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Sigma DP2 Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £539.99

Sigma was one of the first manufacturers to introduce a DSLR-like APS-C size sensor in a compact camera. But while that camera, the Sigma DP1, garnered praise for its lens and picture quality at low ISO settings, it wasn’t without fault. Many reviewers and users alike commented on the restricting choice of wide-angle lens, the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm, as well as more damaging aspects, including poor high ISO performance, inadequate auto-focus operation in low light, occasional lock-ups, poor battery life and more than its fair share of handling niggles.

As the design is unique among rival imagers, it’s also worth mentioning the controversial choice of the Foveon X3 CMOS sensor for the DP1. Sigma and Foveon claimed the sensor had 14-million pixel sites in total, though output is in effect a third of that figure resulting in a 4.7-million pixel image.

As the second iteration, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that Sigma has laboured to address some if not all of those issues. However, as Sigma has recently acquired sensor fabricator Foveon, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that the DP2 retains what appears to be the same sensor.

Be that as it may, improvements to the image-processing pipeline with the introduction of the new True II processor are promised, especially with regard to noise-levels at high ISO settings, focus operation, white balance, and exposure control. Indeed with the DP2 now sporting sensitivity up to a maximum of ISO 3200 (previously ISO 800 on the DP1), can we now expect the DP2 to be the low-light champion we always expected?

On paper it looks as if it might. Detractors cited the previous fixed focal length 16.6mm lens, equivalent to a 28mm, as too wide and, with a maximum aperture of f/4, a bit slow. The DP2 now boasts a new 24.2mm lens, equivalent to a 41mm in 35mm format and at f/2.8 is a whole stop faster.

Like the DP1 there’s a dearth of shooting modes, there are no scene-modes or full auto options, just the usual PSAM modes found on high-end DSLRs. One concession is the movie mode, but with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels it seems like an after thought, as does the separate voice recording option. Apart from a couple of tweaks to the layout, the DP2 mainly mimics that of the DP1. I prefer the new layout, particularly the altered position of the two rocker-switches for zooming in and out of the playback image. But in truth those changes are minimal.

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