Foveon direct image sensor
The world’s only image capture system to use
vertical color separation technology
Starting with our very first digital camera, we have featured the Foveon direct image sensor, which offers radically better image quality than any other sensor available. Leveraging the light absorption characteristics of silicon, the sensor comprises three layers of photodiodes, each at a different depth within the silicon and each corresponding to a different RGB color. Since it is the only sensor to use this superior vertical color separation technology, it is also the world’s only direct image sensor.
Almost all other image sensors are mosaic sensors, which use an array of RGB color filters in a single horizontal plane to capture color information. Each pixel is assigned only one of the three colors and cannot capture all three colors at once. In contrast, the Foveon direct image sensor captures color vertically, recording hue, value, and chroma accurately and completely for each pixel.
In the Foveon direct image sensor, there are no color filters which would cause a loss of information transmitted by light. Moreover, there is no low-pass filter needed to correct the interference caused by a color filter array. Finally, unlike the data from other sensors, which requires artificial interpolation to “fill in” missing colors, the data from the Foveon direct image sensor is complete for every single pixel and requires no interpolation. The unique technological principle of this sensor produces consistently outstanding image quality.
Newly developed Foveon X3 Quattro
direct image sensor
Now featuring 39 megapixel-equivalent ultrahigh resolution
Capturing the information transmitted by light vertically instead of horizontally, the full-color image capture system of the Foveon direct image sensor is the only one of its kind in the world. This system makes possible the sensor’s full-bodied image quality, which is characterized by rich tone and gradation and texture that one can almost touch.
The newly developed Foveon X3 Quattro is the latest generation of this unique sensor. While retaining the distinctive characteristics of its predecessors, it offers an even higher level of image quality. Resolution is 30% higher, and its noise characteristics are further enhanced.
The new sensor structure features a ratio 1:1:4 for the number of red, green, and blue megapixels, respectively. The top layer captures luminance and color information, while the bottom two layers capture color information only. This unique structure prevents the deterioration of the signal-to-noise ratio that is typically associated with an ultrahigh megapixel count. At the same time, it makes possible high-speed data processing required for faithful color replication. Able to maintain the same exacting standard of image quality while increasing resolution and enhancing noise characteristics, this 1:1:4 solution was the inspiration for the name of the current generation of Foveon sensor: “Quattro.”
The difference between the Foveon X3 Quattro
direct image sensor and a conventional color
filter array sensor (Bayer filter sensor)
The Foveon X3 Quattro leverages the selective absorption of light by silicon: shorter wavelengths penetrate less deeply into the element, whereas longer wavelengths penetrate more deeply. Comprising three silicon layers for each of the three primary colors of light (blue, green, and red), the Foveon X3 Quattro sensor vertically captures full color information for every single pixel. Unlike a conventional sensor, this full-color capture system requires no color interpolation at the data processing stage. Having complete color information for every pixel location makes possible highly precise and delicate resolution and color expression.
The special characteristics
of the 1:1:4 structure
High resolution is a necessary condition of outstanding image quality. At the same time, adding megapixels to increase resolution also results in a bloated image file size. The risk of file bloat is especially pertinent in the case of image data in the .raw format containing RGB information for every pixel location.
As the spectroscopic chart indicates, the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor is able to detect a broad range of light wavelengths. We came upon the idea of having the top/blue layer capture luminance information, which in turn led us to the idea of the 1:1:4 structure. While the top layer captures both luminance and color information, the middle and bottom layers with their larger surface area capture color information only. During the image data processing stage, the luminance data captured in the top layer is applied to the top, middle, and bottom layers, resulting in luminance and color data for each individual pixel.
The Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor retains the three-layer vertical color capture of previous Foveon sensors while featuring the new ability to capture luminance information in the top layer and apply that information to the middle and bottom layers. This new structure has been the key to preventing file bloat, which may eventually have proved a problem for the 1:1:1 structure of the previous generation of Foveon sensors.
Newly developed TRUE III
image processing engine
Optimized for processing Foveon X3 Quattro
direct image sensor data
The new dp series cameras feature the new TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) III, an image processing engine we developed especially for the new-generation Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor. This image processing engine has evolved in pace with our Foveon direct image sensor and incorporates all of the image processing expertise we have developed over the years. Offering 14-bit processing, it is the ideal engine for turning the sensor’s rich and complex image data into finished photographs. The ultimate result is high-definition, 3D-like photographs with outstandingly rich color detail.
Dedicated high-performance lens
Standard camera offering photographic expression similar
to human vision (45mm on 35mm lens equivalent)
The dp lenses minimize optical aberrations and bring out the best performance from the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor for optimized photographic results.
The wide-angle lens in the dp1 Quattro features FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass and other technologies to minimize optical aberrations. The standard lens in the dp2 Quattro builds on the high-performance lens of the well-received DP2 Merrill camera and offers F2.8 brightness on 30mm. The medium telephoto lens in the dp3 Quattro builds on the outstanding performance of the DP3 Merrill camera and offers F2.8 brightness on 50mm.
The dp0 features a newly developed ultra-wide-angle lens offering F4 brightness at 14mm (equivalent to 21mm on a 35mm camera). A worthy addition to the dp series, it delivers outstanding resolution, rich expression of gradations, and excellent penetration of light to all four corners of the image.
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Fixed focal length lens
An optimized combination of best lens and best sensor
Experience the power of a fixed focal length single-lens camera
Digital photography makes it easy to blow up pictures and examine image quality on a detailed level. Bringing out the power of a high-megapixel, high-performance image sensor requires equally high-performance optics. Thanks to their use of a single fixed focal length lens, dp series cameras are able to offer the best match between their lenses’ ultra-high-resolution sensors, resulting in optimized image quality. In developing the new dp series, we pursued the ultimate match between best lens and best sensor. The fixed focal length single-lens format has allowed us to concentrate all of our know-how into outstanding digital cameras.
SIGMA lens technology
Leveraging all of our lens technology results in top optical performance and astounding image quality
In autumn 2012, we announced our three new lines of interchangeable lenses: Art, Contemporary, and Sports. Featuring the highest level of optical performance and setting a new standard of quality for interchangeable lenses, these lines have earned high marks from every type of photographer. Based on sound concepts and manufactured to exacting standards with our own advanced and precise production technology, the lenses in these three lines fulfill the three conditions for an excellent lens: outstanding design, craftsmanship, and inspection. We inspect the performance of every lens in these three lines with our proprietary A1 MTF (modulation transfer function) measuring system, which uses the Foveon X3 Merrill direct image sensor. Pursuing the highest image quality possible, over the course of many years we’ve developed superior lens and sensor optimization expertise, which now plays a crucial role in the inspection of the lenses themselves.
Development policy Rethinking lenses
Exclusive SIGMA Photo Pro software
Bringing out the full potential of every image
SIGMA Photo Pro is RAW data processing software designed for artistically minded photographers who enjoy crafting individual works with their own hands. Since we first began producing digital cameras, we have been proponents of shooting in RAW mode and processing RAW data. We’ve incorporated all of the RAW data know-how we’ve acquired over the years in SIGMA Photo Pro. With its intuitive and uncluttered interface, the application offers photographers exactly the functionality they need and no more, making it, we believe, the best RAW data processing software available. Leveraging the rich light wave information captured by the Foveon X3 Quattro sensor, this software helps produce the stunning tones and gradation for which SIGMA is famed. In addition, the software also makes possible monochrome photographs of impressive depth.
More preset Color Mode options
Stimulating the desire to create with four new Color Modes
The wide dynamic range and rich gradations and hues offered by the Foveon X3 sensor let photographers faithfully bring to life the scenes they envision. Moreover, since SIGMA’s image data transmits all the richness, texture, and depth captured by the sensor, it robustly stands up to every type of finishing. We have refined the dp2 Quattro to make image adjustment even easier and approachable for everyone. To this end, we have added four preset Color Modes to the camera, helping photographs create exactly the images they imagine as they are shooting. Continuing to evolve, SIGMA’s image processing engine now takes less time than ever to process images. True artistic expression has become easier than ever.
SIGMA Photo Pro Monochrome Mode
Using information from all wavelengths
of light to create true monochrome photographs
The full-color capture system of the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor produces richly detailed images with a wide dynamic range. The smooth, beautiful gradations and superior representation of light and shadow it offers are equally valuable in monochrome photography. The Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor is panchromatic and fully captures information from all wavelengths of light. Since this complete information is retained in the image data, you are able to process it and produce your own particular style of black-and-white photos. For example, in the case of monochromatic film, a photographer may use a green filter to emphasize the redness of lips in a portrait. SIGMA’s software gives you the freedom to achieve the same effect in a monochrome image after you snap the shot. SIGMA Photo Pro Monochrome mode offers direct yet delicate expression for artistic needs, making monochrome photography even more enjoyable and appealing.
SIGMA Photo Pro 6 features new overexposure correction to
correct blown-out highlights in JPEG photos
The SIGMA dp Quattro series incorporates a new overexposure correction function. Based on the gradation information obtained from the arrangement of pixels on the sensor, this function minimizes blown-out highlights in the JPEG data. Moreover, such gradation information can be used to expand the dynamic range in processing RAW data. For example, when the sky has blown-out highlights as shown in the photographs below, applying overexposure correction by itself in SIGMA Photo Pro 6 does not produce the desired result. Yet by moving the Exposure slider to the minus side and then applying overexposure correction, the original blue sky can be reproduced. Moreover, by moving the X3 Fill Light slider to the plus side to brighten the darkened areas it is possible to reproduce an image closer to the original scene.
RAW data development inside camera
View and adjust RAW data via the LCD
and save photos in JPEG format
Without using a computer, you can adjust the RAW data (X3F format files) of photographs you've taken and save as JPEGs on to the camera. Viewing the photos on the camera's liquid crystal display (LCD), you can change the white balance, color mode, aspect ratio, and more.
Designed to help you create
Enhanced visuals and easier operation
The new dp series features a body designed to bring out the full image quality potential of the camera and support artistic expression. The optimized weight and shape make the cameras portable, as well as easy to hold with two hands and operate. The optical structure is also designed to support intuitive operation, featuring an independently positioned lens unit that puts the lens directly in front of the sensor. To prevent heat from interfering with data processing, potential sources of heat such as the battery and power circuitry are positioned in the body as far from the sensor and main board as possible. In sum, we’ve designed every aspect of these cameras to support outstanding image quality and your creation of works of art.