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Sigma DP2s - Features and Design

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Apart from its unique sensor the DP2s has several other unusual design features, the most obvious being the lens. It has a fixed-length (i.e. non-zoom) lens with a focal length equivalent to 41mm and a maximum aperture of f/2.8. This may seem like an odd choice, since the trend these days is for ever-wider focal lengths, but 41mm is close to the old SLR standard of 50mm, and produces a perspective that is very similar to that of the unaided human eye. As a result photos look very natural and optical distortion is kept to a minimum. The aspect ratio of 3:2 is the same as 35mm film and most DSLRs, rather than the 4:3 ratio more common in compact cameras. The DP2 has the same lens, but the DP1 has an f/4 lens equivalent to 28mm.

Physically the DP2s is almost identical to its two predecessors. The body is a rather plain looking matt black rectangular box with straight sides and right-angled corners, with the lens barrel protruding just less than an inch from the front when folded. The body is all metal and the build quality is generally very good, although the controls do feel surprisingly cheap for such an expensive camera. The DPS2 is large for a compact and surprisingly heavy, measuring 113.3 x 59.5 x 56mm and weighing 291g including battery and memory card. The large body is easy to hold, and a textured area on both the front and the back provides some grip, but the control layout is rather awkward. The two buttons in the upper right are poorly placed, and the thumbwheel on the edge of the top plate, which is used to adjust focus in manual mode, is also a bit fiddly. Some of the controls can be reassigned, but I hope that Sigma has a good re-think of the control interface for its next new model, perhaps replacing the focus thumbwheel with a rotary bezel on the lens barrel.

The menu system is also quite clunky and looks a bit dated by recent standards, and it is not helped by the relatively small 2.5-inch 230k LCD monitor. The monitor view can be magnified for manual focusing, but it's not really sharp enough for this to be particularly accurate. The monitor is at least quite bright, but the reflective surface can make it hard to see in bright sunlight.

We're so used to seeing 720p HD video as a standard feature on new compacts it's rather a shock to discover that the DP2s can only manage 320 x 240 pixel resolution with mono audio, albeit at 30fps. At least there's no need to worry about optical zoom in video mode.

joose

June 24, 2010, 10:09 pm

Would you pick one of these up for yourself Cliff? Maybe if you saw it cheap?

Cliff Smith

June 25, 2010, 12:03 am

Possibly, but with the state of my finances at the moment it would have to be very cheap. I'm hoping to have the new Sigma SD15 DSLR in for review soon; I'm keen to see what that can do.

Nicholas Pires

June 25, 2010, 1:59 am

I'd be interested to see how this compares to the sony nex-5 which comes with a 16mm pancake lens as part of the kit though it's focal length a wider angle equivalent to 24mm

Hedgeporker

June 25, 2010, 6:27 am

I can understand if Sigma is wary of relinquishing any control but since their cameras are so unrefined apart from the fabled sensor and lens, I would say that their cameras are screaming for some kind of high-powered partnership with another big camera maker.

joose

June 25, 2010, 1:05 pm

@Cliff - Know the feeling all too well..





@Hedgeporker - I'd love a Ricoh/Sigma mash up! :D

joose

June 25, 2010, 1:24 pm

@Cliff - The SD15 needs to be really on the ball with the price they are after!

Sapporodan

June 25, 2010, 3:09 pm

Does anybody know if Sigma will update the Foveon sensor at some point?


I love the sigma cameras and would dearly love to own one, but always felt it just needs a few more megapixels and that sensor would be truly great!





My personal camera fantasy would be a Pentax K7 with a full frame Foveon sensor. I would also like to stick one in a Leica but that’s a different story. . . .

GulfFish

June 25, 2010, 7:18 pm

I agree with Hedgeporker, if Sigma is on the ball strategically they should be looking for a pertnership with one of the big dogs who could design and build a super compact around the sensor and lens.

robert e

June 27, 2010, 2:55 am

Noise is one thing, but would anyone care to address the significant color shift between the ISO 100 and ISO 800 examples? If image quality is the DP2s' raison d'etre (and for me that includes glorious color rendition) then aren't situations that significantly compromise IQ worth special notice?

Cliff Smith

June 28, 2010, 11:54 pm

robert e - a loss of colour saturation at higher ISO settings is common to most digital cameras. It is a symptom of increasing noise, or rather a reducing signal to noise ratio.

Hedgeporker

June 29, 2010, 6:00 am

@joose - Ricoh/Sigma mash up was also in my thoughts, but my feeling is that they will end up bickering about whose name gets to go on it precisely because they seem to be on rather similar frequencies. Or maybe Ricoh could just start knocking out a line called Ricoh Sigma with body and OS from the former, lens and sensor from the latter? I like the sound of this more and more . . . :D

joose

June 29, 2010, 1:16 pm

@Hedgeporker - They could simply make a module for the GXR. Test the water so to speak.

Hedgeporker

July 1, 2010, 8:25 pm

@joose





GXR probably doesn't have the broad appeal that would make the water-testing commercially viable. A GR Ditital Foveon however . . .

robert e

July 3, 2010, 2:51 am

Thanks, Cliff. It's not that the effect is unexpected, but that it shows dramatic in this sequence. Perhaps the jpeg engine is partly to blame and it is less apparent in the RAW workflow?

PV

January 3, 2011, 7:29 pm

Hi Cliff,


Just a question... you're the same who made the dp1x review... they are supposed to be more or less the same stuff, apart from the lens (what you say about sensor it's true for one and the other, I guess)... but you are much more negative with the dp1x then with dp2s. I was wondering about buying the dp1x, cause of the wide angle, but actually I'm not so sure anymore. May you explain me better what are the differences you noticed that made you change your mind about sigma stuff in so short time? It seems dp1x has worst low light performance (Iso and focus), worst working speed... what more?


Thanks a lot,


PV, Italy

Ed

January 5, 2011, 12:39 am

@PV: Well, for one thing Cliff didn't review both cameras. For another, they both get the same overall score. For a third, the dp2x has had two years worth of developments that have been added to it, so you'd expect it to be a better camera.





As to whether to buy a dp1x, I'd suggest it largely depends on whether you can get it at a good price.

Paul 32

January 30, 2011, 8:07 pm

@Ed: Cliff did review the DP1x in Nov 2010 - you are referring to the DP1 from 2008. The DP1x did much worse than the DP2s in Cliff's reviews. In particular, the key reason to buy the DP2s was its image quality, but Cliff seems to suggest the DP1x quality is more varied. I would be interested in knowing if there is a big difference between the two or if it is simply that the competition have improved quite a bit in 6 months.





A key consideration is that now the DP2s is available for £400 which is a bit more manageable, but the DP1x is about £500 - the same price as the Panasonic GF2 with lens.

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