The Sigma dp2 Quattro replaces the previous-generation DP2 Merrill, with a radically reworked sensor and strikingly unconventional body. In our Sigma dp2 Quattro review Andy Westlake takes it for a test drive
Sigma dp2 Quattro – Pros
Exceptional low-ISO image quality
- Extraordinarily sharp lens
- Good control layout
Sigma dp2 Quattro – Cons
- Poor quality at ISO 1600 and above
- Uncomfortable hand grip
- Bulky, awkward body shape
Sigma dp2 Quattro review – Introduction
In the early days of digital photography, camera manufacturers experimented with all sorts of different body designs.
Some disappeared without trace, but others became seen as modern classics, perhaps most notably Nikon’s split-body Coolpix models of the early 2000s. But over time, designs have generally become more and more conservative, and now almost all digital cameras look very much like film cameras did.
Which brings us to the dp2 Quattro. Sigma was actually the first to place a large, APS-C-sized sensor in a fixed-lens compact camera, with the original DP1 Merill. The concept has been through several generations, and expanded to three lenses offering 28mm, 45mm and 75mm equivalent angles of view.
But until now, the actual camera designs have been decidedly conservative square boxes with lenses on the front. The Quattro, in contrast, is very different indeed.
Sigma’s latest model has an extremely unconventional design. It has a wide, low, slim body, with the lens offset towards the right. But the real talking point is its grip, which is an odd-looking affair that sticks out at an angle from the back of the camera. It’s certainly an attention-grabbing look.
Sigma dp2 Quattro review- Features
Once we get past the physical design and start looking at the camera’s key features, it’s still decidedly unusual. It features an APS-C-sized (23.5 x 15.7mm) sensor, with the unique Foveon multi-layer design. In short this design uses three stacked layers with different colour sensitivities, in contrast to conventional sensors that measure either red, green or blue light at any given pixel location.
This gives Foveon images a unique look, traditionally showing impressive detail resolution and unusually fine pixel-to-pixel colour gradation. However, the design has also had its problems, most notably with image noise at only moderately high sensitivities of ISO 800 or more. The raw images generally can’t be processed using mainsteam software either, but instead require Sigma’s own Photo Pro converter.
On front of the sensor is a fixed 30mm f/2.8 lens that gives an angle of view equivalent to 45mm on full frame. You won’t find any other fixed-lens cameras sporting such a thing – most use wider 35mm or 28mm equivalent primes. However, this focal length counts as a ‘normal’ lens, which gives a very natural-looking perspective to images that is favoured by many photographers (myself included). The lens has a 58mm filter thread, and a bayonet mount for the matched hood.
A top-plate hotshoe is provided for auxiliary lighting, but there’s no built-in flash. Images are recorded to an SD card that sits behind a thick rubber cover on the camera’s left side, which also conceals a USB socket that can accept a cable release. But there’s no HDMI port, as the Quattro doesn’t record video.