Things We Love: Sigma dp Quattro Digital Cameras

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Sigma is increasingly being viewed as the maker of the best third-party lenses on the market, but what is often overlooked is that the company makes cameras, too—and not just any camera, but perhaps, the oddest-looking point-and-shoot cameras around. Since this article series is called “Things We Love,” I’m forced to admit that I love the things most people ignore—or worse—ridicule, and the dp series certainly falls into both of those categories. However, it is not simply due to their outsider status that I have embraced them, but it also has to do with their high-resolution Foveon sensor, fixed focal length lenses and odd form factor, which I find very comfortable to use.

Unlike many (but not all) high-end point-and-shoots, the dp Quattro series does not offer a zoom lens. Instead, you are given a choice of four different cameras, each with a unique fixed focal length lens, but we will return to the lenses later. What makes the dp series particularly intriguing is its APS-C size 29MP Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor. The Foveon sensor captures full-color information vertically, as opposed to horizontally. This means that each pixel has accurate and complete color information, resulting in rich tones and smooth gradations. Also, since it captures color vertically, there is no need for color filters or a low-pass filter, further increasing image quality for an equivalent resolution of about 39MP. You are getting an ultra-high-resolution image with spectacular color rendition at a bargain-basement price. RAW image capture is supported and manual exposure control provides the ability to shape your imagery without compromise. While critics point to its less than stellar ISO range and slow autofocus, like all cameras, when you understand its limitations, you can exploit its advantages. For landscape and cityscape, architecture and interiors, portraits and product shots, choose your focal length and you have an impressive and affordable point-and-shoot with the resolving power of a high-end DSLR.

Sigma dp3 Quattro Digital Camera

I happen to like fixed focal length point-and-shoot cameras. I understand the disadvantage of not having zoom capability, but I also like not having to fuss with (or even think about) changing focal lengths while approaching a shot. If I know the focal length that I am working with, I will approach and frame accordingly. As the old saying goes, your feet are the best zoom available. In the case of the dp Quattro series however, Sigma did not just settle on one focal length but, instead, made four cameras, each with its own unique lens. The dp0 Quattro has a 14mm f/4 lens, which equates to a 21mm focal length in the full-frame format, the dp1 Quattro has a 19mm f/2.8 lens for a 28mm equivalence, the dp2 Quattro provides a 30mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to a 45mm lens) and the dp3 Quattro has a 50mm lens, which equates to a 75mm focal length on a 35mm/full frame format.

Sigma dp0 Quattro Digital Camera

The form factor of the dp Quattro series is also a matter of contention for many photographers and, while there is no denying that the camera looks odd when compared to most cameras, I find them ergonomic, with easy-to-access settings. It’s true that with the dp3, maintaining a stable (shake-free) grip with just one hand can be a challenge, but I have found that the hand grip provides ample room to get the camera deep into your palm and still reach the control buttons and dials with your thumb and fingers. It also balances well across its long form, offers a bright 3.0" LCD screen, a manual focus lens ring, and never feels like you are holding something too small and delicate. While this last assessment may be entirely subjective, based on the size of my hand and preferred shooting style, what is not in question is the incredible color and fine detail that the dp Quattro cameras deliver.

Let us know your experiences shooting with the dp Quattro series, just below this article, and feel free to include sample images that demonstrate its color characteristics.

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