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"Beer Garden" issue

Dicahub pointed out to me a thread on a Japanese forum telling about an imaging issue with the dp2 Quattro.

While the dp2 Quattro image looks perfectly fine overall, the above 100% crop from it (click for full size) shows a weird behavior. The letters on the light blue store signs have poor resolution, with the yellow bleeding into the blue background. It looks more severe on the top right banner. In comparison, the DP2 Merrill reproduced these areas flawlessly, showing the usual strong acutance. The black-and-white image of the same scene shot with the Quattro has barely noticeable letters on the store sign.

It surely is not something most users will really care about (I haven’t seen it in on any other image so far), but it’s intriguing enough to be noticed. Is it another SPP fantasy? If not, can it be fixed in firmware?

Check out the full images and the discussion (in Japanese).

Note: Dicahub referred to it as the “Beer Garden issue” because the affected text says “Keio Asahi Beer Garden”. Everyone is free to call it “yellow-on-blue issue” or whatever 🙂

  • ADec

    I could be wrong but this seems like a software/in camera processing issue. I can’t see what would cause a sensor to do that. I hope it’s something that can be fixed through a firmware update. Check out Tim’s pictures- some of them are gorgeous and definitely Merrill quality.

  • Vamp898

    This is due to the Noise Reduction. Just disable it and you’re fine.

    Look at this direct comparison of enabled and disabled noise reduction

    Looks like the same behaviour in the image above

    • Vamp898

      To prevent misunderstandings. Both of these shots are taken at ISO 100

      The Aggrsive default Noise Redution of SPP6 is the reason to this effekt. In the Image i posted its extreme, but its the same effect in the image on the top.

      If you completele disable NR at ISO 100, this effekt is gone.

  • sammyg11

    Anyone who does a thorough side by side Merrill vs. Quattro test should pretty quickly see that the Quattro just isn’t up to snuff. At first you’ll look at your Quattro images and wonder why the sigma / foveon magic seems to be gone. It’s more of a feeling than something you can put your finger on. You’ll second guess yourself thinking maybe you just took some bad pictures, but as soon as you photograph the exact same subject with a Merrill it becomes immediately obvious.

    Whether you call it “sharpness,” “resolution,” or “texture” the Merrill cameras set themselves apart from Bayer cameras with their out of this world detail resolution (and I would say unique color palate as well). The Quattro on the otherhand although sharper than many bayer cameras can’t hold a candle to the Merrill.

    Here is a link to a casual test that I did on the streets of NYC :

    Comparing the 1:1 images should immediately make clear how much less detail the Quattro can pull in from an image. If you were comparing the Quattro to a bayer camera you’d probably say it holds up pretty nicely, but it doesn’t have the Merrill magic. The Quattro is definitely a step backwards from the Merrill in terms of image quality (camera design wise I actually prefer it).


    • Andrea

      Thank you for the comparison. I completely agree with your conclusions. Pity. I’m a sad panda.

    • Tim

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with the Quattro, my impressions were different.

      I’ve been shooting the DP2 Merrill for about two years and tried the Quattro as part of the Sigma test shoot. I found the Quattro to be an improvement in usability and IQ. The increased sharpness and dynamic range were noticeable to me immediately. While it’s a different look than the Merrill, the Foveon effect is evident in the landscapes I’ve taken.

      The default colors from the Quattro are definitely more muted. While I use the DP2M in standard color mode, I set the DP2Q to landscape color mode to increase color saturation and contrast.

      Also, when I received the Quattro it had tone control and highlight protection turned on, which I discovered was resulting in a flatter tone curve, making the images look dull. Turning these settings off improved the contrast and overall look of the images.

      dp2 Quattro test shots.

      No direct comparisons to the Quattro, but similar subjects taken with the dp2 Merrill:

      • Richard

        HI Tim.

        First of all I think all the images are great. If you live around there I’m pretty jealous!

        When I looked at the Quattro shots they looked pretty good. Very good in fact.

        Then I looked at the Merrill images, and they immediately blew me away, not in terms of detail (I’m not a pixel peeper) but just the uniqueness of the look.

        Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste thing, but i’d be interested in hearing your views in a couple of months when you’ve had more time to play with the Quattro.

  • Andrea

    Sigma may just have killed any reason to accept the limitations of the DP cameras over, say, a Sony A7/A7r or even A6000. I fear the quattro design may be Sigma’s X-Trans, which never looked right to me in samples I’ve seen online, except for the natural smoothing of skin in portraits. Now, though, we will start having sensor wars not just with Bayer but between Merrill and Quattro, as is already happening on dpreview forums. Me, I might just get a DP3 and complete the Sigma low-iso/high detail/awesome lens collection. With the quattro the future looks bright, but not very detailed. To me, full frame merrill would have been a killer.

    • Dave Houghton

      Isn’t Sigma going to pull the plug on Merrills sooner or later to boost the sales of the Quattros? Do you think both will be available to customers?

      • Andrea

        There is still back stock being sold an Amazon at interesting prices, but, yes, sooner or later they will be gone. So far, the only quattro to hit the market is the DP2, so, I guess, DP1 and DP3 merrills are still officially sold by Sigma.

        • SigmaRumors

          Exactly Andrea.

  • introvert

    everything in the photo on the right hand side just doesn’t look as good, simple!.
    Sony are about to blow your mind away with their new curved sensors due out by year end (starting in point and shoot)

    • d

      I don’t think any Bayer sensor will ever blow my mind away…There is a reason why images from DP Merrills are comparable to those from the D800E, which has over double the number of pixels – because Bayer sensors are flawed due to interpolation, much like the Quattro is.

      • Vamp898

        Quattro dont have any Interpolation

    • Vamp898

      Funny, i switched from my a99 to the SD1 because the SD1 beat the shit out of it 😀

  • D

    Just as I thought…They already had the best sensor at base ISO. They should have worked on improving the Merrill sensors, rather than taking a step back with the Quattros. Just like Bayer sensors, there is too much lost in interpolation. That is why the image quality from the DP Merrills is better than the D800E pixel-for-pixel, and comparable in overall image quality at base ISO – not because the DP Merrill is resolving at 36 megapixels, but rather because the D800E really isn’t resolving at 36 megapixels (2/3 of the information at each pixel is based on estimates, which results in artifacts, false details, and loss in resolution).

    Unfortunately, digital sensor technology is still in its infancy, and the industry, in my opinion, should focus on developing better layered sensors, with each pixel being RGB, rather than relying on interpolation. Sigma should have stuck with the Merrill sensors, and focused on improving the ISO performance instead.

    • Ramana

      My guess is Sigma can’t afford to be seen in the market as not competing in the mega pixel race and hence gave highest priority to get medium-format like resolution out of the new sensor. Merrill’s sensor wouldn’t have given them this high resolution.

      I agree that Sigma should have retained the Merrill sensor and improved its ISO performance. But even if ISO improvement were not possible, priority should have been given to improving the usability of the camera in field (better LCD, perhaps a EVF, improved manual focusing, faster Auto Focus, etc) and the software. Wondering how easy or difficult it is for Sigma to put Merrill sensor in the new body. 😀

  • Jean Pierre

    Please write to Sigma Japan. It is importand, everybody has to write, what is not good with the Q! I have shot 200 images and I am not happy with the color and details!!!
    Yes, I do believe Sigma will have to do his homework and come out with a firmware-update soon!!!

    The same nonsense with SPP6! Every week with a failed new version!!

    Oh, Sigma what is you constumer relationship!!??????????? Comon ….

  • Tim

    Interesting effect of the new sensor design. I also wonder if Sigma can correct this with a firmware update, or if it can be avoided through careful post processing?

    I’ve taken 600+ shots with the Quattro and haven’t seen this problem, but I could imagine the color bleeding issue occurring when shooting autumn foliage against a blue sky when the tonal range is close.

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