Eric L. Woods

Bought an Art lens and it came with a camera: SIGMA sd Quattro – 30mm f/1.4 Art Part 3 – First Samples and Initial Wrap Up

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This is the latest in what has become a Vintage Digital series. But first, the plan. (This ended up being a long one so instead of one post with all items below I broke it up into parts. Flee now while you can those of short attention span. Save yourself.)

  1. Unpack how on Earth I got here.
  2. Unbox the thing and first thoughts.
  3. Quick sample shots and wrap up for now, expecting a few more posts to come.

Samples shots and initial wrap up.

Nothing fancy. Just some quick shots from day one.

SIGMA sd Quattro - Test Shot
Very first pic taken once I got the settings sorted. Mainly DNG and figured out how to get it into aperture priority mode.
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot
SIGMA sd Quattro - Test shot

Initial wrap up.

As long as you understand what this camera is and is not you will be fine.

What it is not.

  • A competitor for more rational choices on the market.
  • Normal in nearly any way.
  • A night color photography tool if a tripod is not involved where there is little to no available light. f/1.4 helps if there is some light available, but it is not a miracle worker. You can push it a bit more in B&W.
  • A camera for moving objects.
  • A camera for everyone.

What it is.

  • As close as I have ever found to a film camera experience in digital form.
  • With proper care and feeding operationally a camera capable of stunning image quality rivaling far more expensive gear.
  • Wonderfully absurd.
  • Better in nearly every metric than the dp2 Quattro I had already fallen for at the same as new asking price.
  • More on this below, but a camera that (brace yourself for an eyeroll) inspires me artistically.
  • Depending on your perspective a pretty good deal.

Ergonimics

The ergonomics are such that I feel a whole post about it coming.

SIGMA sd Quattro - Unboxing for blog post

Oddly it is both unlike any camera I have used and fairly intuitive. And it is a wonderfully chunky thing in hand. I have held considerably more expensive cameras and lenses that do not feel nearly as good as this. Also has a funky little side display that I really like that not only displays current settings, but corresponds with control buttons next to the display.

Specs compared to the dp2 Quattro

The older dp2 Quattro has some odd operational limitations. For example I quickly found that while the shutter speed goes up to 1/2000s you are limited to f/5.6 at that shutter speed. You can only achieve f/2.8 up to 1/1250s. I work around it, but seems a shame. Meanwhile the sd Quattro goes up to 1/4000s and f/1.4 is accessible at all speeds. I will need to get this thing out to Duke Gardens for some comparison shots.

While we are on the topic it has an f/1.4 aperture. And being an Art lens there seems to be little if any Image Quality penalty to shooting it wide open. Definitely helpful given the Foveon sensors ISO limitations.

It has an EVF. Granted not a stellar one, but it beats the heck out of an optional $200+ OVF. The backscreen also has a higher resolution, but I pay little attention to such things. I use backscreens and viewfinders mainly for framing only and have yet to ever utter, “This has low resolution”, on any camera I have used except for maybe one or two ancient DSLRs with their tiny little screens.

While not nearly as compact as the dp2 the sd makes good use of its larger size by adding buttons and switches for many controls that usually require a trip to the menus which is appreciated. Buttons even repeat functions found on the QS (Quick select I assume. I need to read one of these manuals.) menu.

One area where the dp2 does win out is infinity focus. Likely the fruit of being a matched in built lens, but with MF infinity is a hard stop on the dp2 and not so much on the sd.

Value

Given it’s limitations some may not see value here, but I do. Some quick comparisons.

Individual components

I was serious when I stated “Bought an Art lens and it came with a camera” in the title. The Art lens in this kit adds only $200 and standalone it comes in multiple DSLR mounts for $499.

SIGMA sd Quattro - Unboxing for blog post

The standalone camera body price is $699. So I can look at it either as I am getting an Art lens for $200 or that I am getting a brand new camera for $499. Why do I say the Art lens “came with a camera”? Well…

SIGMA Art Lenses

The 30mm f/1.4 works out to a 45.9mm f/2.14 full frame equivalent (per mmcalc).

SIGMA sd Quattro - Unboxing for blog post

While there are lower priced full frame SIGMA Contemporary Sony mount lenses, if I decided to go that route instead, offered the closest spec’d and least expensive SIGMA Art lens, the 50mm f/1.8 Art, costs more than this whole kit. It is also considerably larger and heavier. This same 50mm f/1. 8 Art lens weighs almost 200g more than the sd Quattro body alone. Almost weighs 200g more than the 30mm f/1.4 Art also.

Additionally I believe the sd to be a considerably better value that the dp2. I caught the dp2 on a cannot pass it up price. But as much as I like it I would not spend the full dp2 new asking price like I have with the sd.

Compared to some other non standard options

Some may howl, but in a world where few bat an eye, myself included, at someone plopping down nearly five figures for a digital camera body that is manual focus only and over $5,000 for a manual focus film camera body an $899 camera/lens kit that offers stellar IQ is not that big of an ask in my book. Do not get me wrong. This is no ding on those other cameras. Were it a realistic option for me I would have one as well. The sd is just a less expensive means of getting your non standard issue kicks in my book.

Artistic endeavors

Not only does this camera have amazing image quality that has me thinking of a number of side projects I would like to pursue. For example I am seriously considering taking a solid whack at landscape photography and those are words I am fairly certain I have not ever uttered before. But it is also capable of something I have read about, found interesting, but never thought I would try. Infrared photography. Follow this link for example photos. Why not? Well from what I had read in the past in order to shoot infrared technology you had to do two things:

  • Have the Infrared cut filter, that is a part of your sensor, removed. This was a job suited for a technician and rather permanent as I understood it.
  • Now having exposed the sensor to Infrared light the second step would be to use a visible light filter so only Infrared light would be visible.

Neat but that is a lot of trouble for something I would not see myself using often.

But as laid out in this article the sd Quattro’s Infrared filter sits in front of the sensor. Not only can it easily be removed it was designed to be removed.

SIGMA sd Quattro - Unboxing for blog post
The Infrared cut filter is that ring just behind the mount. I like that it also protects the sensor.

Simply remove the filter and get yourself a visible light filter and off you go. I already have one on order. And when you are done playing around put it back. Cool.

Can I recommend the SIGMA sd Quattro?

Not sure. Largely depends.

If you are looking for a kitchen sink do it all and be quick about it digital camera then definitely no. This camera will make you miserable.

If you shoot nothing but film currently because no digital camera has interested you I recommend you take a look. A lot of what I love about shooting film is present here.

If you mainly shoot digital, have a main kit, want to slow down a bit, and like the idea of film but not all of the faffing about required (the whole point for me sometimes) I would recommend you take a look.

If you are an image quality nut and want astounding color and tone rendition and sharpness and detail rivaling much more expensive gear. And if you are willing to make some sacrifices to get it (based on my experience so far with the same sensor in the dp2) I would take a look.

Sigma dp2 Quattro

Well that is it for now. I expect I will be reporting back once I get more shooting time under my belt with this kit.

Happy shooting.

-ELW

SIGMA sd Quattro - Unboxing for blog post
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