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Thursday, 12 February 2015


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I agree with your comments on Sigma "sleepers".

My Sony A6000 gets used with a brace of Sigma 19/30/60mmm f/2.8 DN Art lenses. When I first purchased the A6000 I thought it might need one of the Zeiss zooms, but after buying the Sigmas (for cheap, mind you) I've not seen the need.

If Sigma issues the new 14mm in an E-mount you can rest assured I'll be near the front of the line to buy one.

At the risk of griping, medium format is easier to use than those Sigmas. Yes, the lenses are great but that software....

I understand why the Sigmas have fixed lenses—they're perfectly matched to the sensor, and they probably have much finer tolerances that way. But it feels like you'd start looking like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now (https://cinephiliamedia.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/apocalypsenow.jpg) pretty quickly if you wanted more than one of them.

I have craved the use of this camera through a number of its iterations, the problem and the reason I have yet to experience the camera is due to the poor software provided for raw file processing. I could not, nor do I want to, shoot anything other then raw files. I get as much enjoyment in "developing" the raw files as I do in taking the images. The thought of messing about with terrible software as well as the need to have to work outside of my regular workflow has stopped me ever considering buying this camera. Sigma should have realized this long ago and released there Raw file specs to other companies (if technically possible due to the unique foveon chip) and I am sure they would sell many more cameras. Maybe the fact that not many people use the camera is part of its uniqueness, or the idea that you have to work harder for there image quality.

Not much reason to feature this, but: I bought a cheapie used Sigma DP2 in 2013 and once I learned to use it, I was spoiled for my other cameras! I have since acquired (again, used) a DP2M, and when it is good, it is very very very good.

The Sigma experience has turned me into more of an image quality enthusiast than before. I have two other cameras, but the Sigma always beckons as the special-for-me camera of choice, even though I use the others to document vacation trips and family events, photos meant more for sharing.

Simon-of-the-Desert. Priceless!!! Although I do have many outstanding desert images from my Sigma's...

For those who hate the software (and the Quattro files do try one's patience)---I believe that Sigma has been willing to work with other commercial vendors. The issue is that the entire processing pipeline is different than a typical CFA camera, and it's a non-trivial task to build it into Lightroom (for example). It's not a plugin with a different color space. What I'd like to do is see them up their game with a small team of outstanding developers. At one time, the software development was outsourced (version 3, if I remember). That did not end well.


Is there a camera attached to that lens? ;)

Mike - I remember a while back (before you were busy moving TOP world HQ) you picked up a second hand DP2M. Please correct me, but apart from one shot I don't remember you ever writing a "review". Was it a keeper or did the software drive you to distraction? Me, I love mine, but I'm the slow methodical type.

It's a poor man's digital super wide camera.

Very similar to Friedlander's Hasselblad Superwide i.e. a Carl Zeiss Biogon 38 mm f/4.5 lens on a Hasselblad non-reflex ("mirrorless!") Superwide body and a 6x6 back with an OVF or sight on the top. Previously mentioned on TOP:



And for his "America by Car" photos in New York Times


I'm sure if people treat it like a medium format superwide i.e use it outdoors in daylight, expect it to be slow, and expect a limited number of shots before a battery change it will be fine. Shame the sensor isn't 1:1 aspect ratio.

I wonder how much distortion the Sigma lens has? The Zeiss Biogon 38 mm had very little and that was part of it's magic along with the tonality that the large negative allowed. Given the f/4 aperture (to limit the size of the elements at the front of the lens) and the length of the lens it seems that this is something they may have optimized (rather than leaving it for software correction).

The B&H link has some amusing text: Equipped with a 14mm f/4 prime lens, this camera provides a 35mm equivalent focal length of 21mm for super wide-angle shooting. Its maximum aperture of f/4 can be used to create separation of a subject from its background.

I suspect the text author adds "to create separation of a subject from its background" as a reflex given the fashion for "teh blurry" in selling cameras.

The whole point of using a superwide lens (especially a 14mm lens on an APS-C sized sensor) is that it has a very large DOF so as not to create separation and to flatten the image.

Though curiously depending on subject (and composition) you can get a feeling of solidity to a single close central subject (e.g. Friedlander's "superwide portraits") or a feeling of compressed flatness for a more distant subjects or foregrounds that extend across the whole image (e.g. Friedlander's "bushes in the desert" photographs).

Hmmm, I wonder if Sigma is planning on bringing that 14mm lens to other mirrorless lens mounts? The other Sigma DP lenses are available for Sony and micro 4/3. It would probably be most interesting on an APS-C mirrorless camera (like the Sony or Fuji).

They have a 21mm OVF for it too: the OVF-51 so you can frame in the sunlight.

The whole point of using a superwide lens (especially a 14mm lens on an APS-C sized sensor) is that it has a very large DOF so as not to create separation and to flatten them image.

Though curiously depending on subject (and composition) you can get a feeling of solidity to a single close central subject (e.g. Friedlander's "superwide portraits") or a feeling of compressed flatness for a more distant subjects or foregrounds that extend across the whole image (e.g. Friedlander's "bushes in the desert" photographs). The former seems to also require good tonality to get the feeling of "thingness".

Curiously Ming Thein reviews the DP2Q today. It's an interesting read for a particular camera.


As usual some comments he makes aren't right: "it’s worth noting that the multilayer architecture of the Quattro sensor means that its color accuracy is noticeably better than any Bayer camera; it doesn’t suffer from odd clipping or tonal inaccuracy in only very slightly saturated areas."

The color fidelity of "differential absorption" multilayer sensors, those,like the Foveon, that don't use dyes, is worse than CFA sensors. This is a problem with all sensors, single or multilayer, that don't use dyes to tailor their color response to precisely match the human eye's color response.

Color fidelity also gets worse with low photon count ("high ISO") performance as noise from each layer is mixed into each color. This doesn't happen as much with CFA sensors though noise does mess up color interpolation. This chrominance noise and the increased luminance noise are the core limitation of the Foveon sensor at "high ISOs". I'm impressed that they're doing as well as they are but they've pretty much hit the limit of what they can do with this type of sensor.

That said, despite their problems, I do like that Sigma is continues to try something different from the other camera makers.

A response to Richard about software. SPP 5.5 works with Merrill files and is faster in my experience than SPP 6. Iridient Developer can also "develop" Merrill raw files, and is much more full-featured than SPP, although colors can sometimes be off. I use Photoshop and Lightroom for most of my workflow. If I use SPP 5.5, I do the minimum -- mostly Exposure, Color balance, X3 Fill Light, and perhaps a bit of Shadow and Highlight. Then export a 16-bit ProPhotoRGB and open in whatever is your normal workflow. It's really not that bad. Note that SPP 5.5 does not work with Quattro files.
I started on this road by renting a DP3M from LensRentals.com I've since bought all three Merrills. The image quality, under the right conditions, really is something else.

Sleepers? Not hardly. They're extremely well known.
Medium format? Again , sorry no. Real medium format is not only easier but obviously better. And I'm not talking about digital.
Although I admire Sigma, you might as well take a real step up and just shoot film if you're going to put up with the hassle of the DP series.

I wish I could put into words my Sigma little camera experiences. Their auto focus speed is abysmal; 6 or 7 shots might not be focused correctly while shooting snails. If you dare say, "why not just manual focus?" I will just give you the dirty look of a person well versed in the 42 step process it takes to get into that option; and then out of it.
Do you like to chimp? Not with these cameras in half moonlight or brighter.
Will you be regularly shooting vast landscapes during a 0mph windy day? if the answer is no, you will not get your shot.
I honestly don't mind the raw processing software though; but only because my work schedule allows me 3 days off a week. It is intuitive, it is built around sliders, and you can 'pop' pictures with their software alone. Seriously, I have made beautiful prints with using only the X3 software. Those 3 days off I mentioned though? I use two of them per batch of pictures. I will make some slider adjustments that I know are needed (because of experience) all at the same time, go in the kitchen and french press a nice batch of coffee, and then come back to feed the damn gerbil that runs the Sigma software some more pellets so that it might spin the goddamn wheel that runs the software so that in an hour or so I might see the first results. I may exaggerate a bit, but ask any Sigma user if I have stretched the truth, and they will show you the gnaw marks on their fingers from hungry gerbils.
Unfortunately, for me though, I go out on every family hike with a flavor of the year camera slung over my shoulder and my Sigma dp 75mm (now) around my neck on a very short 550 nylon cord hand made strap.
When I nail a shot with that goddamn camera, it is always achingly beautiful. On screen, it looks special; on print, (simple Canon inkjet) it is breathtaking. People, trees, snowscapes, mountains (I live in Denver - tons of opportunity) will come out amazing, only if you have the will.
This is not the simple, "Oh yeah, I have six kids. I have the patience of a grizzly fishing for salmon." This is the, "Goddamn Mother F*^$&%er piece of Fu$(%*ing S$%t mother f$%3cker I hate you because you missed it again fu$%#ing pice of S%!it" kind of patience that you need when using a Sigma small camera.
Don't buy this camera, you will hate it. Don't work the raw pics with the supplied software - your computer will overheat innumerable times while trying to shift a picture from "Cloudy" to "Sunlight".
Believe me when I tell you that you will hate these small Sigmas while they hang around your neck 24/7.

Is that a lens on your camera or are you just happy to see me?

I don't know what you are doing Kosch, or if your DP Merrill is somehow different to mine, but with the DP2M, manual focus is one button away, and works very well. Autofocus may not be fast, but it dead accurate. File writing is slow, processing is slow, and battery life is, well, short!

The results you can get out of it certainly are special. In spite of, or perhaps because of its 'character', it is the digital camera I most enjoy using.

I bought a DP1M a few months ago and I'm afraid I haven't had a decent result from it yet. Why on Earth does Sigma leave the DPP software in such a poor state? I'd read that it was bad news, but I didn't realise just how bad.

I'll persist and no doubt I'll learn to overcome its faults, but boy, I'm not getting the results I expected so far.

Yes, the SPP software is slow, clunky and frustrating. Yes, the DP2 made a terrible grinding noise as the lens extended. No denying it, the colour above ISO 400 is terrible. And yes, AWB is poor and you'd better watch those highlights, because once clipped, always clipped. And yet... The DP2s and DP2M can make images of limpid clarity and depth, and the lenses are super-sharp and the right focal length for more or less everything (40/45). Once you have managed to get it right a few times with these cameras, there's no way back to Bayer sensors - everything else looks too ...digital.

I have DP2M and DP3M, and shoot them at high iso, say 6400. Convert them the B&W in SPP. Remove the red and green channels. You can get outstanding monochrome images. Process in LR and/or SilverEfex/Dxo Film Pack.

Add a Hoodman Custom Finder Kit.

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