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Monday, 01 June 2009

Comments

Until now I hadn't seen the camera from an angle that shows the length of the lens. Is this thing actually pocketable? ch

As a dilettante I have reconcilled (to myself) why I've switched 99% to DSLRs, especially for color. The Minoxes I carried for 30 years have been replaced by a succession of tiny digital wunderboxes with folded optics.

But for a pro/semi-pro whose end product is a B&W print, I fail to understand why you put up with a digital POS which could be better replaced with an Olympus XA, or Konica S3, etc, some Tri-X, and a 35mm film scanner.

This camera, too, offers a digital alternative to The Leica as Teacher exercise that worked Mike's last nerve a couple of days back...

Roger: So how does it compare to the GSW690III? ;-)

Charlie H:

That's not the lens. It's a LenMate adapter for a DP1 (a bit short for a DP2 if you stick a filter or auxiliary lens on it but fine for my purposes) with a 52mm thread Vivitar lens shade attached. Certainly not pocketable as configured! But very holdable.

Roger

Like Wilhelm, I fail to understand the urge to stress with this succession of "almosts" when you can get the exact film camera equivalent you want and just scan away until the great messianic DMD does, in fact, arrive...

"... length of the lens. Is this thing actually pocketable?"

I tink it has been accessorized. Looks like a Vivitar lens shade, and some kind of filter adaptor tube that the actual lense opens and collapses in?

Thanks for the second opinion on the DP2. With the ability to easily crop and re-frame a shot in post processing/photoshop now - I think a high quality fixed lens camera will have a good market. It sounds like the DP2 has some quirks though, so I think it will be a matter of where the pricing ends up to determine how successful the camera is. Again, it boggles the mind that one of the majors doesn't step in and knock it out of the park, but I imagine someday they will figure it out.

As for the comment about shooting BW film and scanning it, the reason why most people don't do that is the amount of dust splotches that get introduced in the scanning process which take forever to touch up. ICE dust removal during scanning does not work on black and white negatives, only color negative film, and without ICE you get a pretty messy digital file most of the time no matter how clean and meticulous you are. So when you add up all the time, costs and processes to shoot film (especially BW), scan it, and then touch it up to get a workable digital file, well, it's not worth it for most people on a consistent basis.

Probably part of my problem with the Sigma DP2 is one of value: $650 for the camera, say $150 for a viewfinder, plus more for an LCD shade (partly to compensate for the crappiness of the LCD), and more for a filter adapter and lens hood.... (I mean, we can forgive Canon for the badness of the G10's viewfinder and Panasonic for omitting it altogether on the LX-3, since they both have a zoom lens, but what's Sigma's excuse? Especially since the DP1 and DP2's LCD basically sucks.) For that kind of money, I expect a camera which works reasonably well out of the box. The terrible thing is that the DP2's issues were pretty much the DP1's issues as well, so there's not much evidence Sigma is listening very hard (they couldn't even be bothered to change the black-on-black labels).

Oren,

Quite a memory you've got there;) Much easier on the wrists and somewhat less obtrusive. Do miss that massive negative, though.

Jay,

In addition to the LensMate tube and Vivitar shade there's a Delkin LCD shade on the back and a Helios viewfinder up top.

"Until now I hadn't seen the camera from an angle that shows the length of the lens. Is this thing actually pocketable? ch"

As Roger already noted you're seeing a somewhat tricked-out DP2. Roger's DP2 appears to feature the LensMate lens hood, a 3rd party strap, and the external viewfinder. It looks a wee bit like a Leica M, doesn't it?

The smallest dimensions of the camera are shown in my review's photos. As soon as you power-on the camera its lens extends to approximately twice its power-off length.

Yes, the DP2 is somewhat "pocketable" but jacket/coat-pocketable, not shirt-pocketable.

"Quite a memory you've got there;)"

You don't know the half of it.

Mike

"I don't know if Sigma is listening to all of the yammering about the various issues folks are having with the DP2. I hope that they are and that they will take them to heart should they announce a DP3."

Unfortunately, that's exactly what people said about the DP1, and apparently they weren't listening very well.

Nice to see this second opinion. Together with Mike's earlier comments and Ken's original review I think we have reached a point where we have a fair and balanced evaluation of Sigma's second entry into this interesting camera category.

"fair and balanced"

Ouch!

Mike

"This camera, too, offers a digital alternative to The Leica as Teacher exercise that worked Mike's last nerve a couple of days back..."

A big, fat, resounding 'NO' to that. The reason for the Leica-only rant is because you have no automation and nothing even close to a pre-WYSIWYG viewfinder... It's all about you, and learning to see.

(I won't even get into the enormous amounts of automation that the DP2 has compared to any RF Leica...)

If you spent a year with a DPX the way Mike suggested with a Leica, surely sainthood would be tossed into the deal.

Count me in as one of the people who are very interested in the Sigma DPx series, but discount it every single time due to price.

I can put up with all the issues for the image quality, but I'm not paying ~$1000AUD for it. Issues that don't even show up on consumer P&S cameras anymore!

So I wonder which way it will end up?

a) Sigma gets it right
b) Sigma licenses the Foveon to someone who gets it right
c) Another big company gets it right with a Bayer sensor

I'd bet on C myself. Sigma has failed with all of their digital camera bodies so far.

(They've got some fine lenses though)

I'm curious to know what sort of comments ye olde daguerrotypists used to make when Eastman came out with the new stuff way back when...

Or... Why not take a drawing class to "learn how to see?" or learn how to compose? (Nice book: "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.")

"I'm curious to know what sort of comments ye olde daguerrotypists used to make when Eastman came out with the new stuff way back when..."

Probably "Thank God we don't have to die young of mercury vapor poisoning."

Mike

Jim in Denver, you do have an external viewfinder on DP2 which isn't exactly wysiwyg. Neither reviewer mentioned the quality of the viewfinder, though.

OTOH, the way I see it without using DP2, the problem with it as a teaching camera is its unreliability - focus hunting and the occasional (frequent?) photo with a green cast.

Can you capture the moment you want if the camera doesn't focus? No. Can you capture the photo you want if it's prone to attacks of green? No.

On a tangent, I could use my old Olympus 5050 kept just at one end of the zoom. At 35mm, the lens is 1.8 and is very nice. The camera has a manual mode. It has RAW and nice quality JPEGs. (I wonder if it could compete with DP2, cause the size of the cameras is apparently very close.)

But I don't like the focal length of 35mm. For me, it's neither fish nor fowl. The optical viewfinder is bad. Manual focusing even worse cause you get a pinky-fingernail area on the LCD where you're supposed to focus. And 5050 has a very noticeable shutter lag which definitely kills it as a DMD.

Wow, that strap looks marvelous. Where did you get it?

In my humble opinion, and with all due respect to Ken Tanaka, Roger Suppona's B&W flower photo offers stunning evidence of the Sigma DP2's ability to deliver the goods. I can stare at this photo for hours and I don't even particularly like photos of flowers. On the other hand, I suspect Roger is the kind of photographer who can make any camera look good, in which case the standard "your mileage may vary" rule should be kept firmly in mind.

I used to use an Olympus Stylus Epic film camera a lot and I miss it.

You say the DP2 is "good enough" but I think despite being very portable and capable of fairly high quality images it is the compromise of a fixed focal length lens that would eventually frustrate me too much. In my case "good enough" never is.

An interesting bunch of comments. There's no way that this camera (or any digital camera that I've handled) would qualify for the Leica excercise that Mike laid out. One of the interesting (and slightly ironic) aspects of Foveon sensored cameras is the beautiful B/W photos that you can create with them. After shooting with the camera for a long weekend, I thought it was surprisingly well put together and quite functional. I enjoyed it more than my wife's LX3 (and the images are much better).

And the fixed focal length is frustrating for those who use zooms or carry a bag of lenses (I do both). Until it becomes liberating! :-) That's part of the exercise that Mike spoke to...

ggl:

The strap is a ProStrap from prostrap.com. I've got them on the DP2 and my Panasonic G1. Great strap.

Gordon,

Wow. Thanks for the comment on my sunflower! I'm glad you like it.

Yes ... where did you get the strap :-)

"This camera, too, offers a digital alternative to The Leica as Teacher exercise."

Once more NO, and no again. This thing has shutter lag and almost total automation - meaning almost no control for almost anything that moves.

I just don't understand the point of buying a camera whose sole reason for existence is its smallness, and then trickin' it up with all sorts of gadgets -- external viewfinder, lens adapter / hood / whatever, LCD shade -- that, in combination, negate that smallness. Why not just use a small-ish DSLR? To each his / her own, I guess.

It's so frustrating to read about the DP. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that all of its problems can be attributed to Sigma's ineptitude as a camera maker, and not to prematurity in technology. Surely a better camera maker can make a camera of the same size worthy of the Sigma lens and APS-sized (or 4/3-sized) sensor.

I've got my fingers crossed for Olympus ...

"OTOH, the way I see it without using DP2, the problem with it as a teaching camera is its unreliability - focus hunting "
erlik:

Focus hunting is great on a teaching camera as long as it's your eye and hand doing the hunting.

What about a Pentax K200D or K2000 and one of the pancake lenses? That's not too heavy (<700g) and it's pocketable if you have biggish pockets.

sunflower photo is excellent.

About a year ago, I bought a DP1. I did my due diligence, and was pretty impressed with the quality of the images I found on the Internet. I figured I could live with the handling limitations. And a year later I think the image quality is on another level compared to any other P&S camera I've owned. I still use it almost daily.

But part of the reason for my purchase was the concept of putting my money where my mouth was and buying the only small digital camera on the market capable of that level of quality. I wanted to vote with my wallet. Naive, but I'm still glad I did.

But my point is that having done my part by buying a DP1 (and encouraging anyone with similar inclinations who knows what they're getting into in terms of handling and can afford it to do the same), I'm unlikely to pay a similar premium for another Sigma until Sigma shows some sign of actually addressing the usability problems in the DP series or advancing Foveon technology.

In terms of improving usability I'm thinking along the lines of adding some kind of IS capability, improving auto focus performance, and updating the LCD.

I wonder how the new Olympus micro 4/3 camera will turn out. I hope it will be what the DP2 should be.

I'm going to throw in another vote to shoot film. There are any number of cameras (pocketable rangefinders or small SLRs) that can be had for a modest sum and will do a better job than the DP2.

As for dirt on the film, you can eliminate it almost entirely with a few precautions: 1) mix chemistry and do final rinse with distilled water--available in 5 gallon bottles at my local, rural hardware store for a couple of bucks--and 2) use a drying cabinet...and keep it closed until you know the film is dry. In a pinch, a hanging plastic (metal framed) garment bag can serve as drying cabinet. I spend little time having to clean up my scans.

ggl:

The strap is a ProStrap from prostrap.com. I also use one on my Panasonic G1. As you might guess I like their straps.

Gordon,

Wow! Thanks for the comments on the sunflower. I am delighted that you enjoyed it.

hmmm maybe i missed it somewhere, but if this thing has an electronic shutter(meaning flash sync at all speeds), a hotshoe, and an f/2.8 lens - it could probably be a killer for daylight sync'd flash given it's image quality... wonder why the strobist crowd is not all over this one? is it only the price?

Although I have no interest in this particular camera at this time, Roger, I enjoyed reading about your experiences and observations with the DP2. Your review was obviously done with objectivity, and what more can a camera ask for in a review than a fair shake?

Mike - why settle for a subset of what you want? It is not as if you were asking for anything that a decent camera shouldn't provide, especially at that price!I was seriously considering the DP2 but the new Olympus M43 looks to address all the operational shortcomings and no doubt will deliver the high lens/image quality that Olympus usually delivers.
I wonder how many DPs will be on eBay after June 15?

Sigma has way too many apologists. They've screwed up every digital camera they've ever made. Their sensor is very intriguing, and they make some good lenses, but I wish they'd just license that Foveon to some other company that builds cameras properly.

Whoever it was that suggested carrying a small film camera as their point-and-shoot - I agree completely. You can have one for a pittance. I got a little Ricoh zone-focus camera for $25 earlier this year, and tote it around during the day just so I always have a camera handy. Takes me a week to shoot 38-39 frames. Then a half hour to process the film, dry it overnight in the shower, and scan it the next day after work. Highly satisfying! And not all that time-consuming, really.

It sounds a bit like the world of computing these days. Companies sell always new, more powerful hardware to stay up to date with new and more demanding software, which in fact very seldom improves user experience. At least for software there's the open source community, much more sensitive to a minimalist/high productivity approach, but what about cameras? I have a silly idea: a modular camera, that you can build on your needs like a PC. You don't buy 73rd autofocus point, if you don't need it. If cameras and electronics have to merge, why not going all the way? A bit like Leica a la carte, but less usless. Am I only dreaming?

@emptyspaces: The reason Sigma doesn't license the Foveon X3 sensors is that nobody else wants them. Foveon used to be an independant company offering their product to the open market. Sigma was the sole taker.

The X3 sensors have some interesting aspects (3 channel per pixel sensor, no AA filter) but overall are inferior to similar conventional bayer sensor. Sure you get the resolution of an 8MP bayer sensor from 4.7MP, but you need 15MP worth of sensor sites to do that.

The fact that Foveon never offered the sensor in the essentially industry-standard DX format also contributed to the lack of interest.

What kind of strap is that?!

First, arguing about what the camera cannot do, or proposing that old ways are best seems to miss the point of the DP2 altogether. It is a modern version of the small high quality fixed focal length camera. One is either content with the concept or one is not. Second, it is not perfect, especially if compared to the best features of each camera that was (or is) the favorite of the poster. Third, I have a Sigma SD10, and some film rangefinders, and I can tell you that the Foveon images are film-like, but only for lack of a better description. To suggest that Bayer technology is "better" than Foveon, which is the way I read most of the posts on that topic, is just nonsense. The Foveon images are unique in their clarity and crispness. Foveon BW images also are superb, in part because there is no spatial interpolation (as required for Bayer sensors) and no AA (blurring) filter. As for price: How long are you going to own the camera? Two years, four years? Ten years? And the extra price over what one might consider reasonable, for a product that has no competition, spread over that term? How much is that?

Is the image quality of the Sigma really that much better than the LX3? Keep in mind the LX3 has a one stop lens speed advantage as far as ISO goes. The LX3 is very pleasant to use, I find.

To those posters who complain about the DP2 - how many of you actually have used one for any length of time (more than 10 minutes in a shop)? If you haven't, then what is your opinion based on? Reviews? I think there are two reasons to buy a camera. One is for snapshots and the DP2 is NOT for that. The second is for serious photography where IQ takes precedence over bells and whistles. The IQ of the DP2 blows the other small cameras out of the water. I agree that the AF could be better but so could the AF on every small camera. The UI is just fine to me, better than most, I think that this is largely subjective opinion. It can be used in fully automatic mode but can be used in full manual modes as well.
So what is important to you - IQ or bells and whistles? Are you a photographer or a snapshooter?

In defense of, er, somebody, it wasn't Sigma who picked Sigma to use this chip. It was Carter Meade. Why he didn't license it to, say, Canon, is beyond me. I've been waiting for years to buy a Foveon-based camera and it looks like I'll be waiting more years still.

Repeat after emptyspaces: "I wish they'd just license that Foveon [chip] to some other company that builds cameras properly."

There's no excuse for selling crap at these prices. Sigma, use your powers for good. You have the technology and the knowhow. Use them and clean up (at much lower prices). Keep screwing around and we'll all keep losing.

It sounds like the commenters that are complaining the most never started out in film. The subpixel interpolation (sometimes incorrectly called anti-aliasing) it the biggest problem with any Bayer, CMY, or other sub-pixel array technology. The camera is GUESSING as to what the LOST information SHOULD BE, especially when shooting black & white (which guesses on EVERY sub-pixel). The only way to almost completely remove the sub-pixel errors are to take the RAW image and combine the entire array into the single pixel that they represent (de-interporlating, if necessary). This would reduce resolution by a factor of at least 2 x 2. How many of you tout the interporlated resolution of the cameras you love instead of the resolution after removing the array pattern?

The Foveon [chip] may need it's parameters to be tweaked, but it is a new technology (vs. Bayers 30 head start) and the best thing for the market(i.e. we the people) would be to allow licensing of the technology and have the big chip manufacturers put their experience to this challenge. This is what is called a 'Disruptive Technology' and most big chip makers will try to either keep their existing product line better, aquire the tech, or squash it. I am glad that so far aquisition seams to be the course of progress. Pull your heads out of the sand!

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