Is a DP right for me?

Started Jul 29, 2013 | Discussions thread
streeteyes
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Re: Is a DP right for me?
In reply to WT21, Jul 29, 2013

First the pluses: Extraordinary image quality. Bar VERY few. The output rivals cameras with much higher megapixelage (if there is such a word) and cost. The catch is, this amazing IQ ONLY applies to images shot at ISO 400 or lower. Above that you want to reach for strangle yourself. BW, on the other hand, processed through Sigma's highly polarizing (and I don't mean light-wise) proprietary software SPP can yield spectacular results at ISO's as high as 3200! The thing is you are advised to use only the blue channel information for reasons that are too early to explain here.

The lens on the DP2 and DP3 is off the charts with many (like LL's Reichman) saying the quality is as good as the best from Leitz and Zeiss. The lens is perfectly matched to the sensor. Also, since it's a sealed system you don't have to worry about dust on the sensor. The jury is split on which is the sharper lens: the 30 (normal) or the 50 (short tele/macro). The 19mm (wide) lens is also ridiculously sharp but most folks seem to compare it to the other two DP lenses and it's simply not as sharp.

Under diffused light conditions the images have a surreal 3D quality that many have become quite enamored. The DR is very very good.

The menu is great. Somebody at Sigma obviously listens to what photographers like. No extras. No odd camera effects. That's left to photoshop. It's a simple, PASM with just the right number of controls, all very well implemented for speed.

The camera is solidly made. But buying a grip from either Milich or Really Right Stuff really helps the geometry and the mass.

Now the minuses: As I mentioned all that incredible image quality applies ONLY to color shots at ISO 400 and lower. Above that you'll wonder why you bought the camera. The noise and weirdness is truly a sight to behold. (But, as I also mentioned, BW is actually quite good up to ISO 3200 under certain conditions.) While the sensor is a 14.6 MP APS-C sensor the files have 46 MP of data and as a result are HUGE.

Now even though the camera has a pretty speedy processor what you don't realize is it has to process an avalanche of data in each and every shot. That's why shots in RAW (highly recommended) take about 7 - 10 seconds to process even onto the fastest SD cards. (The good news is the buffer allows 7 shots.) Since the files are triple the size of typical files that means for every typical FOVEON file that's like processing THREE Bayer files on a typical camera. That means the smallish batteries the camera last about a third as long per charge as a similar camera. That's why you might have read that it's advisable to buy at least two additional batteries beyond the two that Sigma gives you since most people are averaging about 70 - 115 shots per charge.

While the lens is f2.8 due to the ISO caveats you're pretty much restricted to sunny day situations or available light with a tripod. The sensor is EXTREMELY sensitive to even the SLIGHTEST movement and is mercilessly unforgiving.

OOC jpgs are not the way to go. Your best results are using SPP.

The AF is very accurate in decent light don't expect m43 or DSLR speeds. In lower light it will hunt but if you find a highlight it will lock pretty well. MF is actually quite good.

SPP: Ahhhhhh...the bane of many Foveon fan's existence. Some love it. Most loathe it. It's tedious and plodding and previous iterations have been known to crash unexpectedly. BUT when it comes to processing Foveon files it's the ONLY game in town. The good news is, if you do know how to work it, it's actually pretty good. And watching images materialize right before your eyes is quite magical. Most people seem to adjust the exposure to -.3 and fill to +.3 (but minor adjustments do help). Sharpness is either best at between -2.0 and 0 (although some actually push it to +.5). Color is best left at neutral but portrait will warm things up if you want that and landscape really pumps the greens. Noise reduction is also pretty good. Luminosity keeps grain at bay and in the software's unique BW mode you can actually adjust luminosity and grain randomness to achieve some really romantic film-like looks. Some folks do the minimum in SPP (basic exposure and NR) and output 16 bit TIFF's to LR (or PS or PSE) for final tweaking, cropping or whatever. The files are VERY robust and workable. Others do a little more.

Yes, it is slow to use in many situations but if you do get the camera you can do as much or as little as you like. Your other cameras are great all rounders but once you get addicted to the Foveon images you might find yourself grabbing the DP more often than you think just to make sure you to get at least one shot in that unique Foveon way.

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Life is an infinite series of moments called now. My job is to capture them.

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