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Sigma DP2 review



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Sigma DP2
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  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • Sigma DP2
  • DP2 14.1 Megapixel Compact Camera-24.20 mm - Black (6.4 cm 2.5" LCD - 2640 x 1760 Image - 320 x 240 Video)


Our Score:


Sigma was one of the first manufacturers to introduce a DSLR-like APS-C size sensor in a compact camera. But while that camera, the Sigma DP1, garnered praise for its lens and picture quality at low ISO settings, it wasn't without fault. Many reviewers and users alike commented on the restricting choice of wide-angle lens, the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm, as well as more damaging aspects, including poor high ISO performance, inadequate auto-focus operation in low light, occasional lock-ups, poor battery life and more than its fair share of handling niggles.

As the design is unique among rival imagers, it's also worth mentioning the controversial choice of the Foveon X3 CMOS sensor for the DP1. Sigma and Foveon claimed the sensor had 14-million pixel sites in total, though output is in effect a third of that figure resulting in a 4.7-million pixel image.

As the second iteration, it isn't unreasonable to assume that Sigma has laboured to address some if not all of those issues. However, as Sigma has recently acquired sensor fabricator Foveon, it'll come as no surprise to learn that the DP2 retains what appears to be the same sensor.

Be that as it may, improvements to the image-processing pipeline with the introduction of the new True II processor are promised, especially with regard to noise-levels at high ISO settings, focus operation, white balance, and exposure control. Indeed with the DP2 now sporting sensitivity up to a maximum of ISO 3200 (previously ISO 800 on the DP1), can we now expect the DP2 to be the low-light champion we always expected?

On paper it looks as if it might. Detractors cited the previous fixed focal length 16.6mm lens, equivalent to a 28mm, as too wide and, with a maximum aperture of f/4, a bit slow. The DP2 now boasts a new 24.2mm lens, equivalent to a 41mm in 35mm format and at f/2.8 is a whole stop faster.

Like the DP1 there's a dearth of shooting modes, there are no scene-modes or full auto options, just the usual PSAM modes found on high-end DSLRs. One concession is the movie mode, but with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels it seems like an after thought, as does the separate voice recording option. Apart from a couple of tweaks to the layout, the DP2 mainly mimics that of the DP1. I prefer the new layout, particularly the altered position of the two rocker-switches for zooming in and out of the playback image. But in truth those changes are minimal.


June 9, 2009, 3:45 pm

Sigma DP2 deserves 10 from 10 for it's picture quality. About deepen shadows and punch highlights - try to use original software. Also price is very low for such a camera - it's picture quality better than most DSLR cameras. It's really funny to see that many point-and-shoot cameras got higher rating in your reviews. Maybe you need to improve your personal skill as a photographer?


June 9, 2009, 4:01 pm

Ok, where to begin...

High ISO performance is mediocre, fixed lens is highly restrictive, price is ridiculous.

Quite simply, if you want a highly accomplished compact camera the vast majority of people will be better off with something like a Panasonic LX3. Conversely if you're serious about your photography then get an SLR. For £540 you can get an entry level SLR with a kit lens for general photography as well as a half decent 50mm prime lens.

Maybe you need to get a clue about what's a realistic purchase for most people?


June 9, 2009, 5:09 pm

A quote from a forum:

"And to make it worse, the distance between the foveon and the IR filter-

ca. 5mm.With this "construction", it became clear, why all the DPs suffer from "green corners"-"

I own the DP1 and think Sigmas DP cameras are only for very special use. The operation is fairly archaic.


June 10, 2009, 6:51 am


The 16.6 mm lens was one of the best things about the Sigma DP1.

Wide is the way to go with street photography/landscape/architecture.

The new 24 lens on the DP2 misses the point about what the users and fans of the DP1 wanted it for.


June 10, 2009, 3:23 pm

"Wide is the way to go with street photography/landscape/architecture."

HCB would beg to differ.

Personally, I value fast, normal FOV lens above slow, wide FOV lens.


June 10, 2009, 4:05 pm

actually, if one wants to raise a long-term universal comparison standard, valid for compact and consumer-DSLRs, one should take the double HD width as standard. This is 3840 pixel wide. This enables pixel-peepers to magnify at 2:1 using a full-HD monitor. Basically, for consumer-market, the advantage of photo over 1080/30p video will be 4 times more pixels. This is 8.1 Mpix in 16:9, so nearly 12 Mpix in 4:3 format (more height than 16:9). All next generation CMOS sensors will be 12 Mpix for coping with this scheme. The Foveon sensor, with 14 Mpix, is thus still in the race. One shall always remember that a conventional bayer-filtered 12 Mpix CCD or CMOS is only delivering 3 red Mpix + 6 green Mpix + 3 blue Mpix, with the built-in JPG camera software processing all this holy mud for guessing a nice 12 Mpix to be marketed as a "native" RGB image. What a joke, indeed ! In fact you already knew about this joke, knowing how you can get different results when outputting the RAW data (shooting RAW) and using an external RAW to JPG converter. Actually, if one wants to play ultrasafe using a conventional bayer-filtered 12 Mpix CCD or CMOS, one should opt for a 3 Mpix non-compressed RGB output format. This way, each RGB triplet in the output format gets calculated using 4 physical sub-pixels R-G-B-G, HOWEVER SHIFTED IN SPACE. It therefore sounds ultrasafe, but is still inaccurate due to the geometric shifts. Now you understand why Foveon does exist and does survive. Please note that the Foveon sensor, with 14 Mpix, is able to output a 4.7 Mpix "native ultrasafe" RGB output, with each RGB site being made of perfectly superimposed RGB sub-pixels. That's ideal. Knowing that Sony can now use a 90 nanometer design rule to their 1/2.5 inch imaging CMOS sensors (IMX060PQ), with the photodiodes sitting at the back (Exmor-R), one may guess that Sony is already testing a RGB Exmor-R CMOS sensor with 3 stacked layers at the back, aka Foveon. And no RGB Bayer filter anymore. This is where money matters. If Sony suceeds in throwing away (or embed using CMOS lithography) the low-pass filter, then we will get something new, simple, and accurate. Shall we expect a 14 Mpix Sony Foveon-R CMOS sensor, APS-C size, also good for 1080/60p video ? With or without microlenses ? Can you imagine that a high-efficiency RGB Exmor-R APS-C sized, sensitive enough for dispensing with microlenses, could replace a CCD, the RGB bayer filter, the optical low-pass filter, and the microlenses ? Amazing ! This is where Foveon technology leads to.


June 10, 2009, 4:42 pm




June 10, 2009, 4:44 pm

@Steph: Please either break up your comments into paragraphs or keep your points succinct. Perhaps more to the point, from what I can gather, you don't seem to actually be addressing anything relevant to either the comments or the article.


June 10, 2009, 5:39 pm

20 lines are actually needed for commenting about the Foveon sensor technology. Especially when Sony just initated a significant change with their Exmor-R CMOS sensors. Feel free to erase my comment if you find it unappropriate here. Let us hope there will be a Sigma DP3 offering video capability and interchangeable lenses, like Pana G1HD.


June 10, 2009, 6:49 pm

I was inetersted in the DP2 as a lighter alternative when I don't want to lug around my D700. Sounds like none of the problems with the DP1 have really been fixed - they've just been reduced slightly. I've got high hopes for the new Olympus E-P1 which should be launched next week.

Steve 23

July 20, 2009, 7:37 pm

For what its worth my experience with Sigma DP2 has been a nightmare. Iv'e tried 2 DP2's and both had real problems focussing in relatively low light - not dark just low light situations. The camera hunted around for ages and eventually I gave up trying to get the picture.The second issue I had was that the DP2 completely locked up and refused to let me take a picture after 10 shots of outdoor shooting. I notice this issue has been raised elsewhere on another site by another reviewer -this hardly inspires confidence in the camera. The only way to get the camera to work was (as the other reviewer mentioned) -to take out the battery. That said -when the camera works the pictures are stunning -simply the best I have ever seen on a compact. I would be very careful about spending the asking price of £530 for a DP2 until these real problems have been ironed out. There is no significant improvement over the DP1 in terms of focussing speed -yes the write time is slightly faster but then 2 of the DP2's I have had from different shops and batches have both locked up several times -something my DP1 has never done. Low light focussing is a real problem for a £500+ camera -there really is no excuse for the DP2 not to be able to focus reliably in low light conditions -ie a room at lighting up time. Until Sigma take these issues seriously and offer proper customer support I would urge potential buyers of the DP2 to consider something else. There are just too many problems for the asking price.


August 19, 2009, 8:34 am

Very interesting to read 'reviews' - egomanic

DP1 or DP2 - one of them I will buy tomorrow.

Each tool is different, and you can only use the tool to the extent, how you understand it.

That is true for a 16000$ digital Hasselblad, as for a 35$ consumer cam.

Focusing speed: Why would I need that (AF) on a 24//28mm lens anyway? Preset it, as we did the Leicas and Contax RF 20 years ago, and get your shot!

Use a tool, for what it is best for, and get this incredible tonal depth without having to lug 2 DSLRs all the time. If I buy a DP2 after my 'disappointment' with a DP1, and than not giving up on it and getting another one: There must be something to this camera, eh??

Also, this camera must have some character, probably choosing on whom to freeze up, and on whom not ;-)).

That is the most convincing part for me. Can't wait to see my 18x20 back from the lab.


August 27, 2009, 4:19 pm

This camera is simply amazing. Tru, not easy to use, not good ergonomics, but... ! This litte thing is capable to procuce AMAZING QUALITY images. You must use RAW only. Forget about JPEG.

Don't believe ? Just go to Flickr and type "Foveon" in the search field.

If you're experiencing focusing problems just upgrade the firmware.

Ray Lobacz

January 18, 2010, 2:38 pm

I've taken over 800 images with this camera with no major problems. Image quality is exceptional, so much so that my Canon D40 is now gathering dust! If image quality is of prime importance then this is the camera to go for. It is not a difficult camera to use and with a little thought and patience you are rewarded with image quality that has the WOW factor! I just can't leave it alone!


February 2, 2011, 8:25 pm

Ther are definitely alot of sad people wth fantastic eqwipment

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