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Thursday, 28 May 2009


Putting the choice like that, I'd agree. However, I don't believe in this day and age that we should have to put up with such choices. My wallet's not enjoying the experience either.

If I don't enjoy using a camera I'm not going to be inclined to use it, regardless of the image quality.

Does this mean you've given up waiting for Panasonic to come out with the promised 20/1.7 for the G1?

Try it out for yourself - in this age of internet reviews this is becoming a lost technique.
Too many people base their buying decisions on what they read online, then buy it online. Get the thing in your hands and see how it feels!
Good for you Mike!

That is one of my same justifications for shooting film in my OM system.

It's all about the image, not the technology. And I don't think I'd be out-of-line to say that the majority of images from the first decade of the digital camera revolution that will stand the test of time will not be from digital cameras.


Ah the "DMD", I think its starting to become a camera of mythic proportions.

I hear you, Mike. I'm currently working with a camera, a Ricoh GX-100, that has a fine lens and excellent handling and interface but is otherwise saddled with problems. The LCD viewfinder is only barely usable, useful sensitivity is limited to 100 with 200 usable in a push (in terms of the work I do), shot-to-shot time in RAW is only barely tolerable with the fastest cards I can afford...

But. The Ricoh is the camera that turned my (photographic) life around. Before, I was a competent amateur photographer with a number of varied photos that I was proud of and the occasional paying job locally. Now, I'm a fine art photographer (whatever that means...) with my stuff hanging in a local gallery and a number of coffeehouse and gallery shows under my belt. I've got many gigs of photos from my recent travels to work through over the next few months.

All cameras have flaws and quirks. So do all photographers. You work with them and and around them - the point isn't the tools but getting out there and doing the work.

I won't be getting a DP2, but if Sigma was to introduce a model with the previous DP1's wider lens on the new body I'd surely be tempted.


If the goal is only to take better-quality pictures, the DP2 also has to compete with DSLRs (not to mention existing and coming Micro-4/3 cameras). If the idea is to have a camera which you can carry around more easily and encourages you to take more pictures, then I wonder about the DP2 -- you're already giving up a zoom lens (there goes a bunch of possible pictures), but you're also giving up a camera which is fun to use.

The DP2 is only worthy of attention and consideration because it's the only camera in its class. Unlike (D)SLRs (and Micro-4/3 cameras), compact cameras are built around their lenses. Within the constraints imposed by the choice of lens (zoom range and aperture), size, technology, and economics, the G10 and LX3 are very good cameras. In contrast, within those constraints, the DP2 is quite a bad camera, except for its lens and more arguably its sensor (compared to similar-size sensors, the Foveon has pluses and minuses).

Loved your free use of the beautiful but at best obsolete noun 'perplex'.

I too have waited for the elusive DMD (didn't have a name for it until you came along with one). Considered the Panasonic DMC LX-3 (well the letters were close...) but couldn't even find a stockist with one to look at in the UK.

I was convinced I needed an optical viewfinder, still am provided it's nearing 100% coverage and reasonably accurate, so bought the Canon G10 in the end (77% view, but better than nothing).

I'm not disappointed with the Canon, but I know it's not the one. I'm also getting used to 'arm's length' photography - not so bad after all, but kind of draws attention to oneself.

Still waiting for the elusive DMD, but will be interested in your hands-on experience of the DP2 when you get it.

The images I’ve seen out of the DP2 are very nice. Unfortunately my budget just can’t support buying a camera that isn’t at least reasonably well built with mostly baked firmware.

I’m paralyzed by the thought of buying a compact camera too soon. I never thought I’d get caught in this particular bind but here I am. I sold my last compact, a Canon A640, last year because a viable large sensor compact camera was just around the corner. If only Olympus would get around to producing that micro 4/3 model.

As DMD stands for Decisive Moment Digital, I think handling, onubtrusiveness and reliability is just as important as IQ.
In his rewiew, Ken wrote: "After using the DP2 daily for over a week I found it to be a sluggish, noisy, unreliable, and generally charmless device".
If the decisive moment is long gone when the shutter finally clicks, its really not much of a DMD is it?

Given that reasoning, wouldn't you be better off with a compact, entry DSLR and a pancake lens?

I'll take a camera that I actually carry and use over something that makes "better" pictures but that I never use. The DP2 doesn't sound like something I'd use. I never used a view camera either.

Do you know what, I use a Nikon D80 and strove to get a high end(ish) camera for some time. It performs wonderfully and I have got some really fine results with it. But you know what, the heavy, very clunky, veeerry slow bridge Olympus e20 was a pain to carry and use but the results, a bit grainy and only iso80 jpegs, had a quality that left me breathless. The D80 somehow has no soul and this imparts to the pictures. I am in a quandry and looking for that elusive quality - DP2? hmmmm

Will you be getting the accessory viewfinder for the Sigma Mike? - must admit I couldn't consider it a real camera without.

BTW I once had the predecessor of that Exakta 66 (a Pentacon 6) and it wasn't that bad! Were you exaggerating for effect?

Cheers, Robin

I have stopped waiting for the 'DMD'... Only one using it is a centaur taking pictures of unicorns. Traded in my DSLR for a M8, got a little lens with it and haven't enjoyed taking pictures as much since I sold My Epson rangefinder. And they look good too!
Hope you get great pictures if you buy the DP2 Mike.
Best, Nick

I think patience is (still) key here, I'm very interested in that Samsung NX, maybe the Olympus, and maybe something one or two years down the road. If a more reasonable approximation of a DMD doesn't appear by then, I may just go retro with a Bessa...

But it had one of the best lenses I've ever used, and the results I got with it were just outstanding. I have some framed in my house to this day.

Could you show us some of those?

As an amateur who enjoys the actual picture taking, not just the result, I'd agree with Martin. A camera that won't do what I want, when I want, is not going to get used much no matter how good the quality. Of course, I also don't think any SLR or high end compact these days only gives "so-so quality at best". YMMV.

Exakta! My dad bought me one from a guy he knew at Seymour's Exakta in NYC in the 60s. My first SLR. A VXIIb (I think). Left handed shutter release, removable finder (which I replaced with a third-party metered finder), shutter release on the lens not the body. Built like a tank and just as heavy. I seem to recall that the body was wood.

Taught me the basics of photography. In the end, I traded it in for an Olympus OM-1. But not before I picked up a used Nikon S with a 50mm lens. I loved that camera and wish I didn't leave it with the ex-wife.

News! We are in 2009! And you know what? 1024x768 is the most popular screen resolution, followed by 1280x1024, 1280x800, 1152x864... Yet sites like this never left 1998 and a use font sizes that barely worked for 800x600 back then. Oh yes, you can zoom in the page but guess what? Images are distorted and being this a photography site...


New software is available that should take care of some of the problems mentioned in Ken's write-up


"Could you show us some of those?"

Not easily, because the prints don't fit on the scanner bed.


(P.S. Plus the scanner doesn't work, but that's an implementation problem, not a systemic problem.)

You're thinking of one of the 35mm Exaktas. The one I had was an updating of the old Pentacon 6 medium-format camera.

Check CameraQuest.com for more on the 35mm Exaktas.


Not easily, because the prints don't fit on the scanner bed.

Don't you have the negatives any more ?

I envy a friend who has all his films cataloged in hierarchically labeled beige folders. I just throw them all in a big box, usually the oldest are at the bottom, but that's not a rule.

But losing a negative, specially one that I'm fond of, would be a nightmare.

Yes, I have the negatives, but that doesn't do me any good in this case. The picture is the print.


Soledad -- off-topic a bit, eh? Font size and screen resolution are only loosely correlated, even leaving aside the issue of whether everyone runs their browser maximized on wide screen.

But anyway, if you use Firefox, you can set the text zoom independently of the "full" zoom (which scales images, somewhat poorly). I use an extension called NoSquint which gives easy and good per-site control.

I think Mike's post and the comments indicate that one man's meat is anothers poison.

As the owner of the DP2, Panasonic LX3 & G1, I personally feel that the DP2 produces the best image quality at all available ISO's.

It's slower, but not noticeably more so, than the LX3.

It's autofocus is slow, but I use a 40mm viewfinder and manual/zone focus and it responds instantaneously.

Autoexposure seems to be reliable and quick.

Build quality seems ok to me.

The G1 and the LX3 have autofocus problems, especially in street type situations, so I end up manual/zone focusing those cameras
as well.

Finally, there is something liberating about a fixed focal length lens camera with a top notch lens and excellent image quality, that demands you work a bit to get the optimum photo. This includes estimating focus distance, exposure, depth of field, etc. In todays world of cameras that can do everything for you without thinking, and which can produce an 80% picture doing it, it's kind of fun to have a camera that demands a bit of work, but can reward you with a 100% picture that you, as a photographer, helped create.

In spite of it's warts, if I was forced to choose only one camera of the half dozen I own, the DP2 would be first choice.

Oh, by the way, the camera is not as noisy as Ken implies. The lens does make noise during focusing, but it's not that noticeable. and the shutter is almost silent.

Mike, I remember the article you wrote in Camera & Darkroom about the Exakta 66; I almost bought one as a result but ended up with a Hassy which I quickly sold because the 6x6 format just wasn't a good fit. I believe it was the normal Schneider lens that you were so fond of.

Anyway, the DP2 seems to be an enigma. I wouldn't get one simply because it's a Sigma product. Back in the 80s I had a Sigma zoom lens literally fall apart in my hands. Ever since then I swore never to buy another Sigma product, and I haven't. If you do pull the trigger on a DP2, good luck!

This site is a TypePad template, basically. It has the maximum number of columns, and the center column is as wide as the template allows. Or at least, those things were true in June of '07 when I put the site together.

Just keeping the site groomed is actually a lot of work, although it might not look like it. I doubt I'm going to be making many wholesale changes just for the sake of change, at least not soon, although we might implement some incremental improvements soon.


Let me know when yours arrives, Mike. I'll send you two brand new (charged once) Sigma BP-31 batteries, still in their original packaging, to get you started. (You'll need perhaps a couple more to be ready for a full day's outing.)

Out of curiosity, We used to have compact cameras with 35mm film and they were usable.
Why can't we have something similar with digital ? What is the technical difficulty (If there is any) ? Is it just that a large sensor would make the camera prohibitively expensive ?

From what I've read so far on this site over the last year or so, we just got used to mediocre image quality from point and shoot that the market for good P&S was basically eliminated.

Hey Soleded - I'm at 1920x1200, and the fonts look just fine to me without zooming. Maybe a tiny bit on the small side. In any case, in some browsers you can zoom just the text (well, use a larger font) leaving the images alone - perhaps that's a solution for you?

I've got an Exacta IIA sitting in my display cabinet. Last time I checked it was in working order. If you promise to put one roll through it a year and show us the results, it's yours.

Mike, you just try to talk yoursel into buying a new gem. First I was shocked that I wasn't that secure in answering your question. But then I saw that there are other people who would also consider the fine feeling camera with "so-so" image quality. I put it under quotation because what is "so-so" today. You could take any entry level dslr with a small lens (if there is one at all, but for some manufacturers this is the case) and get great results. What's better here with the DP-2? Maybe I am missing something.

I think there are arguments for joy in usage over ultimate image quality. Otherwise there wouldn't be no Leica, only LF cameras. If I make no picture, there is no picture quality at all. With a shitty camera, I tend to make no pictures.

And why don't you buy an Epson RD-1 with a 28/2? This is a DMD with great IQ. I doubt the Sigma is any better.

But as I said, you just want it ;-))

>Yes, I have the negatives, but that doesn't do me any good in this case. The picture is the print.

How about taking a digital picture of the picture? May not be perfect, but better than nothing...

Soledad: as we are in 2009, no doubt do you know that you can set the preferred normal and minimum font sizes in the Firefox preferences.

Oh, and you can set and enforce using your preferred font at all time too, rather than whatever eyesore some hip designer who's never heard about eye problems have chosen. Do it - it's really, really great to have the same font and the same size no matter what website you visit.

Check out some DP2 images at http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigma-dp2/pool/show/

The proof of the pudding...

A couple of years ago I shot -ONLY- with my Digital Pentax DS (Mike, the one you loved)and Pentax 43mm LTD lens (eq. 61mm) for about two months.(about 3000 images)

I believe my composition skills improved drastically.

IMO, that combo was as close as the perfect DMD as I've experienced. And, I hope I can duplicate that with the new Pentax body. I'm looking forward to try the new small-again-body along with your favorite Pentax 35mm LTD lens (eq. 52mm).

These days when I shoot film, it's B&W with a 50mm lens. My 50/1.2 is always attached to my LX w/T-max 400 ;-)

All I can say is roll on June 15 - I see the Olympus M4/3 as being the DMD. Sigma had two shots at the target without any competition and wasted the chance to get in first and set a high standard. Sorry to say they have blown it - the lack of sales prove it - and that is the ultimate judgement by the market.
Heck, even Mr Hogan expects the Olympus M4/3 to succeed big time.
Just hope they don't over price it!!

I agree that small sensor alternatives to the DP2 provide so-so image quality and that the DP2 compromises usability features, but my choice in this dilemma continues to be to suffer with a bigger, clunky DSLR until the 'right' camera comes along. I have a small p&s that I use for a few things, but still bring my DSLR many places that I'd prefer a large sensor compact. (An f/2.8 or faster normal is fine for me). I've been using my 28/2 more and more frequently and it's the shutter/mirror sound that bothers me more than the size of the DSLR w/28. (In fact, I've even been using it with vertical grip attached more & more). We'll see what Oly has its sleeve.

Funny eh. I read this and clicked right through to the DMD article and I could have written it myself (provided I could write.)

The R1 was a great camera, a great idea, that unfortunately didn't see any heirs. And I'm getting slightly disappointed at what Pana is doing with m43 - lenses slow to appear and twice as expensive as 43 equivalents - that I feel the longing for the DMD again, and half-expected that link to tell me the wait was over. Alas... :) Still, here's hoping someone at Canon or Nikon will pepper the executive kool-aid with some shrooms and pass by them his idea to make an "EVIL" APS-C or even better a full-frame one!

"Check out some DP2 images at http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigma-dp2/pool/show/

The proof of the pudding..."

I went through almost all of those photos, and they confirmed my fears, I am afraid. Very few of the photographers or perhaps very few of the cameras were able to rend colors that were anywhere near accurate. Only Seng Merril was able to take an outdoor photo where the sky was even close to its natural color.

I don't know if it was the camera copy, the lack of processing, or the version of the RAW developer used, but almost all of the photos showed awful white balance, magenta reds, and a real problem with green tinging and flare. Many of the photos looked like forty-year-old color prints that had gone off.

The camera also took absolutely glorious B&W photographs.

Hopefully, a RAW developer will take on the not insignificant challenge of setting up a corrective color profile for the DP2 soon.

By all means Do It!
Shoot with the DP2...(or DP1) for a year.
I for one look forward to your images.

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