The Sigma DP3 Merrill uses the Foveon X3 true-color sensor, capable of resolving detail down to the pixel level without interpolation (Bayer matrix demosaicing). The 50mm f/2.8 lens used on the Sigma DP3M is a superb optic, so we can expect excellent results.
The Leica X Vario utilizes a conventional Bayer Matrix RGB sensor. Leica has said that the X Vario lens offers “perfect imaging quality”. But that is a statement on the lens which is only part of the situation: a digital image is a product of lens + sensor + electronics.
Which camera actually produces more detailed images?
The Sigma DP3 Merrill is an APS-C camera with a Foveon true-color sensor. Each photosite is a true red/green/blue pixel capable of a full RGB value. This gives a significant advantage for details in areas dominated by red or blue in particular (green less so), but also in general yields a level of resolved detail that captures texture in a far superior way to a conventional sensor. The images also “blow up” to very large prints with near medium format quality.
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