Best Sigma sd Quattro Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
Two years ago, during photokina 2014, we asked Kazuto Yamaki , CEO of Sigma , if we could hope to see the arrival of a hybrid case (compact with interchangeable lenses) at Sigma. He had answered us that the SD reflex range was for the moment this answer and had given us an appointment at the end of the interview for the rest of the sd range. Here it is!
And that’s an arrival in force, since it is not one, but two boxes that are advertised: the Sigma SD Quattro and sd Quattro H .
The most visible change is of course the abandonment of the reflex cage and the optical sight: There is no longer a mirror, therefore no more optical sight. The Quattro SDs therefore become the first range of hybrid cameras at Sigma .
The sd Quattro incorporates a Foveon X3 Quattro APS-C sensor (23.5 x 15.5 mm) of 19.6 Mpx (spatial definition) while the sd Quattro H offers a larger version in APS-H format (26, 6 x 17.9 mm) with a spatial definition of 25.6 MP.
At first glance, you can’t help but think of the Ricoh GXR and its interchangeable modules. There is a little family resemblance, but the principle is completely different. On the GXR, the sensor + optics part could be interchanged.
In the absence of an optical viewfinder, the sd Quattro / Quattro H are less tall than the SD1 Merrill , but their volume is ultimately not so distant and the weight is very close.
- 1 Best Sigma sd Quattro Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
Best Sigma sd Quattro Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
Sigma SA mount
The sd Quattro is a more “classic” hybrid, on which it is possible to change the optics thanks to an SA bayonet mount. Yes, the reflex SA mount from Sigma is here renewed; it is therefore not a new mount which would reduce the optical draft (distance between the sensor and the rear lens of the optics).
Although the reflex cage no longer exists, the print must be kept, which requires a fairly prominent frame which is reminiscent this time of the Pentax K-01 (not to be confused with the K-1 , reflex 24×36). Thus, all Sigma optics for APS-C or 24×36 sensors work directly on the Quattro / Quattro H sd.
Sigma therefore did not wish to create a technological breakthrough in the bayonet or a new range of optics. A reasonable choice, but which requires an optical print of 44 mm. If on the first front view, the thickness of the frame is not visible, a top view is more explicit. The idea is to be able to use Comtemporary, Art and Sport optics directly on the new sd Quattro.
A case reviewed in depth
Like the dp Quattro series, the sd Quattro therefore brings a little freshness in terms of design and a real singularity to the brand. The magnesium alloy chassis benefits from a weatherproof finish. The dust filter placed in front of the sensor prevents dust from getting inside the housing.
On the top of the device are the power-on command, the accessory shoe, the electronic viewfinder, 2 adjustment knobs (front / rear) and the QS (Quick Set Menu) button for quick access to 8 different settings, such as white balance, image ratio or color mode. The Lock command makes it possible to lock the settings of the sd Quattro in order to prevent untimely modifications.
The back of the device changes significantly: you will immediately notice the very elongated LCD screen. In reality, these are two screens. The first, 7.6 cm diagonal (3 “), displays the photographed scene” conventionally “and gives access to the menus. The second screen displays the status of the camera: exposure time, aperture, ISO sensitivity, number of views available
The electronic aiming is entrusted to a model of 2,360,000 points with a magnification of 1.09x (or about 0.72x in 24×36 equivalent), which should be quite comfortable. A switch toggles aiming on the screen or in the viewfinder. Presence detectors also automatically switch between the two options.
Connectivity and storage
Sigma sd Quattro has an SD / SDHC / SDXC slot compatible with the UHS-I transfer standard. You will also find an HDMI type C output and, hallelujah, a USB 3 output to quickly transfer images. A flash synchro socket is present on the front of the device and a socket for a wired remote control is provided.
Two Foveon X3 Quattro APS-C AND APS-H sensors
One of the features of the new sd Quattro range is the possibility to choose between two sensor sizes. But before that, we should return to the Quattro technology, which is both simple and quite complex.
While CMOS and other conventional CCDs usually use an RGB Bayer filter to record color information, Foveon X3 sensors use the thickness of the silicon to distinguish the RGB primaries (red, green and blue). Indeed, the 3 silicon layers of the sensor are more sensitive to different wavelengths from red (700 nm) to blue (400 nm).
For each pixel, the sensor therefore has the real intensity information for the RGB triplet. Everything would be simple if each layer of silicon had the same definition. However, the Quattro technology is different: the blue layer benefits from 4 times more information than the lower layers (green and red).
The upper layer thus has a definition of 20 MP, while the other 2 layers have “only” 4.9 MP. An air of deja vu? With the Bayer matrix, the information by colored component is also disparate: there is twice as much information in green as in red or blue.
If the spatial definition of the blue layer is 20 MP, it is necessary to reconstruct the information for green and red by interpolation, with the risk of moiré which goes with it.
From a marketing point of view, Sigma announces equivalences with “conventional” Bayer type sensors. The sd Quattro will be equivalent to 39 Mpx and the Quattro H to 51 Mpx.
Stacking layers and images
If the Foveon X3 Quattro sensor operates on batteries, the new SDs also use image stacking. Indeed, the Super-Fine Detail (SFD) mode automatically records 7 differently exposed shots in a “super” RAW. However, a computer and Sigma Photo Pro software are needed to develop this file, which would eliminate electronic noise and increase dynamics. Naturally, you have to work on a tripod and with a perfectly still subject.
DP, DP Merrill and dp Quattro cameras have always had a bad reputation for responsiveness in autofocus and image processing. The Quattro / Quattro H SDs are equipped with a new hybrid autofocus by contrast detection and phase correlation on the main imager.
The autofocus has 9 points, but a mode would allow the AF point to be freely positioned. In addition, a face detection system is also integrated. Manual focus is not forgotten and a focus peaking system (highlighting of the sharp areas with colored pixels on the screen or in the viewfinder) is present.
The burst mode is also evolving: the sd Quattro is capable of aligning up to 10 images at 3.8 fps) in RAW. A low definition mode in 2,704 x 1,808 px (5 Mpx) allows to climb to 5.1 ips. Note that the Quattro SDs do not offer video recording.
Exit reflex aim, make way for the hybrid! Last February, during the CP + show , we discovered the expected evolution of the Sigma sd range with this sd Quattro . If the reflex cage disappears, the optical print is preserved, a little like the K01 fire from Pentax .
In order to maintain compatibility with the Sigma optical fleet in SA mount, the engineers kept the required optical print. As a result, the sd Quattro is not as compact as some would probably have wished, but it is the price to pay for the backward compatibility with the optics of the brand.
The design of the new sd (which will be available in 2 versions: Quattro and Quattro H) is more classic than the very singular dp, but the beveled hook on the base of the case gives it a look unique, which I find for my part rather successful.
Like the last series dp, the new sd Quattro is superbly realized. The metal case (magnesium alloy) has the right weight: neither too light nor too heavy for a good balance. The matte black finish is very pleasant and resistant: throughout the duration of our test (a fortnight), we did not notice any scratches on the case. Its resistance, moreover, is also ensured by gaskets which protects it from bad weather. By coupling it to optics that are also tropicalized, it will be possible to go out in the rain or in the snow without running the slightest risk.
The organization of the different parameters is fairly standard, with a part devoted to shooting, another to reading the images and a last to the parameters of the camera. Contextual help would be welcome to help the novice to make certain adjustments, because the names (SFD mode, display outside the frame, extended mode …) sometimes lack some clarity.
Exit therefore the optical reflex aiming, place to the electronic aiming. It is entrusted to a slab displaying 2,360,000 points. The magnification is important: 1.1x, or 0.73x in 24×36 equivalent. In this regard, the sd Quattro is therefore close to the most high-end SLRs such as the Canon 1D X Mark II or the Nikon D5 . It is spacious and comfortable. The definition ensures a fairly good rendering of the details of the framed scenes, but the refresh of the display and the loss of precision during the search for the point spoil the party a little.
The LCD screen is of good quality, with good precision and wide viewing angles. We regret however that it is not orientable or tactile (it will undoubtedly be for the next edition). Good point, the main LCD screen adjoins another reminder screen with the main shooting settings.
The SD Quattro, like the cameras in the DP series, offers some interesting shooting modes, including the aspect ratio 21/9 with very cinematic rendering. Also in the renderings, we also appreciate the monochrome mode, which delivers shots rich in detail and in modulations.Show EXIF
Most hybrids are quite energy intensive and often suffer from a fairly limited autonomy (the compact expert dp are sold with a second battery). The sd Quattro unfortunately does not escape this rule: the battery (around 30 €) offers a range between 250 and 300 shots depending on the use of the case. A PG-41 power grip (around 300 €) allows 2 additional batteries to be carried, in addition to the one present in the case. Autonomy is thus greatly improved.
If the raw files of the Merrill range are now supported by third-party software like Adobe Lightroom, the X3F images of the Quattro do not (yet) experience the same fate and it will be necessary to use the Sigma Photo Pro 6 homemade software to develop the files rough.
It gets faster with each new version, but it remains much slower than most other raw file development software. A powerful computer is therefore recommended to process the files coming from the Quattro boxes. The new mode SFD ( Super Fine Detail ) is even more voracious in processor resources.
One of the novelties of the sd Quattro is the adoption by Sigma of a hybrid autofocus module which combines a phase correlation system and one with contrast detection. The first is used to roughly adjust the focus quickly and without pumping effect, while contrast detection makes it possible to refine the focus.
The sd Quattro has 9 AF points and you can also switch to “free” mode in order to move the focus point over a restricted area of the aim.
In the field, the Sigma sd Quattro generally behaved like the boxes of the dp series. The autofocus remains quite slow (in any case slower than the average of other hybrids). Good point, the phase correlation allows to quickly rough the work of the autofocus, but the contrast detection remains slow and jerky.
Sometimes the camera just can’t take stock. The phase correlation system is lost and hangs. We must then take stock of another subject. These cases are quite rare and have appeared on subjects with little contrast.
- Extraordinary stitching of images at ISO 100
- Superb finish of the case and weather resistance
- Compatibility with the Sigma SA range of optics
- Spacious electronic viewfinder
- Pleasant ergonomics
- 21: 9 aspect ratio for a cinema effect
- Very simple housing to transform for infrared photography
- Power up time too long
- Autofocus still too hesitant, especially in low light
- No touch screen or swiveling
- Sigma Photo Pro software required for raw files. Much too slow software.
- No Wi-Fi connection
- Complicated electronic noise management beyond ISO 400
- No video mode
- Bulky enclosure for a hybrid
- Electronic viewfinder lacking in precision when focusing
- Working latitude limited in exposure (noise in dark areas)
- Slow, non-configurable Super Fine Detail mode
- Sometimes hazardous color rendering
- No totally silent trigger
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