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Sigma DP2 - Sigma DP2

By Joanne Carter



Our Score:


As expected there's the usual range of metering options, including evaluative, spot and centre-weighted, as well as ±3 stops exposure compensation. As well some options for customising buttons, exposure bracketing and a handy interval timer pretty much complete the features list. It's not as exhaustive or as extensive as you might imagine, especially when compared to the Canon Powershot G10 or Panasonic Lumix LX3, but the lack of gimmicks will appeal to serious shooters.

I've been saving the best for last, as, like the DP1, the results make all the shortcomings of the DP2 fade pretty fast. Picture quality at low ISO settings is simply breathtaking, especially when viewing the X3 Raw files using the supplied Sigma Photo Pro software. Colours are certainly very rich and have an extraordinary depth to them that's difficult to quantify, though the outright resolution can't compare to the G10 or LX3.

Better control of noise at higher ISOs is welcome, though the DP2 can't compete with the likes of Nikon's D90 DSLR, for example, when balancing the trade off between noise and detail. Colour noise levels are quite low at ISO 800 but the gritty luminance noise is quite apparent.

The ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 options are only available when shooting RAW, requiring the noise reduction of the Photo Pro software no doubt, which may be restricting for some users. While images at ISO 1600 may be usable in some instances, I for one would not want to shoot above ISO 800, unless it was absolutely necessary, and ideally, I wouldn't want to stray above ISO 400.

I was also expecting more from the evaluative metering option, but tricky lighting such as heavily back-lit subjects or low-key scenes were handled like a centre-weighted system, requiring exposure compensation each time.

The new lens is real highlight with by and large a very usable maximum aperture. Corner sharpness was very good indeed and fringing was only really apparent on high-contrast edges. However, while white balance was generally fine, I noticed some shots had a green cast in the corners of the image with lens open at f/2.8 and f/3.5. What's more it's difficult to correct.


For the enthusiast there can little doubt that the DP-series is appealing, and Sigma must be applauded for bringing the concept to fruition. However despite the many known issues of the original, the DP2 retains many of the same shortcomings, and even brings a few new ones to the table.

So while the DP2 comes tantalisingly close in offering big sensor performance in a small and very discrete body, I for one can't help but feel that Sigma has a way to go before perfecting its operation.

If you can get past its obvious limitations - the price will be a factor for the majority of people - then there is a lot that the DP2 has to offer. But you really do have to want it, and know how to use it to get the best from it. For most people, I suspect, that it comes as too a high a price to pay.


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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