DP1 Reviewed at TOP (The Online Photographer)

10 04 2008

The Online Photographer has posted a long and impressive review of the DP1 (Sigma DP1: The Future Meets the Past), written by Edward Taylor. The gist of it is that Taylor really likes the camera, but laments that it’s a step backwards with regards to a few usability issues; namely, its slowness. He also describes the auto-exposure as “hit or miss,” and comments on the lack of image stabilization, macro, auto flash, and built-in optical viewfinder.

On the other hand, to no one’s surprise, he has really good things to say about IQ (image quality):

Can this little camera actually produce an image that is comparable to a DSLR? The answer is YES. I have never used a P&S camera that has produced images as “DSLR like” as this camera’s. I think the images compare well to images from your average consumer-grade DSLR. (Those cameras produce great images). It would be unfair to compare the DP1 to a Canon 1DsMKIII or a Nikon D3.

He further describes the images from the Foveon sensor as “smooth and luxurious.”

Personally, I am really turned off by the problems with speed. I really need for my camera to respond when I want it to respond. I do not want to go back to 2002, where focus lag, shutter lag, and all those other lags made me miss shot after shot because the camera was fiddling with itself while the scene in front of it dissipated. As Taylor says:

…let me make it clear that the DP1 is not and never could be what is referred to on TOP as a DMD (Decisive Moment Camera). Why? Because it is slow.

On the other hand, just when I’m ready to give up on the DP1, I read this, farther down in the review:

In my opinion, despite all the limitations, the Sigma DP1 can produce the best images of any small, light weight P&S camera that I have ever seen or used—and not by a small margin. Even at ISO 800, it produces results that are unimaginable with other P&S cameras at any ISO.

Still, I need to remember what my priorities are. Yes, I want the best possible image quality. But I demand responsiveness. I will not stand for a sluggish camera.

Unfortunately, these speed problems are probably beyond what can be fixed with firmware. That leaves me wondering if the DP1 and I have much of a future together.

Update: After I wrote this post I went for a walk with my Lumix DMC-LX2. I set it on manual focus and wide angle (28mm-e), and did some “from the hip” shots as I walked. I never know what I’m going to get when I do this, and most of the time it’s not great. But when I saw this guy looking up in the air as he spoke on his mobile, I just turned the camera and clicked. I think it’s a pretty cool shot. But would I have got it with the DP1? (Andrew, in the comments, thinks “yes.”)

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8 responses

11 04 2008
Andrew

If you use manual focus, there is no appreciable shutter lag.

Use aperture priority, set the lens to hyper focal distance, and away you go.

TOP was wrong.

11 04 2008
stephan

“But would I have got it with the DP1?”

>> response is : YES

I have the DP1 for 3 days, ok , it’s quite slow in low light with AF, but if you use the MF (which is pretty cool), the response is really immediate (ok it’s not as responive as my Nikon D2h, but images are really better, even at 800 iso…).

Image quality is amazing and never seen in a compact camera (the dp1 is now always in my pocket, and I take picture (crazy :))!

I ve tried the LX-2 juste one day before buying the dp1. DP1 image quality at 800 iso is much better than lumix at 200 …. and 100 iso DP1 image are incredibly sharp.

12 04 2008
jamie

I’m interested/confused in the high ISO issue. I am suspicious in fact. The unprocessed images from the camera show high noise at ISO 800. After processing in the PC software it reduces enormously. But I can do this on any image using Noise Ninja. To be honest it doesnt seem to blur the shot much, but nor does NN. I’m not sure it is really a low noise sensor.

12 04 2008
jamie

I am also interested in Andrew’s comment above. I dont see the point in having a focusable lens if you’re going to use it at hyperfocal distances all the time. Cheap giveaway cameras are focus free, effectively the same principle. I’m not comparing lens quality, but there is something importantly different between a lens capable of focusing being focused and hyperfocal use. Not least the attraction of portraits with a short depth of field.

Also the hyperfocal distance is often too distant for candid use.

12 04 2008
stephan

jamie >> for really neat 800 iso shot, just shoot in raw and let the sigma soft do the job (even in auto mode), result is really good.

12 04 2008
jamie

Hi Stephan, i did do that, hence my comment above about high iso having high noise from the camera, which is only resolved by software. thats simply not a low noise sensor. it seems to be a high noise sensor with software correction. i have no way of being certain, so as i said, its a suspicion.

12 04 2008
stephan

Ok Jamie, I think you’re right for the jpeg images, but in raw, all information, even in dark area, are still here. That s why I think the sensor is good. As I said, sensor deliver better high iso images than my D2h + superlative lense (17-55 2.8).

I think that having this quality in a camera you can put in your pocket is really cool.

With a faster AF and better autonomy (+ a 2.8 lens ?), I think it would be close to perfection ;)

22 04 2008
Luminous Landscape Reviews DP1 « My DP1

[…] Luminous Landscape has reviewed the DP1, coming to many of the same conclusions as we saw with the TOP (The Online Photographer) review last week. Namely, that the camera feels nice in the hand, takes outstanding photographs, but is […]

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