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8 Cameras for Monochrome Photography: Excellent article delving into the nostalgia of b&w photography and the science of monochromatic imaging.

The first digital Monochrome camera listed in the above article, a Sigma SD1 Merrill is no longer available, but has been replaced by the Sigma SD Quattro. The Sigma SD Quattro is a color digital camera that will produce true monochromatic images at a fraction of the cost of other dedicated monochrome cameras. $699 body only or body with 30mm lens bundle for $899. Yes for real!

the SD Quattro is not considered to be a “true” digital monochromatic camera, the Foveon X3 is the world’s first full-color image sensor with a 29-megapixel capture that makes it one of the best platforms for B&W conversion. But the DSLR does not have a blur filter behind the lens so the True II Image processing engine ensures “monochrome-like B&W tonality, preserving fine details as well as any traditional film.

The SD Quattro can provide 19.6MP lossless compressed raw images with a spatial resolution equivalent to, and with richer colors, than that of a 39MP Bayer sensor.

CAVEAT: The Sigma SD Quattro is an unusual camera, dedictated to producing superb color rendition and image quality, but it is not a traditional digital camera system. So it has some unusual quirks that should be understood before purchasing. See the following reviews and decide for yourself if it would work for you.

Sigma SD Quattro Part 1: Sigma SD Quattro: Overview after 4 years of use! by Forgotten Cameras Youtube

Sigma SD Quattro Part 2: Is it right for you? My thoughts of the camera after four years of use! by Forgotten Cameras Youtube

Sigma SD Quattro Review - Richard Wong is a multi-award winning wedding/portrait photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sigma SD Quattro dpreview

Sigma SD Quattro Camera Specifications

Sigma’s secret weapon – SD Quattro review, an incredible filmic 8K timelapse tool with infrared capabilities

The next lowest priced Sigma SA zoom lens with image stabilization for breaking away from the fixed 30mm is the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Sigma SA at $499. See a dpreview here.

Here is a list of the more traditional dedicated digital monochrome cameras and conversions.


Why use a true monochromatic camera system?

Modern digital camera systems utilize a color pass filter that disallows for true monochromatic (or panchromatic) images to be taken. In a true monochromatic camera system the sharpness and clarity of the image will consistently outshine the capture that the faux system has produced.

If you are not a purist or don't have deep pockets to purchase a dedicated monochrome camera system there is an alternative. Today every digital camera has a monochrome mode. Additionally, both JPG and RAW camera files can easily be post processed into most any monochromatic style, including classic b&w films.

Frost Lake
I don't have a true monochrome camera yet, but I still enjoy shooting b&w.
Taken with a Pentax K-70 and post processed with Affinity Photo

Tips for shooting monochrome with a Pentax. Choose raw + jpg, Monochrome, HDR on, Auto Levels, ev + - 2 as needed. up contrast and sharpness and add a Red or Orange filter to darken the sky. Video showing how this works.

Pentax Forums: A How-To for Black and White Photography

ExpertPhotography: Best Camera Settings for Black and White Photography

 

YT video comment from Sigma SD Quattro user:

Overall, IQ compares pretty favorably against the A7RIV when you blow up sharp images taken with good glass from the Quattro to a size that matches, depending on what you are looking for. It totally wrecks any other APS-C camera in IQ at ISO 100 overall. While dynamic range sucks, the difference in contrast at the pixel level brings out details much better than other sensor types, you often get something more in-line with what you'd expect from a medium format camera. This also allows you to enlarge photos with better fidelity. It's really hard to put into words exactly what the difference is, but viewing base ISO images from Foveon sensors versus those from Bayer and X-Trans sensors shows that they render the overall image very differently. The Foveon sensor has a much easier time reproducing difficult colors and color transitions at the pixel level are far smoother than what I've been able to get with Bayer/X-Trans, especially cameras with an AA filter. This gives images from it the strange three-dimensional qualities they are known for. B&W is also comparable to a dedicated monochrome camera. In theory, it should actually be better, but I'm not buying a Leica Monochrom to do direct comparisons. If you're really curious, I would find some sample X3F files from the Quattro and take a look. Sigma Photo Pro, the software you need to work with them, is free, so there's no money in doing that.


 

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