Defeated by the Beaches of Harris

Wow, crossing from East to West on our journey from the ferry at Talbert to Northton on the A859 and suddenly there’s Luskentyre right in front of you, white sands, emerald sea,  a stunning introduction to the beaches of Harris.

Over the next six days I tried to capture just a hint, a smell, a touch of their beauty, but ultimately headed home defeated. Whether it was due to weather, or timing, or lack of creativity, or an unfamiliarity with the landscape, or lack of technique, I don’t know, but it was certainly not through a lack of inspiration.

But no photographic series on Harris would be complete without a shot of a beach so some feeble attempts and holiday snaps follow.

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The Teampall, Northton, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Luskentyre, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Luskentyre, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Scarista, Isle of Harris | Sigma DP0 Quattro
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Teampall, Northon, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Luskentyre, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Northton, Isle of Harris | Sigma DP1 Merrill
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Seilebost, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII
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Scarista, Isle of Harris, Sigma DP0 Quattro

 

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Northon, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII

 

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Borve, Isle of Harris | Sony RX1rII

If you want to see some photos that do the place justice take a look at Ian Lawson’s Harris Tweed @ http://www.ianlawson.com/prints/outer-hebrides/ . Better still go along if Ian has another exhibition.

Shooting Notes

The shots above are taken with the Sony RX1rII or Sigma Merrill or Sigma Quattro cameras, post processed in Lightroom.

Outtakes – Lofoten Post 12

Some random shots that didn’t make it onto previous posts, but probably should have.

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MS Lofoten Bow Study | Sigma DP1 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com

I love this type of subject to point a Merrill at. It brings out the best in the camera.

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MS Lofoten Bow Study Reflection | Sigma DP1 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Ready for Launch? Balstad, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Second Home, Lofoten | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Breaking the Ice, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Shooting Notes

All shots taken with Sigma, Foveon, cameras, low iso, post processed in SPP and Lightroom.

The Classics – Lofoten Post 7

Some Lofoten classics from Moskenesøy island. You could point your camera in every direction, and there’s busloads of photographers who are, and so it’s now time to get off the beaten track …

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Olstind, Reine, Lofoten | Sigma DP3 Merrill | richardjwalls.com

 

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Olstind, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Olstind, Lofoten | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Olstind, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quatto | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Hamnoy, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Nusfjord, Lofoten | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Ramberg Beach, Lofoten | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Shooting Notes 

Shots taken with a variety of Sigma cameras, some on a tripod, some not, all ISO100, all post processed in Lightroom. The shot of Hamnoy is a Lightroom HDR of 4 shots.

The biggest challenge of photography in Lofoten is avoiding the hoards of other photographers, nice enough individually, on mass the devil incarnate! Transported around the islands by a high powered fleet of mini-buses, camera’s primed, they’re ever ready to jump out like shock troops and trample a scene to death. The day before the above shot of Ramberg beach was taken it was snowing as we approached, promising pristine conditions, but  pulling into the parking area two mini-vans of shock troops arrived, piled out and immediately trampled the snow; a perfect scene ruined! Later that day on Uttakliev beach I counted  23,734 tripods before becoming bored and walking around the cliffs and away.  I understand why people run these tours, and why people come, but part of Lofoten’s (and landscape photography’s) charm is its isolation and these trips will soon ruin it as a destination.  It’s Greenland next 🙂

Agvatnet, A – Lofoten Post 4

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Agvatnet, A, Lofoten | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Waking up to wind and sleet, we decided to make this a day for exploring in the car, and  headed West to A, the last stop on the E10, the main road that runs the length of the islands. In hailstones, rain and snow, we walked along A’s coastline and cliffs, and crossing the brow of a hill looked down to see Agvatnet, frozen, the mountains reflecting in the rainwater that covered the ice. Even on a bad weather day Lofoten amazes!

Shooting Notes

The image is stitched from three images taken with the Sigma Quattro DP0 at ISO100, with the camera on a tripod, and post processed in SPP and Lightroom.

The main challenge was finding a clear area to get a panoramic sweep and keeping the camera dry as the weather swept in! I also took a panoramic with the DP1 Merrill, but the colours on the Quattro just looked better to my eye.

 

 

 

Sigma DP0 Quattro Comparison – Leeds

The comparisons of the Sigma Merrill and Quattro have remained by far the most popular posts on this website throughout 2014 and 2015, with the test shot of Leeds (below) the most clicked upon.

The two shots below, taken a few days ago, complete the set with a comparison of the Sigma DP1 Merrill and Sigma DP0 Quattro.  Both shots were hand held. Both have been post processed in SPP and Lightroom, using the same settings. Both shots were taken at ISO100 at f5.6. On both the colours come straight from the camera. The Quattro shot has been cropped to aid the comparison.

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Leeds | Sigma DP1 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Leeds | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

With the Quattro I’ve struggled to control highlights, but a B&W graduated  ND filter,  soldered onto the camera, seems to have sorted the problem.

On previous comparisons the Merrill has always come up trumps on resolution and micro contrast, but taking into account the different focal lengths between the DP0 and DP1 to my eyes it’s too close to call.  Both are fantastic image producing machines and both deserve a place in my camera bag.

Please note the above is an unapologetic, unscientific comparison.

http://www.richardjwalls.com

Spurn Point 2015

Inspired by finding the 2011 shot of Spurn Point (the subject of the last post), and realising it had been nearly five (eventful) years since I last visited, on Sunday I plugged the Point’s co-ordinates into the Sat Nav, turned on the engine, and headed due East.

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point 2015 | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Two hours in,  and five minutes before it was deemed too dangerous to cross, I was stumbling across the sand, silt and mud of the breach that at high tide turns the Point into Yorkshire’s only island.  I was now trapped! … at least for the next hour and a half.

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Heading down the three miles to the end of the Point my motivation and inspiration were low, the tide too high, the wind too strong, my patience non-existent; I wished I’d headed up the coast, to Scarborough, or to Robin Hood’s bay, but I was stuck!

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Merrill DP3 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Rounding the tip of the Point I watched the boats go past, taking their cargo up the Humber, and then began the slow slog back to the car.

Spurn Point | Sigma Merrill DP3 | www.richardjwalls.com
Water Tower, Spurn Point | Sigma Merrill DP3 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Stopping to take some shots of the old water tower, I noticed the sky taking on a pink tinge, but it did nothing to lift the mood.

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

But as I marched up the sands, the tide was literally turning, the spit widening, the sky becoming more interesting …

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

… and the last 30 minutes I found myself, as I often do, lost in the moment.

Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point Sunset | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point Sunset | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point | Sigma Quattro DP0 | www.richardjwalls.com
Spurn Point Sunset | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com

All good things come to those that wait!

Shooting Notes

Sigma Quattro DP0 & Sigma Merrill DP3, ISO 100, all using the obligatory tripod, all post processed using SPP and Lightroom.

Light was slowed down using B&W ND filters.

http://www.richardjwalls.com

 

 

 

 

 

North By Northeast with the Sigma Quattro DP0 – 2. Whitby

After spending 2 hours standing in the rain, failing to get any sort of decent Autumn shot in Sneaton Forest, I found myself at Whitby’s East Cliff one hour before sunset, ran down the 199 steps (counting each one of course) and frogmarched myself to the harbour. Forty minutes later I was running back to capture the classic shot from the steps as dusk set in and street lights flickered into life. Another thirty minutes found me balancing the DP3 Merrill in near darkness, hoping it was focussing on Whitby Abbey. As I climbed into the car for the two hour journey home it was still raining! That’s Britain for you!

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199 Steps, Whitby | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Whitby Harbour | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Whitby Harbour | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Whitby Harbour | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Whitby Harbour | Sigma Quattro DP0 | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Whitby Abbey | Sigma Merrill DP3| http://www.richardjwalls.com

 

 

Sutton Bank Sunset

We’d been driving around in the mist in the Vale of York all day, before finally heading up to Sutton Bank to see if we could catch the sunset. We arrived with minutes to spare, not really enough time to find the perfect location and set up the camera, but enough to rush from the car park and take a few shots as the sun disappeared behind the horizon … and to relax and take in the perfect scene. We’ll get there earlier next time!

Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | www.richardjwalls.com
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP3 Merrill | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Sigma DP0 Quattro – First Shots

I’ve finally put my money where my mouth is and bought the Sigma DP0 Quattro. Unfortunately, since it arrived, the North of England has been shrouded in mist, fog and rain, perhaps not the Quattro’s natural element. But I couldn’t resist taking the camera out just after dawn around Sheriff Hutton, near York, when we stayed at Polly’s cottage (www.ascotcottage.co.uk) last weekend.

Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Sheriff Hutton | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Sigma DP0 Quattro & the Sigma DP1 Merrill

In the last of series of 3 posts on Sigma’s DP0 Quattro I couldn’t resist a cheeky comparison against the Sigma DP1 Merrill.

… But first let’s get the disclaimer out of the way!

Anyone looking for a technical, scientifically rigorous, thorough, review should look away now!

Ok, so now we’re rid of those pesky pixel peaking folks, for those still curious let’s press on with the comparison.

Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma DP0 Quattro

Now we’re told that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for that I’m personally thankful … but not holding an opinion, where’s the fun it that!

To my worn eyeballs the Merrill has the edge on resolution, but when I say edge I mean a razor sharp knife-edge of an edge, a micron of an edge, an edge just one atom thick. More importantly I seem to be able to pull more from the highlights and the shadows, an issue amplified when I don my Dracula cape and go out shooting at night (but to put this in perspective, neither camera is a Sony A7s). Finally, if I’m going through a moody, arty, monochrome phase, the Merrill has a touch more tone.

In the Quattro’s favour I love the colour rendition that comes out of the camera, the images seem warmer, richer, less harsh and more forgiving than the Merrill, especially with people and skin tones, and there’s something about the look of the landscapes, a dreaminess, a timelessness, that I can’t quite put my finger on (Lee, if you ever read this please publish your balloons picture so I can link to it and people can see for themselves).

But with the margins so thin a little post processing either way allows you to match one with the other as near as makes no difference, except for the night-time shots, and if you’re serious about this genre of photography you’re salivating over the Sony A7SII rather than reading this.

So I was pushed into a corner; had a camera bag just for one; had gun held to my head; what would I choose? Well if I find myself running to the door to catch that magic moment, I think … I might … just find myself … unconsciously … reaching for the DP0Q … I just love the look of the landscapes.

River Tees | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
River Tees | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

All things considered

A whole set of factors combine to make this comparison not worth the (virtual) paper it’s written on, including but not limited to:

  •  the different length of the lenses
  •  the wholly unscientific (for many reasons) nature of the comparison*
  • the lack of time I had to get to know the Quattro
  • an extremely subjective take on what good looks like
  • the price difference of the cameras
  • the relative sizes of the cameras (the Merrill is tiny in comparison)
  • the superiority of the Quattro as a camera
  • the relative size of the RAW files and consequent time to process in SPP
  • the limited subject matter
  • the dreariness of the weather during the time I had the Quattro.

I make no apologies, the aim of the comparison is to look at the camera against my set of needs, not yours! That said I’m sharing it because people seem to be interested in this sort of thing, and hopefully it contributes to the discussion. IMHO both cameras are immense considering the IQ, the price point and the unique look they produce. I don’t care which you’d choose, just spare a moment to look beyond the pile of bayer sensors and give them a go.

*Despite the unscientific nature I’ve tried to make the comparisons as fair as possible. Unless otherwise stated comparison shots are: the same ISO, same aperture, exposure matched by varying shutter speed, shots taken seconds apart, same processing SPP (noise reduction at zero everything else neutral), same post processing in Lightroom, and cropped to make the comparison easier.

http://www.richardjwalls.com

North by North East with Sigma’s DP0 Quattro

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River Tees Sunset | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

I’ve been lucky enough to have the loan of a Sigma DP0 Quattro over the last couple of weeks. Sadly  a combination of work and poor weather limited the time I was able to dedicate to the camera, and to understanding how to make the most of it’s capabilities.

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High Force, River Tees | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Nevertheless Staithes, high up on Yorkshire’s East Coast, and Teasdale, just across the border in County Durham, aren’t bad places to try out the camera, even on dull, flat, days!

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Staithes, North Yorkshire, Stitched | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

The above image is stitched from three shots. Even the DP0’s wide lens isn’t wide enough for Staithes!

Staithes, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes, North Yorkshire | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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River Tees Sunset | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Yorkshire Coast | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes| Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes Harbour | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes| Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes| Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
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Low Force, River Tees | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
Staithes | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com
East Coast Sculpting | Sigma DP0 Quattro | www.richardjwalls.com
East Coast Sculpting | Sigma DP0 Quattro | http://www.richardjwalls.com

Shooting Notes

The images are a combination of hand held and tripod steadied shots, at a variety of aperture’s and shutter speeds, all at ISO100, post processed in SPP and Lightroom.

Sigma DP0 Quattro – First Impressions, Last Impressions

Human invention is littered with the weird and the crazy. Take for example the one wheeled motorbike, or the amphibious bicycle, or more recently the Segway, a device so technically advanced it’s capable of moving at walking pace whilst remaining upright!

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House

In the world of photography perhaps the current champion of oddness is the Sigma Quattro range of cameras. Despite every other camera manufacturer, from high-end Hasselblad to lowbrow Kodak, being just fine with Bayer sensors, Sigma bucks the trend with the left-field Foveon sensor; wraps it up in a camera body so weird looking that you’ll be afraid to get it out in public (I have to admit to quite liking it); superglues a lens on; and outputs a raw format so complicated it needs specialist software, a supercomputer, and 23 cups of tea to process.

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Rust

Now, as I’m faced with a pile of Quattro cameras at the DP0 launch event, I’m again wondering why?

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Flower

For money? Surely Sigma would do the lazy thing, join the Bayer party, stick a conventional sensor in a conventional looking body, add some high-end glass, and settle back to earn a decent living …

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Perhaps it’s groupthink, a small knot of like-minded engineers locked away from the outside world, convinced they’re sane and that it’s the rest of the world that’s plain crazy …

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Perhaps it’s downright stubbornness, a refusal to be carried away by the tidal of wave of mammoth ISO’s, myriads of autofocus points, and micro-second start up times …

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Wood

… Or maybe, just maybe, in our profit driven, cynical, world, it’s just for the love of photography; for the challenge of turning the theoretical promise of the Foveon design into reality; for the goal of producing a camera built purely and simply to create beautiful images. Now wouldn’t that be a thing?

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Group

So first impressions of the DP0 Quattro? Well to be frank who cares about the first impressions?

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Wing

The most important impression is the last; when you finally get to see the images this strange looking contraption produces.

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It’s no secret to (the few) readers of this blog that I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Quattro range to date, preferring to hang on to my clunky old Merrills.

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But sat here writing this post, and peering at the results on my Mac, the more I look the more I’m genuinely impressed*; the matched lens and sensor working together to combine colours, tones and detail, into something quite special.

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Whisper it quietly but with the DP0 Sigma may well have cracked their goal of medium format IQ  … and who cares why they do it? I for one am just glad they do.

For a more considered, balanced and technical take on the Quattro range, I’d recommend Paul Monaghan’s article at: https://www.photigy.com/sigma-dp3-quattro-camera-review/

Shooting Notes

All shots were taken with the Sigma DP0 Quattro (the Merrills were securely locked in the car boot for the day) some hand held, others on a tripod. All were shot in RAW with the inevitable post-processing in SPP v6.3 and Lightroom. Detailed crops are at 100%. Please note this is not in anyway a scientifically based test!

http://www.richardjwalls.com

*There’s some aspects, important to my needs, that I want to delve a little deeper into – dynamic range, noise levels at realistic ISOs, long exposures and night time shooting, to name a few, but I can’t wait to try this thing in the real world.