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Sigma sd Quattro X3I “Super Fine Detail” File Quality, First Look

Sigma sd Quattro
(APS-C sensor)

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list at B&H Photo.

Prelude

I consider it my job to hold camera vendors’ feet to the fire for bugs and particularly ones that span many years. So here goes.

SPP software is the same turd it was in 2013 (and 2012). This track record proves that Sigma has zero comittment to improving the Sigma Photo Pro software, which to this day remains a 32-bit app on OS X. The bugs and crashes and horrific user interface design have run amok for 5+ years now. See from 3 and 4 years ago: Sigma Photo Pro: Unacceptable Stability and Sigma Photo Pro 6 Bugs and the same type of bad pointer crashes as in 2012 and in 2013, as well as all sorts of commentary on SPP problems spanning years.

See yesterday’s post for screen shots of the various crashes that Sigma Photo Professional 6.4.0 delivers every 5-10 minutes.

SPP brings an 8-core 3.3 GHz XEON 2013 Mac Pro with 64GB memory to its knees. That’s the fastest Mac you can’t buy (upgraded CPU faster than any Apple offering). Ditto for a 4 GHz iMac 5K with 64GB. Speed it up or go home Sigma. Maybe I could live with the crashes if the speed was 10X better (20-30 seconds to see an image and then 4-10 seconds for minor changes like exposure makes me want to scream). But it’s not just the speed, it’s the workflow, the tedious modality, the confusing nomenclature, unreadable buttons, the coarse steps for controls, the headache of getting good color, etc.

I cannot in good conscience recommend Sigma cameras to anyone thinking of using Sigma Photo Pro with raw files (X3F or X3I)—because that means using Sigma Photo Pro. And without X3I raw, the value of the new SFD feature is moot. Plan on shooting JPEG unless you are a saint in terms of tolerance for software design and testing incompetence.

The sad thing is that the sd Quattro itself is rather nice. But the product requires the use of SPP and that’s not just a regular rub, it’s a sandpaper rub.

What I can do in 5 minutes in Photoshop/ACR takes 30 minutes or longer in SPP (depending on how often it crashes). If things go as badly tomorrow as they did today, I may have to abort my review of the sd Quattro. It’s that bad.

Image quality

Anyway, I finally eked out one image which I think shows the core image quality as well as the limitations of the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art. The orange-peel texture of the paint, the reflections on the side mirror, the detail in the tire rubber and so on all make for an excellent evaluation image.

Example: SUV Reflections at Dusk (Sigma 30/1.4 DC HSM Art)

Includes images up to full camera resolution (5424 x 3616 = 19.6 megapixels) along with an corrected/uncorrected toggle for correction of color fringing.

Reflections and Textures
f6.3 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 100; 2016-08-03 11:23:05
sd Quattro + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art @ 45mm (30mm)

[low-res image for bot]

David G writes:

Thank you for your preliminary comments about the Sigma Quartro which I have been waiting for since it has a electronic viewfinder.

I’m now using a DP2 Merrill with SPP 6.4 and pretty much have the same issues. I try to do minimal corrections with the software while struggling with the slowness of seeing changes then bring the image into photoshop ASAP as a TIFF. How can the community convey the disconnect between the unique and interesting cameras and the impossible software. Have you used any of the other software packages that will open XF3 files.

DIGLLOYD: SPP 5 was better for the Merrills IMO. Check out Iridient Developer for DP Merrill files.

Daryl O writes:

I share your frustration with the software. I had the dp2 Quattro when it initially arrived with the 45mm equivalent. I liked the camera, funny shape and all, but the software made it go from a 10 to 1. I couldn't return it fast enough.

DIGLLOYD: I like the way the sd Quattro handles (mostly).

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