlight you will not be able to bring back the detail if it is severely blown.
The lens is a 30mm f/2.8 that gives us the equivalent of a 40mm 2.8 with the APS-C sized sensor. The lens is sharp and with great color and rendering. The Bokeh is smooth and pleasing and there is plenty of detail to be found here. No complaints on the lens at all.
Build quality is also fantastic and a step up from the previous versions. It feels solid and well made but I do have one major complaint. I feel it is a big one. The door that houses the SD card is not a door at all but a rubber flap that has to be pulled out and moved to the side to access the SD card. Over time this rubber will break off and this will mean that the SD card compartment will be exposed to the elements of dust, dirt and moisture. Horrible design on the SD card part. Sigma should actually fix this in the current production and replace it with a legit door. Not sure who designed that or who approved of it but it is the worst design SD card compartment cover I have seen.
The Sigma is also missing any kind of EVF or OVF and the LCD does not tilt or swivel. If Sigma would have added these two things they would have had a serious camera that would be tough to pass up for those who love their image quality. The brand spanking new Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor is quite a bit different from the previous Foveon sensor due to a new top layer with a higher res. This should now give more detailed results with faster image processing and overall speed. So Sigma has reworked their sensor tech and the 29MP Quattro is said to give the results and resolution of a 39 MP normal sensor. Pretty cool.
Here is what Sigma says about their creation:
“Unique and without peer among image sensors, the Foveon direct image sensor is similar to traditional color film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. Vertical color separation technology produces incredibly rich color gradations, which in turn make possible texture and expressive power that are immediately apparent to the eye. Even when you are photographing an object with a single color, the sensor captures the full gradation perfectly, with no discordant jumps between lighter and darker areas. Proof that capturing color accurately one pixel at a time really makes a difference, these perfect gradations are at the heart of what we call “full-bodied image quality.”
While delivering this rich, colorful, ultra-high resolution that optimally replicates what you see in the real world, the new dp offers image files of a reasonable size in an easy-to-process format. To achieve this combination, we thoroughly rethought and redesigned every aspect of the camera, including the sensor, engine, lens, body, and interior layout. The result is a camera that carries on the dp tradition and gives you unprecedented image quality.
To a radical degree, the new-generation dp series embodies SIGMA’s philosophy of creating cameras that produce works of art. Featuring the highest level of fundamental performance, this series unites artistic expression and daily experience as no other cameras can.”
As it stands, the camera produces some of the most gorgeous colors and files I have seen…comparable to real medium format files but are the weaknesses enough to put you off from buying it? Let us take a look at everything in a little bit more detail.
My son Brandon and my Nephew John while visiting the domes of Casa Grande, AZ. Sigma Sp2 Quattro at 2.8. This is from RAW. Click it for larger!
The Auto Focus speed of the Quattro
With the DP2 Merrill the AF speed is what killed it for me. Even the write times to the card were horrible. I wanted to love the DP2 Merrill and buy one as I started to get addicted to the image quality. At the end of the day I could not do it as when it launched it was $999 and for me to spend a grand I need a camera that will not frustrate the hell out of me to get a shot. The DP2 Merrill with its quirks and annoyances put me off from buying one, even at the current price of $699. It is just too slow and doesn’t feel right in the hand to me. You can read my review of that camera HERE.
With the Quattro I had hoped that Sigma improved the Auto Focus speed. If not, it would be the same thing for me and the design would not have saved it.
After shooting the Quattro in many different conditions I have found the AF to be much better this time around but still on the slow side of the tracks. It will not compete in AF speed with the Olympus E-M1 or E-P5, the Fuji X-T1 or the Nikon 1 series. It is nowhere near DSLR Focus speeds either, but it is much better than the old DP2 Merrill. The camera is full of flaws but IQ is not one of them.
When shooting in decent light it is quick enough to get a grab shot though not fast enough to catch a super quick moment. Even with the speed increase, which also is seen in write times, it does not even come close to making the Quattro any sort of action camera. I still say that this camera is best for static subjects. Portraits, scenes, landscapes, urban decay, etc. This is where the camera will excel. I have found the images to have a medium format feel in color and details. In fact, the IQ is so special with this camera that I feel the speed increases seen, while still slow, make the camera worth a purchase for those who value superb color and IQ. For portraits this camera just gets it right and if used from ISO 100-800 you will not be let down by the IQ. If coming from a Merrill of even older DP2 you will find the speed increases very welcome indeed. Just do not expect a speed demon, as it is in NO WAY a speedy camera in operation.
The next three images..all OOC JPEG
What the DP2 Quattro is missing, in my opinion.
While I have been enjoying my time with the little Quattro I have been wishing that it has a few things that it does not, and if it did, it would make it complete IMO. For one, I love the fact that it is so simple. It is a device built for one thing, all out image quality without any stress of color, sharpness or quality. In this regard, it just works. Image after image, even of plain old mundane subjects looked superb, reminding me of the old Leica M9 in many ways with the crisp yet pleasing details and slide like film color. Add in some medium format smoothness and you have a camera that REALLY delivers in the IQ department. I know I said this already but for me, the IQ is almost worth the asking price alone here. Add in the funky design (which I love) and the ease of use and you have a real camera that photo geeks and enthusiasts will really enjoy when shooting in good light.
But the DP2 is not perfect, far from it.
For starters, there is no EVF here. An EVF embedded into the body would have just added so much to the experience. When out in bright light the LCD gets hard to see and framing your shot is basically not possible. It turns into a guessing game for everything. An EVF would have solved this and made it more enjoyable to shoot. Sigma is releasing an OVF (Optical View Finder) for the Quattro but there are issues to using an OVF with a digital camera. For starters, let’s say you shot with the LCD off (which is as easy as a button press away) and wanted to frame with the OVF. You will not get an exact framing nor will you know where the camera focused. If you want precise focus you will need to use the LCD. An EVF would have been perfect.
Also, the LCD does not swivel and while I appreciate this being done to keep clean lines and save on thickness, it hurts the usability because without the EVF or a tilt LCD it takes away points for versatility. Then we have the shoddy high ISO performance. I have been using the Sony A7s as my main camera for months now and have become quite spoiled with the ability to shoot anywhere and at anytime. With the DP2 Quattro forget low light interior shots or ISO above 800. After ISO 800 the noise gets nasty and even with color I would prefer to stop at ISO 400. This is one area where the Foveon sensors just have not been able to improve upon. At base ISO and up to 400 the file quality is outstanding in color or B&W. After 400-800 you will want to go B&W only, and yes, you can get good results at ISO 3200 with B&W. OOC B&W mode looks great.
So while the IQ and design is beautiful (for me and my tastes) the camera still lacks due to not having an EVF, swivel LCD and not so great high ISO performance.
With that out-of-the-way, if one wants a camera for certain subjects like portraits, landscape or scenic type of stuff then the Quattro will deliver better than almost any other camera. I feel it has better IQ than the Leica M9 that came in at $7k. From color to detail, it is stupendous. If we treat it like a “Mini Medium Format” then it is understandable that it is lacking in many ways but up there with the best of the best in other ways.
As long as you know what you are getting with the Quattro then it is highly unlikely that you will be disappointed with it. I recently saw a YouTube video review of this camera and the guy concluded with “It’s a piece of crap”. I have never seen such a horrible review as the guy had no idea how to use it to its potential. The Quattro is far from a piece of crap and is highly capable when it comes to making/creating an image. From the color to the detail to the rich file. You just have to realize what it is and what it is not!
The NONO’s: No action shots, no low light interior or night shots, no easy framing in harsh sun. Battery life is below average but camera comes with two of them.
The WOW’s!: Gorgeous MF like IQ & color, unique design and simple menu setup. OOC JPEGS look fantastic.
There more OOC JPEGS…
The Shooting experience with the Quattro
The DP2 Quattro, as previously stated, is a unique design. I am a HUGE fan of those companies that go outside of the box when it does to design and features. I love to see companies push the envelope and do or try things that no one else does. When I saw the design of the Quattro before it was released I was very excited about it because it was something different from the normal ho hum camera shape. I found the DP2 Merrill to have an awful body design. The Quattro, while odd at first while holding it soon becomes comfy and natural. I had zero issues using the body, holding the body or controlling the camera. The magnesium alloy body feels solid and secure and everything is top quality (besides the dumb rubber SD card cover).
Brandon getting the shot with his Diana camera. OOC JPEG. Blown highlights outside in the sun.
Using Auto Focus with the Quattro is a much nicer experience over the DP2 Merrill, which was borderline unusable for most situations. At least now we have a somewhat snappy AF and while it will hunt in low light, it is not bad at all. I expected worse, so it exceeded my expectations in the Auto Focus speed department. The Quattro does not do the fancy tricks that other cameras do. Video? Nope. Fancy built-in effects? Nope. No panorama, no smile detect, etc. It is a simple camera with a simple design and button layout.
The Menu system is superb. Clean, elegant and easy to browse. I wish all were like this. It reminds me of a Leica menu in its simplicity and the quick menu is so clean, so easy to navigate and make changes. I love it.
When I washout shooting with the DP2 Quattro I always loved taking it out of my bag to shoot and I even had a few people ask me what it was I was taking pictures with. It is a conversation starter and stare getter for sure, so forget about being stealth with the Quattro. Never once did I have an issue with anything and it always delivered the goods. I had a wonderful time shooting with it unlike the previous DP2 Merrill.
It’s all in the details
Even when shooting JPEG you can see the immense detail in the image. Below are three images with 100% crops embedded. You must click the image to see it with the crop. Remember, these are from JPEG!
High ISO Test and Crops
The Sigma DP2 Quattro, or any DP camera for that matter is NOT a camera made for low light shooting. In fact, for best IQ keep this camera set to ISO 100-400 and no more than that. Yes, very low on the ISO scale but there are always trade offs as there are no perfect cameras. The DP2 Quattro is a camera to pull out of the bag when there is good light available. Then it will reward you with beautiful colors and results.
I am posting a few high ISO files below starting with base ISO 100. I them move on to 400, 800. 1600, 3200 and 6400. The best are 100 and 400 but see for yourself. Once you get to ISO 1600 problems start to creep in including odd color shifts and reduced DR. Stick from 100-800 and you will be just fine.
For best viewing experience, right-click and open each image in a new window. These are full size files from the camera, OOC JPEG
JPEG vs RAW comparison
I have found that shooting the Quattro in JPEG to be quite good. In fact, with all of the hassles of processing the RAW files of the DP2 Quattro I would just shoot JPEG for 95% of what I shoot. If I was shooting something very special that I was going to print large t hen I would process the RAW file for sure. Below are two images, one out of camera JPEG and one processed from RAW.
JPEG is up top, RAW underneath. Right click and open in a new window to see the files in their full size.
Pros and Cons
- Outstanding Medium Format image quality!
- Unique design and shape that works well for my hands
- Conversation starter
- Detail, color and 3D feel is all here
- Camera ships with two batteries and full charger
- 30mm f/2.8 lens is sharp corner to corner
- Sigma’s best DP to date
- Faster Af and processing over previous DP cameras
- Great JPEG engine
- Super JPEG size: 7,680×5,120
- Superb for B&W shooting
- OVF is available for those that want one
- Good Dynamic Range up to ISO 800
- Menu system is simple, clean and elegant
- Most Unique camera of 2014!
- IQ puts most other cameras to shame…really.
- Still slow to AF compared to other (non DP) cameras
- No swivel LCD
- Must get exposure correct as it is tough to recover highlights
- SD Card rubber “door” will break eventually
- No kind of EVF even possible
- Shape may be trouble for some
- Battery life is not the best, sucks down quick.
- Fixed lens means only 40mm equivalent
- Limited ISO use, best from 100-400
- Dynamic Range suffers after ISO 800+
- RAW files can only be opened and processed by Sigma Software, which is SLOW as molasses.
Who is this camera for?
The Sigma DP2 Quattro is a camera for camera pros, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. It is not a P&S for a new camera buyer or for someone without any knowledge of how a camera works. It is for those who crave detail, rich color and unreal micro contrast. It is for those who want a Medium Format look and feel in a camera that is much smaller and lighter, as well as cheaper. It is a camera for portraits, landscapes or still life. It is not for someone who wants to shoot running kids inside the house. No way, no how. If you shoot outdoor scenes, landscape or people and you want a camera that will deliver some of the most beautiful files you have seen, the this may be your camera. I find it works great as a 2nd camera for special situations or those moments when something like this will work for you.
As I sit here and think about my time with the DP2 Quattro I am extremely pleased and happy with the image quality. It exceeded every expectation and beats out some much more expensive cameras when shooting in the iSO 100-400 range. For IQ, this is one of those camera that just scream out with it. It doesn’t get better in IQ even in the 3K range! It was reminding me of such cameras as the Leica M9, Sony RX1R and even a few Medium Format cameras when it comes to IQ. That is some pretty impressive company, especially when you consider that the camera sells for $999. Well under the others I mentioned.
But will the IQ be enough for most of you who are in the market for a new camera? Probably not. The Sigma DP Quattro would not make for a good “one camera” to own because it limits your shooting to daytime or good light, ISO 100-800 for color shooting and it does not offer an EVF or swivel LCD. The Battery life is tough (but it does ship with two) and the camera does not do video or the gimmicky tricks that some other cameras do so well.
The DP Quattro is about one thing and one thing only…making memories in decent light with the best quality possible in this size and format for under $1000.
The Auto Focus has improved greatly from the DP2 Merrill I tested but it is still lacking in speed when compared to other cameras. I never found it unusable or missing the shot, not at all, but again…it is only good for still shots, NOT action or moving subjects and in low light it slows down and hunts. The DP2 Quattro has the all new sensor that delivers faster speed and better performance across the board and the 29 MP Foveon sensor is said to give the same results as a standard 39MP sensor. I would not argue that point. The battery life has improved from the Merril’s 50-60 shots per charge and now I can get about 120-140 shots per charge The two batteries supplied should be good for a day of shooting as long as you are not a speed demon machine gun shooter (if so, this is NOT your camera).
Shooting the Quattro is something you will either LOVE or HATE. If you can get along with the funkytown design then you will enjoy shooting with the Quattro. If you find the grip odd or off, then forget it.
Me, I love the design. I think it is the loveliest camera design of 2014.
So will I buy one? When B&H Photo sent me this camera to review I assumed I would “like” it but not “love” it. Well, I fell hard for the special image quality which does have some magic embedded in it. I also enjoyed the faster AF and write times and beefier design. I hate the flimsy rubber SD card “door” but overall enjoyed my time with the camera. I feel it is worth the $999 if you are after IQ for landscapes or portraits and as a 2nd camera for those times when you want the Foveon Look. So I have to ask myself if I would use it enough. I have a Leica, I have a Sony A7s and still have an Olympus E-M1 lying around. Do I need this one? NO, not at all. Do I want it? Sure, I would love to own it just for the IQ, color and design. I feel one day this camera will sit in a museum for its unique yet oddball design! It may be a flop sales wise but it sure is unique 😉
So would I buy one? Yes indeed, if I had the spare $1k to spend, without hesitation. If I can save some cash I may just go for it. I passed on all previous DP models but this one is my favorite without question. I can not image ANYONE being disappointed with the image quality. Just beware that you will need light because after ISO 400 or 800 the IQ degrades fast.
I would love to test this camera and the upcoming DP1 (28mm equivalent) during my upcoming Southwest workshop as it would create some breathtaking images I am sure. I may have to buy one just for that trip 🙂
WHEN YOU SIT AND THINK ABOUT IT…the Sigma DP Quattro beats the Leica M 240, Sony A7 and others for Image Quality, has Auto Focus (the Leica does not) and comes in at $6k less (than the Leica) but includes a lens where the Leica does not. When you look at it in this way then it is a no brainer and worth the cost if you value high image quality above all. Just be ready for what this camera does NOT do well (low light, action, etc).
Overall it gets a recommendation from me, and a high one..but only if your main concern is image quality and you do not need a camera for low light or for fast moving subjects.
Where to Buy
The Sigma DP2 Quattro is available at the links below from my recommended dealers:
B&H Photo – You can see or buy the Dp2 Quattro at B&H Photo HERE
Amazon – Buy the Quattro at Amazon by using my link HERE
Outside the USA? Use my Amazon UK, Germany and Canada links HERE.
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Yes the DP2 is an awesome camera, if you know what to use it for. Based on Steve’s review I used it for a few years – and many photos taken have the kind of WOW factor for which in my memory I have to go back to when I was using a Nikon 35Ti with e.g. the awesome Velvia. That Nikon was by the way one of the best cameras I ever had.
My Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a great camera and I love it … I use it for just about everything. But for those certain photos under good circumstances, the DP2 beat it every time.
Then it got stolen in Montenegro last summer. Bummer.
Since then I bought the Sigma Quattro SD H (crop factor 1.3) – with the 24/1.4 and 50/1.4 Art lenses. And believe me – it’s even better than the DP2! Just a bit of a brick. But an AMAZING camera, which I think will beat most or all full frame cameras with Bayer sensor when it comes to that wow-factor. It’s still almost as quirky as the DP2 (there are some improvement), so it won’t be your only camera.
Steve if you can get one, do a test – you will love it!
I’ve thought about trying it, and now I probably will ; ) Thank you.
You can use raw and develop them in ON1 or Silkypix instead of the software from Sigma. So developing is no problem anymore.
Wow! The image quality here is definitely something special. Amongst the best I’ve seen regardless of camera size or cost. Thank you for another great review!
Steve > I’ve always been so very impressed by the ‘pure’ color rendition of this portrait of your mate, with the Sigma dp camera. It seems to be the most natural gorgeous one you have ever taken of her.
My question is “how does the Sigma dp COLOR COMPARE to your now beloved Hasselblad X1D?” (Just that consideration; none of the other vary many differences between these two cameras, that have discussed many times before!)
(I too lust nightly for the Hasselblad X1D but only want the 120mm macro and 22mm wide angle.)
Thank you for your good work on behalf of us photographers
You are correct I have always loved the look and feel of that pic of Debby. The Foveon sensors are quite nice for color and detail. The X1D vs the Sigma for me is no contest though, as the Sigma, as gorgeous as the color is, and detail is, in most cases it is not as versatile and would never work for what I enjoy to shoot. It’s slower than the X1D by quite a bit, you can not use it in low light, and you need to use Sigmas software to process the files, it’s the only option. This Sigma is for those who want to REALLY slow down. BUT the color and IQ is stunning, that is without question. I would say the color is just as nice, and some would say nicer, than the X1D..different, but the Sigma files are so so nice. Thanks for the comment as I forgot about these shots and it took me back to the Sigma and I remembered how much I did enjoy the IQ from it.
I own a dp2 merrill and I love it. A lot of the comments about I can understand. But for every problem is a workaround. For instance if you have to use 100 asa I use the trick of a 2 second delay. You can hold the camera absolutely without moving and take wonderful sharp pictures by even 1/15 second.
Also moving object were no problem. The tour the France was in Utrecht and I photograped moving cyclists at a speed of about 35 km. I was a very sharp picture. I’m just a amateur but I feel this camera is the best I ever had. I think that if I can make good pictures with it everyone can learn that. I feel that this would be the same for the Quattro.
The DP2 Quattro is awesome and I even used it on a 3-week hike and in caves (very low light!) without significant problems. No tripod, adds too much weight to a rucksack 🙂
So let me explain how I got there. Been doing photography since a kid. My first camera was an (analogue) OM-1, which was brand new at the time. Owned many cameras. The best cameras that I ever had thus far in terms of pure image quality were an old Zeiss 6×9 cm camera (go figure) and the Nikon 35Ti – a Leica quality fixed lens camera. The pictures from both of those regularly had what I call the “wow” factor.
I lost the wow factor for some time when I went digital. I used early APS-C (Nikon) – very good, but no wow. Then as a hiker and mountaineer I went for m43, of which I own several bodies in both Panasonic and Olympus. Best thus far the OM-D EM-5 – and stunningly much like my first camera, the OM-1 🙂 The EM-5 is very very good indeed, I completely agree with you, Steve. It did yield several photos with “wow” again, both in RAW and the very good Olympus JPEG. I still use it with much pleasure. My oldest daughter, who runs a fashion blog, prefers the Pana GH3 – but for me the EM-5 has the edge image wise, and other than that the EM-5 is a beauty, the GH3 a Sherman tank. It’s subjective too, sure.
Then I read your DP2 Quattro review, Steve. And I wondered – can I get that old magical quality back there? I bought it, added an extra battery (recommended) and the optical OVF, and the huge sunshield – found a bag to fit it in – and I hiked for instance all over Crete with that bag attached to a sturdy 2″ leather pants belt. Doable! Even did some rock climbing with it, with the bag more towards my back to get it out of the way of climbing movement.
In use I have absolutely no problems with the AF. It’s fast enough for non-action photography, and usually very precise. It even works pretty well in lower light, or contrast poor circumstances. You just got to find something in the focus field that has some articulation, press shutter half, and it will quickly “grab on”. For landscape, or Sun sets, I regularly use the manual focus on infinity, which works extremely easy. That brings me to an important aspect of the DP2 Quattro – it seems that Sigma has people walking around who actually USE these cameras in the field. The DP2 is really easy to use. The buttons make sense. The menus are simple and effective. I love it. There in comparison the EM-5 is bad – Olympus menus seem to be made by Martians, they are awful and not logical. Panasonic is better there, for sure. And Sigma superb.
I made a lot of photos in Sunny Greece. Ideal circumstances for the DP2 – less so for the visibility of the display. The OVF is fine quality, but it’s not very precise, and it only gives an image, nothing else. No AF spot (I focus on the middle spot, so that’s not the biggest problem, easy enough to guess right), no nothing. I do use it at times for composition and to see if what I have in my mind is actually there in real. But when I press the shutter I usually go back to the display, even when I have to really struggle in bright light. Why? Cause my ideal of photography is Cartier-Bresson like – I want to make the exact picture that I want to make. Composition needs to be as right as possible right away. It’s still doable, sometimes takes a few tries. I go into the shade, playback the photo (digital era, thank you!) and decide if it’s good enough. If not, I erase it and try again 🙂
I used it in caves and churches, with existing light. I use a Max ISO setting of 800. At 800 the DP2 is “ok”, not superb, but for such special photos I don’t mind if they are somewhat grainy. And I am not going to carry 2 cameras when hiking or travelling light. The colour palette is still very good though at 800.
But mostly it excels in normal light conditions. Most of my photos are taken at ISO 100. I do play a lot with field-of-depth, and the DP2 *can* do wonderful portraits, but you do have to go close. It’s not a portrait lens, so if you want to focus on that, get the DP with the portrait lens – I use the EM-5 for that with either the Olympus 1.8/45 or the Sigma 2.8/60, both of which can yield wonderful portraits with “wow” backgrounds. As to the DP2, I need to get a gray-filter to make sure I can still do 2.8 full opening in full Sun, as sometimes the 1/1250 maximum speed is just not fast enough. I do also use it at the other end of the diaphragm spectrum too, and at f11 it’s still very good.
And yes I regularly get pictures with the “wow” factor again. The DP2 truly *excels* in pastel like circumstances, where there are lots of shades of colours. Like in old cities. Or in nature, early morning or late afternoon. I made some pictures which give me the same feeling as the old Carlo Ponti Venice photos – and funny enough those were in b/w of course. It’s as if time is frozen in those pictures and reality captured in full glory. The DP2 can make pictures that have a Rembrandt like quality – I have often said this camera “paints” instead of “captures”. I wonder if it can also do Van Gogh or Monet. I need to take it to France next time 🙂
Very highly recommended for photographers who are in no hurry, like to work in the daylight, and love paintings.
There is much more to write about this camera. But better is to try it for yourself.
I will use the DP2 a lot as I really love it. I will also continue to use the EM-5 as it’s superb too and so wonderfully flexible. And the E-PM2 (which is like a mini version of the EM-5) with the excellent tiny 12-32 Panasonic zoom for when I just want to stash a camera in a pocket of my jacket.
I forgot to talk about the software process. Because I used Aperture until now, and Aperture does not support the RAWs from the DP2, I mostly used JPEG, in the standard setting. As many have remarked – the quality out of the camera of those is truly remarkable. I have done some RAWs especially for portraits and used the Sigma software to convert into TIFF and then back into Aperture. Works fine. I am switching from Aperture to Capture One now, and plan to do experiment a lot more with RAW from the DP2. Sadly I will need to keep using the TIFF trick, as Capture One does not support Sigma’s RAWs either. It would be really great if they did.
I have the DP 2 Merrills. It makes every other compact digital I have obsolete. A colleague of mine called it the “mini Phase One”. I agree this is not the nicest camera to use but the results speak for themselves. On this website, we speak of innovation, manufacturers trying new things and setting new boundaries. Sigma took the biggest risk of all trying a radically different sensor to see if they could move the image quality goal posts. They did.
It’s not the prettiest. It may not have the most user friendly camera out there. Step aside Sony, Leica, Olympus, Nikon, Canon et.al this image quality is unbelievable and leaves anything I have seen so far in its wake. If only Sigma made it with an f1.4 lens?
Please test the DP0 Quattro when it’s released. I am curious to see what it will be like as the lens is a 21mm f 4 equivalent and not the super sharp 30mm that is on the DP2.
You forgot to mention the software you need to convert the raw file. I just use it convert the X3 files into tiff files and edit the images in lIghtroom.
The Sigma PP software gets criticized and I admit that it doesn’t work all that well, (although it is being improved) but there is so little that needs to be done with the files as they come out of the camera that it doesn’t matter. Going through Lightroom makes it a simple and elegant workflow.
Compared to your other reviews or lenses and/or cameras some of the pictures from this camera are by far the best I have seen. The black and white of Debby, in my opinion, is at least equal to what I have seen from the Leica Monochrome.
Great IQ, but not fun to use to do the clunky slowness of the camera. Notice not one image of anything in motion? Because its not possible with these cameras. The AF is slow and the low light capability is awful. Other than that they are gorgeous for IQ and color.
I used to be a Foveon fan and did quite a lot of work with the SD2 on some commercial jobs, while the sharpness is amazing I do have to say that the Foveon sensor seems to struggle with colors, it exhibits a tendency for color casting/drift … especially if you need a bit of heavy retouching and ‘pulling’ on the image (colors, shadows and such) such as used in commercial photography, the Foveon file does not hold up that well, it ‘breaks’ much more easily (color banding/casting, ‘hot pixels)) than a comparable Bayer-sensor file.
My personal (and hopefully rational) conclusion is that while the Foveon principle excels optically (no Bayer Array and de-mosaicing etc) the sensor faces quite substantial challenges from a electrical point of view : the light loss due to the three silicone layers that the light needs to travel through means that the sensors readout needs to be substantially amplified … and who says amplification says distortion and noise, and that is what Foveon sensor struggle with and why we will probably never see a high ISO capability. Also I do have the feeling that the ‘three layer’ color separation via stacked silicone layers is not so perfectly linear as it is probably difficult to manufacture the ‘stacked silicone’ photo sites with tight tolerances across the sensor, ‘Single Layer’ Bayer sensors are probably much easier to produce with high tolerances and therefore accomplish that task with very good linearity and coherence, with Foveon I do get the feeling that Sigma needs to deploy a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ calculations/algorithms to compensate for the somewhat particular readout from this sensor … it kinda becomes obvious after working a while with the files.
I haven’t tried this new iteration of the sensor … maybe they managed to bring it to a substantial next level and as said the issues I mentioned mostly show up when heavily pulling on the files in retouch, if you’re more of a real-life photographer these should be non-issues and the cameras for sure do deliver amazing results.
SD2? I don’t see an SD2 on the Sigma website. You’re basing your comments on your use of a non existent camera?
Until Adobe adds full x3f support to Lightroom (and makes it available to older versions like LR4 for those of us that do not want to downgrade our Macs from Snow Leopard!) the company has no claim to be the leading provider of image-processing solutions for the photographer. It is pathetic that such a large company cannot afford the 6-months (max) of programmer time it would take to add .x3f support … especially when it spends so much time making pointless changes to Flash every few months.
This site is worth checking out, http://www.sigmarm2.com the DP Merrills. Great RAW monochrome cameras.
Bit of a late comment (on the great review) as I only just read it all the way through… I use a DP1 Merrill as my main camera and previously owned the DP2 Merrill. After looking at lots of pics from the quattro, I’ll be sticking with the Merrill as there is just something that I love about the Merrill’s output (maybe the larger than life colours and the hyper real sharpness and micro contrast), I just don’t see it in the Quattro images, There’s something always something special about the DP1M images when they “develop” in SPP and I always find myself thinking wow when I see them. I really think Sigma should have carried on developing the Merrill line. I hope we haven’t seen the last of it.
Regarding bells and whistles, although the video mode on the Merrill leaves a lot to be desired, it is there, and I do use it a lot. I don’t want to carry another camera with me to record video so not having the ability to take video notes and useful short clips, is another reason for not upgrading to the Quattro cameras. I haven’t heard any mention of this, from anyone else though, I must be weird! I do feel that Sigma could have put this in with little effort and cost.
Two words: leaf shutter. This little fact that a lot of reviewers forget to mention make even the old DP1, which focuses reaaaaalllyyy slooooowly, an awesome camera for certain kinds of indoor shooting. I’ve easily obtained some of my favourite action shots of my toddler running around the house by slapping on a manual flash and pre-focusing (easy with a wide angle ofc) with this camera.
Any indoor shots where you want to balance the window light become so much simpler (unless you actually enjoy 9-shot HDRs of course!) Outdoors, again having really high flash sync speeds is a huge plus in some tricky lighting.
I suspect your DP2M was faulty Steve. Mine appears to focus as fast as my DSLR, and faster than my other mirrorless camera, and I’ve never noticed any mis-focused shots having got the green light. I’m not saying that to be contrary, as I pointed out, the DP1 is very slow indeed, but the DP2M has never seemed even slightly slow to me, quite the opposite.
Hopefully the redesigned lens in the DP1 Quattro will be as good as the original as that’s the version I’d be most interested in.
The Dp2M or Q in no way focuses even nearly as fast as any DSLR (well, unless we are taking the 1st DSLR). I have since tried 2 other DP2M’s and the AF was the same. Slow. The Quattro is a little faster than the M but still does not compete with any DSLR or Mirrorless that I have tested. The E-M1 kills it, the Sony A7s beats it and the A6000 slaughters it. Those are not even DSLR’s. In bright light they are acceptable but not for any moving subject, at all. In low light the AF hunts and in dim light it is pretty useless. These are strictly for daylight or studio light. Tripod use is best. Treat it like medium format and it will reward you with amazing results.
Foveon does delicacy subetely beyond any Bayer including Medium Format.
This was so up to and including Merril …
although SD9, SD10, SD14, DP1, DP2 had more of the Foveon delicacy, subtelty,
whereas Merril retains more details.
I will have to see more of Quattro .. whether it has the Foveon delicacy subtelty,
of if for sake of higher iso, faster in camera processing this has been sacrficiced
for a more Bayer averaging out of delicacy, subtelety.
You say it is not good for low light work. For those of us used to tripod mounted Large Format cameras – why not? If used that way would it be OK?
How about longer exposures of a second or so to a few minutes? Does it work in those conditions?
I would not but this camera for any kind of low light work, period. I have been testing it more and no..I am getting much much better results with my Sony A7s even with Tripod.
I’ve also never seen anything in design like this and hope it’s the last time I’ve seen a camera this ugly.
Would you please say
ISO 1600, 3200, 6400
Is Quattro B&W IQ on a par, better, worse that Sony A7S.
Sony, no contest. The Sigma is not good after ISO 800. B&W you can get away with but it loses the magic after 800 and cannot beat the A7s.
when i read people comments on sigma dpreview when they compared quattro to merril IQ
i was somewhat “upset” i was hoping for so much from Quattro.
BUT AFTER seeing Steve’s images and his view of Quattro IQ better thabn M240, A7S, A7R (iso 100-400)
and on a par with M9 + Leica lens
Im relieved & somewhat elated.
When i tested Quattro in Park Camera London (£699) i said to the sales assistant it is beautiful design.
(and one of the most unique camera designs of the last 100 years )
RE Holding the Quattro
EXTEND YOUR CAMERA HOLDING HAND
Mimic the way you hold a camera (non medieum format)
You cock wrist up = stress point lower wrist
You bend thumb behind camera = stress point base of thumb to wrist
You cock index finder for shutter – stress point on index finger.
3 STRESS POINTS CREATED WHEN HOLDING CAMERAS :
BASE OF WRIST, THUMB TO WRIST, COCKED INDEX FINGER
imagine NONE of these stress points when you hold camera
No cocking No bending
THATS THE QUATTRO
When you extend you camera holding hand look at your hand in its natural position.
See how the thumb naturally wrests.
See how the your fingers naturally fold in
See how your palm makes a groove.
THATS THE QUATTRO FIT
PLACE THUMB ON QUATTRO SHUTTER
SEE HOW NATURALLY YOUR FINGERS FOLD AROUND THE GRIP
FEEL HOW NATURALLY THE GRIP SNUGLY FITS INTO YOUR PALM
WITH NO STRESS POINTS
Yes, I agree. The more I use it, the more I like it. Holding it as you describe feels natural and comfy.
If somehow you could get word to sigma to release DP3 Quattro
with swivel / tilt screen,
With the massive number of users frequenting you site,
yiou have clout !
(Sigma AFIAK made the Olympus 75mm F1.8)
The DP3 is already made, as is the DP1 Quattro. All will be the same body style, just different focal lengths.
Steve emphasized the most important feature of this camera, and it was restated in one of the replies as “it’s just not an allrounder, you have to take it as a second camera, just like a filter or on planned purpose, only.” I’m getting tired of reading reviews and responses that continue to demand that every camera serve all purposes. Even say a Nikon D800 or its Canon equivalent wouldn’t be able to do that if weight and convenience is expected as well. We are in the age of multiple cameras, one in which our cell phones occupy one of the niches as well. And it’s free! It comes with the phone, for all of us. Price also has to be taken into account. My 1970 Pentax Spotmatic Camera cost me around $400 (I couldn’t afford the Nikon!). In today’s dollars that would take me over $ 2,000 or more which puts it into the realm of the Nikon D800 without a lens. The old Pentax was an all purpose camera, but lacked some 80% of the features and electronic enhancements of modern digital cameras. What this means to me is: who cannot afford an all purpose Olympus M1 camera and a second narrow purpose, lightweight camera like a Ricoh GR or its Nikon equivalent, and/or a Sigma DP2 Merrill or Quattro? If you have the desire for diversity and wide range of photographic interests. You have to throw the Leica M Monochrom into the mix as a second, specialized camera as well, for what $ 8,000? Yes, some will want that if they can afford it. In that nice circumstance, the Leica MM is well worth the money. But you’ll automatically want another all purpose color camera to go with it.
This automatically means that Sigma and Ricoh and the others are caught in a declining marketplace for cameras and will have to rely on those with special interests to stay in business. And from my now selfish point of view, continue to innovate these remarkable new digital cameras. It will be a sad day if Sigma gives up. Having said all of that, I cannot understand why Ricoh can design such an outstanding camera as the GR (camera, excluding the lens and sensor), why Olympus can do the same thing with the M5 and M1, both cameras of their respective years, and Sigma cannot find a way to make very few (common today) improvements in the camera itself, beyond the external shape/design of the box? Don’t mess up the box, if you don’t want to, but why not funnel the electronic image to one of the available, high quality add-on electronic viewfinders, to be used or not used as desired? Why let us read about one being developed in China by someone else? The sensor deserves a better camera in 2014. I’ll watch the users’ images as they appear on various web sites, as usual, and if I get impressed enough from those, I may still try the Quattro.
whats in those colors that fuji can’t deliver?!
As someone that owns both Fuji and DP Merrills, I can say that they are both different in their own regards. I find DP can do dynamic range way better than Fuji, and the detail is amazing (150% crops look good). But with all the love that I have for my DP’s, Fuji is a much better ‘everyday’ camera. I tried to snap some quick shots of my kid in plenty of sun with the DP, and it was a no go (even when she stopped to rest for .000001 seconds). As Steve’s review states (which holds true for DPM’s) static good light, Sigma. Any movement involved in the shot, any other brand. For me, the best test between them was to take them both out on a partly cloudy day, and snap some pictures of clouds. Right away you can see why the Sigma’s are ‘special’.
Steve, for the IQ camera like this. do you think that EVF or Tilting Lcd will have electronically impact like reducing IQ ? As some camera with best IQ also doesn’t imply these features.
Hello, I’m actually just starting in photography and I want to ask a question while I have the opportunity irrelevantly to write a comment. Brandon or anybody, what is the light or baby blue and white camera Brandon’s holding? Great site…Keep shooting!
Sorry, no help for new photographer like you!
This looks great to me. But I have two questions. First, are there plans to release this with a wider lens. And second, what about one of those LCD “Loupe” attachments that solve the sun glare problem. Is there something that exists for these Sigma DP2s?
Bruce, For my DP Merrills I use a “QV-1 Kamerar”(Amazon) LED hood which works well and attaches via a magnetic base that attaches via the cameras tripod screw. Test one before you buy as they are a little bulky, however they are easily detached.Have not tried other makes.
Thanks for giving time to review the Sigma. Im a Sigma fan and at first, i wasnt convinced with the IQ of the Quattro from various images online. Your skill showed what the Quattri and it is indeeed a low mp MF camera. IMhOo, a little bit better because the colors are dense, very lifelike or better than life.
My nxt camera will still be a Sigma and this would be it.zodia
One thing you may want to look at is the Tone Control and Overexposure Correction settings you can enable using the menu. Either of those items can increase dynamic range of JPG files shot, making the camera even more versatile just shooting in JPG.
I agree with your thoughts on DP2 Quattro, Steve! I got a chance to test it out for a week back in July and was absolutely blown away with the IQ. It does have its quirks but if you shoot it deliberately (like a field camera) it pays back so much. I can definitely tell Sigma put all their efforts into IQ and skimped on a few other elements to keep this thing affordable, I can’t complain! 🙂
How out IQ of this camera compare with DP2 merrill?
Will be an excellent choice for doing long exposure photography.
Assuming it goes past the Merrill generation’s 30 second limit!
Sadly it does not, 30 seconds is still the limit.
I’m curious there’s a shutter release cable in the official accessories. Does it extend the limit or can it perform a bulb mode?
Steve, you mentioned that you own both – an M and A7s. 2 questions: which one do you use more now? and if you would to keep one – what would it be?
Oh, I would use the A7s much more. I did not buy the Quattro, it is a review unit. I thought about it and am still undecided because I would not use it so much due to its lack of versatility (No EVF, no swivel LCD, slow AF, no low light use, quirky raw files, etc). I would use it on occasion when I needed or wanted that look but that would be a few times per year, and even then, it would not be mandatory as the Sony could do whatever I needed. It’s more of a “want” than any real ‘Need”. If it had an EVF I would buy one 100%. I would then think it is one of the coolest cameras of the year (note I said “coolest”). As it is now, it would be like owning a MF film camera. It would come out on occasion for those times I wanted a “wow” moment (shoot RAW for max effect).
I ment Leica M 🙂 But thanks for the reply, appreciate it
You know, Steve, I keep getting back to is review daily. I’m very thrilled by the IQ. And though you may be right about the “no EVF” and other quircks and the fact that it can not be the only camera. But, there’s a flip side to it – it can change your photography style – by making it slower and more deeply thought through before taking an imgae (this would work for landscapes mostly). would need the OVF thought.
Exactly. I am supposed to send back the review unit in a few days but am so tempted to buy it for those moments when I want the look that the Foveon sensor gives.
Nice review Steve…
My first digital slr was the sd9 (a long time ago…) and I loved the Foveon sensor for colors !
I still don’t understand why Sigma don’t make the quattro with a lens mount like all the mirrorless today, it’s a pity to be stucked with a 40mm f/2.8 lens… Above all when iso 400 seems to be the “limit”and slow AF, just put a good fast manual lens on it and imagine the results !.. 😉
Hi Steve, Very interesting review. After reading passed love/hate mail on the Sigma DP Merrill cameras and then seeing the actual picture results, I just had to get one. A year later I have all three Merrills and am very happy. I also shoot Leica M, Nikon D, Olympus M1 and have to say the Sigma beats them all for IQ.In the past when I wanted higher quality/ considered pictures I used my Mamiya 7 or Hasselblad and scanned the resulting film. Now the medium format is redundant. The Sigmas have replace them and I think this is the best way to consider this camera, rather than comparing it to the “here today, gone tomorrow” speed,Iso,noiseless, variety.You may still need one of these speed freaks as your regular camera but augmented by a Sigma.
The quality of the pictures accompanying the article were excellent, much better than many others daily inspirations. Did you do something special or is it the Sigma IQ shining through?.If you ever get the time I would like to see one of your crazy comparisons with the Sigma DP2Q versus the Leica M and 50mm Apo. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the review, this is the best review i have seen.
Although i already bought mine copy but it’s good when somebody ask about this camera and i can show this review to them.
I enjoy the dp2 q like you do. Thanks!
Steve, thanks for (as always) great review. After reading it and looking at the pictures – I really want this camera! With 28mm equiv though. Hope to see at least a brief review of that model from you. Keep up the good work. P.S. Love the selfie in the reflection as well as b&w pic of your fiancé
Steve, that’s a lovely balanced review, I feel. The only thing that stops me getting this today is the lack of an EVF or even a poor OVF: mass coupling is essential for any photographer to hand hold steadily (i.e., pressing the camera to one’s face!). It makes SUCH a difference to the speeds you can shoot images at.
I hope Sigma reads these comments and fixes the SD card door and adds some kind of EVF/OVF. Even the sort of OVF that P&S cameras (like the old Canon G series) used to have—only shoving 85% of the sensor area—would be an improvement.
I am impressed by Steve’s positive spin of the Quattro. My issue with the camera is that it is not ENOUGH of an improvement over the previous Merrills. I own both the DP1M and the DP3M. I rarely use them and when I do I am still impressed by their performance – within the limitations of the Merrill system. Before I spend another thousand on a Sigma foveon camera it must be REALLY competitive – esp. with more user friendly options (EVF) with the other camera options out there. Medium format like performance? PLEASE how many of us really need that kind quality and at such a steep price? I am not convinced that the Quattro will deliver that much more image quality than the current Merrills to justify the investment. I’ll keep my Merrills for now. I hope the camera is a flop and Sigma will produce a real competitive product.
Steve, I agree with you on everything but the color. The skin tone colors don’t look so good and I am viewing them on an color calibrated Eizo at work.
Skin tones are dead on except for the 2nd image (Brandon and John) where I shot in Vivid and kept it in vivid. No camera I have shot with has done any better for skin tones besides maybe the Canon 6D. Keep in mind these are JPEGS and some I had it set to vivid, some standard, some B&W and 1-2 neutral. None of these (besides the 2nd image of Brandon and John) were altered from the OOC JPEG.
“Skin tones are dead on except for the 2nd image..”
hmm, I’ve viewed them on 3 different monitors, currently using my iMac, and there is a yellow/cyan cast that I do not see on other postings. Especially noticeable on the photos of your fiancee looking at her skin and the sky behind her.
I am agreeing with Rigo.
I shot 6 models with mine during the trial period, ISO-100-200 skin tones were perfect studio lights. I did some natural light shots & mixed lighting shots after, ISO 100 was fine, ISO 400 showed a little color shift. Not anything that couldn’t be fixed by setting a custom WB.
this camera does not impress me.
As expected it’s perfect if you don’t have much blow-out light risk, still much light, don’t go over iso800 for b&w and 1 stop lower for colour, shoot at EV -1 to -2 and get back the information from raw on post.
I own Leica, Nikon, Fuji and Sigma DP2x. The Camera I most hate is this Sigma, would be the same with Merill and Quattro, not because they’re slow, or basic in features, but because the noise is disgustingly useless, Banding all over. High-Lights blown-out easily, with the DP2x iso50 is totally oversaturated, iso100 beautifully perfect, iso200 greyed out and iso400 noise starts creaping in, while banding on iso800.
Whenever I take a camera with me, it’s not the Sigma, and it wouldn’t be with the Quattro, for the same reason, it’s just not an allrounder, you have to take it as a second camera, just like a filter or on planned purpose, only.
So if you’re a tripod iso100 kind of guy, buy it, it’ll give you superb IQ for the buck. If you want to be prepared to whatever is happening to you (Street, tourist, …) take a Fu-shi, Oilplus, Sonah, Carenon, ny-con, lie-care, whatever.
I am waiting for the Sigma DP2 Mammut, the first large-format Foveon Camera from Sigma, when technology fits purpose. Then I’ll buy it. It’d take 100years until the others can reach that kind of quality.
It’s a bit like saying you have several cars but the one you hate the most is your track car (can’t drive it on the road etc etc) but it is fantastic operating in the narrow spectrum it is designed for. When we used film you chose an ISO and were stuck with that for the roll. Many chose a low ISO for film or slide due to the quality. Treat the Sigmas as digital slide film cameras that supplement your more versatile cameras. I reckon a Quattro and an A7s would be a great pairing.
I don’t think anyone would ever suggest a Q as an only camera, unless you shoot landscapes and landscapes only. For someone that wants a general camera for vacation etc, its a horrible choice.
That isn’t the fault of the camera though, it does what it was designed for very well.
Its an additional camera for hard core IQ enthusiast whom already own a bunch of other gear that can satisfy most of their needs.
Only hardcore pixel peepers really are going to get enjoyment of what this camera can offer.
This blown highlights thing comes from thinking of the Foveon as a Matrix sensor. It isn’t. The highlight recovery technique doesn’t work, or more accurately, doesn’t apply. Exposure technique is different with Foveon sensors. Of course the fact that the in-camera histogram is hopelessly illegible and inaccurate doesn’t help….
Note that he was talking about highlights in JPG, not raw – and there features to enable in the menu that address that.
The highlight recovery of the Merrill cameras was excellent at ISO 200, from a raw file you could restore just over two stops of blown highlights. With the Quattro it’s not as good, but you can still get a solid stop back (again from the raw file).
The thing about the DP2x you own is that it’s way behind what the modern Sigma cameras can do, so you don’t have a very up-to-date picture of what is possible.
Nah….not for me….but I AM interested in the DP1 with it’s 28mm lens…that would make for a very nice, portable landscape camera. Interesting times with these Foveon sensors…it will be interesting to see what Canon puts out this year at Photokina, lots of rumors about them now using a layered sensor.
DP1Q will 99% most likely be 19mm, I have a DP1M.
Yes…I should have said ’28mm FF FOV’…but I think you get my drift.
I did the whole test drive thing b/c I had high hopes for this camera. However, in practice, I absolutely hated it. I’m not sure if I got a dud or what, but it was entirely too light hungry and all my normal would be good test shots (mostly of my kids and pets) ended up out of focus due to slow shutter or grainy as could be after upping the ISO.
Sigma even said in the product letter with the free trials that the camera is best used below ISO 400.
This is a low ISO, static shooting camera, ideally from a tripod.
If your trying to shoot kids and pets with it, especially at higher ISO, it is going to produce poor results.
Try an A7s instead, its a better camera for your needs, fast AF and great high ISO
I found anything slower than a 125th hand-held to be prone to blur.
ice-cream man, thanks for the reply! Amazing! Might really be a nice day-time/second camera next to my Sony A7s. Can´t wait for such an Sensor with Nikon DF ISO Performance in a couple of years.. Even tho there is absolutely nothing to cry about the A7´s Performance at all. Keep up the good work
“AF speed greatly improved over the Merrill”. If this was true, it would be around the Fuji XT1 level. In decent to good light the DP2M AF speed is absolutely ok. Probably at the Fuji X100 (pre FW improvement) level and far far from being “unusable”. Your statements re AF speed seem quite exaggerated to me. Not something other testers who had access to a Merrill and a Quattro confirmed.
File write time is another matter with the Merrills, it`s sloooow. But the way one shoots with these cameras not really an issue. Others criticized some loss of the typical Foveon look with the Quattro and experienced serious bugs with the new Sigma software.
That is simply not true. The Dp Merril AF speed was horrendous, as I spoke of in my review of that camera. Even in daylight it was dog slow. Only good for static subjects, period. The Q is much quicker to AF in daylight and low light but when it gets real low light it hunts pretty bad. Read any Quattro review and you will see the same..that the AF speed is much quicker than the M. No loss of the Foveon look at all. When comparing my Merrill shots to the Q shots, they are about exactly the same in detail, color, etc.
Didn’t you have a defective DP2M though ? I own all 3 Merrill’s and I find them fine in good light and didn’t find the Q that much quicker.
What firmware are you basing your Merrill AF assement off ?
Also did you have the speed priority AF option turned on when you used them ?
I’m not calling you a liar, but did you have both the Q and M together side by side, like many of us did, or are you basing it off your limited experience with a camera something like 2 years ago ?
I don’t know, Steve. You’ve tested the DP2M. Fine…. However, I’ve used the 2M and 3M extensively, and I also feel you’re overstating the AF issues – “horrendous”, is “not true”, to use your words. Sure it’s not much use in low light, but surely it’s already pretty much established that these are not hand-held low light cameras (although on a tripod they’re ok, unless you hit the 30 sec exposure limit). But in good light the AF is quite adequate, especially for the type of subject these cameras excel at. It is very accurate(needs to be with that resolution!) and fast enough, although certainly not a speed demon. You make it quite clear, and correctly so, that these cameras have a limited operating window, but then you go and apply criteria way outside of that window. Also, the design of the Ms may be subjective (I rather like it personally, it is so understated), but the build quality isn’t. If the Q has better build quality than the M, then it’s over-engineered….
Ummm, nope. I remember like it was yesterday and I was so so frustrated using it in mid day sun in San Diego. I tried to snap a photo of a dog licking kids face, in full sunlight. By the time the camera AF’d and snapped the kid was out of the frame and had walked away. The Quattro is much quicker and snappier than the M but still slow. I have used both of them and remember vividly my experience with the DP2M. It was so slow it made me compare it to an old commodore 64 computer. 😉 It was the original firmware as I received it when it right when t was made available. So I can not say what future firmware did for it but as it was shipped it was the slowest camera I have ever used, in all aspects from AF to write times. You have to use it like a medium format film camera when it comes to speed expectations.
Well yeah. It’s totally the wrong camera for that kind of situation. Doesn’t invalidate it for other situations though. I’ve stubbornly tried to use the DP3M for “street” – result? A number of missed great opportunities.
Oh, and PS, something I learnt early on from the Sigma community wax to use the AF button to focus, not shutter half-press. For some reason it reacts faster. And the shutter half-press is a bit over-sensitive.
I recently upgade the older DP2 to the latest firmware 1.05 and using the “normal” AF mode (NOT the default close focus) as also the AF button for focus, I notice a significant improvement. If you become familiar with this 1 sec delay usually it’s just fine. It’s not very fast but usually focus is spot on and usable.
Also the manual mode is very useful with magnification or a kind of zone focus.
Using manual and zone focus it’s close to a P&S camera
In a sunny day many times I choose the DP2 instead of M9P for even better portability and freedom using the OVF and AF button or manual mode.
It’s a camera you have to follow the way it works but this is just fine for me.
I have and use all 3M extensively. Since yesterday, I have a DP2Q as well. AF in good light might be a tiny bit faster with the Q as compared to the M1 and M2. The M3 is the slowest of the bunch, understandably as it has to move more glass than the others. Maybe you tested a faulty DP2M, maybe your memory plays tricks, but your statements concerning the DP2M`s AF are inaccurate. AF in low light is no fun with either of the Sigmas. File write time with the Q is considerably improved. Jpegs with the M are unusable imo but surprisingly good with the Q and high iso performance much much better. For color, iso 200 and iso 400 if there is no way around it is the max I`d go with the Merrills. With the Q my early impressions are that iso 1600 is quite usable and for B&W iso 3200.
It focuses EXACTLY the same (speed and accuracy) as my Mamiya with PhaseOne back, I was shooting them side by side during my trial period with it. It was a little bit slower than the XE-1 I kept in my bag, still not as fast as either the 5DII or 5DIII.
Great review Steve! I’ll wait to see how the next version turns out. I was wondering are you going to review the Panasonic 15mm, love to see you review on this lense.
Foveon keeps getting a little better every year. It’s not quite there yet, however. Give me clean shots at ISO 1600, an f/1.8 lens and an EVF in the next gen Quattro and I’ll probably buy one.
I think your waiting for the wrong camera. Why not go for something like the Sony A7s which has a fantastic EVF, an amazing 55mm f1.8 lens you can pair with it, and exceptional high ISO performance ?
The Sigma’s excel at base ISO, stopped down, tripod shooting.
Its like looking at a little sports car and saying you’ll buy one when it can also carry 8 passengers, a weeks worth of luggage and haul a trailer. Not what its designed to do.
Plenty of great options for what you want such as the already mentioned A7s, the Fuji’s are quite good at high ISO, even the Sony A6000 gives pretty clean files at 1600 and with blazing AF performance and lots of lens options at well under $1000.
Its kind of nice to see cameras come out that are designed to excel at a given purpose. The Sigma’s and the Sony A7s are nice examples. They don’t try to do everything, instead they are a master at one thing. The Q isn’t going to be great at action, high ISO etc, but for base ISO tripod shooting of landscapes, its excellent. The A7s isn’t a resolution monster for landscapes but its fantastic for higher ISO shooting. Instead of trying to find the perfect camera that can do it all, amazing detail, fast AF, super high ISO etc, and usually ends up being a jack of all trades, master of none, perhaps its a nice sign of the industry giving us specific tools that excel at specific task.
Steve, what so you think about the IQ compared to the A7s at low ISO? Great review btw.. I also thought that .. This guy.. At youtube was too harsh.. I habe never shot with the merril nor the New one.. But i thought that it can not be as bad.. Well same as their review of The a7s
The Quattro beats the A7, A7r and A7s imo for IQ at base ISO. For color, detail, micro contast, depth, etc. Its the sensor. Past 400 it goes to any of the Sony cameras.
woooooweeee LOVE IT Steve
I have been kind of interested in the concept of the DP3 Quattro – as a small portrait camera.
However, I still see three showstoppers for me…:
(1) Lack of EVF. I cannot see myself using a camera without a proper finder for portraits…
(2) ISO limitation. A killer for available light portraits for me.
(3) Non-support of the RAW format by DXO Optics – again a workflow issue for me.
Pity – the colour and overall image quality look very decent indeed…
Thanks for sharing your experience…!!!
In place of an EVF was you can get is an LCD loupe. There are lots of different kinds but basically they turn the rear LCD into a giant EVF, so you get the benefits of holding the camera against your head for stability and of course the loupe also shades the screen completely.
I only shoot natural light myself and had good luck with the Quattro in a recent studio shoot ranging from ISO 100-800, I think the range is a little more than the review would indicate. At times even ISO 1600 can be pretty good… it depends on the strength of the light involved.
I know about LCD Loupes – I have been using such devices on cameras without decent dedicated EVF for a number of years.
Since then, there are many cameras with decent EVFs available in the market (Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Olympus, Leica, to name but a few…).
In 2014, I therefore flatly refuse even to consider a camera which does not offer a proper viewfinder.
Apart from that, I have rediscovered an old love of mine – Fujichrome Velvia (RVP50 and RVP100) in my trusty old medium format SLR (Mamiya M645 Pro TL). Just received some films back from processing, mainly portraits shot with an adapted Hasselblad/Zeiss Planar 150 f/2,8, and a few landscape shots with .
The output IQ is a wee bit superior to anything I have seen from Sigma cameras with Foveon sensor… so, for the time being, I rather fill my freezer with more films than contemplating compromising on a DPx Quattro…
Uups… should read Sonnar T* 2,8/150 F, not Planar…
(Unfortunately I do not own a Planar T* 2/110 F – yet…)
This is by far the best, most balanced review for this camera I’ve read. I rented a D810 with the amazing Sigma 50mm 1.4 art and the details in your shots look pretty close to it which is amazing for OOC jpegs. Going to have to start saving for this camera.
amazing IQ, can’t wait to see what happens when the DP3 gets out.
isn´t it very close to 45mm
Good overall assessment of the camera. My biggest reservation about buying one though is that I think we are going to see the price drop pretty fast, just like the Merrill’s. I bought a DP2m at $999 and you can now get them for $500 brand new. Of course I got well over $500 enjoyment from the camera, so I’m not upset I bought it when I did. At the same time, could i happily shoot my Merrill’s and then if maybe we start to see a blowout sale of the Q’s next year for $599 pick one up and save a lot of money ? hmmm.
Its a cool camera, but I don’t think its going to be a sales hit, just like the Merrill’s weren’t. Sigma didn’t address enough to make it a mainstream camera, which is fine with me, but you do need to appeal to the masses to move product with so many choices on the market, especially as even lower price points.
Guess it comes down to if you want to pay a premium for a unique camera, or if your happy with a sub $500 Merrill.
Given how these are kind of specialty cameras you only drag out once in a while, a lower price tool is a bit easier to justify for most of us I would guess.
Its like a macro lens. Unless you really shoot a ton of macro, its probably not something you’d want to spend a ton of money on. If you can get a cheap one, that still works well, then maybe it makes sense in the lens collection.
Perhaps if Sigma priced these at $699 to start with (maybe lower than they could afford to sell at?) I think this might be a better contender as it would be closer to the price of a Merrill. I’m not saying it isn’t worth $999, but, just that the M’s are viable options at half the price. Close that price gap and maybe people would go for a new Q instead.
Overall cool that companies push the envelope like Sigma does though.
Now we just need a FF Q with EVF, tilt LCD, and maybe a M mount. As they say… Shut up and take my money!
I am looking at these photos on my 4 year old MacBook Pro and, I have to say, these are the very first photos I’ve seen on this website that make me believe that everything is real… “Hi Debbie. I’m David. Pleasure to meet you.”
…did you also take some 4 year old acid as well? 😉
please do not judge IQ on a (non-Retina) MacBook Pro. The displays are 6bit TN panels, which can only display 262,144 colors. It is just luck, when some pictures look good on it and do not show the dithering artefacts.
The RAW files have some funky artifacts in the skin tones especially. There are quite a few people saying the Sigma software is just not ready for prime time. The JPEGs are indeed impressive but not so much better than what I already own to justify the expense. I’ll stick to my X-T1, M240 and Ricoh GR.
It is the SPP software, the last update fixed most of those issues including the long exposure issues. Next update should be even better.
Wow – it does produce some beautiful images. Or you do. One or other… probably both! 🙂
Wow! I remember your DP2M review – so reading this was rather interesting 🙂
I have the DP2 Merrill – I haven’t really compared it to my RX1 or A7R, but I think even Sony might not beat the Foveon. But yes; very important; the DP cameras of today could never be your only camera (but 10 years from now Foveon might be the only choice!).
Some DP2M images for those interested in the old model:
Just out of curiosity, can you save the RAW files as TIFFs, within the supplied SIGMA software? If so, how good is that image file in comparison to the original RAW file? That would of course mean you could then edit that file with something like Lightroom. Also be interesting to know if the speed converting the file to a TIFF, takes as long as a RAW file of the same Mb size from another manufacturer’s camera. I get the impression, that many people seem to overlook the benefits of storing images as TIFFs, which can be pretty-well be used in any editing software, unlike RAW files.
You can save the images to either 16-bit or 8-bit TIFF files from SPP, I do that to work with images in Aperture but it would work equally well in LightRoom… you can also select the color space you want to save in including ProPhoto, AdobeRGB and sRGB.
Hey, yes you can, you can save at normal size or 2X size and export to 8bit or 16bit TIFF files. The TIFF files are excellent and can be opened in any photo editing software. You can export files from SPP one-by-one or select multiple and batch export to TIFF.
Thanks for the review; i am very eager to see this camera and try it myself, having had several Sigma cameras before. It is always a love/hate relationship with their cameras, one can only love the images but gets very frustrated by the not so friendly usability …so I buy them, use them, love the pictures and then sell them out of frustration.
This new generation might help solve some of the previous issues, but is still has TWO major ones that cannot be ignored:
– lack of any kind of VF; I am astonished that a company that supposedly knows what photographers need (they are not newcomers!), would still ignore the fact that a VF is INDISPENSABLE for a lot of people, myself included.
– RAW files not compatible with Lightroom; I understand Adobe may not give the utmost priority to a camera that is unlikely to sell in the millions of units, but the fact that the files cannot be processed with the ‘standard’ tool we use for all other files is very frustrating. The converter made by Sigma is atrociously slow, so one has to convert raw into tiff using Sigma software, and THEN use LR….not the fastest workflow.
I will wait for interest for the DP1, that 28mm equivalent on this sensor should be really something else!
Well, I mentioned on more than one occasion about the lack of an EVF and we all know that the RAW files are not and never will be compatible with LR or any Adobe product. Those are just two issues. Another is no swivel LCD (which hurts it more without an EVF) and the horrible battery life as well as high ISO performance, or lack thereof. Even with those weaknesses, the IQ is brilliant from this camera and it is much quicker than the last generation DP cameras.
“[W]e all know that the (Sigma Foveon) RAW files are not and never will be compatible with LR or any Adobe product.”
Why is that? Has Adobe (or Sigma) said anything official about that? Or is it just assumed based on past experience? What about Apple or Capture One?
It seems that the workflow changes forced by Sigma Photo Pro are constantly high on the list of reasons against these (interesting) cameras. I’d think that Sigma would want to be proactive about eliminating this hurdle.
Adobe actually did support X3F with older Sigma cameras (SD–14 era or so, and the first DP cameras). They do this in part by integrating a library that Sigma gives them…
Recently in an Adobe forum someone at Adobe said that Adobe just has other priorities right now. But if more people went on the Adobe forums and asked for support, Adobe might bend…
Basically there’s nothing more Sigma can do to move along Adobe support than they already have. Sigma is willing to help, Adobe just needs to put in some time to make it happen.
With Apple in the past they have said that the format was just too different from standard bayer to be worth trying to add to the system,. But with Yosemite they seem to be opening up some of that raw pipeline and maybe it is possible for third parties to add raw support… maybe. If I were Sigma that’s the front I would work on next, as Adobe is powerfully motivated by Apple dosing something they do not.
One is almost tempted to call shenanigans on this. A conspiracy theory trying to keep Foveon IQ at base ISO out the mainstream until Sony or Canon come up with a similar sensor? Hmmm..
As a Merrill user, I convert X3f to 16bit Tiff at default settings, then import into Lightroom, then convert the Tiff to DNG (it reduces the size by about a third).