The Sigma dp3 Quattro camera (priced at $999) is not a versatile device that can be used anywhere and for any purpose. It has limitations such as being slow and ineffective in low light conditions. Furthermore, it cannot record videos nor zoom correctly. However, the camera's image quality at low ISO is exceptional, comparable to medium format cameras that are much more expensive. Additionally, the telephoto macro lens of this camera is unparalleled in its category.
Despite being a niche tool, this camera can still be beneficial to photographers with a specific mindset. The only drawback is that the raw conversion process requires Sigma software. In comparison, the Fujifilm X100T, which was chosen by editors, is a versatile compact camera with an APS-C image sensor and fixed focal length.
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The Quattro dp3 (priced at $999.00 on Amazon) shares similarities with other models in the Quattro line, such as the dp0 (priced at $999) and the dp1 (priced at $865.99) available on Amazon. Measuring 2.6 by 6.4 by 4 inches (HWD) and weighing 16.4 ounces, the dp3 is not particularly pocket-friendly, but whether or not it's comfortable to hold is subjective. While the camera doesn't have a built-in flash, you can attach an external strobe using the hot shoe. However, the camera's shape may not appeal to some, as the backward grip makes it less than ideal for comfortable photography.
For those looking for an easier way to handle the camera, the LVF-01 add-on LCD Viewfinder is a valuable tool. This device allows you to frame photos by holding the camera up to your eyes with the large magnifying loupe that covers the rear LCD, making handheld photography much more convenient. The viewfinder can also be removed easily when you need to use a tripod.
The dp3 comes with a fixed 50mm f/2.8 lens that covers the same angle of view as a 75mm lens on a full-frame system. It can focus as close as 8.9 inches, and at the minimum distance, the lens projects objects onto the sensor at approximately one-third of their actual size. While zooming with an SLR, mirrorless, or digital camera using a 1:1 or 1:2 macro lens is possible, the dp3 allows for greater detail and cropping. However, there is no optical stabilizer, so ensuring sharp images requires steady hands or the use of a tripod.
The top plate of the camera features dual dials that adjust the aperture, shutter speed, or EV compensation according to the mode, as well as a shutter release button and a Mode button. The back of the LCD houses display toggle, QS and AEL buttons, as well as Play and Menu buttons. The rear-facing grip has a direction pad with four buttons and a middle button that adjust the focus mode and range, or activate one of nine active focus points arranged in a square pattern that cover roughly the center half of the frame.
The Quick Shift overlay menu is an essential tool for customization, providing physical controls to your control panel. You can launch it by pressing the QS key, and it allows quick access to ISO, metering patterns, drive mode, white balance, and other image quality settings. Additionally, you can customize the items within Quick Shift to save time scrolling through endless menus.
The rear LCD panel is 3 inches with a resolution of 920k dots, making it very sharp and easy to use outdoors in the summer heat. Live View can magnify images either by 4x or 8x, which helps with manual focus. During review, you can zoom in to ensure details are crisp and clear, and an on-screen digital degree can be toggled, making it easy to ensure that your photos are straight.
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Sigma's fast DP cameras are not widely recognized, but the DP3 is an exception to this. Its autofocus system takes approximately four seconds to activate, fire, and focus, with a target lock-on time of 0.6 seconds at maximum range. While the Quattro allows for up to seven shots at 3.75fps in short bursts, there is a long delay after a full burst as it takes about 35 seconds to commit those images to memory.
For street photography, the Ricoh GR is a great choice as it starts up in just 1.4 seconds and focuses in under 0.2 seconds. The dp3's output quality was tested using Imatest, and although the standard JPG output is only 19.6 megapixels, the photos exhibit incredible detail. In center-weighted sharpness testing, the f/2.8 dp3 scored 4,122 lines per picture, well above the desired 1,800 lines. Although there is a decrease in fidelity towards the edges, the peripheral still shows 3,718 lines at f/2.8. The score increases slightly to 4,273 lines at f/4 and jumps to just below 5,000 lines at f/5.6, displaying peak fidelity with edges exceeding 4,000 lines. However, the number of lines decreases to 4,364 at f/8, 3,621 at f/11, and 2,760 at f/16. These numbers are what we would expect to see on medium-format high-end systems such as the Pentax 645Z or Phase One IQ250. When paired with the D810, a 36-megapixel lens, the dp3 outperforms one of our favorite 35mm lenses, the Zeiss Otus 85.
In JPG mode, you can shoot at 39 megapixels, but our tests showed that this setting actually loses some detail compared to the files of 19.6 megapixels. The images are sharper and more detailed when shot at 19.6 megapixels, even when the output is magnified to 39 megapixels. Sigma is able to capture images with crisp detail, all at half the price of medium-format cameras. The lens certainly plays a crucial role in this, but the camera's image sensor is what truly shines. Foveon's sensor has a completely different design than the Bayer image sensors used in many cameras; it uses interpolation (CFA) to create color images by filtering light into blue, green, and red pixels. The Quattro's sensor doesn't have the same number of pixels on each layer, so there's still some interpolation happening in terms of color fidelity, but it still outclasses Bayer sensors at lower ISOs.
However, Foveon isn't ideal for shooting in low lighting, so if you're looking for handheld photos in low lighting, you may want to look at other options. The Quattro can only produce images with noise less than 1.5 percent while still showing solid detail because it shoots in JPG format. At ISO 400, the noise level is 2 percent, but the detail is still very high. Quality and color saturation drop off starting at ISO 800, and fidelity decreases significantly at ISO 1600. As you go up to ISO 6400, the images worsen.
Raw capture is supported, but you can't use standard Raw converters like Lightroom or Capture One to work with the dp3's files. Sigma's own Sigma Photo Pro software can convert Quattro XF3 files into TIFF and JPG, allowing adjustments to be made to color, exposure, monochrome, and noise reduction. Although it is not an editor with full functionality, the software helps in converting the raw files. The process of converting photos into 16-bit TIFFs using Lightroom can be slow, particularly if your CPU is not fast enough, but it can be done without any supervision. Sigma Photo Pro has had issues with batch conversions in the past, but the latest version works without problems. Raw images have slightly more detail and contrast than JPGs when converted with default settings.