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Sigma DP2s review




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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.


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


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.


June 25, 2010, 1:05 pm

@Cliff - Know the feeling all too well..

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


June 25, 2010, 1:24 pm

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


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. . . .


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.


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


June 29, 2010, 1:16 pm

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


July 1, 2010, 8:25 pm


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?


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


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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