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Raw

Supplied software

The DP2 comes with the manufacturer's own Sigma Photo Pro software, which allows a reasonable (if not overwhelming) level of control over RAW file processing. As is becoming fairly standard, there's a navigation/browsing window and an adjustments window. The browsing window has some nice options such as the ability to show only selected file types (X3F, for instance) and the ability to copy a file's metadata (EXIF details) to your computer's clipboard. However, it offers no ability to compare images, either visually or in terms of shooting settings, which is a shame.

The adjustment window offers most of the tools you'd expect and can be used for editing both RAW and JPEG files. The Fill Light option is pretty useful, though it'd be nice to see more subtle control, rather than the ability to turn it up quite so high (it produces rather ugly faux-tone-mapped results if you're too enthusiastic with it).

On the downside, SPP's white balance tools are slightly awkward, with a slight hard-to-navigate color disc in the place of the more familiar Kelvin and tint scales. The program also lacks the ability to straighten crooked images or apply a different crop (which is perhaps understandable, given the DP2's low output pixel count). The really odd omission, however, is the lack of control over noise reduction - it seem peculiar to limit the highest ISO settings to RAW mode, only to then offer no post-processing control.

Like the camera itself, SPP is a tool that requires a degree of patience on the user's part - even on fairly powerful PCs you can expect an awful lot of pauses when trying to navigate files and frustration at its fondness for re-processing an image every time you make changes to the settings. The real limitation comes from the fact that it doesn't remember any settings associated with an image which means, unless you stop to save a new preset (or record them back into the RAW file) for each image individually, then you essentially have to remember your chosen settings.

Interestingly, each RAW file includes a full-size JPEG which can be extracted using the unhelpfully mis-named 'Convert to JPEG' option in SPP. These full-size JPEGs are even recorded at ISO 1600 and 3200 (where JPEG shooting isn't normally available) but, although they appear to have no noise reduction, which some people might appreciate, the color rendition can be pretty poor. Sadly this system also means you need a copy of SPP to hand to gain access to it so you gain none of the convenience that RAW+JPEG shooting brings.

Sigma Photo Pro has a fairly standard image navigation/browsing window. Its navigation of directories can be pretty slow however. The adjustments window gives access to SPP's editing tools. It's fairly well featured but there are some odd omissions.
Image info can be displayed in either the browse or adjustment window. The details can even be copied and pasted into other programs. There's an eyedropper, but the white-balance fine-tune disc is not the easiest tool we're ever used.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our reviews of cameras with the ability to record the raw sensor output, we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the DP2 this means the supplied Sigma Photo Pro and Adobe Camera RAW 5.5.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • SPP - Sigma Photo Pro 3.5
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 5.5

Color reproduction

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter.

Sigma DP2 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardVividNaturalPortrait
LandscapeBlack&WhiteSepiaadobeRGB

Sharpness and Detail

Sigma Photo Pro is producing the sharpest image of the three, based on default settings. The JPEG isn't bringing out as much detail as either RAW converter.

Sigma Photo Pro RAW-> TIFF (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Adobe ACR 5.5 RAW -> TIFF (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera , High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

Again it's clear that SPP is producing a sharper result - the effect being that it appears to actually lower the resolution (by sharpening the interference patterns that occur above Nyqist), whereas the less sharpened JPEG output is indistinct enough to still look like its correctly rendering the chart (which it isn't).

JPEG from camera Sigma Photo Pro (RAW)
 
Adobe Camera RAW 5.5 (RAW)  

RAW files for download

Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.

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