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Sigma’s New sd Quattro H | Details & Surprises

By Justin Heyes on December 8th 2016

Sigma may be known more for its lenses than its cameras, but after about half a year of waiting, Sigma is finally releasing details on its upcoming mirrorless, the sd Quattro H. The new camera totes an equivalent 51 megapixel Foveon X3 sensor, Native DNG support and auto crop for DC lenses.

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Newly Developed APS-H Foveon X3 Quattro Sensor

The Sigma SD Quattro H (like the name implies) uses an APS-H sensor, which is about half way between full frame and APS-C sized sensor. That means the camera’s crop factor is just a 1.3 crop of a full frame sensor compared to the 1.5 crop on APS-C.

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By using a 1:1:4 RGB pixel ratio with a layered design and forgoing an optical low-pass filter, the sd Quattro H can capture 100% of the light data for blue, green, and red. This layered sensor creates a 25.5MP lossless raw image with a spatial resolution equivalent to, and with richer colors, than that of a 51MP Bayer sensor. In contrast, a traditional Bayer sensor comprises capturing 50% green, 25% blue, and 25% red on its sensor. Sigma says that the camera is the first direct image sensor using the technology, allowing the camera to get more details out of the available light as well as enhancing processing speeds.

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Dual TRUE III (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine)

The Quattro H uses the same processor as its APS-C sibling, the Sigma sd Quattro. It works in conjunction with the newly developed sensor to offer rapid processing without a loss in detail. The camera reaches burst speeds up to 8 fps, with a hybrid autofocus system delivers quick performance as well.

Native DNG Support

Like every other camera before it, the Sigma sd Quattro H ships with Sigma Photo Pro software to process the native X3F RAW files. Unlike like its predecessors, the Quattro H can record in both the brand’s RAW format as well as DNG allowing editing in Adobe’s Lightroom and similar applications.

Switching to DNG shooting mode does come with its caveats. It doesn’t enable the option to shoot both the RAW and JPEG format simultaneously, aspect ratio can not be changed after the fact, nor does it hit the top burst speed.

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Conclusion

The technology is encased inside of a splash-resistant magnesium alloy body that also sports 2.36-megapixel electronic viewfinder with near-100% viewfinder coverage. In addition to the 1.62 megapixels 3.0 inch rear LCD screen, there is a secondary display for shooting details like the number of shots remaining on the memory card, shutter speed, aperture value, ISO level, and even an electronic level.

Sigma hasn’t yet released the price or ship date for the sd Quattro H. Head over to B&H to be notified when it hits shelves. Meanwhile, check out the camera’s lower resolution sibling, the Sigma sd Quattro, which sells for $999, with the 30mm f/1.4 Art lens.

About

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    No question the Foveon sensors are interesting. But Sigma really, really needs to stop lying about the resolution. This is a 25.5Mpixel sensor. Period. The more recent designs record at top “white” layer at full resolutioon, then two additional laters at 1/4 resoluton. So yes, there are 51 Mpixels, but that’s color stacking. Spatially, there are only 25.5Mpixels.

    Foveon/Sigma has also had issues with yield and sensor size. Their traditional sensors were just a bit smaller than APS, and this is APS-H version is essentially their answer for full frame, at least for now.

    This is in no way a 51Mpixel sensor. In the old Foveon chip, you had a full RGB capture per pixel. It was basically the same idea, conceptually, as the old 3CCD camcorder. You got perhaps a little boost in spatical accuracy since there’s no spatial interpolation (there is color interpolation, since, despite their literature, they are not capturing RGB, but rather luma, then luma filtered at two different depths through silicon, which they have characterized as containing enough information to derive color), no de-Bayering, but still lots of math to do on your raw image. The new version, which has the layered pixels at 4x the size of the top luma pixels, gets around the basic issue that lots of light just doesn’t get through the silicon, which is why the older Sigmas strained to work at ISO 800.

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  2. Josh Leavitt

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the Foveon sensor. Hopefully the Quattro design will eliminate the noise issue. I’d still expect ISO limitations to stick around simply due to the physics of light piercing three different color filter layers to reach the photodiode. But there is one way Sigma could improve ISO performance without any additional research and design – make a larger sensor.

    Moving to a full-frame sensor size would increase the physical size of the photosites and photodiodes, thus allowing light to be gathered more efficiently than a densely packed sensor. It’s technically feasible for the Foveon sensor since it doesn’t need as many pixels with the red and green layers.

    In truth, I’d love to see Sigma skip full-frame entirely like Fuji did and create a medium format camera. That’s where the Foveon would really shine. A 60MP sensor (40MP blue, 10MP green, 10MP red) on a 44mm x 33mm sensor would give the GFX 50S and the XD1 a run for their money. Especially since each of those MF cameras have Bayer sensors rated for 50MP, while a 60MP Foveon would actually be a 110-120MP Bayer equivalent. A camera like that would dominate the fashion and studio photography market segments. Oh well, I can dream right?

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