The Sigma dp2 Quattro

5 Frames with the Sigma DP2 Quattro in North Merchiston Cemetery – By Tim Bradshaw

For more than twenty years from 1989 I lived in Edinburgh, and I still have friends there.  Like many cities there are a significant number of Victorian cemeteries, gradually falling into decay in a way that allows rather easy romantic memento mori photographs.

At some point in the late 1990s to 2000s, the council became alarmed by the prospect that unmaintained gravestones could fall on people, and they would be liable.  This is something that happens about as seldom as you might expect: like shark attacks or meteorites falling on people’s heads, it happens so rarely that every time it does happen it is in the news.  But still the council worried.

So they decided to solve the problem: they knocked over gravestones, breaking many of them in the process.

I now forget, but I think there was an outcry and the process was stopped before the destruction was complete.  After that I stopped visiting graveyards for photographic purposes as the desecration was too much to bear.

Well, perhaps twenty years have passed since then and I found myself again in Edinburgh, again with time to spend and a brand new second-hand Sigma DP2 Quattro, which I got mostly as they are rumoured to be film-like, whatever that means, and are certainly cheap.  And the time that has passed is long enough that the destroyed graves have now been colonised by greenery and are, in their turn, romantic.  So I went to North Merchiston cemetery on a rainy day in March to see if I could use the DP2Q to make B/W images which will tide me over until my darkroom is ready to make prints again.

And I think it will: it is indeed fairly possible to get what I think are film-like photographs, and its B/W-preferred raw workflow is pleasant to use, if slow.  Of course, making photographs with a film camera is also an inevitably slow process, so in that way too the DP2Q is film-like.

Here are some pictures I made that day.





Note: These photographs are quite dark: I think photographs made in graveyards should be quite dark.  There are slightly higher-resolution versions here.


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7 thoughts on “5 Frames with the Sigma DP2 Quattro in North Merchiston Cemetery – By Tim Bradshaw”

  1. Thanks for sharing Tim, always nice to see the respect that can be captured from locations inhabited by those long passed. The DPQ’s do render well, I would have been very interested to see the colour captures of these.

    Interesting you feel the DPQ’s are cheap, always fascinates me the variation in value perception- anything past £100 for me is notable spend on cameras.

    Keep shooting these Foveon treasures.

    1. Thanks for the supportive comment.

      I realise I should have qualified ‘cheap’. It was cheap in two senses. Firstly it was significantly cheaper (second hand) than any new digital camera which would meet it in terms of quality (if not ease of use). Secondly it was cheap in terms of materials: for a long time I’ve argued with myself that I shouldn’t buy a new digital camera because, if I want to make colour photographs, I can buy slide film which I like more anyway, and how many rolls of Ektachrome can I buy & get processed for the cost of a digital camera? Well, the answer in this case, is ‘about 20’. When I’m ‘working’ on photographing things I seem to get through ten rolls a week. So that’s … two weeks of making colour photographs actively. So while nothing will replace B/W film and printing for me, the DP2Q might well save me money on slide film.

      It was not cheap in the sense of ‘I can easily afford this’: I can’t.

  2. Great post! I’m enjoying the first photo in particular. Are the photos slightly toned or am I just seeing things? Looks really good nonetheless.

    I shoot with a dp3 quattro and for me processing in affinity photo has been a massive time-saver. It supports the x3fs files nicely and it has a much flatter/neutral starting point than SPP.

    1. Yes, they are slightly warmed to make them look a bit more like the paper I normally use for darkroom prints which is fairly warm. I need to look at Affinity Photo.

  3. A sad reflection of our way of life. Is this political correct? Maybe to Law but certainly not correct. I like dark images. That has to be the ugliest camera ever..

    1. It’s not to do with political correctness and it was never required. It’s Edinburgh council being cowards. There are many other things I could say about Edinburgh council (they’re kind of why I no longer live in Edinburgh) but I won’t say them here as they’re probably defamatory (though truth is a defense…).

      I think the dp2 is really pretty in fact. It looks like something from the future rather than a copy of something made in 1965. Obviously this is opinion though.

  4. Those are really nice images. I have been tempted by the Foveon sensors more than once, but never yet taken the plunge. I’m hoping another iteration of the fixed lens cameras is released, unlikely as that may seem. The DP0 would be my first choice, as the Foveon sensor seems like it would handle landscapes really well.

    That was a crazy decision on the part of Edinburgh to knock down historic tombstones. It would never fly here in the USA but I know that is because we have so little truly old history that we have to husband what we have. I could never fathom the way some residents of fantastically old places feel like they have history to burn, so to speak. I’m glad the city council got stopped before they had carried it out 100%.

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