Photography and Art

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sigma DP1

There hasn't been a lot of buzz about exciting new cameras since the introduction of the Nikon D3, so it was nice to see that the Sigma DP1 was shipping and reviews were popping up all over the web.

For the uninitiated, there has been a quest among camera bloggers for a small camera that combines the photo quality of a DSLR with the portability of a point and shoot. Up until the introduction of the DP1, we've had some promising contenders (e.g. the Canon G9, Ricoh R8), but they have all used small sensors and suffered from horrendous noise levels at ISO 400 and up. Just as they used to say "there's no substitute for cubic inches" in the car game, there is no substitute for pixel size in the camera game. The larger the pixels, the higher the signal to noise ratio. Jim, ya canna break the laws of physics, laws of physics.

Along comes the Sigma DP1, a very exciting camera that offers a large (APS-C) sensor in a very small body. It also has a wide-angle lens, can shoot raw and offers manual control over all aspects of photography. It was introduced 18 months ago and only started shipping in quantity this month, so the wait was long. Was it worth it? Here are some of the early reviews:

After reading the reviews, I'm very tempted to buy one, but probably won't. Here are the pros and cons:

  • Pros
    • large APS-C sensor
    • Foveon sensor
    • high image quality/low noise
    • Good lens quality
    • Produces raw images
    • Simple user interface with good manual control
  • Cons
    • Auto focus delay
    • No zoom lens
    • Not yet supported by Adobe raw processing
    • Expensive
    • Poor quality built-in flash
    • Viewfinder is an extra cost add-on

To be a good walk-around portable camera and be able to capture the moment, a zoom lens and fast autofocus are really important. Ideally, I'd like a DP1 with a 3x zoom (preferably with a manual zoom ring), a built-in viewfinder and the auto-focus performance of a DSLR.

I think the DP1 falls into the "close, but no cigar" category. The reviews all praise Sigma for its pioneering spirit, but I'd be very surprised if this camera becomes a hit with the prosumer market.

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