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Sigma DP2x “14 megapixel” Point and Shoot with Foveon X3 True-Color Sensor

Just arrived on loan from Sigma is Sigma DP2x (about $699), a “14 megapixel” camera (Sigma’s description) using the 3X Foveon sensor. See my previous review of the Sigma DP2, its predecessor.

The DP2x produces 2640 X 1760 finished images from ~19MB X3F RAW files with exceptional per-pixel quality, due to its unusual Foveon X3 “true color” sensor design. Images require about half the sharpening compared to images from conventional sensors, and are free from the demosaicing artifacts found with virtually all cameras today— see example further below.

Hence the 4.6 megapixel finished RGB images deserve extra credit for per-pixel quality, and I hereby deem it a 8-10 megapixel camera in terms of what you can achieve with a conventional sensor. But not 14 megapixels in terms of resolving power.

I like the DP2X already, and I’ll be putting it through its paces. While the menu system has an unusual approach to settings, I find it quite fast to work with once the idea is understood (though prone to inadvertent errors). I’ll be reporting on the DP2x in detail in DAP as I gain some experience with it.

The DP2x weights 300 grams with its lens cap and an SDHC card (as weighed on a lab-grade scale with battery)— a bit more with the lightweight strap. Sigma claims 260g, which is without battery or card (what’s the point of such useless stats?).

The DP2xis more compact and about 170g lighter than the Fuji X100 (470g), which is immediately noticeable and has caught my attention as a potential cycling camera.

Sigma DP2Xx

The Sigma web site has nothing on the DP2x as I write this, but it succeeds the DP2s.

The lens is 24mm f/2.8, which is a 41mm (equivalent) fixed focal length lens imaging to a relatively large 20.7 x 13.8mm Foveon X3 true-color sensor, 3:2 aspect ratio. The lens focuses as close as 28cm, which is not particularly close. I would have preferred a slightly wider angle lens, e.g., a 35mm equivalent. But so it is.

Video capture mode is a joke (320 X 240), so I don’t know why Sigma pollutes the control dial with a video setting.

The rear LCD is highly reflective, and since it is the only way to compose, this presents a challenge in many outdoor lighting situations, as I quickly discovered. And with increasing presbyopia each year, LCD-only cameras can be a real difficulty for those in their 40’s and older, forcing one to hold the camera at arm’s length— not good for stability.

Options for the DP2x include the External Viewfinder VF-21, the lens hood HA-21, and a UV filter or polarizer filter. The filters attach to the lens hood, the front (square) half of the lens hood twists off revealing a thread. Sigma also makes a closeup filter, though you can use any closeup filter with the right thread size. That helps the lack of close focusing/macro ability.

Sharpness

It’s hard to find fault with the per-pixel sharpness, which is outstanding, and absolutely free of the color speckles and artifacts seen with conventional sensors lacking an anti-aliasing filter. The crops here use half the sharpening I use for DSLR images, yet are extraordinarily crisp.

The image below was shot at f/2.8 (wide open) and is very impressive on a per-pixel basis.

Test photo
Sigma DP2X, f/2.8 @ 1/640 second handheld, ISO 50
Actual pixels

Robin S

Robin S writes:

Subject, "Brand Snob". Yes, I am a Nikon man and never considered Sigma as a camera maker until I read about the fabulous Foveon sensor. I have now sold my old Nikon D70 and bought the new DP2x and LOVE IT!

The quality of the pictures and the colours are superb and I have regained a hunger to get out there and take pictures, mostly landscapes and close-ups with a tripod, which I think the Sigma does well at ISO 50.

As a graphic designer with years of Photoshop retouching skills, I really appreciate the noiseless channels and true vivid colours. I always shoot RAW and play around for hours in RAW converters, the Sigma RAW converter was still not as good as Photoshop RAW, which surprised myself.

The lack of a zoom has caused little issues and I have enjoyed the challenge of positioning myself to get the subject in frame. The controls have been surprisingly simple and easy to use and as someone who only reads a manual after owning something for a few years, I have not had any real problems.

My beloved Nikon D70 was just too big for my trips with the family, the sigma sits well, slung under my arm in a leather case for easy use and does not impede movement, the Nikon was a bit of a brick. The images (on idiot mode for the time being) I took on the first day exceeded my expectations and put he D70 to shame, I am absolutely delighted with it.

The Sigma DP2x is a small camera with old-time feel, SLR quality images, simple to use, I am actually thinking of buying the SD15 as well to make the most of the lense system Sigma offers, for more adventurous photo assignments. I have also been waiting for the SD1 but then almost had heart failure when I saw the pricing, which is £4200 more than the budget for a NIKON D700... ouch, even as a business expenditure, that will have to wait a year.

DIGLLOYD: The Sigma software 5.0 is unusable; I cannot even read the controls due to very dark text on a very dark background. And Adobe Camera RAW has a bug that ruins some images, making them almost colorless and washed-out. But in general ACR is working well.

As for the DP2x itself, I find it quick and easy to shoot, very light weight, and the lens and image sharpness are outstanding. My review is coming in a few weeks.

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