by Edward Taylor
I still stand by most of what I wrote originally. My main complaint about the camera then was that it was painfully slow. It was and it is. A few people wrote me to tell me that I really didn’t give the camera a chance to be fast. They said that if I turned off autofocus, and turned off auto exposure, and bought a super fast SD card, and used the rapid sequence mode (3 frames), and turned off the LCD, and didn’t use the flash, and made sure not to accidentally depress the shutter button halfway (which locks up the screen), then actually it was a pretty fast little camera. Well, I tried all those things; and for good measure even placed my DP1 under a small pyramid at night. Even the mysterious forces of the pyramid could not turn this camera into a speedster. With all modern day contrivances turned off, it was still slow—and also fairly useless as a camera. Clearly, this camera was not built for speed.
But you don’t always need speed. I adapted to its slowness. I was also not as impressed with the manual focus mode as some other users seemed to be, and I am still not impressed. Since my review, several more reviews have been written about the DP1. Most are in agreement with me that the camera needs some work in the areas of ease of use and speed.
I still believe the image quality is by far the best I have seen from a camera this small. In my previous review, I said that the DP1 has the best image quality of any point and shoot. My only real regret about my original review is that I compared this camera to other point and shoots like the Canon G9. The DP1 is small, but it is not a point and shoot and, when you think about it, it really isn’t pretending to be. It is not a Decisive Moment Digital camera either. As some astute readers pointed out to me, the DP1 is in a class by itself. What it is, is the only camera that you can put in your pocket and, with a little practice and the right conditions, produce images that rival the quality of those from a consumer-grade DSLR.
Not too infrequently, the Foveon Sensor will produce images that just look a little different than images from other cameras. I described these images before as smooth and luxurious. I wish I could describe them better or learn how to consistently get that smoothness and luxuriousness. It seems like all the right forces have to come together to produce it. To put it another way, every so often, the DP1 will give you a little gift of an image that far exceeds your expectations.
And I learned about Sigma’s customer service. One day, I grabbed my DP1 to view a photo on the LCD screen and as soon as the power turned on, the photo zoomed all the way in. The zoom button was broken and permanently depressed. I do not know how this happened as I was very careful with the camera. There was no visible sign of damage. I sent it back to Sigma for repair, and in exactly one week, I got it back, all fixed, and no charge.
Knowing what I know about this camera, I would buy it again because of its size and image quality and also, because the DP1 rewards my loyalty regularly with an unexpected "Foveon masterpiece."
Featured Comment by Mike Allen: "I also have a DP1 and my attitude is exactly the same as Ed's. Horses for courses—I don't take it with me for available light pictures of people at a party, to a lacrosse game, or for anything requiring speed or optical reach. I do actually have it with me all the time, though. I like the view camera comparison, and I liken it to having a mini-view camera in my pocket—if I'm prepared to be slowed down a little (and let's not exaggerate), I can produce an image that meets fairly high standards, and way above what most similarly-sized cameras produce. And yes, I'm among the Foveon Faithful—every once in a while it produces an image that pushes me way back in my seat. I'd buy it again in a flash. Do I wish they would fix the myriad problems? You betcha."
Featured Comment by Charles Maclauchlan: "Well put. I am somewhat new to digital, three years vs. a bunch with film. I was anxious for a small camera with a large sensor. I knew nothing at all about the Foveon sensor but have come to love the 'every so often gift.' Good turn of words. I noticed a quality not easily described but akin to film's subtleness with color transitions. In retrospect if this camera had the sensor I am used to in my Nikon I probably would have stopped using it by now...the other problems would be too high a price for compactness. This camera has replaced all other cameras for about 95% of my work. I'm just addicted to those 'little gifts.' "