I believe I don’t exaggerate if I say that there is a debate about the new Quattro sensor within the Sigma community. Since Sigma has presented its newest Foveon, there are discussions about the pros and cons of the new unorthodox design.
A part of the sigma users doesn’t like the in relation to the sensor of the Merrill camera lower micro contrast. However others appreciate the realistic colors and the fact that the Quattro sensor can handle motives better in which greater micro contrast is a handicap. As we photographers know, a camera consists of much more than the sensor. For that reason I think it is a great pity that there is a discussion about the sensors instead of about the cameras (DP2Q vs. DP2M).
It is not only the result that counts but rather the way of getting there. Therefore I want to add my own two cents.
As I wrote in my last posting about the “Foveon-look”, I hold the opinion that there is no single “FOVEON LOOK”. Pre-Merrill DPs, DP Merrills and now the Quattro have all a unique look. But they share an extreme resolving power and a per pixel acuity which outclass Bayer cameras with similar resolution at lower sensitivity.
Therefore there can be no talk of a “bayerisation” of the Foveon.
In comparison to the Merrill – three things have been changed:
- noise performance is better
- less highlight headroom
- Noise level in shadows is lower which leads to higher dynamic in these areas and makes up for the disadvantage in the highlights.
All things considered I would say that the Quattro Sensor renders differently, rather than better or worse.
Design, build quality and ergonomics
I’m aware that the design of the Quattro is polarizing. I like it but I understand people who can’t do anything with it.
The differences between the DP2Q and the DP2M are comparable to the differences between Sigma EX and Sigma A/S/C lenses.
The Quattro has a softer (less of a fingerprint magnet) and a more quality look in comparison to the Merrill, but the build quality is on a comparably high level, which is easy to recognize if you compare them side by side.
I have to mention one positive thing about the Quattro’s buttons which are now round with a clearly improved pressure point. Some will disagree but in my opinion that the camera lies better in the hand due to the “reversed” grip.
Handling and Control
The classical handling of the DP hasn’t been changed by much, but there are a few improvements to the very good handling which we already know from the Merrill. I want to list up four improvements which I like very well:
- The second dial which simplifies tweaking settings in manual mode
- The new QS menu, which was beatified and which is now easier to personalize/customize
- Activation of the 100% view on the applied AF point at a push of the button in the middle of the D-pad
- The very accurate histogram, which shows the effect of exposure compensation much more precisely
Autofocus and write speed
Thanks to the new CPU, write speed has been reduced by half. De facto, this means that the Quattro is twice as fast at writing X3F files to the memory card.
In all aspects the biggest improvement is the AF auxiliary light, which makes the autofocus more reliable at low light, in comparison to the Merrill.
Battery and display
The Quattro has been treated with a new display which appears brighter and sharper with more realistic colors. The new battery, which is called into action, is twice as big but has a minimally lower capacity (DP2Q/1200mAh vs DP2M/1250mAh).
But in practice the Quattro can take twice as many pictures per battery charge despite the display’s higher intensity.
As with the Merrill, Sigma includes two batteries in the package, with which you can take 400 images on average.
Maybe the Quattro’s look is different, but the image quality is quite similar to the Merrill and on a very high level. Instead of concentrating only on picture quality, Sigma has clearly improved the usability. The camera is faster, handier, and easier to operate, looks more valuable and has a better picture/battery-life ratio.