We are beginning to see pictures posted from the new Sigma DP2M, and we’re beginning to see judgments posted as well. So I have decided to repeat my comments on different ways of judging a new camera.
How to judge a new camera.
First of all, I hope you’re all aware of the limitations of judging a camera based upon pictures posted and then viewed on a computer monitor. Despite these limitations, for many of us this is all we will have as as a basis for our judgment, unless you want to simply take the judgments posted by those who do “professional” reviews. This actually has a lot to say for it, but even if the reviewer is competent, each person always has their own preferences and biases, and so many people will want to judge the camera on what they themselves see posted.
Beware the medium.
My comments here reflect my own point of view and so I will start with that.
These are my opinions.
I believe no camera is perfect. No picture is perfect. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to decide where imperfection comes in. It may be a serious defect in the camera/lens, but it may just as well be a problem in processing (and here either because of the skill of the processor or problems with the processing program), or in artifacts introduced by the posting process itself, etc.
Nobody is perfect.
I also believe the approach you take to making a judgment about a new camera will have a tremendous impact on your judgment, and may very well have an impact on people reading your judgment (else why bother to post it?).
The observer has an impact on the observed.
My approach is and has always been to look not for defects but for what the camera can do well. My main interest is IQ, and at this point in the very subtle quality I have found captivating in some of the images produced by the Foveon/Sigma cameras. Does the new camera produce images with this IQ, and are the images good in other ways as well. Since I already have earlier models of Sigma cameras the question I have now is: “does the new camera improve on the IQ of these earlier cameras or not?”
Look at the bright side.
Taking this approach does not mean I ignore defects. And there may very well be defects so serious that I will not even consider buying the new camera.
Don't completely ignore the dark side.
There is another approach which does focus on looking for defects. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in and of itself, and it will almost always be successful since no image is perfect and no camera is perfect. And it’s very important that defects be clearly identified, especially since the first units sent out for use by the public, no matter how carefully tested, may have defects that may well be corrected by Sigma (though never as fast as we would like) once they have been detected (and beta testing will never detect everything).
What I do object to is jumping to general conclusions about the overall quality of the new camera on the basis of the detection of a single defect (or a number of relatively minor defects) in one image, or in relatively few images.
Each time a new camera comes out we have dramatic announcements by people who say that this or that defect in an image(s) is a fatal flaw, or a deal killer, and they will not buy the camera. This is already happening with the Sigma DP2M.
People who make such judgments, when challenged, often saying they’re just expressing their own personal opinion. The problem is that such opinions, when stated with such passion, often lead other people to agree with the judgment before they look at the quality of the evidence behind the judgment. And no matter how many people point out the limitations to that evidence, the effects of negative judgments are extremely hard to counter.
Because people often don't think and just follow.
With luck, in the case of Sigma cameras, people have seen these unqualified generalizations appearing with each camera and may now not be as susceptible to the effects of them as they might be if the pattern was not so depressingly predictable.
Sigma people don't seem to be too prone to the above anymore.
I am not asking people not make negative judgments. I have been quite critical of Sigma cameras in the past and will continue to be so in the future if I ever get to the point where I can afford to buy new ones again. All I’m asking is that people have a good sense of how serious the defect is and not condemn the whole camera for a single defect, especially not before we find out what the cause of the defect is and whether or not it can be corrected.