DP1 Has 16:9 Mode

28 02 2008

On the first day of the recent PMA 08 show, the Imaging Resource Newsletter published a report of the Sigma DP1’s updated specifications. Given the level of anticipation of the camera’s overdue release, I’m surprised more people haven’t picked up on this. On the other hand, the specification changes were fairly minor. For example, weight went up by ten grams, and the top shutter speed dropped from 1/4000 to 1/2000.

One thing that really grabbed my attention – something I’ve seen no other reference to – is the DP1’s new dual aspect ratio; you can choose between the conventional 3:2 or 16:9.

That won’t mean much to many people, as the 16:9 mode is essentially just an in-camera crop. But it means something to me, because the camera I’ve been using for the past year is the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX2, which has a native 16:9 sensor. With the LX2 I also have the choice of shooting 3:2 or even 4:3, but I find myself leaving it on 16:9 for virtually every shot. I’ve come to love the wide, sweeping cinematic view that 16:9 provides, and one of my biggest concerns about switching to the DP1 was that I would miss that cinematic perspective.

I like the 16:9 perspective; very cinematic. (Taken with Lumix DMC LX2.)

You can argue that any camera can give you 16:9 because it’s just a matter of cropping. But just as some people prefer prime lenses over zooms because of the way they can pre-frame the shot in their minds, I prefer shooting in 16:9 instead of cropping to it for the same reason.

In a related note, I should add that the LX2 is a brilliantly designed camera. It makes use of physical switches on the camera for things like setting aspect ratio and focus mode (manual/closeup/auto). I really hate having to scroll through menus, so having dedicated buttons for certain tasks is a good design strategy. It makes for better usability. The only thing the LX2 lacks is a large sensor and an optical viewfinder. If it had those, I wouldn’t even bother thinking about the DP1.