Sigma DP1

Sigma’s DP1 is finally here and in the shops. I’ve borrowed one from a friend for a week now and it does impress in certain ways and is a let down in others.

Firstly, kudos to Sigma for making such a camera. The idea of using a larger sensor in a compact camera is genius. The problems with compacts is that they use tiny little sensors which means that there’s digital noise. This married to the fact that all the manufacturers are trying to cram in more megapixels just adds to the problem, often making shooting over 100 ASA an absolute no no.
The DP1 produces amazing files. At upto 200 ASA it looks just like an SLR file. The colours are superb as is the definition and lack of noise. Its maximum ASA is 800, which considering the fixed 28mm lens (which is superb optically) is a slow f4, is a bit stingy. This together with the fact that there’s no optical stabilization means that low light pictures without a tripod are practically impossible unless one is very steady. At 800 ASA, the image is noisy; however, its the best I’ve seen from any compact at this setting. I just wish that it went up to 1600 ASA.
Other problems with the camera are that the focusing is really really slow, and gives up totally in anything but ideal light. Its got an interesting manual focus dial on the rear which works well, but this isn’t the ideal solution. An AF camera should focus! The problems carry on to when you’re actually taking pictures. Its very slow when writing to card. It takes a couple of seconds to write to card after a single shot in jpeg. After a burst (which is a speedy 3fps), it takes almost ten seconds to write the jpegs to card. Whilst its writing the camera is unusable and you have to wait ’till its finished before taking any more pictures.
This is all a huge let down. I really like the feel of the camera and with the optional optical finder and lens hood its a joy to hold and is very comfortable in the hand. I’ve been really looking forward to this camera since its introduction; I really wanted to like it, but alas, I don’t.
The concept is great, and to be fair, its Sigma’s first attempt. I hope that they carry on producing this line and address the issues. I feel that the major camera manufacturers need to look at this concept and make their own.
To wrap up, if you photograph slow moving or static subjects, then this camera’s for you. If you want the perfect street camera to use in any situation, then alas, move on.
I’ll be sticking with my Canon G9.

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