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Gear Reviews

Sigma’s Unique Quattro Cameras A Huge Improvement Over Merrill, But Worth Getting?

By Anthony Thurston on August 2nd 2014

Sigma’s Foveon based cameras have always been known for their superb image quality – under the right conditions. The Merrill cameras produced absolutely stunning imagery, but were very limited in the parameters for getting a quality shot.

SIgma-DP2-Quattro-01

So Sigma went back to the drawing board, re-worked the sensor, and designed these very unique Quattro cameras. What is the verdict? Are these new cameras an upgrade over the Merrill line? Are they worth a look for anyone interested from other camera lines (Canon or Nikon, for example)?

The team over at The Camera Store TV recently got their hands on the one of the new Quattro cameras, and they don’t mince words. In their opinion, these cameras are still far off the mark set by current generation DSLR and Mirrorless cameras with standard CMOS sensors. But, they are still a vast improvement over the Merrill line, and for that reason, they called these new cameras a success.

I have not received a review unit for these yet, so I can’t really elaborate on anything that Chris says in the video. But based on what I saw in this review, I would tend to agree with their assessment.

[REWIND: Sigma To Use Quattro Sensor On Next DSLR]

While these Quattro sensors on their own are a vast improvement and success over the Merrill cameras, they still fall short of today’s CMOS standards in most regards except image quality (where they surpass CMOS standards in most cases).

SIgma-DP2-Quattro-02

To me, this would mean good things for Sigma – the tech is advancing and heading in the right direction for sure. They are close, but still just a bit too far behind today’s CMOS offerings to be a real contender for consumer dollars except in the tiniest of niches. This does give me confidence though, that maybe one or two more generations down the line these cameras could be advanced enough to met or surpass CMOS in most respects. It will be interesting to see how the tech continues to develop.

If you are interested in learning more about the Quattro cameras, or if maybe you have decided you liked what you saw and want to give one a shot, you can find them over on B&H here.

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Where do you stand on this? Do you agree with Chris and the TCSTV crew, or were they too harsh on the Quattro? Leave a comment below!

[via The Camera Store TV on Youtube]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Chuck Eggen

    Just can’t past the look of this thing.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    It is interesting to see the pushing of new sensor technology, but for some reason the grip is located in a strange position.

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  3. Greg Faulkner

    That grip, what were they thinking it backwards

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    • Stan Rogers

      I actually find it comfortable, with the exception that it’s not tall enough for my hands/preferred grip. (That’s something it shares with almost every camera that doesn’t have a vertical grip installed.) It beats the heck out of the “handle in front” pistol grip as far as I’m concerned, but yes, it could afford to be a little more rounded (as Chris points out). It’s only “backwards” if you think that the actually-backwards grips are “forwards”.

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    • Greg Faulkner

      Mmmm having never used one I can’t disagree Stan, it just looks wrong it me. Must be because I’m so used to hooking my fingertips around my nikon grip the way it is :)

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    • Paul Monaghan

      I see where your coming from Greg, but as Stan says the grip is fine to hold and the more you use the camera the more comfortable it is but there are a few thing that annoys me about the grip.

      1) It makes the camera take up more space because the grip is going in the opposite way from the lens, I have small bag that can fit a dp3m and a gf1 with 20mm f1.7 into yet I can’t fit the dp2q into it although that’s also do to with the extra width of the camera over the old version.

      2) The grip is quite far away from the lens and hotshoe mount which makes the camera want to twist if you have a bigger flash mounted but the lens is now wider and easier to hold.

      3) I can’t find an easy way to use the dual control wheels when holding the camera in one hand, like I can with my pentax k5.

      Points two and three are not all that valid as to get the best out of any camera you want to be holding them with two hands anyway and in two handed operation the layout is perfectly fine.

      Loving the camera for location shots with strobes :D

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  4. Paul Monaghan

    I agree with Stan, the only real pain for me with the sigma camera’s is the software.. its just to slow and very basic so I end up having to export 16bit tiffs once I get the file as good as I can from the sigma pro photo . Not only is this an extra (and slow) step in my work flow but I end up with a 50meg raw and a 100+meg tiff so its not so easy on drive space.

    If you don’t mind slowing down and thinking about your photography the sigma dp’s will reward you and because of the leaf shutter its a great camera for strobists as you have a much higher sync speed without the need for any tricks.

    Usability of the Dp Quattro over the Dp Merrils is pretty good, one main thing is the LCD, not only is it a gap-less design but the Merrils color banding in the liveview in low light seems to be gone in the Quatrro giving you a much cleaner view of what your doing. Overall the camera is just much more responsive than the older ones.

    Also you can get nice sharp images hand holding the dp cameras so you don’t need a tripod but you do need good light as the sensor really shines at base iso and its the reason you would be shooting with one in the first place.

    If I had unlimited funds I would gladly have all three dpq’s and dpm’s because while they both give super high detailed images they render differently, The Quattro’s are smoother more natural while the Merrils seem to have more of a 3d hyper realistic look that I’m rather fond of.

    But to sum it up.

    If you like to slow down and think about your photos and want amazing IQ in a smallish package that’s almost silent to use with no mirror flapping around and can sync flash upto 1/2000? Then its worth getting one (or the older versions if you prefer its style of rendering).

    If you want to run about and shoot stuff, you could do it with a DP in good light if you really want the look of its files (the Quattro’s jpg’s are quite nice) but you would be better off with something that is faster, with better high iso and smaller easier to process files.

    I’ve rather enjoyed using my dp’s.

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  5. Stan Rogers

    Honestly, the only disappointment is the software (both the desktop and in-camera). Bill Atkinson (the guy responsible for the early Lisa and Mac graphics performance on, let’s face it, caveman hardware, and now a relatively well-known photographer) is a fan; maybe they could have him take a boo. Everything else, negative and positive, can be filed under “it is what it is”, which is not what it superficially looks like. If you treat it like a view (field) camera that doesn’t need quite so many mules to cart around, you’ll get images that reward your care and attention big time. If you’re expecting a typical large-sensor point-and-shoot (what it looks like), then you’ve sort of missed the point. I almost think that a boxier form factor, something that doesn’t even look hand-holdable, would help its image — but that would come at the expense of hike-ability. (And I have no doubt that the SLR form factor of the SDx Quattro is going to cause the same expectations problem.) The DP3 (50mm) version would be a good fit for much of my photography, but I really want to see the new SD first.

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  6. Dave Andrade

    So let’s just call it like it is. Sigma had a chance to overcome its unique design with amazing performance, but at the end of the day….it’s ugly and it’s a bad performer – but at least it’s an improvement.

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