Four Cameras for the price of One? (Sigma DP Merrill X 3 vs Sony RX1)
Sigma DP Merrill, Sony RX1, mirrorless
See my review of the Sigma DP Merrill cameras in Guide to Mirrorless. I expect to have the Sigma DP3 Merrill in for testing very soon. I already own the DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill. Almost certainly I’ll buy the DP3 Merrill. The sharpness is superb, which derives from the true-color Foveon sensor and first-rate lenses.
To continue the three-versus-one thought, the Sony RX1 really needs some extras for a complete system, so add in the fun and diminutive Sony RX100 to those three Sigma DP Merrill cameras and you can pretty much have four great cameras covering 28/45/75mm and the RX100 compact with its 28-100mm zoom for $3300, versus about $4000 for the RX1 system.
Which is not saying one has to buy 4 or 3 or even two cameras, though that is certainly an option if one feels compelled to spend all that money— but then it’s possible to head out with a nice choice (e.g., 1 or 2 at a time out of 3 or 4). That offers some value. And I personally like two DP Merrills very much. It yields range, redundancy and still is a great value. And I sure would like an EVF and better battery life, but batteries are cheap and $800 is not $2700. Yes, the EVF and longer battery life of the Sony RX1 are a plus that must be weighed against other factors. But that has not proved to be the issue for me in the field, on foot or on a bicycle.
Here’s the bottom line: the Sony RX1 is a very well done camera that nonetheless left me with no desire to buy one. It wasn’t the price, it was the experience. Oddly, while the Sigma DP Merrill is simple and limited in several ways, and the Sigma software is a headache for usability, and battery life is poor (but batteries are small and cheap), the Sigma images are ultra-clean and the camera feels like “back to basics”. And so my real recommendation is to not assume based on specs. The whole goal here (for my readers) is to disrupt assumptions. Readers might well decide that the Sony RX1 is the cat’s meow— the point is to not assume.
It’s all about value and problem-solving one’s own photographic goals. I did not buy the Sony RX1 as I don’t think it solves anything in particular for me, and the cost is too high for a fixed 35mm lens, but the bottom line is that it did not feel compelling to me. And I find the unique Sigma DP Merrill sensor sharpness never, ever disappoints. See Five Appealing Cameras. Be sure to read my reviews of all these cameras in Guide to Mirrorless to understand their differences, since I cannot provide more than a snapshot of my context in one blog entry.