sd Quattro H initial observations
A lot has already been written about this camera. I thought I'd add just a few thoughts, now that I've put it through its paces a bit. I thought I'd try to highlight a few things that might be useful to know for would be users.
It's not a secret that Sigma cameras in certain respects operate more slowly and within a more limited range of ISOs than other cameras of a similar generation. This is as true of the sd Quattro H as it has been of prior models. Each photographer has to judge for his own purposes whether a camera that operates within those parameters works well.
For most of what I photograph, the sd Quattro works quickly enough not to be in the way. With that as the context, I've been rather impressed by the sd Quattro H. Its overall design is well thought out for the speed of work it can sustain. As always Sigma has a pleasingly simple UI, but I think they have made significant strides in the layout of the external controls. In particular the camera is very easy to operate from a tripod. I had initially thought that I would have preferred a top LCD panel instead of the rear sub-monitor, but except for very low shots, I may slightly prefer Sigma's arrangement. Its principal advantage is that the various quick external controls for exposure, iso, mode, etc, are situated next to where the relevant information is displayed. A tilt screen would be a welcome improvement.
As winter photography is one of my main interests, I am also glad to say that the camera is easy enough to operate with gloves on. I've only owned film cameras of this size, or larger, before. I wasn't sure how I would feel about using a digital camera that was this large. Naturally there are trade-offs, but on the whole the size strikes me as a plus for the kind of photography I generally want to use a Sigma for. It wouldn't be a plus in all circumstances, of course. I can't comment on the effectiveness of the weather sealing.
For what it is worth, I normally try to expose to the right, not leaving any headroom if I can avoid it. At least with that technique, I have found the histogram adequately consistent for ETTR without actually blowing any channels. I found the DP2 Quattro easier to use in this respect, but I've also been using it for close to three years. This technique increases the useable dynamic range, and I've had success photographing into fairly high-contrast scenes. Of course it's not like a camera with a current generation Sony sensor in that regard, but I haven't had any problems so far.
With respect to the image quality and files, I can't really add anything new on that front. Sigma produces the output that appeals the most to me given what I can spend. For black and white photography, the results are exceptional in my view. But others might prefer something else. The combination of the 35mm f/1.4 Art and the sd Quattro H is a good one both for colour and black and white photography. I've been batch processing X3F files into Tiffs, which I import into C1 Pro. For colour images, there has been pleasingly little work to do on them (using the 'neutral' setting in SPP). I'll add some samples later.
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