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Design

The DP1 that finally made its way into the shops looks slightly different from the first concept camera that Sigma showed at Photokina in 2006. Anything vaguely resembling a curve was ditched for the final design, resulting in a camera with a minimalist and slightly retro style - not unattractive at all.

The construction is solid and metal is the body's main material. The buttons have a well defined pressure point and the mode dial is stiff enough to avoid any accidental turning. The 'black on black' symbols on the buttons are not ideal though. In some light situations they are very difficult (if not impossible) to read.

Side by side

The DP1 is the first compact camera to feature a 'DSLR-size' image sensor (The DP1 uses the same sensor as Sigma's SD14 DSLR). Despite of this Sigma has managed to keep the camera's dimensions remarkably pocketable. The DP1 is marginally larger than the Ricoh GR Digital II which has a comparable feature set but smaller sensor. However, it is significantly smaller than the Nikon D60 which is one of the smaller DSLRs.

In your hand

Despite the total lack of a grip the DP1 feels stable and well balanced in your hand. All buttons are well placed and large enough even for adult fingers (in contrast to some of the feature laden 'ultra-compacts' that I occasionally find on my desk). One-handed operation is possible although due to the DP1's weight not recommendable. All in all the camera feels solid and well rounded from an ergonomics point of view.

Optional viewfinder and lens hood

Sigma offers some useful accessories for the DP1. The viewfinder VF-11 slots into the hot shoe and helps when framing a shot in bright light and almost makes you feel liking using a film rangefinder. It retails at £105 in the UK and $149 in the US. The lens hood HA-11 reduces lens flare and also protects the lens. It's available for £25 in UK shops ($20 in the US).

LCD Monitor

The DP1 features a 2.5" LCD monitor with a 230,000 pixel resolution. The screen is frankly a disappointment. It is very prone to fingerprint smearing and reflections which makes it quite hard to frame or review a shot in brighter light. It's also fairly grainy and turns to monochrome in low light. Live preview can be a little shaky, due to a low refresh rate.

Battery and SD Card Compartment

The compartment for battery and SD card on the DP1 is in the base of the camera, behind a hinged door. The DP1 is supplied with the BP-31 Lithium-Ion battery pack which has a capacity of approximately 250 shots.

The memory card slot takes SD/SDHC or MultiMedia cards and is located under the same door as the battery. The location of the compartment on the camera base allows you to change battery or the memory card while the DP1 is mounted on a tripod (it'll depend on your tripod head though, so check beforehand if this is important to you).

Battery Charger

The DP1 is supplied with the BC-31 battery charger. It is fairly compact and you'll easily find room for it in your bag when packing for travel. The LED on the top of the charger indicates charge progress. A full charge takes around 120 minutes.

Connections

The DP1's connectors are on the right side of the camera behind a rubber cover. On the top there is the connector for the (optional) external power supply. Below you'll find the combined USB 2.0/AV interface.

Base / Tripod Mount

On the bottom of the camera you'll find a metal tripod mount. It is located between the speaker (right) and the battery/SD card compartment (left) and is aligned exactly with the center line of the lens.

Flash

To make the DP1's built-in flash pop out of its hideout you have to pull a lever on the camera back. With a maximum reach of 3m (using Auto ISO) the flash cannot exactly be called powerful, so stay close to your subjects. On the upside it comes with a slow synch mode, red-eye reduction and flash exposure compensation.

If you'd like a bit more oomph behind your flash you should invest in the EF-140 external flash. It is powered by two AAA batteries and multiplies the built-in flash's output by a factor of 2.3. It works on the SD14 as well (just in case you own one) and is available for approximately £50 in the UK and $80 in the US.

Supplied In the Box

  • Sigma DP1 camera body
  • Lens cap
  • Hot shoe cover
  • Soft case
  • Neck strap
  • Li-ion battery BP31
  • Battery charger BC-31
  • USB cable
  • AV cable
  • Sigma Photo Pro CD-ROM
  • Manual / Warranty card
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