Sigma DP1s review

Started Jun 20, 2010 | User reviews
zygh
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Sigma DP1s review
Jun 20, 2010

I finally bought the DP1s a few months ago after
failing to find a 28mm lens compact film camera. I have
been shooting film (and digital) for a while and the
Foveon look was very intriguing.
The DP1s hit the price-is-right point for me and I
pushed the button at 200EUR. Fantastic price for this
unique tool!
The camera has a very sturdy build and a good feel to
the materials used. The thing I don't like is the
protruding lens when the camera is 'on'. It feels less
solid than the rest of the body. The battery
life is pretty poor and, as many other DP users say, just
get a spare one if you're not planning on recharging it
every hundred of clicks or so. To be fair, that is with
LCD usage to review and compose shots. The start-up
time is painfully slow as well as the shot-to-shot write
times (especially when shooting RAW).
Saying this camera is straight forward when it comes
to controls means that one knows the way around a
"general" camera. The DP1s is much resembling "in
usage" to an analog camera. The bad AF forces one to
think in hyperfocals and focus distance eye-balling. The
LCD is not there to help. It is alsmot imposible to
achieve accurate focusing in street situations and still
get an idea of framing. To top that the LCD goes
white-ish in direct (sun)light. That is what the VF is
there, perhaps, so one may have to think ahead and
include that in the package.
The lens is very good, pretty sharp towards the edge-
and very sharp in the center, no noticeable
distorsion but a little slow at F/4. Perhaps the price to
pay for such a snug package. The way to
compensate for that in low-light would be pumping up
the ISO. Unfortunately, the DP1s only has maximum
800ISO and not a very clean one at that, especially for
color shooting. Efectively, the DP1s is not a low-light
camera. I wish Sigma would improve this chapter via
firmware. At least they could make ISO1600 available
with the 1s, the sensor should be perfectly capable.
All of this having been said, the reason one buys this
camera is the awesome results one can get with it.
The Foveon definitely has it's own look and from time
to time when special magical elements combine, the
results are truly astonishing, truly magical. The X3
sensor needs light. The best output will be delivered at
ISO 100. This is the sweet spot. But the camera is
perfectly able to deliver stunning quality at ISO50 or
ISO200. Higher ISO is also very capable but more time
is required to work with it with regard to reducing
chroma noise and maintaining detail. SPP4.0 does a
good job at removing "noise" but detail is also lost.
This camera really is a very special photographic tool.
The very slow AF (even in good light), the crap Jpeg
engine and the outdated LCD are not enough to
dismay from it's unique capabilities. Something that in
digital is so hard to achieve: the natural look of film.
The DP1s has somewhat restrictive DR (compared to
negative film) but I definitely feel there is more DR
than in the diafilm I used. Having said that, the tones
are somewhat resembling of negative film with
colors sometimes (in good light and proper exposure)
can definitely amaze, they pop-out much to the like of
dia film. Truly exciting for a digicam!
There are tons of things to improve on the little
Sigmas but my impression is that they have the general
idea right. I like what Sigma is doing better than
micro4/3 or the n(e)x's of the bunch but, admittedly,
the functionality should back-up the price. In this
respect, I hope the 1x will finally deliver what the DP1
should have been from the start and that is decent
functionality behind a great package and a wonderful
sensor technology.

Problems:

Not yet but there have been weird freezes and DP1's
not starting up with some users. I hope that is not going
to be the case with mine. Sigma has to address this
issues more straight forward with their quality assurance
department.

 zygh's gear list:zygh's gear list
Nikon D40 NEX5R Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake +2 more
zygh's score
4.3
Average community score
4.4
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