Sigma DP1 Quattro

Quality

Sigma DP1 Quattro vs Fujifilm XT1 JPEG quality

To compare real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Sigma DP1 Quattro and the Fujifilm XT1 within a few moments of each other. To perfectly match the coverage of the Sigma, I fitted the XT1 with the 10-24mm zoom and adjusted it to match. Both lenses were then set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority and their exposures matched. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG. I’m presenting the JPEG results here and will add RAW results once the DP1 Quattro is supported in Adobe Camera RAW. I shot at the base sensitivity of 100 ISO for the DP1 Quattro and 200 ISO for the XT1. Tone Control on the DP1 was set to Mild and Purple Fringe reduction enabled.In this first table I’ve compared the JPEG output from two quite different sensor technologies: Sigma’s DP1 Quattro with its Foveon X3 sensor and Fujifilm’s XT1 with the company’s own X-Trans sensor. To get the best quality from the Fuji I really wanted to test it with an equivalent prime lens here, but one wasn’t available to me at the time of testing, so I went for the 10-24mm zoom and adjusted it until the coverage perfectly matched. As such I believe the output from the XT1 could be crisper, but the comparison still gives an indication of what you can expect.Shooting at its native 19 Megapixel resolution, the DP1 Quattro crops show a slightly smaller area than the 16 Megapixel Fuji sensor when presented at 100% here. In pure numbers this should give it a small resolution advantage, and indeed the DP1 crops reveal crisper details across the frame, including the middle where the Fuji lens should be performing optimally. In comparison the Fuji crops look a little soft. I believe the difference isn’t down to a few Megapixels difference though, but the different sensor technologies and default JPEG processing which on the DP1 Quattro is simply delivering more bite. I also think the colours are more vibrant on the Sigma, and not in an artificially boosted way either.

But with that bite come some compromises. Even at the base sensitivity of 100 ISO I’m seeing a faint sprinkling of noise across the image, especially in the shadows and skies. To me this looks like noise reduction has been turned right down and sharpening boosted, which would certainly explain the bite of the image. I used the Standard Colour mode for all my test shots which has sharpening set to the middle 0 position, but there’s nowhere to adjust noise reduction that I could see. I look forward to updating this page with RAW results once supported in Adobe Camera RAW to see how much noise is present on both cameras and also how much it can be removed on the Sigma.

I’m also interested to see how effective the chromatic aberration correction on RAW files can be as despite having the camera’s own Purple Fringe reduction enabled, there’s still evidence of coloured fringing on the sample here, especially on the final crop.

But even with the caveats, there’s a look to the DP1 Quattro’s images that’s very appealing in terms of tone and colour, and you’ll see a lot more of that in my Sigma DP1 Quattro sample images. But before heading off, scroll down to see a comparison between the native 19 Megapixel and interpolated 39 Megapixel JPEG modes, along with another comparison, this time with the Olympus OMD EM1. Or skip to my Sigma DP1 Quattro noise results or head straight to my verdict!

 

Sigma DP1 Quattro JPEG at f5.6
Fujifilm XT1 JPEG with 10-24mm at 18mm f5.6
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO

Sigma DP1 Quattro High Quality versus Super High Quality JPEG mode

The DP1 Quattro has a native resolution just shy of 20 Megapixels, but Sigma argues the sensor resolution could be described as 39 Megapixels if you interpolate and calculate in the same way as conventional mosaic filtered sensors. Indeed the DP1 Quattro even offers a Super High quality option that’ll interpolate the image to 39 Megapixels as you take them, or develop RAW files in-camera.

To find out if it actually made a difference and captured finer detail, I took two photos with the DP1 Quattro using the High and Super High JPEG options, and made a selection of crops presented at 100% below for comparison. Note these photos were taken on a different day to my comparison above, and this time I had purple fringe correction disabled as it is as standard. Tone Control was set to the default Mild.

I don’t know about you but I can’t see any more detail on the interpolated file than the original 19 Megapixel version – indeed it looks a lot like the original file magnified a further step, albeit with slightly smoother stepping. The interpolated file is also making the noise and coloured fringing artefacts more obvious. Both files are available from my sample images page, so feel free to download and compare them yourself. I’m fairly convinced though that the Super High interpolated option won’t capture finer details and is simply generating a bigger file for smooth output on big prints.

I have one more comparison further down this page against the Olympus OMD EM1, but if you’ve seen enough, check out my Sigma DP1 Quattro noise results or skip straight to my verdict!

 

Sigma DP1 Quattro JPEG at f5.6
High Quality (5424×3616 Native resolution)
Sigma DP1 Quattro JPEG at f5.6
Super High Quality (7680×5120 Interpolated res)
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Sigma DP1 Quattro vs Olympus OMD EM1 JPEG quality

In my final outdoor comparison I shot with the Sigma DP1 Quattro and the Olympus OMD EM1, the latter fitted with the Lumix 7-14mm zoom to match the field of view. An equivalent prime could have been preferable, but in my tests the 7-14mm can match or even exceed the quality of alternative primes in the desired range, so I’m happy with it in this comparison.

Once again we’re seeing a similar result to my first comparison against the Fujifilm XT1. The Sigma DP1 is resolving finer detail and delivering a noticeably crisper result, but there’s visible noise which suggests low noise reduction and high sharpening. Turn down the NR and boost the sharpening on the Olympus – and Fujifilm – and you’ll also see a sprinkling of noise with crisper details, so this is something I look forward to comparing on their respective RAW files once the DP1 Quattro is supported in Adobe Camera RAW.

Note purple fringing correction was disabled on the Sigma here and there’s certainly clear evidence of chromatic aberrations. Now check out my Sigma DP1 Quattro noise results, my Sigma DP1 Quattro sample images, or skip straight to my verdict.

 

Sigma DP1 Quattro JPEG at f5.6
Olympus OMD EM1 JPEG with Lumix 7-14mm at f5.6
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO

Sigma DP1 Quattro vs Olympus OMD EM1 Noise JPEG

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sigma DP1 Quattro and Olympus OMD EM1 within a few moments of each other at each of their ISO settings. I fitted the EM1 with the Lumix 7-14mm zoom in order to match their coverage. Both cameras were set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG. I’m presenting the JPEG results here and will add RAW results once the DP1 Quattro is supported in Adobe Camera RAW.The sequence below starts at 100 ISO, the base sensitivity for the Sigma, but an extended Low setting for the Olympus. Comparing the two crops it’s immediately clear how the DP1 Quattro is recording much finer details, and I can confirm it was more authentic at measuring the white balance too as the melted candle wax was the pink colour you see on the left column rather than the redder hue of the Olympus on the right. But look closely at the background and there’s already a sprinkling of noise in the shadows.

As the sensitivity increases, the noise becomes more obvious on the Sigma, but remains ironed-out by processing on the Olympus. But even at 400 ISO the DP1 Quattro is still delivering greater detail.

At 800 ISO though the DP1 Quattro takes a turn for the worse. The noise levels have increased to a point where the detail is similar to the Olympus, and the overall colour is becoming de-saturated.

There’s a huge drop in quality at 1600 ISO for the Sigma which has become very muddy with a further fall in colour saturation. The Olympus easily beats it here. And it’s downhill fast for the DP1 Quattro from here on with significant increases in noise, fuzziness and a dramatic drop in colour that sees some portions of the image become almost black and white, especially at the maximum sensitivity of 6400 ISO.

The smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor employed by Olympus is rarely celebrated for its high ISO performance, but in this comparison it takes an easy lead over the Sigma above 800 ISO, which traditionally-filtered APSC sensors will extend an even further.

I’ll be adding a RAW noise comparison when the DP1 Quattro is supported by Adobe Camera RAW, but I think it’s safe to say this is not a camera you’ll want to use above 800 ISO, or even 400 ideally. Indeed for the best results stay at the very lowest sensitivities, and if you’re in low light, bring a tripod.

You can see more examples of the DP1 shining at low ISOs and struggling at high ones in my Sigma DP1 Quattro sample images. Or if you’ve seen enough, skip straight to my verdict.

 

Sigma DP1 Quattro JPEG at f5.6
Olympus OMD EM1 JPEG with Lumix 7-14mm at f5.6
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 400 ISO
f5.6, 400 ISO
f5.6, 800 ISO
f5.6, 800 ISO
f5.6, 1600 ISO
f5.6, 1600 ISO
f5.6, 3200 ISO
f5.6, 3200 ISO
f5.6, 6400 ISO
f5.6, 6400 ISO
12800 ISO not available
f5.6, 12800 ISO
25600 ISO not available
f5.6, 25600 ISO
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