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Color reproduction

Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.

The Sigma DP2's JPEG engine produces very muted, washed-out colors. Out-of-camera images can certainly do with some extra saturation in post processing but ideally you capture your images in RAW format and adjust colors in the conversion process.

Sigma DP2 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardVividNaturalPortrait
LandscapeBlack&WhiteSepiaadobeRGB

Artificial light White Balance

The DP2's white balance appears to have been improved since the DP1 was introduced. If anything, auto white balance copes best under artificial lighting - it can struggle in outdoor situations - but the presets seem to work well and should probably be considered your best option in most situations. Of course the best option with this camera is probably to shoot in RAW, where white balance isn't applied until you process the image. The Sigma Photo Pro Software has a slightly odd approach to white balance but can produce good results.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 3.0%, Blue: -3.3%, Average
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 5.0%, Blue: -7.2%, Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: -0.5%, Blue: 0.6%, Excellent
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 4.2%, Blue: -3.0%, Average

Flash

The DP2's built-in flash is pretty small and weak. Even using Auto ISO it will only give you a maximum reach of 4.3 meters. If you stay close enough to your subjects and experiment a little with the settings you can produce some usable results. Flash exposure can be a bit troublesome but luckily you can adjust it manually.

Be careful if you use the optional lens hood as it will partially shade the built-in flash. If you want to avoid this problem and get some more flash power at the same time you should consider investing £50 in the external flash EF-140. Even at close range (about 1 meter in this instance), its ability to light the subject is poor.

Macro

The DP2 isn't exactly a macro champion, despite its maker's fondness for close-focusing lenses. The DP2 can focus down to 28cm (about 19.5cm in front of the lens), which with a 41mm equivalent lens, means it captures an area of 172 x 114 mm.

Movie Mode

The DP2 offers movie capture at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (the actual capture size is 320 x 212 pixels, with a large black bar under the video image) at 30 frames per second, which seemed anachronistic on the DP1 but in the light of widespread acceptance of HD now looks antiquated.

The movies are recorded in AVI format and work out at about 700 KB/sec. The maximum movie size is 2GB which will give you approximately 60 min of footage.

Sample movie: 320 x 240 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 4.5MB, 7.34 secs

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Distortion and other image quality issues

As with the DP1, the DP2 suffers from rather desaturated colors in its default JPEG setting. Moving the camera to Landscape mode improves matters a little but, when combined with the distinctly unpredictable white balance performance, the likelihood of getting pleasing color results in JPEG are very small. To get anything like the best out of the DP2, you have to consider shooting in RAW and tweaking images individually.

Lens flare

Like the DP1, the DP2 can produce some pretty dramatic lens flare. This is less of a problem because the DP2's lens isn't as wide-angle as the DP1 so you're less likely to find the sun creeping into the edge of your photo. However, if you do find yourself shooting into the sun, you can expect pretty obvious flare to make itself visible.

100% crop 41mm (equivalent), F9

Green/magenta tinges

Another quirk that presents itself in the DP2's images is the tendency for green or magenta patches to appear in the image. If the white balance is tweaked to correct for the magenta patches, it tends to exaggerate the green ones, and vice versa (in white balance terms, green and magenta are opposite ends of the axis that results from boosting or suppressing the input from the camera's green channel).

The example below is an out-of-camera JPEG of an evenly illuminated white wall, shot through a neutral diffuser (which we'd just used to set a manual white balance). The image is set to Vivid mode with the saturation turned all the way up to exaggerate the effect for this demonstration.

100% crop from right-hand edge 41mm (equivalent), F3.5

And here is a real-world example. Correcting the white balance to remove the green tinge on the right-hand edge of the image throws the rest of the image's white balance off. The same thing can be seen throughout the samples gallery (regardless of whether SPP or ACR was used for the RAW conversion).

100% crop from right-hand edge 41mm (equivalent), F5

As you can see from the saturation-boosted test, there's quite a hard magenta to green transition at the top right-hand edge of the frame, so the effect is most visible at the right-hand edge of landscape orientation images which is the bottom edge pictures take in the portrait format.

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