Released over the last couple of years, Sigma's three DP Merrill cameras were basically clumsy boxes built around an amazing image sensor matched to prime lenses at three different focal lengths. They took amazing photos, but they were also kind of frustrating to use. Now the cameras are getting a complete revamp, including a new image sensor and a wacky looking new body.
The new Sigma dp Quattro cameras come in three different models, just like the old DP Merrill line: dp1 (28mm equivalent lens), dp2 (45mm equivalent lens), and dp3 (75mm equivalent lens). As before, matching the lenses exactly to the camera and sensor allows Sigma to fine tune the performance, which is what gave the DP Merrill line its awesome sharpness.
At the core of Sigma's cameras is it's Foveon X3 image sensors technology, which uses stacked photodiode layers, one for each of the primary colours. On the Merrill cameras, this translated to three 15.4-megapixel layers on at an APS-C size format (23.5 × 15.7mm). Sigma advertised this as "46-megapixels," which was a bit misleading.
All that nerdiness aside, though, the image sensors are amazing. Sigma's new Quattro cameras are so named—we think, anyway—because the new Foveon X3 image sensor is now stacked in four layers adding up to 39-megapixels. Sigma inexplicably claims that this is 30 per cent higher resolution than before. We asked Sigma to elaborate what they meant by this, but the company declined to provide more information prior to the announcement. We'll update when we learn more. (If you know more, please educate us!)
Sigma says the 28mm equivalent dp2 Quattro will be the first to ship, but it hasn't served up a price or release date for any of the cameras. If the dp Quattros follow the pattern established by the Merrill line before, the first will start shipping next autumn for around £800. We can't wait.