I have to admit, this is a review I've been looking forward to writing, for two different reasons. After being off work following an operation it's the first new camera I've had a chance to play with for more than two weeks. Also, I've managed to miss out on reviewing the previous two Sigma compacts. Jamie Harrison reviewed the original Sigma DP1 for me back in 2008, and Joanne Carter reviewed the DP2 while I was on holiday this time last year. Our two occasional freelancers had mixed opinions of those cameras, so I was understandably keen to test the new Sigma DP2s for myself.
As a company, Sigma is better known for its highly acclaimed and very popular range of digital SLR lenses, available with mounts to fit all the major DSLR brands. However it has also made a number of cameras under its own name, starting with 35mm film SLRs before moving on to digital SLRs, and launching the DP range of compacts two years ago. All of Sigma's digital cameras use the unique Foveon X3 sensor, a technology which the company now owns. The X3 sensor differs from conventional CCD and CMOS sensors because it captures full RGB colour at every photocell site on the chip, rather than using brightness sensors and a colour mask filter. There's a fuller explanation of the technology here, but suffice it to say that in theory at least the X3 sensor should be able to produce something like three times the level of detail and colour depth of a conventional sensor, and also has an advantage in dynamic range.
Like the DP1 and DP2, the DP2s uses a 20.7 x 13.8mm X3 sensor (slightly smaller than APS-C but larger than Four Thirds) producing a final image resolution of 2652 x 1768 pixels, with approximately 14 million photocells in three layers. Whether you call that a 14 megapixel sensor or 4.7 megapixels is largely a matter of semantics. As we'll see later, it's the results that count. What is indisputable is that the DP2s is a very expensive camera. It currently sells for £539.99, the same launch price as the DP2 and only £10 less than the original price of the DP1. Both of the earlier cameras are still available, with the DP1 currently selling for around £380 and the DP2 for £485, so don't expect the price of the DP2s to drop by much. There are a number of very good digital SLRs that cost less, so those results had better be worth it.