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Sigma DP1 Review
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Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
G9 on 02/11/2009 10:48:06 MST Print View

For those wondering about the output of Canon's G series, I've used a G9 since January 2008. These are the results.

Yes, the high megapixel:sensor size ratio produces a fair bit of noise at anything above low ISOs. However, I enjoy the feature set (6x zoom, good movie function, quick shooting, photostitch, complete manual control, RAW, etc.), generally shoot low ISO, and am willing to take the time to make up for some of the deficiencies in post-processing.

Len Glassner
(lsglass) - MLife

Locale: San Diego
Re: RE: G10 vs DP1 on 02/11/2009 13:09:52 MST Print View

Here's a comparison of the DP1 vs. 5D:

http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Reviews/040_Sigma_DP1/_Sigma_DP1.html?page=3

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/11/2009 16:25:50 MST Print View

The smaller sensor of the Fuji F31fd ( I would have thought a different model number in US) produces perfect images using up to ISO 800 and put a lot of dSLR's to shame for low light situations in it's day.

Hi Darryl,

I own the F31 and I'm afraid I must strongly disagree. Yes, it is much, much better than most other compacts when it comes to low-light situtations. But the images are far from "perfect" at 800 ISO. I would call them borderline usable. (Whereas I would say completely un-usuable for most other compacts).

But there's really no comparison between my F31 and my 3-year old Pentax dSLR. I'd say the dSLR has about a 2 stop advantage in terms of noise. But that's pretty impressive for a compact with a small sensor!

Anyway, it seems that some of the new compacts (eg. the LX3) have the F31 beat in terms of noise performance. It only took them 3 years! It's still a great camera though, and I take it with me when I can't be bothered to lug the dSLR.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
How do I interpret image sensor size specs? on 02/11/2009 19:31:25 MST Print View

Hi, now that its clear to me that sensor size is quite an important factor in choosing a camera, how do I know which is bigger. I'm a bit confused looking at Canon spec sheets (from the Aus Canon site).

G10
Effective Number of Pixels:
Approx. 14.7 MP CCD

Size / Filter Array:
1/1.7 inch / Primary colour filter (Bayer)

SX1 IS
Effective Number of Pixels:
Approx. 10.0 MP CMOS

Size / Filter Array:
1/2.3 inch / Primary colour filter (Bayer)

Aspect Ratio:
4:3 or 16:9

So...is 1/2.3 inch literally meaning 1 divided by 2.3 inches across, or is that 1 inch across, 2.3 inches up-down?

Also, whats the deal with aspect ratio?

I'm not too fussed with camera weight here...I figure if the camera works for me and is going to take great shots (my abilities not withstanding), then I don't care too much about the weight (cost is another issue...I think a DSLR is out of my range at the moment).

Cheers,

Adam

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: How do I interpret image sensor size specs? on 02/11/2009 20:05:10 MST Print View

Hi Adam,

Here are the most common sensor sizes.

sensor sizes

Almost all compact cameras are one of the three smallest ones at the bottom. The DP1 has a "foveon" sized sensor in the chart above. Most dSLRs have an "APS-C" sized sensor, but those with lots of money go "full frame".

BTW, you can pick up an older version dSLR quite cheaply now days. Under A$500 for something which is in new condition but an older model. The newer models may have better features but the sensor size hasn't changed, so the same quality of photos is possible with older dSLRs.

Edited by ashleyb on 02/11/2009 20:12:07 MST.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: How do I interpret image sensor size specs? on 02/11/2009 20:18:39 MST Print View

Wow, thanks Ashley! That makes alot of sense!
Maybe I'll just save up and look out for an SLR...

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: DSLRs on 02/11/2009 23:05:54 MST Print View

I'll probably start a war with this, but if your thinking of getting a used DSLR, check out a Canon 350D/400D. I say this for three reasons: lots of used optics available (true of Nikon as well); relatively cheap (less than $300, also true of Nikon); and last and most importantly, with a new 5D MK II available, prices on used 5D MK I's have fallen to $1200 or less, and will probably come down some more! (Can you tell I love the 5D!)

Darryl Romm
(Lyrrad) - F

Locale: Greater London
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/12/2009 05:18:29 MST Print View

Ahsley you said:

I own the F31 and I'm afraid I must strongly disagree. Yes, it is much, much better than most other compacts when it comes to low-light situtations. But the images are far from "perfect" at 800 ISO. I would call them borderline usable.





Okay, 'perfect' was the wrong terminology, but I cannot agree with 'borderline usable'. Just to clarify I post process every shot in PS. This is my only digital camera as I still scan slides/negs so my PS skills are okay.

Have you seen this site for the best guide I have come across for the F30/F31. It certainly assisted me. As I have stated I have no real comparison against a dSLR as I don't own one yet. However I would imagine that many do surpass it now (and I was only relating to noise at comparable ISO levels)

It's interesting you mention the LX3, as I may well buy this. Do you happen to know if there is a better digital compact for macro use only.


thanks in advance.

Edited by Lyrrad on 02/12/2009 07:58:15 MST.

Clifford Sax
(csax6364) - F

Locale: East Sussex
Camera Spec & Ways of Seeing on 02/12/2009 07:15:57 MST Print View

"My Ricoh GR-D has a very sharp top quality lens, possible better than the DPI lens (though that is also good), but the images are nowhere near as good at large sizes due to the sensor size."

Thanks for the informative review Chris. Your above comment highlights (for me) something which is often overlooked - a certain indefinable something that goes way beyond spec or sensor size. What i'm talking about is the combination of spec, design, useability, output etc and how everything conspires together to create a camera that simply excites the user in a way that causes them to want to go out and take pictures. If you are buying a camera so that you can print out massive prints then I would concede with your above comment but how many of us actually print out beyond the ubiquitous 10 x 8? I have printed up to 20 x 24 with the GRD with fantastic results, even when using higher ISO's.

Having used the DP1 I personally found it a frustrating experience and I'm at a loss to explain why. It simply did not flow and I was decidedly underwhelmed. My experience with the GRD (and the GR1) has always been extremely enjoyable and the camera has even inspired me to 'see' in a variety of new ways. How does one then define such an experience? How do we then quantify what is 'good', 'better', or (god forbid) 'best'?

My main point here is that a truly 'great' camera can become an extension of the user and can inspire the user, through a collaborative endeavor, to take new and exciting images. For me the Ricoh GRD and earlier GR1 have done this for some years. Unfortunately the DP1 never did. Under these circumstances spec has to be viewed in a wider context. Personally I find it disheartening when so many photographers become bogged down with spec. When the simplest of pinhole cameras can produce images that have a profound visual and emotional impact and when the plastic lenses of the Holgas can do the same then surely it is not spec that produces an interesting image?

My suggestion is that we take a step back and evaluate what makes a good image and a good camera and try to re-evaluate what is sometimes a slavish obsession with spec. A great camera is one which you want to use and inspires you to take images that excite you. For some that might be the DP1, for others it might be an old polaroid, for me it's the GRD.

I don't believe that there can be an objective standard of what makes a great camera (inspite of what the numerous photography magazines try to tell us). Photography, as an art, is all about how we see and much much less about the spec of the tools we are using. There is, for example, currently a strong interest in low-fi imaging (largely attributed to the increased use of the Lomo's and Holgas). Objectively one might argue that the images people are producing are 'bad' because of leaking light, vignetting, blurred edges etc BUT some of these images on the aesthetic level are wonderful to look at because of the way the user is seeing. The GRD produces a fair amount of noise at high ISO's and yes, objectively, that might be considered 'bad'. The DP1 does far better at low ISO's but to my eyes the noise of the GRD can be used to great effect. It has a photographic quality which I missed with the DP1. Each camera will have it's own qualities which can be utilised if we extend the way that we see.

I think i'm done and I hope my point is clear despite rambling!

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Sigma DP1 Review on 02/12/2009 07:27:29 MST Print View

Excellent comments Clifford. I agree with you. That certain indefinable something is important. I love using the GR-D (and the GR1 in the past). Everything works to make picture taking a joy and that makes me more creative. The DP1 is slow and frustrating. But when I view the images on the computer those from the DP1 stand out. The DP1 is really only worth persevering with if you wish to make big prints. For me the DP1 is a useful backup to a DSLR (I have a Canon 450D which I enjoy using as much as the GR-D - I just wish it wasn't so heavy).

Jonas Bodenäs
(greenjuice) - MLife

Locale: Scania (Skåne)
Re: RE: G10 vs DP1 on 02/12/2009 08:52:48 MST Print View

Hi Scott,

Actually, I've considered LX3 too. But I don't know if I would accept the lenscap to LX3 that's needed to take off every time I'll shot a picture. Same with DP1 too. Sometimes when walking, I just want to stop and take any picture at the moment. With lenscap, I've to remember to take it off. But perpahs it's just a small thing...I don't need the extra reach, I use to go closer the object instead.

Best regards,
Jonas

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: G10 vs DP1 on 02/12/2009 10:23:00 MST Print View

Hi Jonas,

I don't find the LX3 lenscap any big deal, especially since it's tethered and can't (easily) be lost. It is a bit less convenient, but it also provides considerably more robust protection than a shutter-style lens cover.

The larger "handiness" issue is the protruding lens makes the camera less pocketable than a camera with a fully retracting lens. It's the price of 24/2.0.

Cheers,

Rick

Noel Hong
(arborrider08) - F

Locale: SouthShore of Lake Superior
An honest review. on 02/12/2009 10:32:29 MST Print View

Chris, thanks for the honest review. Always looking for a replacement compact digcam. But for now I'm sticking with the Panasonic Lumix LX2. Even with what I consider a major limitation (squeezing 10.2mp onto a 1/1.65 CCD results in significant noise at ISO>100) I'm content for now. Light (225gm with battery & SD card), easy & quick to use under any mode, Leica optics with an image stabilizing feature that actually works yielding quality shots and so far durable (+3years of use). Not digital SLR quality prints, but it's a compact.

Clifford Sax
(csax6364) - F

Locale: East Sussex
I wish it wasn't so heavy on 02/12/2009 11:02:02 MST Print View

Thats another really important point Chris - especially on here. I love my DSLR and as a big fan of the older prime Nikon lenses my 'minimum' kit would include 4 primes and camera body BUT the times I have let an image pass because I can't be a***d to get my pack off, put it on the wet ground, shelter the camera to put the lens on etc etc, are inumerable. With the compact it positively begs to be used and, certainly when on the trail, I use it far more because of the easy flow of the moment - inspiration to execution is hassle free.

Praveen M
(prav66) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Sigma DP1 on 02/12/2009 11:18:12 MST Print View

Great review Chris!

I think you hit all the salient points with the review. I have far too many cameras already but bought & used the Sigma DP1 quite a bit this past year, including for the BPL WT-1 course trek last year in the rockies. I have a love-hate relationship with this one for all the reasons stated in the review.

My main camera is a full frame Nikon D700 which has nearly flawless ISO 3200 and gorgeous tones & colors even in basic JPG so it makes all compacts feel like a serious compromise in comparison.

There's been a lot of faff lately how the new generation of compacts are good enough for most uses and they quote a michael reichman review where he compares the G10 compact with a medium format digital camera and declares that at normal print sizes even the experts can't tell the difference.

But the test was made in ideal conditions at the lowest ISO in very subdued lighting. Sadly in the real world there's a world of differnce that's readily visible. I've used many of the so called high end compacts in the market including the Canon G10 I can say for sure that the DP1 is still king of the hill in the category. It simply has far better tones and dynamic range than the rest of them and the difference is not subtle. It's all in the sensor size.

I wish my Panasonic LX3 compact with its far superior operation and amazingly fast Leica lens gave images as good but it doesn't.. yet. So for now the DP1 it is until the next big jump in technology or the other camera manufacturers get with it... Sad to say we had so many better choices in the world of 35mm film! :)

Edited by prav66 on 02/12/2009 11:23:04 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I wish it wasn't so heavy on 02/12/2009 15:30:56 MST Print View

Clifford wrote:

> BUT the times I have let an image pass because I can't be a***d to get my pack off, put it
> on the wet ground, shelter the camera to put the lens on etc etc, are inumerable. With the
> compact it positively begs to be used
Not to mention the times when you couldn't put the pack down, or don't have time to put the pack down...

I carry my little old Canon A95 on a shoulder strap where I can get it out fast with one hand while still moving, or skiing, or abseiling, or ... Could never do that with my old (film) OM2s.

Cheers

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re: I wish it wasn't so heavy on 02/12/2009 15:38:26 MST Print View

Ever since I first bought an SLR, almost 30 years ago, I've carried it in a pouch on a strap slung across my chest so the pouch rests just below my ribs. I find this comfortable and can access the camera quickly - though not one handed while abseiling!

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/12/2009 16:28:51 MST Print View

Okay, 'perfect' was the wrong terminology, but I cannot agree with 'borderline usable'.

Well, we are both right! What is considered "usable", "good" or "great" is all in the eye of the beholder... and more importantly, how large you wish to print! For viewing on a computer screen, you can get perfectly good pictures with the F31/F30, and also for smaller prints.

As I have stated I have no real comparison against a dSLR as I don't own one yet. However I would imagine that many do surpass it now (and I was only relating to noise at comparable ISO levels)

As good a camera as it is, it has never surpassed any dSLR that I've used or seen. The comparisons on arn's site (yes I looked at when buying my F31!) show that the F30 is really impressive, but the 30D is clearly better. The problem is that the F30 needs to do so much noise reduction that it eats away at the detail even at 200 ISO. And you can see how washed out the colours are in comparison to the 30D. I have an old 6MP Pentax k100D (released in 2005?) and it eats my F31 for breakfast! But I don't always carry it with me because of the weight.

Anyway, you're in for a nice surprise when you get yourself a dSLR. They are much more cumbersome, but you will notice the difference in quality of the images. I recently had a play with a 5D (full frame) that a friend of mine owns, and I was really amazed by the quality of the images compared to my (non full-frame) dSLR. I used to think that I would never want or need a full-frame dSLR, but now I want one!

It's interesting you mention the LX3, as I may well buy this. Do you happen to know if there is a better digital compact for macro use only.

I'm not really a big macro shooter, but the LX3 isn't ideal for macro use. It's max zoom is 60mm so you will need to get really close with the camera to try and get 'macro'. If I was doing a lot of macro photos I'd be looking at something like the Canon G10 (larger magnification possible).

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
DSLR vs. Compact in backcountry on 02/12/2009 18:14:40 MST Print View

I would suggest to anyone who considers a DSLR for backcountry use to really consider the weight of the lenses, especially when dealing with quality glass.

And therein is the caveat: the cost of the a DSLR isn't the DSLR (unless you are dealing with high-end bodies which are remarkably heavy) but the lenses. You buy a couple of quality primes or zooms (I prefer primes, but to each his or her own), and you are talking about a significant investment. Lens selection should be a primary driver in the choice between Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, etc., not the DSLR body.

It's kind of like skis. I would suggest investing first in a great pair of boots, and you will get far more out of average skis then great skis paired with mediocre boots.

Dirk

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
Re: Re: I wish it wasn't so heavy on 02/13/2009 14:44:43 MST Print View

After being very disappointed by my previous compact, i have been using for my last hikes the lightest DSLR i could find : an olympus 420, removing the straps ect.. the weight is 600g with the 14-42mm lens and a battery.

I carry it inside a 10G silnylon bag that i put in my OMM 4L chest pack.
I dont mind this additional weight when i carry less than a week of food as my winter backpack stays under 12-13kg with food and water, but as i will be pushing my limit with 2 weeks of food to carry this summer in Greenland i am considering buying a lumix LX3 to save 300ish gr, as after waiting for it i am not convinced by the sigma DP1.

Edited by Fre49 on 02/13/2009 14:46:20 MST.