Visiting Jiuzhaigou Valley (China) with DP2Q

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manchumuq
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Visiting Jiuzhaigou Valley (China) with DP2Q
3 months ago

I took a trip to Jiuzhaigou Valley last month, with my new purchased DP2Q. Jiuzhaigou Valley is a great place to do the test for a camera: great light, wondrous landscapes with stunning color and very unique traditional Tibetan culture. I packed 3 cameras for the trip, DP2Q for the landscapes and other “perfect light” scenarios, Sony A7 (35mm F2.8/24-70mm F4) for backup, and Fuji X-Pro1 (55-200mm) for a theatre show.

Ended up with the whole trip except the theatre show was entirely shot by the DP2Q, and I was amazed how much this camera has stand up to the test of the different environments, weather and light conditions.

I’m not trying to over-compliment this yet-to-mature product, but practically saying, it is universally improved significantly from the previous DP merrill series. While preserving the unique Foveon look, the overall image quality is much better.

Although you will find the details are not as extremely sharp or solid comparing to the Merrills, but the color accuracy (with style), texture rendering and the white balance are way better. The body design was a little bit "over-innovative", but you will eventually forget the avant-garde(quirky) grip after using it for a while. Especially the overall performance is a giant leap from the DP Merrills, makes it a much more practical camera that you can confidently use it without that much of worries like using a DP Merrill.

Using Quattro at this early age, is like being a Sigma-hired photographer (LOL). You will have to overcome the immature issues of the firmware and still looking for the positive attitude and the positiveness of the new camera.

But I’ve always been a happy user while using the new cameras at their early age, like using a 2011’s X100 or 2012’s X-Pro1, if you started to complain, then the miserable story will never end. I found that although the dynamic range of DP2Q is still not the top of the industry (actually far from it :p), but I can actually confidently under expose like 1 full stop (or even more) at some circumstances to save the highlight spots, and the color/details hidden in the shadows can be pulled-up in SPP6 to achieve a way better result than with the Merrills, I’m not making excuses for the camera’s dynamic range or the people who never care about precise exposure, but it does mean that the Sigma camera development is advancing.

Speaking of exposure, the new feature like over-exposure correction (OEC) is very interesting. I got a picture with a blown out yellow area, and was easily saved by the OEC. I remember that picture was shot with the OEC turned-off on camera, and saved by the SPP6. The other I turn it on at the camera side, but the highlight saving effects was not that obvious. Looks that I still need some more tests and observation on the specific subject.

During the trip to the Jiuzhaigou Valley, I’ve been experiencing the fast-changing weather all the time. Last minute it was super sunny, and then it will switch to the cloudy/raining mode immediately. This kind of environment can be really challenging to the Foveon X3 sensor, and surprisingly, the DP2 Quattro has never made me regret.

Sometimes the light condition can be really tough for handheld shooting, especially with the CPL on. Many circumstances just made the tripod impossible to be set, so at times I decided to just give the higher ISOs a try… it’s good! Even the ISO600 ~ ISO800 is not as good as advertised, but it’s way better than the previous generations - less chromatic noise, more details and better color.

The funny thing is, this Quattro generation mess up the ISO200 like sh**, although I believe it’s more like a firmware or SPP problem, but it still sucks. With the Merrills, I can confidently deal with both chromatic and luminance noises up to ISO320, but with the firmware v1.0 DP2Q, the ISO250 will start to produce the chromatic noises which really hard to be removed. Also, the smearing effects at 100% peeking can be significantly affects to the detail rendering. So, for the serious shootings, until the firmware/SPP6 is matured, I would rather stay with ISO100 for a while.

When I came back from the trip and trying to process the images, it gave me a really hard time. The SPP6 was EXTREMELY slow on Macs, I was using the late 2013 Mac Pro, and it’s just as slow as any of my older macs. I tried to export approx. 100 X3Fs into 16bit TIFFs, it took almost all day to finish. The SPP 6 just doesn’t work. Not only the performance, but also the image quality. The Quattro JPEGs are great, but the current SPP6 can barely squeezes out too much juice from the X3F compares to the IQ of the JPEGs. I still remember that when SPP 5 was released, it messed up the SD1 raws too, not only the resolution, colors and also the details was like smearing with some sharpened little squares. That gives me hope about this new SPP 6 and Quattro team, although I know it’s gonna be another long waiting while its progress to perfection for years to come.

I must say I love the Merrills. I have grown a very strong attachment to the SD1M since it was my first Sigma camera. The solid fine details and the oil painting like deep color of the Merrills are just fascinating. But Quattro is a beginning of a new generation, with so many improvements and the entire rediscovery of the Foveon X3 development, I would love to look forward to their new moves, to see them trimming and fixing it to some mature products, to see them stand up to the test of time. (Don’t laugh! LOL)

Roy

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Jiuzhaigou Valley is a nature reserve and national park located in the north of Sichuan, China.

Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches over 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres). It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,500 metres (6,600 to 14,800 ft).

Jiuzhaigou Valley was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. It belongs to the category V (Protected Landscape) in the IUCN system of protected area categorisation.

— Wikipedia

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 manchumuq's gear list:manchumuq's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Sigma DP3 Merrill Sigma DP2 Quattro Sigma SD15 Fujifilm X-Pro1 +14 more
manchumuq's score
4.5
Average community score
3.2
bad for good for
Kids / pets
mediocre
Action / sports
weak
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
bad
Flash photography (social)
excellent
Studio / still life
excellent
= community average
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