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Sigma radically redesigns DP2 camera, Foveon sensor

The dp2 Quattro.
The dp2 Quattro.

Sigma has just announced its latest DP-series camera: the dp2 Quattro, which features a 45mm equivalent fixed lens, a total redesign of the camera itself, and a re-think of the way the sensor works. While the dp2 Quattro has yet to hit stores, Sigma already has announced that it plans to launch a dp1 and dp3 Quattro, with 28 and 75mm equivalent focal length lenses.

So, what of the new camera.

First of all, the styling changes. The old DP cameras were simple affairs very reminiscent of the usual pocket cams, although bigger, in that it was a simple, thin, flat camera with a slightly protruding front lens. The dp2 Quattro? It's flat and thin for the most part, but has a large, built-in grip on its right side, which will go a long way in making it a lot easier to handle, especially for long periods of time.

AS for the updated Foveon chip, that is a little bit more complicated.

In the past, Sigma developed the three-layer Foveon chip, which effectively overlays 3 full-resolution sensors on top of each other. How does it work? For example: a camera has 3 sensors of 15Mp (one for the red, green, and blue) and, when a picture is taken, there will be 45Mp of detail recorded in a single image. The goal according to Sigma (and proven out in tests):extremely sharp, vivid pictures that can produce finer details than traditional bayer sensors of higher resolutions.

Now, Sigma has made a dramatic change.

On the dp2 Quattro, only the top layer of the sensor (the blue channel) will record the full resolution of 20Mp. The underlying red and green sensors will only record 5Mp of detail. The plan: the top layer will record what is essentially the resolution of the images while the lower 2 layers will record the color. The goal of the change: maintain the deep color rendition of the Foveon chip while reducing the amount of data captured, thus boosting the processing speed while reducing electronic noise at the same time. Result: 30Mp worth of total detail that Sigma claims will be the equivalent of 39Mp on a bayer-type sensor.

Onto the camera itself.

For starters, the signature feature of the DP line of cameras remains unchanged: an APS-C sized sensor, which means that the dp2 Quattro will provide the image quality of a dSLR without all of the bulk. Additionally, the layout of the camera was carefully thought out to create an intuitive design that is well balanced in regards to weight, as well. Additionally, the dp2 Quattro features an all-new Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine III (TRUE) processor that is designed to handle the massive amount of incoming data without compressing and eliminating data from the final picture.

As for other features that are sure to please, they include the following (among others):

f2.8-16 lens (8 elements in 6 groups)
9 aperture blades
5 aspect ratios
1/2000th-30 sec shutter speed
SD/SDHC/SDXC card compatibility
ISO 100-6400
10 white balance options
11 color modes
9 AF points (contrast type)
A manual focus ring on the lens
3,” 920k dot rear display
+/- 3EV exposure compensation
+/- 3EV auto bracketing in 1/3EV steps

Want one yet? As for pricing and availability, both are TBA here. The upcoming dp1 and dp3 Quattro models will also be announced at an unspecified, future date.

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