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Sigma sd Quattro H Due Soon

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

Sigma sd Quattro H

See my in-depth reviews of Sigma DP Merrill and Sigma dp Quattro cameras.

Three years ago I wrote Pixel for Pixel, *Nothing* Beats a Sigma DP Merrill. That remains largely true, except for the special Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode, which has severe practical limitations. And now—the Sigma sd Quattro H comes along with so many more pixels that it should be king of the hill up to 36 megapixels or so.

See Sigma dp0 and dp1 Quattro: Razor Sharp Detail—I shot the Sigma sd Quattro with its APS-C sensor last fall with some gorgeous results.

The about $TBD Sigma sd Quattro H with its larger APS-H sensor is due very soon. The larger sensor captures 25 megapixels at 6192 x 4128 pixels with a bit depth of 14 bits. And of course those numbers belie the per pixel detail which I would rate as something more like 36 megapixels on a conventional Bayer sensor, but without most of the digital artifacts.

Given the pixel quality I saw with the sd Quattro APS-C sensor, the results may be quite alluring for some shooters and should approach the resolution of the Nikon D810, though it may be subjectively better (and worse) in some ways.

The Sigma DP Merrill cameras appear to finally be out of production. I still have all three of them, and in my view they offer a classic look which I feel have the same kind of appeal that certain photographic films offered versus other films. But they are now outgunned by the sd Quattro H.

Sigma sd Quattro H

The newer Sigma dp Quattro cameras use a new sensor over the Merrills, with some improved characteristics. Out in the field this preceding autumn, I found myself very glad to leave behind the Nikon D810—the light and easy-shooting Quattros just felt a lot more satisfying than the Big Black Brick: at 10,000+ feet elevation and many miles of slogging, there is a lot to be said for smaller cameras.

But size and weight aside, the Sigma dp Quattro cameras deliver a level of detail that few if any conventional cameras of up to 24 megapixels can even approach. There is more detail out of the dp Quattros than anything I could get out of the Leica SL, which costs 13X as much with its underperforming 24-90mm zoom. However, lenses remain a limiting factor on the sd Quattro line, just as on Canon and Nikon (Zeiss Otus excepted and a few others).

The Sigma sd Quattro H would be 'killer' if it had a Nikon F mount (or Sony) since as it stands, a buyer has to invest in Sigma sd-mount lenses rather than being able to use Nikon or Canon Sigma Art lenses. I want the Ssd Quattro H as a camera that will take any of my Nikon lenses, including Zeiss Otus. Now THAT would be a huge win.

Sigma announcement:

The SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the SIGMA sd Quattro H, a new high-image-quality digital camera that incorporates the Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: “Quattro”).

The SIGMA sd Quattro H is the first camera to feature the newly developed APS-H size Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor with an incredible 51-megapixel- equivalent resolution. Featuring SIGMA’s SA mount, this new camera is compatible with all SIGMA GLOBAL VISION lenses in the Contemporary, Art and Sports lines, and is designed to take full advantage of these lenses' superb optical performance.

In addition, it is compatible with DNG format, and imaging software from other companies is also available for higher versatility.

  • The DC Crop Mode, which is automatically activated when DC lenses are attached, makes it possible to take full advantage of your lens assets.
  •  Along with the release of the SIGMA sd Quattro H, related software is planned to be updated, such as SIGMA Photo Pro 6.5 and SIGMA Capture Pro 1.3. SIGMA Photo Pro 6.5 seeks for higher usability by utilizing the computer’s GPU for faster processing and an improved algorithm for Auto development along with a more user-friendly SFD Mode.
  • SIGMA Capture Pro 1.3 also offers enhanced usability since it is compatible with SFD Mode and Live View Mode.

Once these updates become available for download, the announcement will be made accordingly.

I wrote this before DNG support was announced, but it still holds as discussed: BTW, Sigma dp Quattro JPEGs are essentially of lossless quality—superbly stunningly sharp, superior to JPEGs from any other camera I’ve ever seen. While I shoot RAW+JPEG, I have absolutely no concerns about the JPEG sharpness (exposure and white balance are still big pluses of raw format). So while processing Sigma RAW has been a headache, the JPEGs are so good that if attention is paid to exposure and white balance, superb results as JPEG are available right out of the camera. That the JPEGs are so good seems to be a combination of two things: (1) the inherently high sharpness and acutance of the Sigma sensor, and (2) compressed oriented towards max quality.

Whether the DNG format is viable for workflow depends on quality of results and performance as well as whether the X3I (super res mode) format is also available in DNG—TBD.

Image below is a 3-frame focus stack using the in-camera JPEGs. Lighting here was extreme high-mountain dusk blue, partly but not fully

Quaking Aspen, Last of the Leaves
3-frame focus stack using JPEG from camera
f6.3 @ 0.5 sec, ISO 100; 2016-02-21 06:32:31
SIGMA dp0 Quattro + 14mm f/4 @ 21mm (14mm)

[low-res image for bot]

Mark M writes:

If this body had a Sony E mount I would be all over it. Sigma already has an excellent Sigma to E adapter that could be packaged with or offered as a accessory for this body. The small and lightweight Loxias in particular would be ideal on this body, not to mention all the Zeiss CY and ZF.2s that I already have. I'm not going to duplicate a lens kit, and I'm not about to abandon Sony FE.

I am really surprised Sigma doesn't understand the advantage mirrorless offers users with its inherent flexibility of a very short lens register.

DIGLLOYD: I too would buy a Sony or Nikon mount sd Quattro-H outright if it were offered, and I think so would many other photographers once the resolving power were understood for its impressive merits.

What Sigma has failed to understand is that an sd Quattro-H in Sony and/or Nikon mount could be a first of several tactical offerings as part of a multi-year strategy to bust open the mirrorless and DSLR market by smashing the decades-old lens-mount trifurcation (is quintfurcation a word?). As it stands, there are too many hurdles working against the Sigma SA mount, starting with the fact that so many pros and prosumers do not want to buy yet one more set of lenses incompatible with other brands. Perhaps the reasoning is to sell Sigma SA mount lenses. But the Sigma Art lenses are strong, and I’d bet that Sigma would sell more Sigma Art lenses in Nikon and Canon and Sony mount if there were a sd Quattro-Hc, sdQuattro-Hn and sd-Quattro-Hs.

The Sony mount would be the best choice, because while I dislike adapters in general, it would allow Sony, Nikon, Canon and other lenses.

However, even if Sigma introduced a new SM mount ("Sigma Mirorrless") with short flange distance, that would at least allow allow Nikon and Canon and other DSLR lenses. The Sony E mount is almost certainly a patent problem, and so too the Nikon and Canon electronic coupling aspects of the mount, but not the Nikon F-mount itself, as I understand it.

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