Sigma sd Quattro H Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sigma sd Quattro H
Resolution: 25.56 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-H
(26.6mm x 17.9mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 6400
Extended ISO: 100 - 6400
Shutter: 1/4000 - 30 seconds
Dimensions: 5.8 x 3.7 x 3.6 in.
(147 x 95 x 91 mm)
Weight: 22.4 oz (635 g)
Availability: 01/2017
Manufacturer: Sigma
Full specs: Sigma sd Quattro H specifications
25.56
Megapixels
Sigma SA bayonet APS-H
size sensor
image of Sigma sd Quattro H
Front side of Sigma sd Quattro H digital camera Front side of Sigma sd Quattro H digital camera Front side of Sigma sd Quattro H digital camera Front side of Sigma sd Quattro H digital camera Front side of Sigma sd Quattro H digital camera

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted: 02/23/2016

Updates:
: New DNG support, DC Crop Mode and revised burst mode ratings

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image

Announced alongside the Sigma sd Quattro, the Sigma sd Quattro H interchangeable lens mirrorless camera has a similar compact design but features a new, larger APS-H sized Foveon X3 sensor. The Sigma sd Quattro H (and Sigma sd Quattro) are the first two mirrorless cameras offered by Sigma, signaling the start of a new product line for the company. As Sigma Corporation of America's president Mark Amir-Hamzeh says, "With the introduction of these two new cameras, Sigma continues its rich history of innovation." The mirrorless body design has allowed Sigma to provide users with a compact body with which they can use their SA-mount lenses, which themselves have been in production since 1993.

The Sigma sd Quattro H is targeted at "photographers who demand the utmost in imaging purity, with the added benefit of portability for both in-studio and on-location photography" according to Amir-Hamzeh.

Featuring the same distinct design as the Sigma sd Quattro, the sd Quattro H has magnesium alloy construction and is both splash- and dust-proof. The sd Quattro H proves that Sigma is comfortable with utilizing camera designs that don't align with its contemporaries. This striking looking camera has a 3-inch 1.62M-dot LCD monitor (which does not offer touchscreen or tilting capabilities) and a 2.36M-dot LCD electronic viewfinder.

In lieu of a top display and in addition to the primary 3-inch display on the back of the camera, there is also a sub-monitor along the right side that displays important shooting information such as remaining shots, shutter speed, aperture value, ISO, and more. Further, the dual monitors utilize a design that aims to minimize reflections, even in bright conditions.

The electronic viewfinder has 1.09x magnification (0.84x in 35mm format), approximately 100% coverage, 21mm eyepoint and -4 to +2 diopter adjustment. There is a toggle switch next to the viewfinder to switch between the viewfinder or display, but there is also an auto mode that utilizes a sensor to automatically switch between the viewfinder and display depending on your usage.

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image
The back of the Sigma sd Quattro H includes a 3-inch LCD, separate status LCD, 2.36M-dot LCD EVF, and a wide array of controls. The EVF also includes automatic switching between itself and the display.

The biggest differentiation between the Sigma sd Quattro and the sd Quattro H is the latter's 26.6 x 17.9mm APS-H sized sensor, providing a crop-factor of about 1.3x instead of the 23.5 x 15.5mm APS-C version's 1.5x crop factor. Like the sd Quattro, the Sigma sd Quattro H uses a Foveon X3 Quattro sensor, which features an asymmetrical layered design. The top layer is 25.6 megapixels and an additional pair of 6.4-megapixel layers below combine to produce images that are equivalent to those that a 51-megapixel Bayer-pattern sensor camera would produce according to Sigma. Here at IR, we won't go so far as to say it's equivalent to a 51-megapixel Bayer senor, but it certainly should be better than a conventional 25.6-megapixel sensor, at least at low ISOs -- especially when it comes to color resolution. The top layer captures both detail and blue channel information whereas the bottom two layers capture red and green channel information. Due to the sensor's design, the camera does not need to include a detail-robbing optical low-pass filter.

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image

Designed to take full advantage of this stacked sensor as well as Sigma's extensive line of SA-mount lenses is Sigma's newest Dual TRUE III image processor. Photographers can capture 14-bit lossless RAW images in Sigma's X3F format and then process them in Sigma's own Photo Pro software. DNG format is now also supported for use with 3rd-party RAW converters though unlike X3F format, it's not possible to capture DNG+JPEG pairs.

Two RAW image sizes are offered: High, which captures the full resolution offered at all three layers (25.6 megapixels blue and 6.4 megapixels of red and green each), and Low which captures the blue layer at about 6.3 megapixels, and the red and green layers at about 1.6 megapixels each.

The Sigma sd Quattro H utilizes DDR3 DRAM for buffer memory, with about twice the capacity as found in the dp Quattro series of cameras. This allows the sd Quattro H to capture 8 X3F RAW frames in a burst at up to 4.4 frames per second according to the company. And if you're willing to shoot at the reduced "Low" resolution of about 6.3 megapixels, the claimed burst performance increases to 16 images at 6.2 frames per second.

The Sigma sd Quattro H also includes a "DC Crop Mode" which is automatically enabled when a Sigma DC (APS-C) lens is attached (you can also enable it manually), and coverage in the electronic viewfinder and LCD is cropped to match. In DC Crop Mode, the rated burst speed increases to 4.8 frames per second with an image size of 19.6 megapixels, and up to 6.8 frames per second for the Low size of 4.9 megapixels.

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image

The Sigma sd Quattro H also includes two-mode autofocus detection which utilizes phase-detection autofocus for focusing speed and contrast-detection autofocus for focusing accuracy. Operating range is specified at EV -1 to EV 18 (ISO 100/F1.4). The addition of phase-detection AF over the contrast-detect-only AF of the dp series should help maximize focusing performance with existing SA-mount lenses that are not optimized for contrast-detect AF. Enhanced autofocus modes include movement prediction, face detection, and free movement. When using free movement, you can select from 9 autofocus points and adjust the size of the AF point. A focus assist light is provided for low-light conditions. When manually focusing, you can utilize focus peaking to provide a colored outline around the currently in-focus subject. The available color choices are white, black, red, and yellow. A focus assist light is provided for low-light conditions.

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image
Notice the deep flange-back distance of the lens mount required to be compatible with existing SA-mount lenses. Here, you can also see the "lock" switch on the top of the body. This switch allows the user to "lock" the buttons on the camera and prevent accidental changes to settings while shooting. Which buttons are locked is user-customizable.

In addition to enhanced autofocus, Sigma also says that the sd Quattro H's Auto White Balance algorithm has been updated to provide better accuracy.

As do most cameras these days, the Sigma sd Quattro H offers a number of aspect ratios for its images in addition to its native 3:2 aspect ratio. These include the familiar 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1 ratios, but unusually, 21:9 and 7:6 are also offered. The Sigma sd Quattro H doesn't provide any scene modes, but color modes on offer are Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Sunset Red, Forest Green, FOV Classic Blue, FOV Classic Yellow, and Monochrome.

In addition to Sigma's interpolated "Super High" resolution mode producing 51-megapixel (8,768 x 5,840) JPEG images, the sd Quattro H offers a new "Super-Fine Detail" mode designed to bring out the sensor's full potential. This mode captures seven separate exposures and merges them into one image with improved dynamic range and lower noise, although any individual frame can be extracted as well from the new .X3I RAW file format.

Sigma sd Quattro H Review -- Product Image

The Sigma sd Quattro H has a native ISO sensitivity range of 100-6400 and includes a programmable Auto ISO mode. Shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/4000s and includes a bulb mode for longer exposures of up to two minutes.

The Sigma sd Quattro H does not have a built-in flash, but it does have a hot shoe over the lens mount's central axis, as well as a PC-socket on the front. The camera's maximum flash sync speed is 1/180s. Exposure metering modes include evaluative, center-weighted, and spot, and +/- 5.0EV exposure compensation is available in 0.3EV increments. Continuing in the footsteps of the SD1 DSLR and dp Quattro-series, the sd Quattro H cannot capture video -- this is purely a stills camera.

As far as connectivity is concerned, the Sigma sd Quattro H has a Mini HDMI (Type C) port, a USB 3.0 Super Speed data port, and a wired remote control jack. The Sigma sd Quattro H utilizes SD/SDHC/SDXC memory for storage using a single card slot, however we don't yet know if faster UHS-I types are supported.

Power is supplied from a proprietary BP-61 lithium-ion battery back, however battery life has not been published as of this writing. But because of the complex processing involved in separating the color response of each layer, battery life hasn't been great from Foveon-based Sigma cameras in the past. (The Sigma dp2 Quattro for instance had a battery life of only 200 shots per charge without a flash, so Sigma included a second battery in the bundle.) The good news for the sd Quattro H is there is an optional PG-41 Power Grip which holds up to two additional batteries, which should triple battery life over a single battery in the body. As you'd expect, the weatherproofed vertical grip also provides redundant controls such as an On/Off button, two command dials, an AF/AEL button and a programmable FUNC button. The PG-41 Power Grip retails for about US$250.

Sigma sd Quattro Review -- Product Image

Sigma's DP Merrill- and dp Quattro-series cameras, which also utilize Foveon sensors, proved capable of capturing very high-quality images despite having some interesting quirks and limitations. With this new sd Quattro H mirrorless camera, we hope to find continued impressive imaging performance (and perhaps fewer quirks) when we get it in for testing. It will also be interesting to see how the new APS-H sensor of this model compares to the APS-C sensor found in the "standard" sd Quattro camera.

The Sigma sd Quattro H mirrorless camera is slated to begin shipping in January 2017 for a suggested retail price of about US$1,200 body-only. No word yet if Sigma will also offer it bundled with a lens.

 

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