Sigma Joins the Mirrorless Ranks

(news & commentary)

Sigma today joined the mirrorless camera ranks with the sd Quattro and sd Quattro H cameras, both of which show off many of Sigma’s historical camera idiosyncratic tendencies. 

The two cameras are the sd Quattro APS-C (1.5x crop) and sd Quattro H APS-H (1.3x crop), though otherwise they appear identical. Using the style that I suggested for a Nikon mirrorless DX camera, Sigma has embraced their old SA lens mount for DSLRs, complete with the same deep mount-to-sensor depth (equalled by the depth of the right hand grip, which is why there’s not any reason to abandon old mounts when going to mirrorless). 

bythom sigma quattro h

The APS-C camera is 29mp, the APS-H is 44.8mp, but both are Foveon sensors, which record color through the depth of the sensor rather than side-by-side in traditional Bayer designs. The plus side of the Foveon approach is very high edge acuity and resolution. The down side is that this approach tends to be noisy at anything above native ISO and has idiosyncratic color information (e.g. not RGB, so it has to be converted to RGB, typically by the camera’s built-in JPEG rendering or Sigma’s raw converter). 

Sigma’s announcement seems premature. Details on delivery, price, and a host of other aspects weren’t available with the press release information and launch at CP+. I’m sure they were taking advantage of the home field trade show as opposed to trying to launch at some other event. (But they’re not alone at that: Nikon seems a little early with their DL announcement to product ship, too.)

For Sigma SA lens users, of course, these new Quattros bring a lot of relief. Sigma never really got any traction in DSLRs and lost what they did have, but these mirrorless cameras seem like a better fit with what Sigma is trying to do, and gives them a smaller pond to play in (i.e. not really directly against the Canon/Nikon duopoly in DSLRs). 

bythom sigma quattro back

I’ve used the word idiosyncratic a few times, but just looking at the photos of the new camera probably suggested that to you. Just look at that camera back, above. This has to be the first camera with an EVF aligned to the right of center on a camera. That seems odd because that puts your eye very close to that AF/AEL button and the other controls you might be trying to hit. Ergonomics look random to me. 

bythom sigma quattro top

The top plate seems oddly barren, too. Plenty of room up there for some useful buttons/controls.

Still, there are photographers who love the Foveon look (high contrast and acuity, a unique color rendering), and Sigma now joins the ranks of very high megapixel mirrorless options with something that’s going to attract attention. 

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