The little oddball won the small camera wars around these parts. A SIGMA dp2 Quattro addendum.

Scroll down to content

Disclaimer:

This blog is in no way intended to be a source of advice. You may scoff and that is ok. Not only is it ok, but it is understandable. I do not pretend for a moment that any of this makes sense… But it does make for a wonderful distraction. Different strokes for different folks. Just a bit of fun. Now on to a minor bit of heresy. Brace yourself.

My attachment to the oddball SIGMA dp2 Quattro is well documented in this space.

Sigma dp2 Quattro

I have also raved about two other all in one cameras in this space. One is a film camera.

Contax T2
Contax T2 - Lomography 800

One is a digital camera.

FUJIFILM X100S
FUJIFILM X100S

But…

<Heresy alert>

…I had all three and found myself using the SIGMA dp2 Quattro instead of the other two so I sold the T2 and the X100S.

Wait. Wait. I can explain. Well, maybe I can explain.

Short Version:

Despite its technical idiosyncrasies I enjoy the shooting experience and the resulting images more.

Long-Winded Version:

As compared to the Contax T2.

Looking back the handwriting was on the wall once I completed a side by side comparison…

that was meant to be tongue in cheek. But here is the thing. While I expected it to be good, the dp2 was every bit a match for the T2 for my purposes image quality wise.

Durham - American Tobacco
T2
Sigma dp2 Quattro
dp2

Places, spaces, and events where I would have used the T2 before, like trips to my family home stead in rural NC and home going services as a photo therapy coping mechanism, for instance…

Contax T2
Contax T2
Contax T2 w/ Fuji Acros 100
Contax T2 w/ Fuji Acros 100
Contax T2
Albany, NY
Contax T2
Albany, NY

…I started using the dp2 instead.

Sigma dp2 Quattro - Warrenton
Sigma dp2 Quattro - Warrenton
Sigma dp2 Quattro - Warrenton
SIGMA dp2 Quattro
SIGMA dp2 Quattro
SIGMA dp2 Quattro

Did not really think about it. It kind of just happened.

What was only obvious later on is that after years of regular use I had not used the T2 since that dp2 comparison. While there are key, obvious differences between the two technically and operationally they filled the same niche for me functionally.

Sidebar: There is also a practical consideration. If I am not using it I tend to sell precious cameras on. Especially expensive all electronic ones that will be beautiful bricks of greatly diminished value once they pack it in. Started being a bit more nervous and cautious with every use. The dp2 cost far less and is of a considerably newer vintage. Additionally, I also tend to sell on cameras I am not using regularly once they fall out of rotation. Let someone else make use of it rather than it becoming a shelf trophy.

As compared to the Fujifilm X100S.

Fujifilm. Thought this might be the one. The one that lasted. We have had our fun, and I tried so hard to make it work, but we always end up here. I have owned many Fujifilm cameras and I always end up trading them. What I like most about them is the film-like ergonomic sensation when I use them. But for me, it never quite mimicked the film experience enough image wise (I shoot RAW so the JPEG simulations are not as much of a benefit for me personally.) and I would let them go and move on to an actual film camera.

But I find the dp2 to be more film-like in actual use. The limitations, the resulting image, and a bit of not knowing exactly what you are going to get. Add on top of that the baked into the DNG RAW file color and monochrome profiles and crop ratios that make you commit like film cameras do and it is an easy choice for me. SIGMA dp2 Quattro all day.

There is also the image quality. The Fujifilm X100S’ X-Trans sensor is very good, but I like the results from the Foveon sensored dp2 more. Pure personal preference. Your mileage may vary. As a result, even though I picked up the X100S when it showed up at my local camera shop later, it was set aside not long after and I went back to the dp2.

But before I sum up let me be clear. I in no way intend to disparage either of these two cameras or any camera for that matter. I could get on just fine with nearly any camera if need be. At heart, I am brand agnostic, as well as format or sensor size, or any other comparison folks like to put out there. More power to them, but I am strictly in the “Whatever floats your boat.” camp for matters of no real consequence, and heated gear debates cause me to run for the hills. We are talking about cameras for Pete’s sake. Though written in the framework of a comparison this is more of a glimpse into the winnowing process of a person looking to suppress his inner Pokemon “Gotta catch ’em all” disposition rather than a “this is ‘better’ than that” exercise. They are all great cameras.

Summing Up

Thes three cameras have their similarities…

  • Relatively compact.
  • Great lenses.

…and differences…

  • The Contax and Fujifilm both carry more cache.
  • The dp2 is the only one of the three with no viewfinder.

…but the dp2 is a better fit for me.

  • The combination of film-like, makes you commit crop and color profile experience of the T2 with X100S digital convenience.
  • Above that is the amazing image quality of the dp2’s Foveon sensor.

And then there is this. What I thought would be limitations are in a way advantageous. With a Foveon sensor there will be no:

  • Spraying and Praying
    • I do not recall the fps because it does not matter. There will be no “point it in this general direction, kind of frame it, brrrrrrrrp, brrrrrrrrp, I am sure one of those might be fine and crop it later” shooting here. Each shot will be slow and deliberate… because you have no choice.
  • Video
    • It does what it does and no more. Create wonderful images.
  • “Chimping”
    • SD Card write times are ridiculously long so it quickly causes me to abandon immediate image review and helps me stay in the moment by concentrating on what is before me rather than focusing my attention on reviewing what has already occurred.

You must be very intentional in your framing and focusing if you want a good result. Surely you could try and slow down with other cameras as well. But if available I quickly lean on these features. Those conventional cameras are great for capturing an image, but not necessarily the best for capturing the exact image I have in mind. There is a time and a place when swiftness is required. This is not the camera for those occasions and I am ok with that. All of this makes for a very pure stills capturing experience and I like it.

Image Quality

The party piece in my opinion. All of that slowing down jazz mentioned above would be meaningless if the resulting image was meh. Sure it comes down to personal preference, but I am quite smitten with the dp2’s image quality. It asks a lot of you, but when it hits it can create amazing results. Whether it be black and white images or color and while specs say 19MP there is so much detail that cropping is no issue at all. I go into detail regarding my thoughts on image quality in the linked review above, but here I will lean on the sample images below.

Sigma dp2 Quattro
Original

With images with plenty of detail for cropping later.

Crop - Sigma dp2 Quattro
Cropped

Fun DNG crop files requiring care when framing.

21:9 - Monochrome - SIGMA dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro - 21:9 - B&W DNG
Sigma dp2 Quattro - 21:9 - B&W DNG
Sigma dp2 Quattro

Great color images.

Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Original

And again plenty of detail for cropping later.

Crop - Sigma dp2 Quattro
Cropped
Crop - Sigma dp2 Quattro
Cropped
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro

This is not what I expected when I bought this camera if I am honest. Thought I would meet my obsession, be disappointed by it not reaching my lofty expectations based on image samples and that I would pivot back to something more practical like the X100S or the like. But to my surprise from the first simple sample image I took with it fresh out of the box…

Sigma dp2 Quattro

…I was all in. So much so that not only did I keep it I also addressed the thought that a faster lens and viewfinder would be nice with another acquisition. This time new since, as much as makes no sense, the used price was the same.

SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4

Result? Same Foveon goodness and idiosyncrasies in a larger model with added features.

21:9 in camera crop SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4
21:9 in camera crop SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4
21:9 in camera crop SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4
SIGMA sd Quattro - 30mm f/1.4 Art

All that said these are not cameras for every occasion or photographer.

They are “I want an image that looks a certain way”, not “I just need the shot” cameras. They are not meant as a modern digital alternative. Things like a fleshed out third party lens and flash support, fast moving object focus acquisition, and high ISO performance are not on the table. But if you come at it from an analog perspective where shooting experience and resulting image quality are paramount these cameras really shine. My traditional digital ILS systems have their purpose and are marked safe. But these cameras have wreaked havoc on my all in one digital and film camera usage. I still use film. But I am just as likely to reach for one of these now depending on the circumstances when I am not looking for some film development therapy also.

To sum up. Not for everyone, but right up my alley.

-ELW

%d bloggers like this: