Sigma DP1 Review

The Sigma DP1 is a unique compact camera with a large sensor capable of taking superb quality photos but it is slow to use with some poor design features.

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

Highly recommended for landscape photography.

The Sigma DP1 is a unique compact camera with a large sensor capable of taking superb quality photos, the best by far of any digital compact and equivalent to those from cropped sensor DSLRs. The lens is top quality, and the resolution and detail of images superb. If you want top quality images and a lightweight camera, the DP1 is the only option.

However, the DP1 is also slow to use, with some poor design features. The writing time for images is so slow that the camera is poor for action or grab shots while the slow lens (F4 is the maximum aperture) and a highest ISO of 800 means it’s not a good camera for low light shots. Other bad points are a low resolution screen, a tiny histogram that’s hard to read, the lack of a live histogram, the lack of highlight warnings, many features accessible only by scrolling through the menu and difficult to read black-on-black symbols. All this makes for a camera that requires thought and effort to use and that is not a “point and shoot.”

Despite the list of negatives, the DP1 earns a rating of Highly Recommended for its landscape photography (but not other types of photography) because of the quality of the images.

About This Rating

M Find other top product reviews »

Print Jump to Reader Comments

by Chris Townsend |

Introduction: Why the DP1 is unique.

Sigma DP1 Review - 1
Sigma DP1.

Sigma DP1 Review - 2
Sigma DP1 with VF-11 viewfinder and lens cap fitted.

Sigma DP1 Review - 3
DP1 showing top panel and size with lens retracted.

Sigma DP1 Review - 4
DP1 with lens extended.

Compact cameras are the obvious choice for lightweight backpacking due to the low weight and size. Digital cameras have advantages over film cameras, too, as there's no need to carry films (at a weight of 0.8 oz per roll) or struggle with changing films with cold fingers whilst keeping the camera protected from sunshine, dust, snow or rain. Most film compacts use the same film as bigger SLR cameras and the best film compacts can achieve the same quality photographs as an SLR. This is not true with digital compacts because the sensor is much smaller than that in any DSLR. The Ricoh GR-D II, one of the most highly rated digital compacts, has a tiny 7.18 x 5.32 mm sensor, while the Canon Rebel XSi/EOS 450D has a 22.2 x 14.8 mm sensor and a full frame DSLR like the Nikon D700 has a 24 x 36 mm sensor (the same size as 35mm film). The size of the pixels that collect the image data has to relate to the size of the sensor so a digital compact has much smaller pixels than a DSLR. For complex technical reasons large sensors and large pixels produce higher quality images than small sensors and small pixels (if they didn't there'd be no need for full frame DSLRs let alone medium format digital cameras). So, a 12 megapixel (mp) DSLR will produce a better image than a 12mp digital compact. In fact, so big is the difference, that a DSLR will produce higher quality images than a digital compact with more pixels.

Sigma DP1 Review - 5
DP1 rear panel showing screen and controls.

There is also the question of noise (speckling on the image). The sensitivity of digital cameras to light is known as the ISO (also used for film speed, which is film's sensitivity to light). Low ISOs (50, 64, 100) produce high quality images but require slow shutter speeds. High ISOs (400 upwards) don't produce as high quality images but faster shutter speeds can be used. This is important when backpacking as images may be taken in poor light and when the wind (or being out of breath!) makes it difficult to hold the camera steady. The difference between noise at high ISOs between digital compacts and DSLRs is great due to the tiny sensor as noise increases with both lower pixel size and higher sensitivity. Even the best digital compacts produce noisy images at speeds above 200 ISO while DSLRs can produce images with little noise at 800 ISO. Images from my 6mp Canon 300D DSLRare virtually noise-free at ISO 400; those from the 8mp GR-D compact have noticeable noise.

Sigma DP1 Review - 6
DP1 rear panel compared with the Ricoh GR-D rear panel. The GR-D has better laid out controls that are easier to see.

The obvious solution for producing DSLR quality images from a compact camera would be to use a DSLR sized sensor. However this is technically difficult and also, I suspect, unattractive to camera makers who see the compact and DSLR markets as separate and would like to keep them that way. (Why buy a DSLR if a compact can do the same job?). So tiny sensors stayed in digital compacts, meaning you had to choose between light weight and low bulk or high quality images. Until the DP1, the first and so far only compact camera with a near DSLR size sensor, came along. Its sensor measures 20.7 x 13.8 mm, much closer to the Canon XSi sensor than the GR-DII sensor. And the image quality is similar to that from a DSLR even at high ISOs. Indeed, the same sensor is found in the Sigma SD14 DSLR.

Sigma DP1 Review - 7
The DP1 rear panel showing the open menu.

This image quality is the main reason to consider the DP1. It's the only compact camera that can compete with DSLRs. Unfortunately however other aspects of the camera are not so good, as I shall describe below.

Specifications

Pixels: 14.06 mp (2652x1768x 3 layers)
Lens: F4 16.6mm, 35mm equivalent 28mm
Dimensions: 112 x 65 wide x 57mm deep
Sensor size: 20.7 x 13.8mm
Screen: 230,000 pixels, 2.5 inches diagonal
Shutter: 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
Aperture: F4 to F11
ISO: 50, 100, 200, 400, 800
Exposure modes: Manual, Auto, Program AE, Shutter AE, Aperture Priority AE
Metering: evaluative, spot, centre weighted
Focusing: auto, manual
Image Format: Raw, JPEG Fine, Normal & Basic
Memory: SD/SDHC card
Battery: Li-ion BP-31
Sigma Weight: 250 grams without battery and memory card
BPL Weight: 255 grams without battery and memory card
Cost: $999
Accessories: Sigma VF-11 viewfinder: 14 grams. $149
Li-on BP-31 battery: 29 grams, $20
Megapixels: A Curious Puzzle

Sigma DP1 Review - 8
above: An unedited JPEG straight out of the camera. The colors are inaccurate and rather lurid (though some may like them!). ISO 50, 1/40 second at f5.6

Sigma DP1 Review - 9
above and following: The same scene taken at 50, 100, 200, 400 and 800 ISO showing how the colors become less saturated at higher ISOs, especially 800. All images are direct conversions from raw files with no post processing. All at f5.6 with shutter speeds of 1/40, 1/80, 1/160, 1/320 and 1/640 seconds.

Sigma DP1 Review - 10

Sigma DP1 Review - 11

Sigma DP1 Review - 12

Sigma DP1 Review - 13

Sigma says the DP1 is a 14.06mp camera. Open a DP1 raw file in Sigma Photo Pro software, which is provided with the camera, and the size will be given as between 10 and 18mb, depending on the detail in the image. Open the same file in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and the size will be given as 4.6mp. What is going on? The answer lies in the sensor type and the definition of the word "pixel". "Pixel" can mean either the photo detector or the location of that detector. All digital camera makers except Sigma use Bayer sensors which, put very simply, have red, green or blue pixels (photo detectors) that are combined when a photo is taken to form an image. The pixel count is the total number of pixels on the sensor. Sigma uses a Foveon sensor that has three layers of photo detectors, each collecting red, green and blue colors. A section through each layer counts as one pixel location. Thus there are three pixels at each pixel location. How many pixels an image has depends on whether you take the photo detector or location figure. Each Foveon layer is 2688 x 1792 pixels, or 4.65mp. There are three layers so Sigma says there are 14.2mp in total. Others say that as there is one pixel location per three photo detectors at each pixel location and the image file size is 2688 x 1792 there are only 4.65mp.

Sigma DP1 Review - 14
This 400 ISO image, converted from a raw file, has good colors and a smooth, natural look. 1/1250 seconds at f5.6.

Does this matter? Zealots on both sides argue passionately and interminably that it does. For those of us interested in the actual images I don't think it's significant. In terms of quality the DP1 produces images that are comparable to the 12mp Canon XSi/450D DSLR and far superior to those from any other compact camera, regardless of the number of pixels. How much the Foveon sensor affects this is debatable but my view is that the sensor size is far more important. What's clear is that the DP1 produces images of a higher quality than expected from a 4.6mp sensor. Foveon devotees argue that Foveon sensors produce "better" images than Bayer sensors. I can't say that I can see any meaningful difference when Bayer and Foveon images of the same scene are processed in the same software.

Description & Usage

Sigma DP1 Review - 15
The complex detail of this tree is captured well at ISO 100, 1/25 at f8. The camera was hand held. Using the viewfinder made it much easier to keep it steady.

The DP1 is a rather subdued black compact that doesn't stand out in any way. Nobody notices you using this camera. The rectangular body has a rather old-fashioned look to it. There's no hand grip, not even a slight bulge in the plastic, but it's still comfortable to hold.

Unlike many compacts the retracted lens is not flush or almost flush with the body and protrudes some 20mm. Even so, with dimensions of 112 x 65 wide x 57mm the DP1 is quite small and can be easily carried in a jacket pocket or in a small pouch on a belt.

Sigma DP1 Review - 16
This image taken in woodland in bright sunlight with great contrast between sunny and shaded areas shows that the camera can capture details in these situations. ISO 100. 1/25 second at f8.

The lens does not have an automatic cover when retracted. A separate lens cover is provided, attached to the body with a short piece of string. This cover is slightly awkward to fit and can blow about in the wind when not on the lens. However untying it would probably lead to loss, at least in my case. There is an accessory from Sigma called the HA-11 available which has a collar with a 46mm filter thread and a lens hood so filters could be used instead of the lens cap. I haven't tried this.

The DP1 lens is a fixed 16.6mm, which is equivalent to 28mm in 35mm. This is a moderate wide angle lens. Any fixed lens has limitations of course but 28mm is good for landscapes. (Sigma has announced that there will be a DP2 with a 24.2mm lens, equivalent to 41mm in 35mm, so there will be an option for those who find the DP1 too wide). The lens has a maximum aperture of f4, which is quite slow. In low light a high ISO and slow shutter speed are required.

Sigma DP1 Review - 17
On a dull day the colors on this hillside have come out well and there is detail in the cloudy sky. ISO 100. 1/80 at f5.6.

The LCD screen is reasonably bright and a reasonable size. However it is quite grainy and, peculiarly, it turns monochrome in low light. It also smears more easily than other screens I've used (they all smear to some extent). As there is no viewfinder the screen is used for composition. In bright sunshine this can be difficult as the image is hard to see. Also it is harder to hold the camera steady holding it out so you can see the screen rather than having it to your eye. There is an optional viewfinder available, the Sigma VF-11. This is tiny and ultralight but quite expensive. It has frame lines, which are not completely accurate but which act as a guide. It does not show any exposure information of course. Using the VF-11 does make picture taking a two-stage operation - check the exposure on the screen and make any alterations then bring the camera to the eye - but I prefer using it, both for more accurate composition and for stability.

There are five exposure modes, selected by a dial on top of the camera. The mode, the aperture and the shutter speed are shown clearly on the screen and can be changed using the right and left arrow buttons on the camera back. I prefer to use manual mode as this gives the greatest control but the other modes are accurate in even light.

Most of the controls are on the back of the camera and here there is an amazing example of poor design. Who ever thought that black letters and symbols on black buttons was a good idea? Presumably a designer concerned with appearance rather than function. As it is, memorizing the button functions is a good idea as it's hard to see the black letters and symbols in anything other than bright light. Oddly some of the buttons do have white labels. Why not all of them?

Sigma DP1 Review - 18
A difficult shot straight into a low sun has been handled well by the DP1 at ISO 50, 1/640 seconds at F5.6.

The button in the centre of the arrow buttons brings up the menu. This appears on top of the live image if you don't switch the latter off first. Many of the features you might often change are in the menu and it is a fiddly and time-consuming business to do so (and difficult with thin gloves on and impossible with thick ones). When the camera first appeared the ISO setting, which most users will probably use often, was in the menu. However a firmware update means the two zoom buttons, used for viewing images on the screen at different sizes, can be set to change different settings including ISO. I have one set to change the ISO and one to change the image quality. This improves the ergonomics a little but compared with the GR-D and the 450D changing settings on the DP1 is still more awkward and slower.

The firmware update also introduced 50 ISO, which does produce very fine images, but 1600 ISO for low light photos would have been more welcome.

There are three metering options - evaluative, centre-weighted and spot. Evaluative works fine for landscapes and I use this most of the time.

The auto focus is accurate but slow. There are single and continuous drive modes but the latter will only take three shots before it stops to write the images. It takes around 6 seconds to record a JPEG image, 8 seconds for a raw image. This is not a camera for action photography. There is a manual focus option, operated by a wheel with a scale running from 0.3 meters to infinity. The same scale appears in the viewfinder when manual focus is selected. If the manual focus is pre-set there is no focus or shutter delay but you still have to wait for the image to be written. I'd still set manual focus if I thought I might want to take photos quickly.

Sigma DP1 Review - 19
A partly shadowed snow and rock scene caught well at ISO 100, 1/320 at f5.6.

The DP1 will take three sizes of JPEG or raw files. I can't see any point in using anything other than the best (Fine) JPEG or raw with a camera like this unless there is a shortage of card space. The camera uses tiny SD, SDHC or multi-media cards. A 4GB card will hold around 258 raw images or 1225 Fine JPEGs. Cards weigh 2 grams each.

I viewed JPEGs in Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.1 and found the results somewhat erratic, with some images dull and flat and others luridly bright. The contrast, sharpness and saturation can all be altered in-camera to change the appearance of the JPEGs. The best results come from raw files though. I processed these in both SPP and Lightroom and obtained more detail and more accurate colors than with the JPEGs.

Sigma DP1 Review - 20
A crop from left centre of the previous image has good detail in the cliffs and the snow.

The DP1 has a histogram but it is disappointingly small and hard to read. There is no live histogram when viewing the live image either nor any highlight warnings when viewing the playback image. The histogram can be a valuable tool for accurate exposure and I use it rather than the exposure meter. With the GR-D I can see a live histogram and alter the exposure before taking the photo while with the 450D I can view the histogram with any blown highlights indicated on the playback image after taking the image and retake the photo if necessary (the 450D also has a LiveView feature but it's slow to use and I only do so when using a tripod). The DP1 histogram can sometimes be useful but with some images the line is almost flat and it can be impossible to see if it runs off the right side, showing overexposure and blown highlights.

There is a small pop-up flash operated by a small lever. With a maximum range of 4.3 meters (at ISO 800) it's limited to close-up objects.

The DP1 uses a small lithium-ion battery that Sigma says will take around 250 images at 25°C. This is the same as the GR-D battery but much lower than the 600 claimed for the 450D, which of course has a larger battery. Apart from the fact that the temperature may often be well below +25°C if you playback images often or use the flash the number of images per battery charge will be less. I minimize screen use on trips of more than a few days. I also carry a spare battery. On a trip of more than a week, which I have yet to take with the DP1, I would carry at least two spare batteries. There is a battery life indicator but it isn't very accurate (something I've found with other digital cameras). Overall I'm getting about 200 images per battery charge, without much flash use but without paying particular care to screen use.

Sigma DP1 Review - 21
A self-portrait with the DP1 on a tripod. ISO 50, 1/80 second at f10.

What's Good

  • Unique large sensor in a compact
  • Excellent resolution
  • Superb detail
  • High quality lens
  • Good high ISO images

What's Not So Good

  • Colors fade at high ISOs (can be corrected in software)
  • Fixed 28mm lens
  • Slow lens, maximum aperture F4
  • Low resolution screen dull in low light and hard to see in bright light
  • No live histogram
  • Histogram too small and hard to interpret
  • No highlight warnings ("blinkies") in review image
  • Slow image recording
  • Almost impossible to read black symbols on black buttons
  • Too many features hidden deep in menus
  • Highest ISO only 800
  • Lens cap awkward to put on and blows about in the wind

Assessment

Sigma DP1 Review - 22
An extreme crop of the figure in the previous image still has good detail and color.

Despite the greater number of negative points compared to positive ones I like the DP1 because of the image quality. No other digital camera anywhere near as light or compact as the DP1 will produce such good photographs. Yes, the operation of the camera is slow and clumsy and can be infuriating. For this I much prefer the Ricoh GR-D, one of the best designed cameras I have ever used. But once I see the images from the two cameras there's no contest and I'll take the DP1 every time. That is, for landscapes. The slowness of the camera means it's useless for any action shots. Camping shots where people are not moving too fast are possible but if you want grab shots of your companion spilling dinner or leaping over a stream you'll miss them with the DP1.

To gain the most from the DP1 raw should be used and time taken over the photographs anyway. This is not a point-and-shoot but a camera for photographers who think about settings and don't mind altering controls and delving into menus. In that sense it's a camera for serious photographers rather than snapshooters. You need to be happy with a fixed wide angle lens too.

Do you need such high quality images? For web use and small prints compacts with small sensors will be adequate as long as low ISOs are used. But for large prints and high ISO photographs the DP1 is the only compact really worth considering.

Sigma DP1 Review - 23
Dusk in the mountains. The DP1 has captured the snow and the sky well in this fairly low light shot. ISO 200. 1/50 second at f5.6.


Citation

"Sigma DP1 Review," by Chris Townsend. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sigma_dp1_review.html, 2009-02-10 00:10:00-07.

Print

Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Username:
Password:
Remember my login info.

Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Sigma DP1 Review


Display Avatars
Sort By:
Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 14:39:58 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Sigma DP1 Review

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 16:19:33 MST Print View

Thanks Chris for your review. =-)

I'm somewhat underwhelmed by the colours I'm seeing though.

Some of the shots look a little washed out on my monitor (is it silly to ask whether they are still in adobeRGB?).

On the other hand, a few of the photos have colours which are positively garish. The greens in particular in a few photos are completely off (again, on my monitor). The second picture of the tree, for example... lurid green with far too much yellow in it.

What post-processing did you do on the photos? Were they all shot in RAW and exported to sRGB? Perhaps it is my monitor which needs calibrating, but I haven't noticed this problem before (eg. pics on photo.net look fine). Or does the DP1 just produce fugly greens?

Edited by ashleyb on 02/10/2009 16:20:20 MST.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 16:43:49 MST Print View

Ashley,

The photos look fine on my monitor. I converted them all to sRGB.

None of them look washed out or have garish greens on my monitor.

The images were processed in Lightroom 2 with the standard settings. I made few changes.

Have you looked at my photo essays that have appeared on BPL? The photos in these were all taken with the DP1. Quite a few people commented on them and no one said they looked washed out or garish.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/winter_cairngorms.html

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/autumn_cairngorms.html

Of course different people see images differently and maybe I like brighter greens than you but the images have of course been viewed by others at BPL and no one has commented on the colours.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 17:10:25 MST Print View

Hey Chris,

Just checked out your autumn cairngorms shots. Lovely gallery. The greens are looking more natural in those shots. Most of the pics are a bit "warm" for my taste, but like you said that may just be personal preference (or my monitor). The "larch" tree shots though are really very saturated.

Perhaps garish was too strong a word, but the colours in some of the pics I've referred to (green trees in this report, and larch trees in autumn essay) are surprisingly, ah, bright. But I guess it's not too different from good old Velvia, so perhaps it is personal taste after all. I was a bit surprised that only a few photos stuck out for me though --- the rest of the gallery seems fine. (As a reference point, the pics DP1 gallery at http://www.boxedlight.com/dp1/ looks "normal" to me in terms of colours.)

Anyway, no biggie! Thanks for your report. Not sure I could handle the fixed focal 28mm length even with landscape. Gotta be pretty creative and probably get used to doing some heavy cropping when necessary.

Cheers, A

Edited by ashleyb on 02/10/2009 17:13:29 MST.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 18:53:01 MST Print View

Good camera review. Seems like it would weigh more than it does.


P.S.

The sample pictures look fantastic - is this attributed to the DP1? Probably not because talented photographers' pictures always look better no matter what camera is used compared to the amateurs like me : )

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 18:56:39 MST Print View

I have the same issue as Ashley. The colours on my monitor look downright horrible in many of the photos. I wonder what's going on??

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 19:16:36 MST Print View

I don't like the way the photos look on my Dell Windows laptop.

They look pretty good on my Apple cinema display.

But they're JPGs, and small, nonetheless, so I can't say I'd put a whole lot of stock into them being representative of the RAW files.

I've used the DP1 a lot, and the RAW files have had exceptional color ranges. What you do post processing is up to you, but you still have to start with good dynamic range, and the DP1 RAW's have it.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Sigma DP1 Review on 02/10/2009 19:32:44 MST Print View

Hi Ashley,

The Foveons have a reputation for tricky red response, but overall color response seems very good, whether in a DP1 or SLR. If you're considering one, there are hundreds of galleries to review, including some that are consistently dazzling.

In sum, as a prospective buyer I would be less concerned about color response and more about high-ISO performance. FWIW the best price in the States has dropped into the low $500s.

Edited by halfturbo on 12/07/2009 14:21:33 MST.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/10/2009 22:37:51 MST Print View

Its a good write up and it does make me want to check this camera out. However, I do want to know how you can say the following though?

"In terms of quality the DP1 produces images that are...far superior to those from any other compact camera, regardless of the number of pixels."

Thats a pretty bold statement since there is no disclaimer of any sort attached (ie. price point, feature set, etc.) that would be hard to live up for any camera. Is this being based soley on the sensor size?

And as a side note, I'm also having issues with how the colors display on my monitor as they don't look that great to me and normally good photos look correct on my screen the way I have the settings calibrated. Since others are having that problem, I wonder if its how they were formated for dispaly on the webpage as I normally save them differently for that application over how I do it for archiving. But if you say that they look good, I'll take your word for it.

Edited by Miner on 02/10/2009 22:52:50 MST.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/10/2009 22:51:20 MST Print View

It's not so bold actually Sean. Compact cameras are generally pretty poor in terms of image quality, due purely to the tiny size of the sensor they use. The DP1 is the *only* compact camera which uses this large "dSLR-size" sensor. Therefore there is currently no real competition from an image-quality perspective. There are a few newer ones (LX3, G10) which have *much* better features and performance and pretty good image quality (at low ISO), but the image quality (esp dynamic range, noise) isn't as good because their sensors are smaller than the DP1.

Edited by ashleyb on 02/10/2009 22:52:50 MST.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/10/2009 23:07:42 MST Print View

It is bold. You can't just make that blanket statement based on sensor size alone. There is more to a digital camera image quality then just sensor size. There is the quality of the optics, the quality of the sensor and then there is the quality of the processing of the sensor data before the image is saved. 2 cameras that are identical but one with better processing of the light information from the sensor will take the better picture. Even in the RAW setting, there is alot of DSP algorithms going on to collect the optimal light from the sensors with the least noise.

I do recognize the problem of cramming to many pixels in to given sensor size and that it is better to go with a larger sensor when pixel count goes up. The recent trend towards 10 and 12megapixel cameras in such small sensors seems to be more driven by marketting then performance. Though they can still get excellent quality in good lighting, the higher pixel count in a given sensor size works against them in lower lighting (there are circumstances where my 12meg G9 with its small sensor will match the performance of my 10meg Digital Rebel, though not often). An excellent lower pixel camera can take better images then a higher one with the same sensor size in many circumstances when conditions aren't as optimal.

Well, my point is a camera with excellent onaboard processing can overcome a larger sensor if that camera's processing isn't nearly as good (within reason though) or its sensor quality is poorer. Look at all the arguements over which is better, Canon or Nikon even though their sensor sizes aren't identical. If it was clear cut, then the camera with the larger sensor would be clearly recognize as the superior one. I'm not saying a compact camera will match the DSLR as the designers of SLR cameras have a higher budget, larger size and weight to work with in their designs adding to the advantage of their high quality larger sensors.

Ok, I admit that I'm probaby overly sensetive to statements like that as I deal with marketting types that like to say things like that and then I'm stuck trying to design something to match his comments with a budget too small to make it ever possible. So you will have to forgive me.

Edited by Miner on 02/10/2009 23:49:12 MST.

Len Glassner
(lsglass) - MLife

Locale: San Diego
Re: Colors on 02/10/2009 23:49:22 MST Print View

How about these greens?

http://www.pbase.com/moonlite/image/94159291

Check out all of Seng Merril's DP1 galleries to see the very best that this camera can achieve, in the right hands.

And here are some more greens:

http://verndewit.com/p712507060/h194ad56e#h194ad56e

I'm not sure I'd choose all of Vern's PP color processing, but awesome photos nonetheless.

Red really is the curse of Foveon sensors, IMO.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Sensor size in compact...Canon Powershot SX1/S...? on 02/11/2009 00:08:27 MST Print View

This article was very informative...I learnt alot I think...but I'm looking for a camera thats more user friendly, dynamic and useful (not being able to take action shots too is a killer).

I was looking at getting the new Canon Powershot SX1/S. The specs say it has a CMOS sensor...which I thought was one of Canon's DSLR sensors...or so I was told. Is this similar to the Sigma DP1? Obviously its lower spec-the MPs are lower to start with (although as I now know thats not the only factor in quality).

I'm a bit new to this stuff, so any info would be great :)

Adam

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/11/2009 00:26:41 MST Print View

There is more to image quality than sensor size. But 1/1.8" and 1/2.7" sensors are simply so small in comparison to APS-C that the other factors are largely irrelevant.

Ever wonder why you don't get f16 on a compact camera? Because the sensor is so small the diffraction effects destroy image quality. It's a fact of physics, and better lenses and image processing can't do anything about it.

When sensor sizes are similar (eg. 1.5x crop vs 1.6x crop) then the other factors (esp lenses) come into play. But when the sizes differ by a factor of 10 (or more!) the little guys have no chance.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Sigma DP1 Review on 02/11/2009 06:45:48 MST Print View

Adam, I'm pleased to hear you found the article informative.
The Canon Powershot SX10 IS has a 1/2.3" sensor, which is much smaller than the DP1 sensor. CMOS sensors come in different sizes. The SX10 IS also weighs 560 grams, which is heavy. If I was looking for a small sensor compact I'd consider the Canon G10, Panasonic LX3 or Ricoh GX200 on the basis of images I've seen and reviews. All of these are much lighter than the SX10 IS.

The problem with colour does depend on monitor type and calibration. Ryan and Rick both make good comments here. Small JPEGs on a screen aren't representative of the raw files or of prints, especially large ones. At low ISOs small sensor compacts can produce images that look excellent on monitors and can make good small and medium size prints. The advantages of bigger sensors are better quality at high ISOs (which means they are easier to handhold in low light) and for large prints. For photography in good light, viewing on a screen and small to prints a small sensor compact is fine.

Ashley, the images at http://www.boxedlight.com/dp1/ look very saturated to me, especially the reds! On my monitor I can see no difference in the greens between the images in the review and the ones in the Autumn in the Cairngorms photo essay. Some of the images were taken on the same trip and have been processed the same way at the same time. 28mm is limiting but if I want the same quality from a camera with a zoom lens (or more importantly in my case it's publishers who require that quality) then I have to carry my DSLR. My ideal camera would be a zoom compact with a DP1 size sensor.

Sean, Ashley is right. The sensor size is key here. Of course the other factors you mention are important but it's the sensor size that makes the real difference. 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.

Jonas Bodenäs
(greenjuice) - MLife

Locale: Scania (Skåne)
Nice review on 02/11/2009 07:53:31 MST Print View

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the review about DP1. I asked you before what you did think about it. Even DP1 produces great image quality, it's pricey. I consider to order a Canon G10 which is more flexible and is more worth its price.

Darryl Romm
(Lyrrad) - F

Locale: Greater London
Sigma DP1 Review - Colour Issues on 02/11/2009 07:57:27 MST Print View

Truly

Unless you are viewing any pictures on a recently/regularly calibrated monitor it is sheer folly to comment.

Edited by Lyrrad on 02/11/2009 07:59:41 MST.

Darryl Romm
(Lyrrad) - F

Locale: Greater London
Re: Re: Sigma DP1 That Good? on 02/11/2009 08:11:05 MST Print View

"The DP1 is the *only* compact camera which uses this large "dSLR-size" sensor."

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. It was 6MP and sadly after that model, Fuji succumbed to the marketing 'greater pixel number chase'. A great camera that was okay as a general point & shoot but will go down as a classic low light compact digital camera (not too many classic digital compacts to talk about). To my mind the perfect UK backpacking camera

Edited by Lyrrad on 02/11/2009 08:12:06 MST.

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: G10 vs DP1 on 02/11/2009 09:43:42 MST Print View

Hi Jonas, I don't know if I would say the G10 is worth the money either. I have found a few issues with the image quality; I think the Pana LX3 is a better performer if you don't need the extra reach on the telephoto end. The optics are definitely better; Summicron with a minimum f-stop of 2.0-2.8!

Personally I'm waiting for the Oly micro 4/3 camera. About the size of the DP1, with interchangeable lenses that will be much smaller/lighter than current SLR lenses. I'm thinking this will be the first option that will allow significant weight-savings and have a full complement of features, while giving images that at least compare somewhat favorably to my Canon 5D, which I never take anyway because of it's expense and weight.

By the way, the 5D is an excellent example of the sensor size debate. My 30D is a better action camera, but it has never taken images to compare with the 5D, nor can any other APS-C SLR. And we aren't talking that much bigger of a sensor, it's about 50% bigger if I'm doing the math right. The sensor-size difference between the DP1 and G10 is about 700%, is it not? Giant pixels do amazing things!

Edited by cooldrip on 02/11/2009 09:44:36 MST.

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
5d Hooray on 02/11/2009 10:23:37 MST Print View

I'm behind you with the 5d comment. Spectacular camea - few things compare with a 5D and a good L lens.

It is a beast to haul into the backcountry though (he says as he plans the next three backpack trips where he *will* carry a SUL load and a 5D w/ 24/105 L).

I did notice the price drop on the DP1 recently, and I do have the Pana LX2 which I've always loved for the pano ratio buit in.