Friday, January 25, 2013

Sigma DP1 DP2

Sigma DP1 - DP2

Sigma introduced the high density pixel Merrill a few months ago. I've been using the original DP1 and over the past year the DP2 now and again. I won't get to sample the Merrill any time soon but I really like both the older camera's rendering. I've learned to shoot RAW only and consider it much like a film negative and develop the result either in Sigma's own Photo Pro which works fine or use Photoshop and Photoshop RAW. I mostly use Photo Pro, which is available 24/7 online from Sigma. You can download for free. Since it only works with Sigma's RAW format, they know you're using a Sigma camera or at least developing a Sigma camera's output. I am selling the DP2 this week, which prompted this post. I picked it up used a year ago at a good price and am now selling it for basically what I bought it for. The DP2s is the model I got. It's controls and interface are greatly improved over the original DP1 and it's a 40mm, f2.8 camera rather than the 28mm, f4. I still have a DP1 and will be keeping it as I got it really cheap and it's a great camera to shoot when you're out and about. It ain't quick and the interface is poor but I'm used to it and it doesn't really bother me. Over the years I've come to like the 35-50mm prime over the 28mm but you just move in closer with the 28mm, if you can. Here's the DP2 I'm shipping today.
Sigma DP2s
The finder is good but not critical to how I shoot. The screen on the DP1 is fairly poor (the DP2 is better), but you can see what's going to be in the photo. Most of the inadequacies of the Sigma's, especially the original DP1 don't really bother me. I appreciate the s and x models and the DP2's improvements but the output from the 1 is as post process workable (for me) as the latest models (prior to the Merrill's). I cover both cameras with gaffer's tape on all the slick surfaces I handle, including the shutter release button. Even though Sigma has put bumps on areas your fingers contact, the gaffer's tape makes the camera more secure feeling. Not sure why they make them out of shiny, slick metal but it is what it is. Maybe Michihiro Yamaki knew?

The 2s has white & red on black lettering, which you can see. The original DP1 is black on black and is very hard to see. Here you have some dedicated buttons, including the QS for quick select menu which gives 8 different settings to set with the up, down, right left menu buttons. It works well. The old menu button on the DP1 works okay too, for me. I'm used to it. I shoot AV, wide open most of the time, ISO 200 most of the time up to 1/60th. The DP1 won't focus in really low light but again, I'm used to it. Here's a few shots from the DP1.
UARK Fine Arts

Former Razorbike's coordinator riding a bike he made that also churns ice cream (the ice cream bucket is just visible in front of his left foot) and pulls a chariot. Don't want to try it going uphill unless you are Clint. Hey, Clint.

Shot out the window of the gallery through a screen. Great DR.

Current Razorbikes crew. Hey, Jamie.
Obligatory cameracide shot. 28mm f4. DP1, as are the rest.

Most of the shots are from the University of Arkansas campus, where I worked for the past six years. Some include friends who worked with me in the Razorbikes program, a bicycle recycling program. The foveon sensor renders uniquely vivid colors. The lenses are sharp. The DR is high. You can stretch the development of the RAW file in lots of directions. The files are capable of being printed at fairly large sizes. The sensor is big compared to the size of the camera. Sigma was the first to put a larger sensor in a small camera. The design still holds up. The out of camera jpegs are meh. The white balance options in camera are inadequate to the task without a custom WB but even that isn't always good. But you can tweak the RAW to whatever white balance you feel comfortable with post process. This is the strength of the Sigma camera. Shoot RAW like film and then develop in the virtual dark room. It's actually fun to get home and look at the RAW negatives and upsize them (they'll go 2X easily) and adjust the exposure and white balance. Once they pop into place the shots are amazingly good with a custom look all their own. All in all a photographer's camera. Most casual shooters will be frustrated with the camera. When I coded, we called innocuous bugs "features." If you really like photography and can pick up one of these used Sigma's cheap, I highly recommend it for days and weeks of shooting pleasure, assuming you can rationalize the Sigma's "features." If the Merrill's are flawed, I might get to shoot one in a year or two. I can't wait.

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