Compared to... Sigma DP2

Finally, for the sake of completeness if nothing else, let's take a look at how the E-P1 compares to the DP2, the second generation of large sensor compact from lens manufacturer Sigma. The DP2's Foveon X3F sensor is roughly the same size as the E-P1's CMOS, though it uses a radically different technology (if you want to know more check out our DP1 review) which produces far higher color resolution (each pixel has full RGB information) but much smaller images (the DP2 outputs 4.6 megapixel files - tiny by modern standards). The DP2 is, like the E-P1, a compact, non-SLR camera with a large sensor and no viewfinder. Sensor technology aside, the big difference is that the Sigma has a fixed, non-interchangeable lens (41mm F2.8 equivalent).

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Olympus E-P1 vs. Sigma DP2

Camera settings:

  • Olympus E-P1: Olympus 50mm F2.0 Macro lens (via adapter), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
  • Sigma DP2: Aperture Priority mode (f6.3), ISO 50, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, Self-Timer
Olympus E-P1
Sigma DP2
7.4 MB JPEG (4032 x 3024)
2.8 MB JPEG (2640 x 1760)

Looking at the astonishing amount of sharp, clean detail captured by the DP2's Foveon sensor (which needs no anti alias filter) and no-compromise fixed lens, it still surprises me that this technology remains very much in the fringes of the camera industry. Even with more than twice as many pixels the E-P1 struggles to match the detail captured by the DP2. Of course at normal magnifications you'd be unlikely to see any difference at all, but looking at this quick comparison it's easy to see why the few brave souls that do buy Sigma cameras (and are prepared to live with the rather dated performance and specification) are so enthusiastic about the results they produce.