Sigma dp2 Quattro: a new camera flavour
Sigma seems to be getting out of the doghouse as of late. Their Art series of lenses have received praise from reviewers, and the Sigma dp2 Quattro series cameras offer a unique design coupled with the particular Foveon X3 sensor.
I’ve been trying it out for some time now, and I had many people staring at this strangely looking camera. What is that? Is it a camera? All these pictures were taken at Watou Arts Festival.
Foveon X3 sensor
What makes this camera unique is the Foveon sensor? Most camera brands like Nikon, Fuji and Olympus, use Sony made sensors that they use in different ways, but Sigma has a proprietary division that develops their own.
- A traditional sensor has a flat surface where each light sensitive element will, through filtration, register one of the 3 RGB colours.
- In order to reproduce a full-color spectrum, a process called demosaicing is used
- During this process, the sensor ‘guesses’ what the value of the two missing colours is by comparing it to the levels of red, green and blue in the adjacent light sensitive cells.
- This might sound strange, but remember were talking about millions of light sensitive cells, so much of the guessing work is more or less taken out of the equation just by the sheer amount of data available.
Another benefit of a Foveon sensor is that more of the light particles hitting the sensor will be detected than is possible with a mosaic sensor.
Another advantage of a Foveon sensor is that more of the light particles hitting the sensor will be detected than is possible with a mosaic sensor.
- Because each of the color filters overlaying each photosite of a traditional sensor passes only one of the primary colours, absorbing the other two.
- The absorption of these colors reduces the total amount of light gathered by the sensor and destroys much of the information about the color of the light impinging on each sensor element.
Although the Foveon X3 has greater light gathering ability, the individual layers do not respond as sharply to the respective colours. This does require the removal of common-mode signals to produce color data in a standard color space, which can increase color noise in low-light. All this processing is so sensor specific, that almost no RAW editor supports it and the RAW files can only be manipulated in Sigma’s proprietary Photo Pro 6 software.
Investing in the Sigma dp2 Quattro does not only involve spending the cash, but also means getting used to the software and the peculiarities of the camera and lens combination. I’d say it is worth it though because you can get beautiful images from this camera. Yes, they look very realistic with beautiful color rendition, but they also look very attractive, they draw your attention without too much tinkering, it’s a real fine art camera.
I’ll be posting more about the Sigma dp2 Quattro in the next few weeks, you can find them all here.