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Sigma sd Quattro H Review

We review the new Sigma sd Quattro H - the mirrorless camera offers a high resolution Foveon APS-H sensor, which Sigma say is equivalent to a 51 megapixel camera.

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Sigma Sd Quattro H (1)

The Sigma sd Quattro H is the second new mirrorless interchangeable lens camera from Sigma, replacing the SD1 Merrill, along with the sd Quattro (without the H). The sd Quattro H features the same Sigma SA lens mount, making it compatible with all Sigma SA lenses. The sq Quattro H features a larger APS-H Foveon sensor with 51mp equivalent megapixels. It's available for £1129 body only.

Sigma sd Quattro H Features

Sigma Sd Quattro H (2)

The heart of Sigma's cameras is the Foveon sensor, something that is unique to Sigma, with no other manufacturer featuring a Foveon sensor. (Sigma were so keen on the sensor, that they bought the Foveon company in 2008). The Sigma sd Quattro and H uses the newly developed Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: “Quattro”), as featured in the dp Quattro series.

The Foveon sensor features multiple layers to capture all of the colour information that visible light transmits, much like 35mm film, so that every pixel position on the sensor captures red, green and blue, compared to a normal sensor, which captures a single colour at each pixel.

The Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor differs from the previous Foveon sensor thanks to a new top layer with a higher resolution. This is said to give high-resolution results, but with a lower resolution green and red layer, that means image processing is said to be quicker and noise is also said to be improved. For more detail on how the Foveon sensor works, click here.

Due to the sensor design, there is no low pass filter. The previous Sigma SD Merrill series was said to give the equivalent of a 30 megapixel camera from a 15mp (x3) sensor, while the sd Quattro H is said to give the equivalent of a 51 megapixel camera when compared to a Bayer sensor camera, thanks to the 38.5 megapixel sensor (25.7mp + 6.4mp + 6.4mp), and full colour information for each pixel.

When Sigma introduced the sd Quattro H, they also announced the sd Quattro, which features an APS-C sensor, and we've run through the main differences between the two cameras below:

Sigma sd Quattro Sigma sd Quattro H
29.8 megapixel APS-C (23.4×15.5mm) 38.6-megapixel APS-H (26.7×17.9mm)
1.5x crop factor 1.3x crop factor
1.1x viewfinder magnification 0.96x viewfinder magnification
625g weight 630g weight

You can use the Sigma sd Quattro H in DC crop mode, and it will give you a 1.5x crop, and the same resolution images as the sd Quattro.

Sigma has added a new mode called "Super Fine Detail" - this mode takes a number of pictures, in a unique Sigma raw file format, and then you need to process this image to export it as a JPEG or the normal Sigma raw file. The mode takes 7 shots for improved dynamic range with low noise. You can't view the result in camera, and the file is recorded with a .X3I extension. As the camera is taking a number of shots, a tripod is necessary. 

If you've already read our Sigma sd Quattro review, then you might want to jump to the Performance section of this review, as physically the cameras are very similar, although the Quattro H has added DNG raw support.

The rear of the camera features a 3inch screen, plus a secondary LCD display with camera settings displayed. There is a high-resolution 2.36m dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) with dioptre adjustment, and 0.96x magnification. The camera has the usual P, A, S, and M shooting modes, plus 3 custom shooting modes. The camera does not feature built-in Wi-Fi, nor a video mode. 

An optional battery grip, called the Power Grip PG-41 is available. The camera supports tethered shooting with "Sigma Capture Pro" so that you can control the camera from your computer and shoot remotely, for example in a studio setup. 

A unique feature of the SD1 / Merrill series was the ability to remove the infrared filter from the camera, and this continues with the sd Quattro H, meaning it's quick and easy to remove the filter, and use the sq Quattro H for infrared photography (with the correct infrared filter to block visible light). 

Sigma Sd Quattro H (5)

Key Features

  • 38.6 / 44.7 megapixel effective / total pixels (25.7 megapixel top layer), 51 megapixel max image size
  • APS-H Foveon sensor (26.6x17.9mm), 1.3x crop
  • 3.8fps, 5.1fps with Low image size
  • Sigma SA lens mount
  • Dual TRUE III image processor
  • New Super Fine Detail exposure mode
  • Combination of Phase detection AF and contrast detection AF
  • Focus peaking function, Quick set menu
  • 2.36m dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), 0.96x magnification
  • 3.0inch 1.62m dot screen, plus secondary display
  • Magnesium alloy body, with dust and splashproof design
  • 14-bit RAW data, In-camera RAW processing, DNG
  • Higher precision white balance (new algorithm)
  • Colour modes, Monochrome options
  • Custom bracketing display
  • Electronic level
  • USB3 port

Sigma sd Quattro H Handling

Sigma Sd Quattro H (7)

The sd Quattro H is a large mirrorless camera, bigger than a compact DSLR. With modern styling the camera looks quite different to anything else on the market. It doesn't feature the typical SLR shape with raised viewfinder triangle, instead the viewfinder is off-set giving the camera a flat(ish) top plate. The flash hot-shoe is in line with the lens mount. The on / off button is in a rather unusual position, and it can take a while to find it when you first pick up the camera, but once you've found it, it is easy to get used to this, and it feels solidly made. The camera has a metal body, that feels extremely well-built with rounded corners and edges, and the placement of the control wheels on top are very slightly moved away from the edges meaning you don't accidentally catch them. The camera body appears to offer some weather sealing, with a rubber gasket around the lens mount, and rubber covering the memory card slot.  

The sd Quattro weighs 635g without the battery or memory card. This is slightly lighter than the Sigma SD1 / Merrill, which weighs 700g, but more than the Sigma dp Quattro cameras, at between 395-500g including the lens.

On top is the dioptre adjustment dial, control dial, lock switch, shutter release with another control dial, QS (Quick Set) button, flash hot-shoe, plus on / off switch next to the lens mount. The buttons and controls feel good, and the spacing between some of the smaller buttons makes it easy to change settings without accidentally pressing the wrong options. The QS (Quick Set) button makes it easy to change settings quickly on the rear screen, and you can customise what options are displayed so that you can access your favourite settings quickly. 

There are 9 focus points, and you can also use the "Free move" focus option to move the focus point more precisely.

Sigma Sd Quattro H (8)

The menus are well laid out with colour coded sections, and they are clear thanks to the high-resolution screen. There is no built-in help, so it's advisable to familiarise yourself with the manual. The back has buttons for the display, a switch for the viewfinder / auto / monitor, a playback button, S/C (single / continuous) auto focus, AF/AEL lock, sub monitor light on/off button, exposure compensation, ISO, metering, mode, 4-way controller with middle OK button, menu and focusing point button.

Sigma Sd Quattro Rear Screen

You can switch the rear screen off if you want, and just use the small sub-display, and you can also switch this off, so nothing is displayed on the rear of the camera. The screen, secondary display, and EVF can be set to automatically adjust the brightness depending on ambient lighting conditions, or you can set it manually. The colour reproduction on the screen and EVF match each other, but the resolution is quite blocky. Viewing angles of the screen are very good, and visibility is quite good even outdoors. The EVF is a high resolution 2.36 million dot unit, with a good magnification of 0.96x making the view appear large, however the refresh rate from the sensor isn't very quick which makes the viewfinder appear jerky, and not very smooth, as well as being quite coarse. 

Sigma Sd Quattro H (10)

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Niknut Plus
12 3.4k 82 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2017 4:14PM
Want one !!!!!!!! the overall design & ergonomics, & a reasonable weight too !

The image quality is amazing, though that gritty noise above 400iso isn't pleasant ??....but there again I rarely use higher than 200iso !

So, kit of the body with say the 12-24 wide zoom lens, plus the 24-70 zoom amounts to just under 3000, & about 2.5kg,s in weight ????????????

Ah well........a landscapers dream outfit ?.....but I couldn't justify the figures !.......Mmmmm, might have a blast on the Lottery ????.WinkGrinGrin

Bet my computer would slow down handling the massive file sizes in RAW mode.......more expense ??Sad
altitude50 18 23.0k United Kingdom
28 Jan 2017 11:43AM
I also would like one. I have a Sigma SD15 which I use for infrared photography with the filter behind the lens mount removed. I also like the rendering of certain subjects with the Foveon sensor in colour mode.

Thus I have three SA mount lenses, a 24mm a short zoom and a telephoto zoom, obviously these would make an excellent combination with the SD Quattro H, but unless i win the lottery I am not going to get one.

josa 10 25 Czech Republic
28 Jan 2017 3:07PM
I'll wait for a new, normally shaped Quattro...
Scottelly 10 35 United States
28 Jan 2017 5:05PM
I'm planning to get one in the next few weeks, when they become more available and I have the money saved. The big expense will be the lenses, but fortunately I will be able to sue the lenses on a Sony A6500, which I can use for shooting fast-moving subjects and video (even 4K video), which I plan to get in a few months, when the prices drop a bit. Of course I'll need the adapter to use those Art lenses on the Sony, which I will buy from Sigma.

I am surprised that this review states that the SPP software is necessary, which it obviously isn't. The whole reason this new camera has a DNG mode is so people can process their "raw" files in other software, like Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, and RawTherapee.

One more comment I have is that SPP 6.5.0 works great on a 1 year old Mac Mini that I've been using, which has a 2.8 GHz dual-core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM - hardly a high-powered computer, and my experience is that the software is extremely reliable (never once has it crashed or caused anything on that computer to crash), and it seems to work just as fast as Sony Image Data Converter and Nikon ViewNX 2. The new GPU acceleration mode works well too, almost doubling the speed of processing batches of raw files from Sigma DP Quattro and SD Quattro cameras.
Roc889 4
8 Mar 2018 4:27PM
Very interesting review, excellent Verdict. But poor choice of images. The Sigma does NOT correct for chromatic aberrations in-camera. It must be done in post via their Sigma PhotoPro raw processor. It is a real shame that you did NOT post the [RAW] X3F files for download. You did so on your review of the earlier Sigma Quattro and although the Sigma PhotoPro raw processor (v5.6.6 is a free download) is very slow (even on a Mac BookPro with 16GB RAM) usually taking about 10 seconds to process each change in settings, it was worth it. The files are AMAZING. Much higher quality than those of the full-frame Sony a7II or the M4/3 Olympus E-M-1, especially the color. The drawback of this camera seems to be the handling. Even the EVF is not great for manual focusing (from other reviews on YouTube). I owned both a DP1 and DP2 about ten years ago and the files look great. The handling on those cameras was, as the British say, “Rubbish.” And the edge image quality on this Sigma 35mm is poor until f/4. As the other poster said, DNGs look great and can be edited in Adobe Bridge CS6, which is another way of dealing with the noise of ISO 400.

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