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Sigma DP2x Resolution

Sigma DP2x

I can report that dropping a Sigma DP2x (about $699) onto a hard surface like rocks causes loss of functionality. Sigma graciously resupplied me with a replacement camera, so I can continue my review.

  • World's first full color image sensor: Foveon X3® Direct Image Sensor
    14.45 million r/g/b photosites.
  • Finished RGB images are 2640 X 1760 = 4.6-megapixel, 3:2 aspect ratio.
  • Focal Length 24.2mm f/2.8, 35mm equivalent to 41mm
  • Analog Front End (AFE) and high-speed autofocus.
  • Accessories included with the camera: Li-Ion battery BP-31, battery charger BC-31, Lens Cap LCP-11, Neck Strap NS-11, soft case CS-70, Hot shoe cover HSC-11, Video Cable, SIGMA Photo Pro CD

Every small camera has compromises, and the DP2x has its share, but it meets a key size/weight threshold that makes it friendly to carry compared to the larger and heavier Sony NEX-5 or Fuji X100. For example, in a cycling jersey pocket, where those two cameras are on the bulky and heavy side.

Image detail

I’ll have a report in DAP with some more experience, but I want to address first and foremost the image detail possible with the DP2x. Finished RGB images are ~4.6 megapixels, but they carry exceptional detail as a result of the true-color Foveon X3 sensor and a very sharp lens.

The latter point is worth mentioning: my recent experience with the Sony NEX-5 with 16mm lens shows that the lens can limit resolution in significant ways, as can the sensor (noise, demosaicing, etc). The Sigma DP2x lens is very sharp, even wide open, so as long as focus is accurate, the lens + sensor delivers very high per-pixel resolution, not to be confused with nominal megapixel count by specification.

The actual resolving power is exceptional, well beyond a conventional sensor, offering maximal spatial resolution instead of a degraded Bayer pattern matrix interpolated via demosaicing. The per-pixel sharpness is astonishing, as the actual-pixels crop below should make clear. This isn’t an artifact of sharpening (I used half the usual amount that I use for Bayer-matrix cameras), it’s simply native resolving power. It makes me lust after a 8-10 megapixel version, instead of a ~4.25 megapixel.

Actual pixels
Wilderness power

Here’s another crop from a different image. The words “Inyo National Forest” can be read, which assuredly would not be the case with a conventional camera having a Bayer pattern sensor; such cameras would need at least 6 megapixels and probably 8-10 megapixels to resolve to this level.

Actual pixels

Color rendition

Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) doesn’t have a profile for the DP2x yet, and so color is one area where it’s taking some manual adjustments to get something reasonable. In spite of the true color sensor, I would say that color is not the strong suite of the DP2x. I tried Sigma Photo Pro software, and found it unusable, literally unreadable controls.

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