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Sigma Sd Quattro, applications for PalaeontologySigma Sd Quattro macrophotography fossil photography
Main features, pros and cons of the Sigma SD Quattro have already been extensively described in many sites and here on Nikonland byMauro Maratta in his articolo, that I recommend reading (it's in Italian Language by the way) .
I will not repeat them here. I will instead show how this unusual camera surprised (and enthralled) me as a tool for my work, giving me a very special user experience.
I am a vertebrate Paleontologist and my field of interest are fossil reptiles of the Triassic (roughly 250-200 million years ago) . I published over sixty scientific papers and also have a lot of teaching and popular education activities in my University Department.
No need to say that photography plays a fundamental role in Palaeontology both for illustration of one's studies and for didactic purposes.
Since fossils are amongst the most quiet things (along with rocks) in the natural world, the main shortcomings of the Sigma Dp Quattro, concerning ISO, reaction times and so on, become irrelevant. With a good stand or tripod and right lights, one can take photos at 100 ISO with proper apertures and exposure time,s without any worry. Thus, the shortcomings are gone, but the good qualities are still there. Mainly, as we will see later, the richness of detail and the perception of three-dimensionality that the camera gives to images. Something I believe can be obtained only with much more expensive or bulky (or both) equipment.
A Jurassic Ammonite
However, what renders the photos taken with the Sigma Dp Quattro really different (and useful) for my work, does not concern photographs of complete specimen to be published on scientific journals (where, given the requested sizes, any good or decent DSRL will do the job) but rather the great sharpness of fine details, and the usability of even the biggest crops. This is a plus both for research and for teaching.
I take a photo of this Ammonite that still has the shell preserved. a rather uncommonevent. The specimen is about 4-5cm in diameter. I photographed it with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART and the Achromatic close up lens Marumi 3x, because a 105mm macro Sigma wasn't available for the test. Note: all photos have been taken with the 50mm f1.4 ART with or without the Marumi according to need.
Below, the 100%crop:
And here comes the first surprise: You can clearly see the broken shell layers, the sutures (those arborescent lines) and the sediment that filled the shell cavity. I never saw it so well in a photo, especially in a huge crop, taken with a camera of this price level. Surely the crop can't be printed, but its more than good for didactic purposes, in fact I used it in my power point for my lesson on fossil cephalopods last Friday.
Section of another Ammonite. This one is pyritized (that is, it is encrusted by iron sulphide, due to a reaction that occurs in anoxic sea bottoms often by action of bacteria).
Again, a 100% crop:
Again, I was stunned by seeing the "step" in thickness between the black pyrite encrusting and the shell septa. This one has also been used for my lesson.
Would you like to see the growth lines? Here they are:
Carboniferous Fern leaves:
you can see the little creases of the leaflets:
Please take in mind that all the photos have been taken with a standard (as focal lenght) lens, with a true macro there may have been much less need of cropping, greatly enhancing image quality and usability. As for the following examples.
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