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Sigma Announces Shipping and Prices for Quatro DP2

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When you’re Sigma, and you’ve staked out a claim in the realm of high quality lenses at a bargain price, what else can you do? How about create a camera that can cater to the middle between the professional grade DSLR set and the consumer grade shutter bug? But can what amounts to a pricey point and shoot compete in the crowded digital age? Well, it helps if you’re using a radical new full color sensor.

The Sigma Quatro DP2 will be available at the end of the summer for around $1,000. Ouch. That’s a bit steep for what looks like a fixed lens on a point-and-shoot camera. But Sigma is hoping that it’s Foveon X3 Quattro full color image sensor will cause early adopters, with money burning a hole in their pocket, will want to give the Quatro a whirl.

Can an image sensor be that good? I guess it comes down to if the specs that support that sensor give users their money’s worth:

  • 19.60 Megapixels APS-C sensor
  • TRUE III image processor
  • Max RAW Resolution of 5,424 x 3,616
  • 45mm equivalent fixed f2.8 lens.
  • LCD Viewfinder
  • ISO: 100-6400
  • 30-1/2000 shutter range
  • 9 point contrast-detection?auto focus
  • 11 color modes and 10 white balance modes

So, what’s the key advantage? Well, according to Sigma, the Foveon image sensor has three separate color layers, red, green and blue, and it’s able to eliminate the lions share of resolution on two of those layers and instead, give them larger photodiodes so they can just?concentrate on color saturation. This gives it the ability to provide far more color gamut and as such, bolder, more accurate colors.

I don’t know about you, but that’s what drives me nuts about your average camera these days ... I end up having to color correct for even the most basic vacation shots, because they colors simply are washed out due to the CCD image sensors that are so stuffed with pixels on a smaller chip, that you can’t get enough light in to expose for color. And as such, an image is almost never the way my eyes see it. That’s just a limitation of the sensor technology no matter what camera you use, and Sigma is trying to address it with the Foveon sensor design.

But I’m just not feelin’ it, especially considering that Sigma has had issues with the Foveon sensor inviting far more noise to the image party due to cross-contamination of colors between channels, an issue with luminance moir, and a limited ISO range. And while most cameras are now pushing six digit ISO, Sigma tops out at 6400. Not exactly ideal for low light shooting. It’s an interesting experiment, and it seems to me that the Quatro is more of a proof of concept that went to market to see if the Foveon can mature and answer some real image issues with digital cameras.

Then there’s the issue of the fixed 30mm lens. It’s got the equivalent of a 45mm lens but that’s an extremely limited lens option. Sigma offers two other models in the DP1 and DP3 which have 19mm (28mm equivalent) and 50mm (75mm equivalent) respectively, but who wants to buy three different cameras to shoot three different focal lengths? If Sigma had created the Quatro as a micro 4/3s camera, then they’d seriously be onto something. But this design?really makes no sense whatsoever.

And I haven’t even gotten to the lack of being able to shoot video. So while the design is interesting from an imaging and color point of view, I don’t see the benefit of this camera for filmmaking, and at $1000, I’d be hard pressed to justify spending that kind of money for what amounts to an overpriced and under designed pocket vacation camera. Pity too, because I had high hopes that Sigma would do for the mid-range camera what they’ve done for the high end art lens. But not this time.

Hat Tip – IR

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