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.