Very good for a certain purpose, not as an everyday camera

Started 2 months ago | User reviews thread
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Ilkka Hartikainen
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Very good for a certain purpose, not as an everyday camera
2 months ago

I got the Sigma "dp3m" after reading about its extremely good image quality. From the reviews I gathered that the camera was not very good otherwise, and this is in a sense true, but my experience has been all-round positive.

Using the camera is oddly a little bit like shooting on film, you don't really know what you got until you develop the images in Sigma's own software (Lightroom and ACR do not support the Sigma file format).

The controls of the camera are intuitive and quick to access. Everything extra is left out, but nothing is particularly responsive. You have to be patient with everything regarding this camera. Once you have properly framed and metered and focused your shot, you take it and wait until it has been written to the SD card. From the preview of the LCD you can not really tell whether the shot was good or not. It is a good idea to keep every shot unless they are completely wrong.

Once you open the images on Sigma's Photo Pro however you will be blown away by the stunning look of the images. They are unlike any other images, and they are extremely well suited for manipulation on the Sigma software, maintaining a lot of detail also after an export as .tif that can be further processed in ACR or Lightroom.

You have to understand what you are getting into if you get this camera. If you want the 75mm equivalent (dp2m and dp1m offer alternatives), extremely high image quality, relatively small body camera and don't mind really working for your photo (also post-process/developing the image), you will enjoy this camera.

My major complaint would not be the speed as this camera is not mainly for shooting moving targets anyway, but rather the bad quality of the LCD. The slow refresh rate and low resolution make manual focusing difficult even with the otherwise good zoom-in during focus.

The camera is not well suited to low-light situations as noise starts to creep in quite strong already in ISO 400, clearly visible (though useable) in ISO 200 as well. A tripod can of course compensate this problem. The battery life is not very great, but to help this the camera is supplied with two batteries. Camera does not have a built-in flash.

The foveon sensor is truly interesting, and I hope to still see it in future cameras, where the technical problems will get more resolved. But if you are like me, valuing portability and high image quality, the dp3m will be a good choice for mid-tele photography. But I suggest not leaving home without a backup camera. In my case I combine the dp3m with a Ricoh GR (and carry a small tripod or similar), and with these I believe I can get satisfying images in range of different situations.

 Ilkka Hartikainen's gear list:Ilkka Hartikainen's gear list
Sigma DP3 Merrill Ricoh GR Nikon D5000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Samsung Galaxy Note II
Ilkka Hartikainen's score
4.0
Average community score
4.0
bad for good for
Kids / pets
poor
Action / sports
poor
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
poor
Flash photography (social)
unrated
Studio / still life
excellent
= community average
Sigma DP3 Merrill
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