Sigma sd Quattro H camera test – overview of an unusual mirrorless camera not for everyone and user reviews

Sigma sd Quattro H stands out as an extravagant individualist in the mass of other modern digital cameras. She wants to be different. She does not care about the current trends and she does not allow herself to be referred to any specific category. That’s why we decided to test this camera, as they say, “out of credit”, not including it in our respective ratings.

When the era of digital photography was just beginning, the cameras came out of all shapes and sizes. Over time, their diversity has declined. Most modern cameras differ little from each other, but this does not apply to the Sigma SD Quattro H.

Opinion ReviewZorro: during the test tests Sigma sd Quattro H proved itself as an exclusive DSLM-camera with SA-bayonet. Along with the eye-catching design of the case, the Foveon X3 matrix, with its extremely detailed image quality, stands out in a special way. But this statement is valid only for moderate-height photosensitivity. Also in matters of speed – autofocus, serial shooting and data recording – this camera lags behind competitors.

Sigma claims that the SD Quattro H is aimed at photographers “who need all possible image clarity, both in the studio and on-site photo shoots.”

Sigma sd Quattro H Unboxing

First Look


  • An unusual matrix that provides high-definition contours and detail
  • A futuristic but comfortable enclosure
  • status screen on the back panel
  • Clear displays


  • Coarse-grained display in Live-View mode
  • Slow autofocus and short bursting time
  • a slow pace of data writing
  • there is no video mode
  • Poor image quality starting from ISO 1600

Sigma sd Quattro H camera test - Review of an unusual mirrorless camera not for everyone

But what makes Sigma sd Quattro H different from the others? Is it compact and light? Definitely not. Does she shoot a video in 4K resolution? No, Sigma does not have any video recording mode at all. Does it provide fast serial shooting and fast image processing? And here the answer is “no”. Sigma sd Quattro H is among the leisurely representatives of his guild. So what makes it so special?

The Sigma SD Quattro H, like the younger model, is made of magnesium alloy and is protected from water and dust. The design of the camera confirms Sigma’s ideas about convenient use of non-standard camera layout. The main features apart from the design that catches your eye, is a three-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1.62 million pixels, without a touch surface and tilt capabilities, as well as an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36 million pixels.

Instead of the top screen on the back of the camera, to the right of the main screen is a small additional screen for displaying information about the shooting parameters. Both screens have a special design that minimizes the appearance of reflections, even in bright lighting conditions.

The electronic viewfinder has an increase of 1.09x (0.84x for 35mm eq.), Frame coverage is about 100% and the possibility of diopter adjustment from -4 to +2. To switch between the screen and the viewfinder, an automatic sensor and an additional switch are used to force the operation of one of the display devices.

Sigma sd Quattro H Camera Test - Not for Everybody's Review of an Unusual Mirror Camera

The biggest difference between the model of the SD Quattro H and the younger model is the APS-H sensor with dimensions of 26.6 x 17.9 mm, which means the presence of a crochet factor 1.3x instead of 1.5x in the version with the APS-C sensor, whose size is slightly less than 23.5 x 15.5 mm. Like the younger model, the H version uses the Foveon X3 Quattro sensor with an asymmetric multi-layer design. The top layer has a resolution of 25.6 megapixels, and the two lower ones have 6.4 megapixels. According to the company Sigma, three layers combine to produce an image equivalent to the resolution of 51 megapixels of the classic Bayer sensor. We will not argue, the sensor really corresponds to the 51 megapixel of a conventional camera, but certainly the Foveon X3 Quattro should be better than the 25.6-megapixel Bayer sensor. At least at low ISO, especially when it comes to color resolution. The top layer captures both the details and the blue color, the two lower ones are used to store the red and green channels. Due to this design, the camera does not need an additional optical anti-fog filter.

Sigma sd Quattro H – price. Where is the best place to buy?

The recommended retail price for the Sigma sd Quattro H in the US is about $ 1200. At this cost, you can order it on Amazon. Plus Shipping, so the total cost of Sigma sd Quattro H when ordering on Amazon will be about $ 1210. I would not recommend ordering anywhere else except on Amazon. Since you are less likely to find cheaper, and if you do not take into account the fact that Amazon is probably the most reliable online store, it still very often provides free shipping.

Sigma sd Quattro H: multi-pixel camera test

In addition to exceptional design, the special charm of this device is caused by the presence of a special Foveon X3 matrix of an unusual APS-H format with a crop factor of 1.3. Roughly speaking, the camera works with each component of RGB-information on separate levels.

Conventional matrices (with Bayer filters) perceive the strongest component of RGB for each pixel. If you perform the final count, the effective resolution of Sigma sd Quattro H is 45 megapixels. In addition, by interpolating in the “S-HI” mode, Sigma sd Quattro H can work with JPEG images, whose resolution is at least 51 Mpix. 45 megapixel RAW files can be selected in two formats: X3F and DNG.

Particularly noteworthy is the possibility of the “Super Fine Detail” mode, in which seven RAW-images are made at once, allowing to achieve the greatest possible latitude of the dynamic image. Interesting and removable infrared filter, which is removed and put back very easily. Thus, based on the results of the practical part of our test, we can confirm: Sigma sd Quattro H will allow you to take pictures, as they say, “for every taste and color.”
Sigma sd Quattro H: test

Sigma sd Quattro H: The display on the rear panel is divided into a Live monitor and a Status-LCD

Sigma sd Quattro H: high detail, but also high noise

Looking ahead, at once we will tell: Sigma sd Quattro H is first of all a studio camera and basically it should be used in a combination to sufficient illumination. With a minimum ISO sensitivity, it provides an extremely high level of detail in the image. The maximum resolution measured by us is 2477 pairs of lines per frame height. Thus, the sharpness of the contours is only slightly inferior to 2722 pairs of lines at the frame height of the Canon EOS 5Ds R with its 50 megapixel and larger, full-format matrix.

The outstanding distinction between the Foveon and the classical matrix with Bayer filters becomes noticeable starting from ISO 1600: while the classic 5Ds R sensor from ISO 1600 to ISO 6400 inclusive is capable of maintaining sharpness above 2500 linear pairs per frame height, the Foveon matrix This figure drops sharply to almost half as much – 1,250 pairs of lines at the height of the frame. Photos in full resolution you can find in a special photo gallery.

The same goes for the question with precision of detail. Up to ISO 800 inclusive, the sd Quattro H demonstrates first-class results with a lot of fine contours. But starting from ISO 1600 the performance of the camera in this area literally sags. The same tendency can be traced to noise: at ISO 1600 and higher, the noise is already obvious. At ISO 3200, color distortions become noticeable, and from ISO 6400 the images look both soft and colorless. As an alternative to the maximum 51-megapixel resolution, you can use a mode called “DC Crop”, which produces “only” 39 megapixels, but increases the crop factor to 1.5 and makes the viewing angle narrower.

Sigma sd Quattro H: thoughtful management concept

Sigma sd Quattro H: test

Sigma sd Quattro H: Flash sync speed is 1/180 seconds

The functionality is above design – this impression is produced by a rather massive, but very robust magnesium alloy casing, whose viewfinder and lens connector are so widely spaced that the Sigma sd Quattro H occupies much more space than most modern DSLM cameras. Concerning the management concept, it should be noted that it is aimed at achieving maximum comfort in the process of photographing.

Note the large depth of the mount for the lens. This design is due to compatibility with the line of mirror optics Sigma SA. On the right you can see the locking lock “Lock”, which allows the user to lock the buttons on the camera to prevent accidental changes in settings when shooting. The list of lockable buttons is customizable by the user.

The handle of the camera looks huge, but the handset is very good in the hand. A cool idea is we consider two displays placed side by side on the back side of the camera: in addition to the main 3-inch display there is a small backlit LCD screen that displays the status of the main settings. Due to this unusual placement, you will not be able to get any other information on Live-Liew, as the aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and some other data will always be displayed on the next display.

In this case, the display of the picture on the main display produces mixed impressions. Despite the presence of a resolution that results in a very good 1.62 million pixels, when focused, the display displays jagged edges at sharp angles and an optimized image only appears after the sharpness is finally adjusted. Similar problems have been identified in the electronic viewfinder. Despite the fact that its resolution is 2.36 million pixels higher, the picture in it because of this phenomenon looks even more unpleasantly granular.

We, on the other hand, liked the separation of other controls. Several separate buttons make it possible to directly access the selection of AF fields, shooting mode, ISO sensitivity and metering method. In addition, there are two convenient wheels with a notch for manual adjustment, for example, shutter speed and aperture. The “Quick Set” button, briefly labeled “QS”, displays the menu displayed on the main screen, which the user can make up of the eight most commonly used functions. To prevent accidental changes to the selected camera settings, all control elements can be locked using the large “Lock” switch.

Design Sigma SD Quattro H

The SD Quattro H camera looks Spartan, demonstrating the rationality of the specialized technology rather than the shine of consumer electronics.

A large bayonet with a handle is attached to the rectangular case. The base of the body is tilted up towards the handle, where about half an inch higher is the grip (when the camera is on the surface).

Made of magnesium alloy, Quattro H is solid, solid, heavy and completely protected from natural phenomena camera. Ergonomics is not bad, but it’s not convenient to use the camera for a long time.

Design Sigma SD Quattro H

The large part of the back panel is occupied by a very wide LCD screen Sigma SD Quattro H, although in reality there are two: the main display of 3: 2 format, shows the current image, and the narrow one next – displays additional information. An additional screen, which is usually located on the top and middle mirrors, usually shows the exposure settings, focus mode, remaining frames, battery power, etc. The main LCD is very sharp, although it has problems with anti-aliasing. This is more noticeable on the built-in electronic viewfinder, but the rest of the image is clear, with a comfortable viewing distance and good magnification.

Quattro H uses the standard bayonet Sigma SA – the same as on the company’s mirrors. On the one hand, this is good because it provides compatibility with Sigma DSLR lenses, which are also available with Canon and Nikon mounts. Including a series of Sigma Art lenses, such as 35 mm f / 1.4 and 85 mm f / 1.4. On the other hand, the mounting of the lens makes the body wider, by 38 mm, which means that the typical for mirrorless cameras is negated by the advantage of compact size.

Design Sigma SD Quattro H

Sigma used extra space to place the power switch on top of the lens. It is easily accessible for pressing with the thumb, at the position for shooting. Inside is a removable IR-filter, which makes it easy to turn Sigma SD Quattro H into an infrared camera, and vice versa. It’s unlikely that many users will do this, but the feature is really unique.

On the right side of the camera is a slot for SD memory cards. On the left – connectors for wired remote, USB 3.0 and HDMI. The HDMI port is only for playback of still images – there is no video mode.

Image Quality

The camera Sigma SD Quattro H is named so because its main element is a sensor of APS-H format from the new generation Quattro from Sigma. It is one level higher than the SD Quattro on which APS-C was used.

Image Quality Sigma SD Quattro H

APS-H is very rare, although Canon used it for its now-discontinued EOS-1D line. Crop Factor 1.3x places this format between APS-C and the full frame. No one, not even Sigma, does the lens specifically under APS-H, which can limit the use of wide-angle lenses.

Unlike most camera manufacturers, Sigma does not use a color filter to separate the sensor surface into red, green, and blue pixels. Instead, the Foveon X3 sensor is layered, and each layer gets a different color – blue, green, red.

The design of the Foveon X3 is not new, but it is still one of the most unusual technologies on consumer-grade cameras. The design features allow to increase the color resolution of the sensor in Sigma SD Quattro H and eliminate the need for an optical filter for low frequencies, thereby increasing the sharpness without moire effect. To record as much full information about the color of the pixel, Olympus and Pentax cameras would have to try, besides it needs a tripod and the immovability of the captured object.

The image size on the Sigma SD Quattro H is 6192×4128 pixels, equivalent to 51 MP on a standard Bayer image sensor. It’s not entirely clear how this works, but the incredible detail, richness and depth are impressive. In the right conditions, with a tuned color, tonality and sharpness, the SD Quattro H competes and outperforms more expensive cameras with larger sensors. But, not always the conditions are right. Due to the signal processing features required for the X3 lens, the Quattro H is much inferior to others when shooting with high ISO values.

Sensitive Sensor

The Sigma SD Quattro H sensor itself is sensitive to light, but digital noise appears if you make the ISO above 100. Although the ISO value supports up to 6400, it is not recommended to set it above 400. Even with the base ISO, noise can lead to slight discoloration, add violet or green shades to water, thick foliage or other dark areas.

Sensitive sensor

You can get pictures with all the details and colors, but this will have to try. Most of all SD Quattro H is suitable for landscape and studio photographers who know how to control light through filters, gates or reflectors. Fans of landscapes will be able to evaluate and Super Fine Detail (SFD), which allows you to take 7 pictures with automatic exposure capture and combine them into one. The result is saved as a RAW file (X3i format), which is read only by Sigma Photo Pro.

SFD mode in Quattro H is a more “soft” analog HDR, capturing a larger dynamic range with less noise, without extreme effects. It is extremely limited – you can photograph only a stationary object with a tripod, but the result is impressive.

When shooting with standard exposure, Sigma SD Quattro H can take photos in Adobe DNG format for easy editing in Lightroom or other graphic editors. This is a very useful addition, since Adobe does not support the RAW Sigma format. When you shoot in DNG, you will get files with a capacity of 142 MB, so I recommend using a large SDXC memory card.

Sensitive Sensor

User Experience

The menu system in Sigma SD Quattro H is well thought out, the navigation is simple and straightforward, there are no problems with finding the right item, even for beginners. Card formatting options are not here, but otherwise, the user interface is convenient and understandable.

There are several disadvantages. The average buyer after the first picture will feel the desire to put Quattro H in place and never again to use. The camera is very large and heavy, as for a mirrorless, it seems rather a well-constructed brick.

There is no video mode, no Wi-Fi, and autofocusing takes a long time. There are nine points of autofocus, the size of each point is adjustable. Manual focus works faster, and the camera focuses as accurately as possible. It takes a long time to process the image. After each exposure, you have to wait a few seconds for the image to be written to the memory card. At the same time, you can continue shooting and enter the menu, but you will not be able to see the fresh picture right away.

Sensitive Sensor

Weak battery Sigma SD Quattro H

Be aware that the equipment has a weak battery. Sigma indicates that the camera Quattro H will make only 187 photos on one charge. For comparison, a smaller sensor Quattro is enough for 235 pictures. This is more than half of what is usually expected from mirrorless cameras at a comparable price.

Thus, the Sigma SD Quattro H is a camera for a small minority. Only an experienced owner will be able to reveal her personality and get the best photos.

Sigma sd Quattro H: not for fussy

To work with Sigma sd Quattro H, the photographer needs first of all: patience. If you save a single RAW image in the X3F format about 65 MB in size to a Lexar Professional 1000x UHS II card, it takes about 8.5 seconds before the corresponding indicator stops flashing.
Sigma sd Quattro H: test

Side are the connectors Mini-HDMI, USB 3.0 and for remote shutter release

Serial RAW-shooting in X3F format, which is conducted at a speed of 4.4 frames per second and consists of 8 photos, will require waiting for 42 seconds. Recording a DNG file of 145 MB takes 11 seconds. Thus, for sports shooting Sigma sd Quattro H is hardly suitable. In favor of this “assumption” is the slowness of autofocus, which requires at least 1.3 seconds to sharpen the focus.

The need for energy was surprisingly high here. Already in standby mode our laboratory measurements showed 7.7 W, that is, the level of power consumption here is two to three times higher than that of other modern DSLM and DSLR cameras. Correspondingly short it turns out the duration of battery life: the battery can withstand from 160 to a maximum of 320 “shots”. In addition, if the camera works without interruption for a long time, the case becomes quite warm.

By the way: in addition to this model, Sigma also has a cheaper option with an APS-C matrix and a maximum 33 Mpix, which costs about $ 1000 (complete with a lens).

Like most modern cameras, the SD Quattro H has the ability to change the aspect ratio in addition to its native aspect ratio of 3: 2. These include the familiar 16: 9, 4: 3, 1: 1, but there are also unusual 21: 9 and 7: 6. There are no different scene modes in the SD Quattro H camera, but you can select the color settings: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Sunset Red, Forest Green, FOV Classic Blue, FOV Classic Yellow and Monochrome.

In addition, in the interpolated image mode Super High, which stores frames in JPEG with a resolution of 51 megapixels (8768 x 5840) there is an additional feature called Super-Fine Detail. This mode allows you to use the full potential of the sensor. When shooting in this mode, the camera makes seven separate frames that are combined into one image with an improved dynamic range and low noise. In this case, any of the frames made during the formation of the final image can be extracted from the new RAW-format X3I.

Sigma sd Quattro H: alternative

Sigma sd Quattro H, although it provides a high quality image, but focuses primarily on working in the studio and reasonably secured photographers. For those who want more flexibility in daily operation, we recommend you pay attention to our alternative, which offers the best image quality at the moment.

1. Fujifilm X-Pro2

Pros </ h4>

  • Best image quality in its class
  • Fast auto focus
  • High-speed burst shooting
  • High-quality, splash-proof enclosure
  • Innovative ISO and exposure level adjustment wheels

Cons </ h4>

  • The battery does not last long in charge
  • Rudimentary video mode

Test results for Sigma sd Quattro H:

  • DSLM Camera Type
  • Effective number of pixels 51.2 megapixels
  • The maximum resolution of the photo is 8768 × 3632 pixels.
  • CMOS sensor type
  • Sensor dimensions of 26.7 × 17.9 mm
  • The built-in stabilizer (in the camera) is not available
  • No video recording
  • Mounting the Sigma SA lens
  • Lens when assessing the quality of images Sigma SA 35 mm f / 1.4 ART
  • The lens in evaluating the performance of Sigma SA 35 mm f / 1.4 ART
  • Minimum shutter release time 1/4000 sec
  • Maximum shutter release time 30 s
  • Electronic viewfinder (2.36 million Subpixels)
  • Viewfinder coverage 100.00%
  • Viewfinder magnification 0.81
  • Display: 3.0 “diagonal
  • Display: resolution of 1 620 000 subpixels
  • Display: touchscreen is not present
  • Display: no turning capability
  • Display: self-mode yes
  • Orientation sensor yes
  • GPS –
  • Minimum ISO ISO 100
  • Maximum ISO ISO 6400
  • Min. Flash synchronization time 1/180 sec
  • Resolution at ISO min 2477 pairs of lines
  • Resolution at ISO 400 2477 pairs of lines
  • Resolution at ISO 800 2477 pairs of lines
  • Resolution at ISO 1600 1273 line pairs
  • Resolution at ISO 3200 1252 pairs of lines
  • Resolution at ISO 6400 1219 line pairs
  • Detail at ISO min 83.30%
  • Detailing at ISO 400 83.30%
  • Detailing at ISO 800 83.30%
  • Detailing at ISO 1600 41.60%
  • Detail at ISO 3200 40.80%
  • Detailing at ISO 6400 41.90%
  • Visual noise at ISO min 1.8 VN1; 0.7 VN3
  • Visual noise at ISO 400 2.4 VN1; 1.2 VN3
  • Visual noise at ISO 800 3.2 VN1; 1.5 VN3
  • Visual noise at ISO 1600 3.8 VN1; 1.5 VN3
  • Visual noise at ISO 3200 3.9 VN1; 2.5 VN3
  • Visual noise at ISO 6400 7.8 VN1; 5.1 VN3
  • Ready-to-shoot time from off state to 5.7 s
  • Shutter release delay time with manual focus 0.13 s
  • Delay time of shutter release with autofocus in daylight 1.32 s
  • Delay time for shutter release with autofocus in low light 1.32 s
  • Burst rate in RAW 4.4 frames / second
  • The length of the series in RAW 8 frames in the series
  • Serial shooting speed in JPEG 4.4 frames / second
  • The length of the series in JPEG 8 frames in the series
  • Battery BP-61
  • The cost of the battery is 60 € (3600 rubles.)
  • Battery: max. Photos in Live-View with a flash of 320 photos
  • Battery: max. Photos in Live-View without flash 160 photos
  • Built-in Flash –
  • Flash Control –
  • Remote shutter release –
  • Type of SD memory card
  • No WLAN
  • NFC is not present
  • Housing material Magnesium alloy
  • Housing: dust and water spray resistant yes
  • Dimensions 147x95x91 ​​mm
  • Weight without an element of 715 g

The result

Sigma SD Quattro H differs in that it focuses on each pixel, under all conditions. But, any other camera, for the majority will do better.

Quattro H will not become obsolete for a long time, and a strong assembly and guarantee will reduce the probability of mechanical failure to a minimum. No other camera works like this, and so high image quality will be difficult to find, even on more expensive devices.

I can not recommend Quattro H to all fans – it is not fast enough to have time to grab an important moment and not easy enough to constantly wear it with a crash. It is not suitable for professionals who are not satisfied with low performance, weak battery and limited attachment SA.

But, if you like the camera settings more than the received pictures, and the process carries away more results – Sigma SD Quattro H is created for you.
Sigma sd Quattro H: The result


  • High image quality with a basic ISO
  • Weather resistance
  • Unique Sensor
  • Affordable price


  • Digital noise at high ISO
  • Slow autofocus
  • Long recording time
  • Weak battery

Sigma SD Quattro H – video review

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