Sigma sd Quattro Review - Performance

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Sigma sd Quattro Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.5secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 1.2secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo  3.85secs*
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.0secs*
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
3.7fps (12 shots) 
Continuous Shooting - RAW 3.7fps (12 shots) (1min)


Shutter response is quick, however focus is quite slow, and it would be good if this could be improved with a future firmware update. We tested using the central focus point, and used the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC Art lens. *Switched to manual focus. 1 minute to write 12 raw files to the memory card after shooting.

 

Sigma sd Quattro Sample Photos

Sample Photos - For best results, processing the raw file is recommended, particularly if you want to control how the image looks, however, the camera does a reasonable job with JPEG output. Raw files are between 47 and 58MB in file size, with JPEG images between 10 and 14MB. Exposure is reasonably reliable, however it was confused at times, and recovering the image from the raw file was straightforward.

There are options to adjust the colour, with specific control over contrast, sharpness and saturation. There are a number of presets as well. 

Lens Performance - The main reason why processing the raw files is recommended is due to chromatic aberration which isn't automatically corrected in camera. Centre sharpness is excellent from the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC Art lens, becoming software towards the corners of the frame. A large lens hood is provided which helps avoid flare. 

Levels of detail captured is very good, with resolution and detail captured equalling cameras with much higher resolution sensors, such as the Nikon D810 (36mp), and coming close to cameras like the Sony A7R II with 42 megapixels. However, images also show quite a high level of noise in shadow areas, and further noise reduction is recommended in software. 

The "Super Fine Detail" mode creates a 344MB X3I raw file, that can only be opened in Sigma Photo Pro. Processing these images is slow and time consuming. However, the image definitely shows much less noise than standard shots taken with the sd Quattro, a little more detail, and better dynamic range.

 

Sigma sd Quattro ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - ISO shots taken at ISO100 and ISO200 show the lowest levels of noise, however when trying to recover shadow detail, noise is more visible, and we wouldn't recommend using ISO400 or above, unless you plan on further processing of images. The higher ISO settings might be useful in a situation where you need to take the shot and don't have any other option, and in these situations you would be best resizing and converting the images to black and white. 

 

Sigma sd Quattro White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm result under tungsten light. With the normal and AWB Lighting Source Priority option selected the result is warmer again. The Tungsten preset gives a more accurate result, but for the best results manual white balance or raw processing is recommended. The AWB performs well under fluorescent lights, with the AWB Lighting Source Priority option giving a warmer result, and the fluorescent preset giving a slight colour cast. Again, for best results manual white balance or raw processing is recommended. The camera can struggle to produce good auto white balance results, and therefore shooting in raw becomes important. 

Digital Filters - There are a number of colour profiles available. You can develop raw files in camera, and this lets you adjust exposure compensation, white balance, image quality and size, aspect ratio, colour mode, colour space, and tone control. There is no video mode. There is no panoramic mode. 

 


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Photographs taken using the Sigma sd Quattro

Glowing FlowerLyme Regis - Back of the Cobb BuildingsSidmouth, beach below Connaught GardensFun & Laughter at 'Guitars On The Beach' Event, Lyme Regis, 15th June 2019Unloading Whelks, Lyme Regis HarbourCobb Buildings, Cobb, Lyme RegisHarbour, Lyme Regis, at low tideBest Of FriendsLyme Regis Cobb SeascapeBus at The Square, Lyme RegisThornsCapel Horeb

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Comments


themak 6 1.0k Scotland
5 Aug 2016 2:21PM
It's a great effort at a competitive price, and they have made some inroads into the noise problem. Slow focus and evf refresh rate are a bit off-putting, though.

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Niknut Plus
9 2.3k 80 United Kingdom
5 Aug 2016 4:56PM
Fascinating camera !!!......I rather like the refreshingly different design; though larger & heavier than some other mirrorless beasts !!

The test shots show amazing detail, though the colour-fringing is disappointing, as is the noise issue ??

I also like the back-focus distance, as per a DSLR, with a less acute angle for the image to hit the sensor near the outer extremes.

The one major drawback for me would be processing such massive files.......new computer to handle those megapixels methinks ??

Would love to try one though, & see how the results would compare to my existing set-up !!......."perchance to dream" I reckon !!!!.WinkGrinGrin
Just Jas 17 26.3k 1 England
11 Aug 2016 10:14AM

Quote:..new computer to handle those megapixels methinks ??


The one reviewed last news letter?

Get both....
Go for broke! Grin
ElSid 11 10 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2016 10:54AM
Slow start up time, slow focus and dire noise performance yet you still manage to rate this camera at four stars - I think not...

The noise issue is the thing that really lets this camera down - I have an ancient EOS D30 from the edge of digital prehistory that is less noisy at ISO1600 than your tests indicate the Foveon sensor appears to be at 400. Clearly Sigma have paid too much attention to chasing the pixel race than sorting out the sensor designs known noise issue. In this day and age and when compared against Sony, Nikon and even Canon's high ISO performance the Sigma is so far off the pace as to be going backwards.

Just Jas 17 26.3k 1 England
11 Aug 2016 6:46PM

Quote:Go for broke!


Perhaps not then! Sad
themak 6 1.0k Scotland
11 Aug 2016 7:30PM

Quote:Clearly Sigma have paid too much attention to chasing the pixel race than sorting out the sensor designs

The noise problems with the Foveon sensors has got nothing to do with any 'pixel race' - it's inherent in the sensor design and obviously a major handicap. No doubt why nobody else wants to develop it. Pity, it seems (seemed?) potentially ground-breaking.
Niknut Plus
9 2.3k 80 United Kingdom
12 Aug 2016 3:03PM

Quote:
Quote:Go for broke!


Perhaps not then! Sad



Cash flow !!....or lack of, determines my purchases !!!!!SadSadSadSadWink
Just Jas 17 26.3k 1 England
13 Aug 2016 12:51AM
Tell me about it! Smile
19 Nov 2016 1:47PM
I bought the old DP3 on Ebay and boy, is the resolution great. Unfortunately, that's the only thing going for the camera. The rest is pure rubbish. I saw all the promo stuff for the DP3 and it really stinks how bad the camera is against how much promo is put out. Shame on Sigma.
I use the DP3 as if it were a high quality portrait lens with a camera attached - in good lighting you can't beat it. So would I now spend bigger bucks for a new one? - NO. I'd need to prove the camera first and ignore all the promo web stuff.
10 Mar 2019 11:10AM
Gave up on DSLRs around 10 years ago - mainly because of menus becoming even more complicated and largely irrelevant. The technical aspect of photography then became less significant and I was able to concentrate more on getting the image right which is after all what photography is all about. I had reasoned that different cameras are better at different aspects of photography - for instance close up photography is easier and better handled by compact cameras with a smaller sensor, lower focal length lens and vastly increased (typically between 5 and 7 times) depth of field. You have to limit the ISO to a low value to prevent noise becoming intrusive but as I started with film cameras where ISO 100 was considered a fast film this was not a problem.

I had been watching the Sigma Foveon sensor since it was introduced around 2002 but was deterred ever since by the high prices. when I discovered the Sigma quattro series recently this renewed my interest especially when a used SD quattro with 2 lenses at a very good price became available.
As a landscape camera this beast is absolutely unbeatable in terms of image quality and value for money. So it is noisy above 200 ISO - so what? With patience you are getting full size sensor resolution, superb SOOC colour quality and detail at a fraction of the cost of a full frame DSLR. Above all the SD quattro is obviously designed with photographers in mind for ease of use. It has everything a landscape photographer needs with regard to menus and controls, no extra 'bells and whistles' and photography becomes simple once more. Ask yourself 'how much of the tedious pages of a modern DSLR do you actually use?'
To get the best you really need to shoot RAW either in Sigma format or as DNG but on 'pixel peeping' the JPG files are perfectly usable certainly for initial processing. So it is a slow camera in terms of writing images to card and post processing but experience over the years has shown me that good things in life are worth waiting for.
I did consider initially the DP quattro series of compact cameras but the SD mirrorless is a much more workable solution. In fact I am so pleased with the SD quattro I am seriously considering an SD quattro H with a larger sensor. This should provide me with medium format quality at a fraction of the cost and slow me down to medium format speed which is not a bad thing.

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