Sigma Tests Show the Foveon Sensor Can Out-Resolve Conventional 36MP Shooters


Sigma took a unique approach when it worked together with its sensor subsidiary, Foveon Inc., to build the newest version of Foveon sensor found in the DP Quattro camera.

Using technology that captures light simultaneously across three separate layers of sensors — one each for blue, red, and green — Sigma claims that, while smaller, the sensor is actually capable of out-resolving a 36-megapixel full frame sensor similar to those found in the Nikon D800E and Sony A7r.

How true are these claims though? Well, Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki sat down with Imaging Resouce while at the CP+ show in Japan to discuss the details of Foveon Quattro technology, and dive deeper into these claims — and that’s where they revealed the image below.


The image shows crops of resolution charts, coming from both a conventional 36-megapixel Bayer-striped sensor (left) and the Foveon Quattro sensor (right). It’s evident that the Foveon sensor fares better than the conventional sensor setup, resolving quite a bit better and showing much less color casting.

It seems as though their unique approach to sensor design might very well pay off. That being said, test charts from the company itself aren’t necessarily as trustworthy as one might hope, and so until production models get in the hands of reviewers, it’s all hearsay and high hopes.

(via Imaging Resource via The Phoblographer)

Image credits: Image courtesy of Foveon

  • Future is Now

    Editing required:

    “Foveon”, not “Faveon”, eh?

    Three instances.

  • DLCade

    Fixed. Thank you for pointing that out!

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    It’s awesome that it can eliminate the color cast, but it is trivial to remove the color cast and once that is done, it looks like the traditional sensor shows sharper lines.

  • Tiktian C

    so they’re saying that it has better color, something that we already know.

    I’d say that the foveon sensor actually has a tiny bit of smearing somewhere there, as well as lower contrast.

    Still impressive however!

  • Scott M.

    “fares better”, not “fairs better” also.
    Nit picking the spelling. :)

  • timparkin

    If you count the lines you’ll see the Foveon sensor is aliasing that that resolution. That said I much prefer the visible degradation of resolution on the foveon sensor rather than the pseudo sharpened and variable width version with the Bayer. I reckon it’s about 20-24 mp if you’re judging by that view. Also these resolution tests mean bugger all. I’ve tested 5×4 shots with one of these and it outresolved the IQ180 by double but in actual printed quality they were pretty similar.

  • Mike

    Since when are several lines blurred together count as outresolving lines that are clearly not blurred together?

  • Zos Xavius

    Shhh….you’ll ruin the hype!

  • docholliday666

    Foveon is crap…should’ve died years ago. Only Shtigma would keep it around and tout it as good. Bayer pattern without AA filter still wins.

  • Matt

    To be honest was expecting a little more from the Quatro, i am a wait and see attitude.

  • Davidn Carr

    my gf got a
    fantastic cream Kia Rio Sedan only from working off a pc at home. see post

  • Damodara das

    I wish Foveon (Sigma) would stop screwing around. If they licensed their Foveon tech to the highest bidders they could make a killing. The rest of us would finally start buying their sensors and the photo world would be better for it. With that extra cash they could invest in faster advances in Foveon sensor tech.

  • Damodara das

    The screenshot shows that:
    1. The D800E shot is scaled up to 300%
    2. The Quattro shot is scaled up to 400%

    Why they didn’t do 100% is beyond me, but that is beside the point. 400% scaled up shots always look terrible.

  • Gordon L. Scott

    I have a DP2 Merrill and have very mixed feelings about Sigma’s Foveon sensor. I suspect that the Quattro will be slightly better or it would pointless to produce. Under ideal conditions, the images are fantastic. Under poor conditions they are crap!

  • Albert

    Please Sigma produce an MFT body with Foveon Quattro sensor!

  • Ken Elliott

    OK, Sigma. If the sensor is that good, why don’t you offer it in a camera with a popular lens mount (say Nikon or Canon). I’ll never buy your existing mount, as it is a dead end (no third party lenses), and does not work with my existing lens collection. But if you offer it in a Nikon mount, then I can consider adding one for what it does well, as I have other bodies that do a fine job at other tasks.

  • whoopn

    Help me here…does they Bayer look sharper to anyone else?