Sigma Quattro DP0 review
The Sigma Quattro DP0 uses the same 29MP Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor and TRUE III image processing engine as the other DP cameras in the Quattro range. Foveon sensors use three separate layers to register red, green and blue. This latest Quattro generation uses a different number of pixels per layer (1:1:4 ratio), with 20MP on the top layer and 4.9MP on each of the bottom two. This reduces file size and increases resolution, making the camera’s processing faster and lowers the power consumption.
This type of sensor is best used at low ISO, and my thoughts when reviewing the Sigma Quattro DP2 last year were that this camera would be an ideal landscape companion if it only had a wide-angle lens. Sigma must have figured this out too, as the DP0 comes with a 14mm f/4 wide angle lens, making it useful for landscape, architecture, and interior photography.
This 14mm fixed lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 that is quite slow for the light hungry Foveon technology. It is constructed with four Low Dispersion (FLD) glass elements, two Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements, and two aspheric lenses. This includes a wide double-sided aspheric lens to minimize chromatic aberrations and distortions.
The non-tilting 3.0″ 920k-dot TFT LCD has also remained unchanged from earlier Quattro cameras. There is no EVF, but an optical viewfinder (Sigma VF-21) and a clip-on LCD viewfinder (Sigma LVF-01) are available for purchase.
You’ll find Program, Shutter Priority, Auto and Manual shooting modes on this camera. Shutter speed ranges from 1/2000 to 30 seconds in Shutter priority. Maximum image resolution is 5424 x 3616, more than enough information for editing your exported TIFF files.
The DP0 uses nine selectable contrast-detect autofocus points, a bit of a crude AF system, but sufficient for landscape or architecture photography. Face Detection AF is also available, and you can use the excellent (and large, it extends all the way down the barrel) manual focusing ring in you prefer. You can save your images to an SDXC, SDHC, or SD card.
Design and Build
The Sigma Quattro range has a unique linear design; you’ll either love it or hate it. Ergonomically, it fits well in my (small) hands. I would have preferred a built-in EVF though, the screen is one of it’s weak points, and it is often difficult to do precise framing. Adding the optical viewfinder or LCD viewfinder would be the best option, but this does add bulk to the design.
The body is entirely made of metal and looks well built. The lens has a plastic exterior and feels a bit cheap. This was less an issue with the other fixed lenses in the Quattro range, but the 14mm is massive compared to the body.
The DP0 is not weather proofed, although I would expect it to have some weather resistance judging by the tight seals and rubber SD slot door.
This is my original Sigma Quattro DP2 test. I tested the DP0 too, but as it performs exactly the same, I might as well save some server space and repost these images. The camera has an ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400, but the Sigma Quattro DP0 (like all Quattros) is best used below ISO 1600 in my opinion.
These images were shot at RAW+ jpeg fine. X3F files exported without NR to jpeg. In-camera jpeg supplied if useful.
ISO 100 is totally clean, with no sign of noise in the shadows or colors.
ISO 200, same crispy clean image here
ISO 1600: first is a straight out of camera jpg, so you can clearly see some of the colour artefacts that start occurring. Second pic is RAW processed with the Sigma PhotoPro 6 software that dis a good job at filtering those artefacts out.
ISO 3200, you can clearly see the colour artefacts in the first straight out of camera jpeg, Photopro filters it out again in the second image but at the cost of loss of the right tone. Might be usable in black and white, as the noise is quite evenly spread.
Sigma 14mm f/4 lens sharpness
I’m using a sturdy tripod and remote to trigger exposures. I have to constant lights on the left and right of the camera illuminating 4 300 dpi test charts. ISO is always at base 100 for optimal quality. These images are RAW (X3F) files converted to jpg in Sigma’s PhotoPro 6 without any sharpening. What you’ll see is 100% crop of center and corner at different apertures.
This fixed 14mm f/4 prime lens give you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 22,4mm. This focal length isn’t that extreme, so distortion is well under control. There is always some vignetting visible, especially at f/4, but this is relatively easy to fix in post-processing. Overall this is an excellent prime lens, almost at maximum sharpness at f/4.
The center image is already at maximum sharpness at f/4. Sharpness looks good up to f/8, beyond that you’ll see a slight drop though nothing dramatic until f/16.
Corners look best at f/5.6-f/8, but are still quite useable up to f/16. You might notice some darkening in the corners in these test images, and you’ll see them in real-world use too. This Vignetting is least visible from f/8 onwards.
If you want to shoot RAW, you’ll need to use Sigma’s Photo Pro 6 to develop the X3F files. Sigma has been working hard on their RAW developer, and both speed and processing capabilities have been fine tuned since I used it for the DP2.
You’ll find the usual tonal adjustments here like Exposure, Contrast, Shadow, Highlight, Saturation, Sharpness and Fill Light. You can also choose from 11 different color modes for a variety of effects, including Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Sunset Red, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Color Temperature, Flash, and Custom. (this is also available in-camera for jpeg shooters). Photo Pro also offers a Noise Reduction Algorithm that is specially designed for the Foveon files, as well as CA correction and Fringe reduction.
It’s always handy to be able to process all your files in Adobe Lightroom, but unfortunately they do not support Foveon files. Sigma have done a good job at making a simple yet very effective application for developing their X3F format, and I’m sure new users will get the hang of it very soon.
A Sigma Quattro with an excellent 14mm prime lens is a match made in heaven. All images have that gratifying Foveon look, and the 14mm performs very well between f/4 and f/8. I would not hesitate using this lens below f/16 either, yes you’ll see some loss in sharpness due to diffraction, but nothing that can’t be fixed with an un-sharp mask in Photoshop.
This is a no frills camera, with only basic functionality available, but it makes wonderful images. Don’t expect any video capabilities either, this is a photo only tool, and a good one at that.
By now everybody knows that this camera line performs best at low ISO, and the DP0 is no exception. If at all possible, I would even keep it at ISO 100 if you want to do any additional processing after RAW conversion. If not, or you shoot JPEG, stay below ISO 1600 for good quality images.
I’m guessing this limitation won’t be an issue for most photographers who will use this camera mostly for landscape or architectural work. It goes without saying that a tripod and remote are necessary accessories, as well as either the optical or LCD viewfinder.
Purchase and Availability
The Sigma Quattro DP0 is available for purchase now on Amazon.
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