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Sigma DP2 - Sigma DP2

By Joanne Carter



Our Score:


A new shortcut button is by far the biggest modification. One press reveals options for ISO, flash, metering and white balance, while a second push brings up choices for file type, JPEG compression, colour profiles (standard, vivid, natural, mono, sepia, portrait and landscape), and drive modes. While this sounds like a good idea, instead of using what looks like a rear command dial to flick between settings you have use the direction pad. I must say it's not very intuitive, and if you hesitate, the direction pad reverts to altering focus modes, AF point selection and exposure compensation.

Often I found myself really having to think of the correct sequence of buttons to push. What's more, operation in general is made all the harder by not having each button clearly labelled. Familiarity will improve over time, but the controls aren't particularly slick when compared to cheaper rivals. And in my opinion the manual focus wheel sitting behind the shutter release would make an ideal DSLR-style selector dial.

As you can see from the close-ups, the DP2 lacks an optical viewfinder, helping keep the body very compact, but an Leica-esque clip-on viewfinder, VF-21 is available as an optional extra. For grab shots it would seem ideal but for the fact the lens focuses very slowly indeed, and isn't particularly quiet either. Although we didn't have a DP1 available to compare side-by-side, it would seem that there's has been little improvement in this respect.

Again, like the DP1, the auto-focus system has nine user selectable points overall, with the centre point being the default, and for the most part I can't see users really changing this too often. It's far simpler to focus with the centre point, lock with a half-press of the shutter release, then recompose.

A manual focus option using the aforementioned dial can be used for lightening fast shots, but this technique takes some practice. You won't find yourself overlooking the manual override option though, especially when trying to focus in low light, as the DP2 auto-focus system isn't particularly sensitive and also lacks an AF-assist lamp.

The DP2 has other issues too. Trying to judge focus accuracy on the LCD screen is a bit of a hit or miss affair, as it lacks both detail and clarity. Refresh rates are low too, meaning the screen can appear blurred or even lockup momentarily if the camera is moved during composition. I didn't notice much in the way of noise in low-light, and it was reasonably legible in bright light, but it is prone to distracting reflections.

Writing to even a fast SD card isn't particularly rapid, but on one occasion the camera's activity light wouldn't stop until I removed the battery. I've heard of the DP1 locking up, but it seems the DP2 is similarly prone. I would also recommend buying a second battery, as I barely got 50-60 images from a charge.


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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