At first glance you can see the Sigma dp2 Quattro is not a typical compact camera. It has a long thin body, with a protruding fixed lens and an unusual kinked grip. But its design isn't the only thing that makes this camera different – it also features the latest iteration of Sigma's Foveon X3 direct image sensor, which uses vertical color separation technology.

The dp2 Quattro will be the first in Sigma's new line of fixed focal length cameras which prioritize image quality above all else. Following on from the DP Merrill range, a trio of dp Quattro compacts will feature either a wide-angle, standard, or medium telephoto lens. The dp2 will be the first to be released and is the standard focal length offering, with its 30-mm lens giving a 35-mm-format equivalent of 45-mm.

At the core of the dp Quattro line is a redesigned version of Sigma's APS-C sized (23.5 × 15.7 mm) Foveon X3 sensor which now offers an effective 29 megapixels, though not in the conventional manner. That's because as with previous Foveon sensors, it uses three layers of photodiodes each corresponding to a different RGB color, rather than the more traditional mosaic sensors.

This vertical color separation allows the sensor to record hue, value, and chroma for each pixel. It also means no color filter or low pass filter is required, resulting in high-quality images with rich color detail. Presumably to allow for faster image processing, the top photodiodes layer of the new sensor is 20-megapixel, while the middle and bottom ones are 4.9-megapixel – in the DP Merrills, all three layers had the same resolution. RAW images will have a 5,424 x 3,616 (19.6-megapixel) resolution.

As mentioned, the Sigma dp2 Quattro will feature a standard 30-mm F2.8 lens (offering a 35-mm-format equivalent of 45-mm). It will be followed by the dp1 Quattro, with a 19-mm F2.8 lens (28-mm equivalent), and the dp3 Quattro with a 50-mm F2.8 (75-mm equivalent). All the dp Quattro cameras will also feature a new TRUE III image processing engine, which is designed to get the most out of the sensor and produce rich, detailed images.

The cameras will all have an ISO range of 100 to 6,400, and autofocus will be dealt with by a 9-point contrast-detection system, which is hopefully faster than that which hindered the DP Merrills. There will be the option to shoot 14-bit RAW and JPEG, but as with the Nikon Df, there's no movie recording.

Design-wise, the dp Quattro cameras feature the same body, though measuring 161.4 x 67 x 81.6 mm (6.4 x 2.6 x 3.2 inches), the dp2 will be the smallest, as the 19-mm and 50-mm lenses will be bigger. On the back, the cameras will have a 3-inch LCD with 920k dots and plenty of space for a minimalist button layout, while on top of the grip there will be two control dials.

Sigma has not yet revealed when the dp Quattro cameras will go on sale, or how much they will cost.

To see a bit more of the Sigma dp2 Quattro, check out the Sigma promotional video below.

Product page: Sigma dp2 Quattro