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Sigma launches DP3 Merrill with Foveon sensor and 75mm (equiv.) lens

By dpreview staff on Jan 8, 2013 at 07:00 GMT
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Sigma has announced the DP3 Merrill, the latest iteration of the company's enthusiast large sensor compact camera. Nearly identical to the earlier DP Merrill models, this camera features the familiar 15x3MP APS-C Foveon X3 sensor, but it is now mated with a 50mm (75mm equiv.) F2.8 lens. The lens lends itself to portraiture and, with a minimum focus distance of 22.6cm, offers respectable 1:3 magnification. Video recording is still limited to VGA resolution but the DP3M can shoot at up to 4 frames per second for 7 frames in Raw.

Press Release:

The Sigma DP3 Merrill, the latest in the series of compact cameras incorporating the 46 megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor.

LAS VEGAS — Jan. 7, 2012 — Sigma Corporation (CEO: Kazuto Yamaki) is pleased to announce the new SIGMA DP3 Merrill, featuring a 50mm F2.8 lens, will join the lineup of the “SIGMA DP Merrill” series. The SIGMA DP3 Merrill is the next generation of high image quality compact digital cameras. Equipped with the Foveon X3 image sensor, the DP3 Merrill ensures outstanding resolution and natural rendering with rich gradation as well as a three-dimensional feel.

Featuring a high performance 50mm F2.8 lens (a focal range equivalent to 75mm on a 35mm SLR camera), the SIGMA DP3 Merrill offers incredibly high levels of optical performance and takes in every detail of the subject's information. This state of the art lens also offers enhanced macro functionality as well.

The SIGMA DP3 Merrill completes this series of compact cameras by satisfying the mid-telephoto and macro range shooting. The SIGMA DP1 Merrill is designed for wide angle images, the SIGMA DP2 Merrill is for standard range, while the DP3 Merrill rounds out the series with a camera for all shooting situations.

Key Features

• 46 megapixel, 23.5×15.7mm Full-color Foveon X3 Merrill sensor
The 23.5×15.7mm full-color Foveon X3 direct image sensor (Generation name “Merrill”), featured in the SIGMA DP3 Merrill, incorporates 46 effective megapixels (4,800×3,200×3 layers) and 44 recording megapixels (4,704×3,136×3 layers). The Foveon X3 direct image sensor captures all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location with 3 layers, ensuring the capture of full and complete color. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required, meaning light and color are captured by the 46 megapixel 23.5×15.7mm full-color X3 Merrill sensor with a three-dimensional feel.

• Dual TRUE II image processing engine
The dual “TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) II” image processing engine dedicated to Foveon X3 direct image sensors improves the processing speed and overall quality of the final image. By incorporating two TRUE II processors, Sigma’s unique image-processing algorithm provides high resolution power and reproduces high definition images with richly graduated tones as well as a three-dimensional feel.

• Exclusively designed high performance 50mm F2.8 lens
The high-performance 50mm F2.8 lens has the equivalent angle of view as 75mm on a 35mm lens, and it has been designed exclusively for the SIGMA DP3 Merrill to maximizes the sensor performance. The use of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass accompanied by aspherical lens elements not only compensates for a variety of aberrations, but also allows for a more compact size. The superior telecentric optical design improves image quality throughout the frame by passing on information about subjects to the sensor. The DP3 Merrill has a minimum focusing distance of 22.6cm (8.9”) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3, which can offer quality macro shooting. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting, ensuring sharp, high contrast image quality even under severe conditions such as taking photos against or towards the sun.

• Advanced User Interface
The custom quick set menu and the metallic command dial are incorporated to improve usability. The diaphragm, shutter speed and menu can be changed quickly using the command dial. The Quick Set (QS) menu which consists of the most commonly used functions can be easily displayed by pressing the QS button. It allows photographers to change the menu content and the order depending on their preferences.

• Capable of 7 frames continuous shooting
A large volume buffer memory enables the camera to capture up to 7 RAW images per sequence in continuous shooting mode. Using the high speed data transfer and processing, the SIGMA DP3 Merrill features a continuous shooting speed of up to 4 frames per second. In addition, depending on the situation, it is possible to capture up to 5 frames per second and up to 14 images per sequence in continuous shooting mode in Medium and Low image quality mode.

• Easy to use auto focus
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill features a “9 point select mode” which can select the desires focusing point from 9 different frames and “Free move mode” which can move the desired point as you like. User friendly, the new “Face Detection AF”, prioritizes focus on the face of the subject when detected by the sensor. “AF Limit Mode” can adjust the range of auto focusing and “Shutter Priority AF” offers faster focus adjustment by stopping the live view to increase the speed of the auto focusing. The new AF+MF mode adjusts the focus manually after verifying the AF by rotating the focus ring.

• Manual Focus
Manual Focus is available for use when autofocus or focus lock is not desired. It is possible to use the focus ring for focusing just like an SLR camera. It is also possible to magnify the display to ensure precise focusing.

• RAW+JPEG format recording
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill features a RAW data recording mode for retaining full image capture detail of the utmost quality captured through the direct image sensor, plus a JPEG recording format for convenience. The RAW data format provides pure data for high-resolution images, and uses lossless compression for more compact, yet uncompromised, data files. The RAW data format of the camera keep brightness and color data in a 1:1 ratio without relying on interpolation. When the image is processed in SIGMA Photo Pro, it will preserve the balance of the natural data for the best photos with the best image quality. It offers better usability as the RAW data and JPEG data are recorded simultaneously in Monochrome Mode.

• SIGMA Photo Pro
The supplied image processing software, “SIGMA Photo Pro”, converts RAW data quickly and easily. It renders the full, 46 megapixel data. While looking at the captured images, it is possible to achieve the desired photographic expression by moving the sliders from side to side. It incorporates functions such as a loupe, exposure picker, print, JPEG conversion, and batch white balance settings, highlight correction, noise reduction and aberration correction mode. Moreover, Monochrome Mode makes it possible to generate monochrome images fully optimizing the Foveon X3 direct image sensor capabilities.

• Portable compact and lightweight body
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill has compact dimensions of 121.5mm (W)×66.7mm (H)×80.6mm (D), 400g. The supplied neck strap provides perfect mobility for candid photography.

• SD card
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill adopts the SD Card (SDXC compatible) which is compact and easy to carry.

• Large, highly visible 3.0” TFT color LCD Monitor
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill features a 3.0 inch TFT color monitor which ensures great visibility even outside in the daytime. This approximately 920,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to capture detail and to check focusing and composition.

• Hot Shoe
The SIGMA DP3 Merrill is equipped with a hot shoe, allowing use of the dedicated external flashgun EF-140 DG (optional) as well as SIGMA electronic flashguns for SD series such as EF-610 DG Super (optional) and EF-610 DG ST (optional).

• Dedicated lens hood
The dedicated bayonet lens hood (LH3-01) can be attached to block out extraneous light. Attaching Sigma’s optional dedicated 52mm DG filters such as the DG wide circular PL to the camera body extends the shooting possibilities.
* Lens hood and 52mm filters are sold separately.

• Movie Mode
Movies can be recorded with VGA (640×480) size. The number of shooting frames per second is 30 frames.

• ISO Sensitivity can be set by 1/3 Step
ISO sensitivity can be set from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. By setting the range to 1/3 EV steps from the default 1 EV steps, it is possible to set the sensitivity to ISO 125 or ISO 160. ISO AUTO, where the camera automatically sets the ISO sensitivity according to brightness of the shooting environment enables you to set the upper limit and lower limit depending on your shooting style.

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Total comments: 143
Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (Jan 8, 2013)

F2.8 seems a slightly odd choice : I never assumed the glass was big enough to be a significant factor in the older models' high prices, why not give us F2 for this one?
Anyway : a good step in the right direction I reckon.

By 3dreal (Jan 8, 2013)

f2= less quality, bigger, heavier, more expensive.
DP3M will be my first Sigma-cam. I predicted this camera. Loner lens and macro. Bravo. Its a real universal tool. 80x120cm posters at highest quality are no problem.

1 upvote
By leventhan (Jan 8, 2013)

I'm sold

By OvinceZ (Jan 8, 2013)

I would love to have this version to take photos of flowers. Should be superb.

By burnymeister (Jan 8, 2013)

Agreed as long as the reds don't bleed like on previous foveons...

By amdme127 (Jan 8, 2013)

My understanding is that the new SD1(M) and the DPM series produce superb reds. I have a SD14 and I know that reds can very tricky from time to time when they bleed. I am sure there would be a forum post that at least discusses the reds from the new series somewhere on dpreview.

By Photonhunter (Jan 8, 2013)

Camera clearly aimed at reproduction and product photography? Now, does this mean that we will get the 50/2.8 macro in Nex E-mount too in the near future...?? ;-)

By DamenS (Jan 8, 2013)

Reproduction at 1:3 magnification ? Product photography at 1:3 AND with no tilt and shift ? Maybe it can be done in some scenarios, but it is CERTAINLY not "clearly aimed" at either scenario at all - not even nearly !!

1 upvote
By Photonhunter (Jan 8, 2013)

I have a friend who makes a living out of photographing art (mostly paintings) . That is what I mean by reproduction. I can see this could be his dream camera: Slightly compressed perspective of the focal length together with (what I presume will be) a very low distortion lens and the camera's very high resolving power on top, and there, you have a winning combo..

G Davidson
By G Davidson (Jan 8, 2013)

I wish they'd just make an interchangable lens option, who wants to buy the set just to have the variety of lengths?

By Shamael (Jan 8, 2013)

you write exactly what I was thinking about. Leave us buy the whole box, every time you need another focal length is playing with people's balls.

By leventhan (Jan 8, 2013)

Sigma said that each sensor is designed specifically for each sensor. Well, I dont know if its true or not but I think the results are really good.

1 upvote
By photoguy444 (Jan 8, 2013)

Sigma wants to play with my balls? I'll be investing in Sigma big time...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Jan 8, 2013)

I have what is probably the same 19mm lens from the DP1 in m4/3 mount and it works fine, though it's a bit bulky. Probably this is mostly marketing-speak, though they may adapt the lens housing specially for each model.

Maybe they are waiting for the technology to develop (high ISO, HD video) before they commit to a Fuji Pro-1 style interchangable version. Denying one is in the works would help sales of this, but I can't imagine they'll hold off forever. Many would buy all three lenses, the trick is to have a marketable system in an already crowded space.

By leventhan (Jan 8, 2013)

I mean for each lens. sorry :D

By Trollshavethebestcandy (Jan 8, 2013)

Fixed lens = more compact + cheaper.
Compact, good value and top output is the market niche.

Robert F. Tobler
By Robert F. Tobler (Jan 8, 2013)

@G Davidson: the m4/3 19mm is not the same lens as the DP1M lens. The DP1M is an improved version specifically tailored to the Foveon chip.

By Zdman (Jan 9, 2013)

Yep the telecentric design is no accident as it prevenets the green corners the foveon is famous for. They probably do further adjustments in camera to remove the green shift and have it tailored for the lens. If you could stick any lens on this you'd see just how bad the green corner problem is.

By K_Photo_Teach (Jan 10, 2013)

@ leventhan

Each lens is put in front of the same sensor so what the marketing says about it being perfected for each one is just
Same sensor in each DPM camera so they could have made them interchangeable

By Carbon111 (Jan 8, 2013)

Weird focal length choice. :/

The moment the DP1/2/3 Merrill's files can be opened natively in Lightroom, is the moment these cameras will really take off...

1 upvote
By leventhan (Jan 8, 2013)

You can. I already opened my x3f file using Lr. No problem :D.

Comment edited 10 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Hardy Steiner
By Hardy Steiner (Jan 8, 2013)

Yes, you can open x3f files from the Sigma SD9, SD10, SD14, DP1, DP1s and DP2. After this Adobe stopped supporting any Sigma cameras. You should be a bit more precise when posting such comments here as it might be misleading for new users.

By draschan (Jan 8, 2013)

macro lenses usually have an 2,8 aperture and not the desired 1,4 portrait photographers like. it's not always necessary to have a blurred background. One could excpect the lens being super sharp as many macro lenses are sharper than average. just got myself the 60mm by olympus and it is very very crisp and sharp. another use for this camera would be multirow stitching giving ultra high resolution and detail. I'm still hoping for a FF foveon :-) even at this size it delivers outstanding, unbelievabel results for landscape and still objects in pocket size. same resolution than D800E but somewhat "clearer" images. VERY pocketable :-)

By 3dreal (Jan 8, 2013)

FF will happen when quality in the corners can be maintained. Not before. In contrary we would rather see a mirrorless. No need to change lenses now, only cameras. Very good decision sigma, i love you more and more.

By zodiacfml (Jan 8, 2013)

This is probably made for macro work. While the focal length is nice for portraits, I will find the max aperture not enough to produce the bokeh that I like around f2.2 or larger. I'm pretty sure though that lens performance is even better than found on the DP2M.

By DamenS (Jan 8, 2013)

MADE for macro work ?? When it can't even remotely reach a macro ratio ? Get a grip.

1 upvote
By Jefftan (Jan 8, 2013)

Disappoint they are not releasing a next generation DPXM camera
same camera as DP1M/Dp2M

By solarsky (Jan 8, 2013)

They'll probably do that in the coming up year or two. They already patented a APS-C-lens-design with optical stabilizer, so I guess OIS will be the next evolution for the DP-series...

By CarVac (Jan 8, 2013)

A fixed-lens short telephoto compact... I can't see this being as popular as the wider variants.
I wonder how physically long the lens is; the straight-on shot shown gives no indication.

That said, I often shoot short telephoto, but 75 equivalent is slightly too short for my tastes. I prefer precisely 85mm and 135mm; even 80mm isn't quite close enough.

By adegroot (Jan 9, 2013)

Just crop; big deal. You got more than enough pixels anyways.

By Aeturnum (Jan 8, 2013)

That camera looks pretty silly from the top, but you really can't fault Sigmas on low ISO image quality. Always exciting to see companies trying non-bayer sensors. Best of luck Sigma, I look forward to the day I can't resist one of your cameras (and it seems like it's getting closer).

Total comments: 143