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Sigma shows latest products at Focus on Imaging

By dpreview staff on Mar 6, 2012 at 20:01 GMT

We've been taking a closer look at the latest Sigma products, on show at the Focus on Imaging event in Birmingham, UK. A lot of the buzz at this year's show may be around the big new SLRs from Nikon and Canon, along with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Fujifilm X-Pro1, but Sigma is also quietly showing its recent announcements. The 15x3MP Foveon sensor-equipped DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill, along with the Digital Neo 19mm F2.8 and 30mm F2.8 lenses for Micro Four Thirds are all on show, so we decided to dig a bit deeper.

Sigma's DP-series compacts have always had a cult following due to the unique qualities of the Foveon X3 'Direct Image Sensor' that captures full colour information at each pixel location, rather than using a Bayer colour filter array. Previous models in the line have been somewhat slow, with slightly awkward controls, but the latest iterations use a completely new body design. Coupled with the larger and much-higher resolution sensor that's also used in the SD1 Merrill, the DPxM models look like they could be much stronger contenders for a space in enthusiasts' bags.   

Sigma's new DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill side-by-side. As with previous DP-series cameras, the two models  are distinguished mainly by their lenses - the DP1M sports a wideangle 19mm F2.8, while the DP2M has a 'normal' 30mm F2.8 (28mm and 45mm equivalent respectively).

Sigma's Merrill compacts are completely different in design to the previous DP models. They're rather unconventional in shape, with lens mounted towards the edge of the body. Most notably the lenses are now fixed rather than extending, and feature 'proper' manual focus rings. There's also a large top-mounted dial around the shutter release for changing exposure parameters (shutter speed, aperture etc), while the mode dial is replaced by a top plate button.

The two cameras offer identical controls on the back, including Sigma's familiar 'QS' Quick Set menu button. 

The back of the camera is much closer to previous DP models, although the up/down buttons and focus dial are no longer required. The screen is vastly improved - it's both larger and much higher resolution, at 3" and 920k dots. One other notable omission is the lack of a pop-up flash - apparently due to space constraints.

Sigma was also showing its 'Digital Neo' interchangeable lenses for Sony NEX and Micro Four Thirds. At first sight these might appear to be the DPx Merrills' lenses sawn-off and re-purposed, but delve a little deeper and they turn out to be entirely different optical designs. The DN lenses are simpler - the 19mm F2.8 EX DN uses 8 elements in 6 groups vs the DP1M's 9 elements in 8 groups, while the 30mm F2.8 EX DN has 7 elements in 5 groups compared to 8 elements in 6 groups. In retrospect this isn't entirely surprising - the DP cameras work with in-lens shutters, while the interchangeable lenses have to accommodate a longer back-focus distance due to the focal-plane shutter. The net result is that the DPx Merrill cameras will be a bit slimmer than NEX or Micro Four Thirds cameras with the corresponding primes mounted.

Here's the 19mm F2.8 EX DN and 30mm F2.8 EX DN side-by-side. Both lenses are pretty compact - less than 2" long - with the 30mm the smaller of the two.  Here's the 19mm with its bowl-shaped bayonet-mount hood. The 30mm doesn't have a hood - according to Sigma it simply isn't needed.

The Sony-mount versions of the Digital Neo have been available for a few weeks, and the Micro Four Thirds versions have just appeared. The 30mm F2.8 is being launched at a very attractive price ($199 / £169 / €199), and it seems reasonable to assume that the 19mm F2.8's cost won't be very different. We think these lenses will be particularly attractive to NEX users, given the system's current paucity of primes, along with the fact that the focal lengths make a bit more sense on APS-C.

We were able to have a quick play with the 30mm on a Panasonic DMC-G3, and operationally first impressions are positive - focusing is near-silent and reasonably quick. It's too soon to comment on image quality, though.

Comments

Total comments: 42
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Mar 11, 2012)

I've been to a trip with a Sigma DP2 and shooting almost all the time under very bright sun and beach. I discovered that for many purposes, I think it's time for Sigma to create a good EVF for the next iteration of the DP. Aside from not seeing the LCD in bright light,these DP Merrills would have worse battery life compared to the 1st Gen.

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (Mar 8, 2012)

make S1D with Canon EF mount, Iwill buy a S1D.

3 upvotes
unlearny
By unlearny (Mar 11, 2012)

http://sigmacumlaude.com/sigmacumlaude/yetanotherforum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=14

go to your local camera shop and say, "Do this" IS won't work, however.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Mar 7, 2012)

The DP2 Merrill, having seen really superb samples of the SD1 on Sigma's website, if the price is right, I would like to have this camera.

As a GH2 and GX1 owner, the 2 lenses, since they are slower than the 25 1.4 and 20 1.7 I currently have, I really have no interest in them, and I'm not sure why anyone would choose them over the existing Panasonic primes, price being equal.

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Mar 11, 2012)

If tested, I'm confident the Sigma lenses are better in terms of distortion and sharpness across the frame.

0 upvotes
Salvatore Castrovinci
By Salvatore Castrovinci (Mar 7, 2012)

Very good alternative..... I am waiting the price...... I hope not so exagerate as the First SD1.......

About the viewfinder I can should use, for the DP1m, the OVF of the old DP1.... is not so different as field image....... or not ?

Cheers

Salvatore

0 upvotes
Mike Davis
By Mike Davis (Mar 11, 2012)

I would think that any viewfinder made for a 28mm lens on a fullframe camera would work well with either the DP1 or the DP1 Merrill, given that they both have 28mm-equivalent lenses.

For example: The Voigtlander 28mm Metal Brightline Viewfinder

http://www.cameraquest.com/jpg6/VF%2028%20M%20B%201.jpg

http://www.cameraquest.com/jpg6/VF%2028%20M%20B%202.jpg

0 upvotes
jtan163
By jtan163 (Mar 7, 2012)

Sigma should enter the preimum CSC (e.g. Fuji X series, Oly OMD) market. I'd love a Foveon sensor changeable lens camera.
Also the CSC market, particularly the high end of it, is young enough that Sigma could get a real hold, which is not likely to happen in the DSLR market.

Ah.. having read more of the comments I see this idea has been raised... oops.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
aleckurgan
By aleckurgan (Mar 7, 2012)

@Kevin Purcell: Judging by the photo, DP2M's lens is bigger than the one of Fujifilm x100, it's also one full stop darker. Seems like Sigma didn't succeed at lens optimization.

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Mar 9, 2012)

I'm a fan of the x100 but you don't know the IQ these lenses can produce. It's not in the max aperture either.

0 upvotes
Mk7
By Mk7 (Mar 7, 2012)

I hope Sigma has a really, really good reason for moving the lens to the edge of the body. Due to that one design decision (squeezing out the pop-up flash) the DP2M has gone from "must buy" to "I might buy a used one a few years from now". For my needs, they took an already limited camera type and pushed it just far enough to be of too limited use for the expense (which we don't know yet, but it will be a lot).
Yes, I know some people hate and don't use flash. Yes, I know there's a hot shoe. Which is why I qualified, with "for my needs".
And I really wanted to support Sigma/Foveon. So close, but sorry.

0 upvotes
samhain
By samhain (Mar 7, 2012)

When is Sigma going to announce the price on the dp1m/dp2m?
They need to hurry...

1 upvote
whtchocla7e
By whtchocla7e (Mar 6, 2012)

Price?
Availability?
External (E)VF?

1 upvote
alfredo_tomato
By alfredo_tomato (Mar 6, 2012)

You will probably have to use an OVF

1 upvote
pharoldo
By pharoldo (Mar 7, 2012)

realy would like to know the price and the availability to!

1 upvote
Kevin Purcell
By Kevin Purcell (Mar 6, 2012)

The dial around the shutter button is an interesting idea that might appear on more cameras. It's a lot easier to get to than the dial on the back. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 does the same thing with an auxiliary dial.

I see they had to move a strap loop to accomodate this (I can't thing they started off with that there!).

Is that really manual focus (i.e. real directly coupled). That's another interesting move.

1 upvote
Ernest M Aquilio
By Ernest M Aquilio (Mar 6, 2012)

I am looking forward to the new DP Merrill cameras. I had the original DP-1 and was very impressed with the images from it. If they fixed the minor operational foibles I am sold.

1 upvote
scott_mcleod
By scott_mcleod (Mar 6, 2012)

With the new sensor, and if the lenses are as good as the previous versions (i.e. very, very good), the DP2 M could very well be on my shopping list for a carry-everwhere camera, provided the speed is at least comparable to an "average" compact (and the price is not outrageous). I hope the much greater amount of data to be processed off the 15.4MP chip hasn't made it worse... 45mm was always one of my favourite FLs!

5 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 6, 2012)

I wonder if Adobe will make sure that Adobe Camera Raw will open these new Sigma Raw files?

ACR is a lot less of a pain to use with DP2x raws than the difficult and limited Sigma Pro Photo.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 6, 2012)

It takes some specific processing to combine the 3 layers of data into one. I doubt if Adobe is going to take the time for such a niche product, but one can hope.

0 upvotes
RKGoth
By RKGoth (Mar 6, 2012)

They already support the DP1, DP2, and previous SDs. It's the 15.4x3 "Merrill" sensor that lacks support, not "all Foveon cameras". It supports the Polaroid x530 too.

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 6, 2012)

i didn't know that. If that is the case, I am sure support will come in some ACR release.

0 upvotes
Digital Imaging Technician

When converting DP1, DP2 and SD X3F raw files to DNG, are they still linearized? [ http://www.barrypearson.co.uk/articles/dng/linear.htm ]

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 7, 2012)

RKGoth--

Thanks, I thought it was only the DP2x which ACR opens.

Checked my SD1 files, still nope.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 7, 2012)

Digital Imaging Technician--

I don't know what "linearized" means here.

Also ACR extracts a X3F file and then one saves it as say a tiff or a jpeg, I don't think DNG is there as a save as option.

Though do you mean that within ACR/Photoshop, Adobe is seeing this XF3 extraction as a DNG file?

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 6, 2012)

Why didn't they just make the lenses interchangeable at this point? It's basically the size of a EPM1 with one of those lenses mounted.

2 upvotes
Thoughts
By Thoughts (Mar 6, 2012)

good point !, but maybe they want people to buy both of them. :)

and add a grip please... not two black metal soaps again.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
VadymA
By VadymA (Mar 6, 2012)

I agree. I was hoping Sigma would introduce a zoom DP model where fixed mount would make some sense. But since they decided to stick with the primes, it would be much better to make them interchangeable rather than forcing customers to pay for two bodies if they want a bit more versatility.

1 upvote
PatrickC
By PatrickC (Mar 6, 2012)

An in-lens shutter is much quieter than a focal plane shutter, as evidenced by the current DPs, which makes the fixed lens worth it for me.

1 upvote
Kevin Purcell
By Kevin Purcell (Mar 6, 2012)

Why not an interchangeable lens? Lots of reasons: leaf shutter is quieter and smaller than focal plane shutter; no lens mount you can optimize optics back distance; no lens mount hardware/electronics saves weight; you can put the focusing/aperture adjustment hardware where you want (in the case?); camera is more compact (less thick).

Also which lens mount? Sigma are part of 43 but this sensor is a bit bigger than 43 but smaller than APS-C. So you need a new lens mount to match it's image circle ("Another lens mount"). Which needs long term support and new lenses ("what only two primes"?).

The only mount you could use easily is M mount but no auto-focus and no autoaperture (and no feedback for the aperture setting on manual lens). It would be an interesting camera but very different.

You don't have to design every camera as a system camera. Single purpose cameras are open to useful optimizations. I expect you've never used an Olympus XA or any other smaller prime lens compacts.

4 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (Mar 6, 2012)

There's nothing stopping camera companies from having interchangable lens' with leaf shutters in the lens'. Some medium format cameras have this option, sometimes optional.

However, I like the quiet operation of leaf shutters, and the fact that you gain a bit more space in the mount for the lens (oh and the fast shutter sync), but I don't like the fact that wider apertures limit the speed at which the leaf shutters can be closed.

I think it'd be a killer feature though!

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 6, 2012)

I agree that non-interchangeable cameras have their place, I was more commenting on how far these lenses appear to protrude.

I would imagine one of these with a 4/3 foveon sensor and a m4/3 mount would sell better than the previous generation of fixed lens DP's.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
SigmaChrome
By SigmaChrome (Mar 7, 2012)

Kevin Purcell said: "Also which lens mount? Sigma are part of 43 but this sensor is a bit bigger than 43 but smaller than APS-C. So you need a new lens mount to match it's image circle ("Another lens mount"). Which needs long term support and new lenses ("what only two primes"?)."
It's not smaller than an APS-C sensor - it is the same size: 1.5 crop factor.

2 upvotes
lajka
By lajka (Mar 7, 2012)

M-mount can accomodate exposure and AF connection. It`s only matter of contacts buit in the mount, look at m digital lens encoding read-out. Leaf shutter would be nice option, flashwise.

0 upvotes
Fixx
By Fixx (Mar 7, 2012)

I think there is no need to have interchangeable lenses for compact camera, IMHO. But it would really be nice if Sigma could make a zoom version like 28-70 (that is full frame equivalent). Or even a dual focal length lens (like 30mm with built in teleconverter to 60mm option (again full frame equivalent)). I understand designing such a lens is a challenge if image quality and speed (apertures like 2.8 or 3.5) are needed.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Mar 6, 2012)

for some sample's http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigmadp1/

0 upvotes
Artistico
By Artistico (Mar 6, 2012)

I think you'll find those samples are from the old DP1. This is the new DP1 and DP2 - they've just been announced and probably won't be for sale until August. Neither release date nor price have been confirmed.

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Mar 6, 2012)

Ofcourse they are. But these will probably be identical except for price.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Mar 6, 2012)

...and a totally different lens, sensor and processor.

7 upvotes
Deleted1929
By Deleted1929 (Mar 6, 2012)

Any idea if DPR will be able to review any of the new Sigma systems in the foreseeable future ?

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Mar 6, 2012)

DPR is going to review the SD1 along with all the new full frame cameras. Its going to be a huge comparo. SD1 vs 5D3 vs D800 vs D4 vs 1Dx. Its going to be a bloodbath fight to the end.

6 upvotes
Mike Davis
By Mike Davis (Mar 11, 2012)

6 LIKES and counting, on use of the word "bloodbath."

0 upvotes
Total comments: 42