I get excited when I see results that are unusually good with a camera.
Other readers that have purchased the DP1 Merrill have emailed, but I can't find them all in my pile of email. All comments (from actual owners) so far are quite favorable.
Comments below. See my review of the Sigma DP1 / DP2 Merrill.
Jim N writes:
This is nuts.
DIGLLOYD: in reference to the amazing per-pixel sharpness that will shock a first-time Sigma/Foveon user.
Wayne R writes:
I picked up a Sigma DP1 Merrill on your recommendation, and like you my first reaction after viewing a few quick raw files is "Wow"! I just wanted to thank you for the tip and the good work you are doing.
Ron S writes as a former Leica M shooter:
Here I am... finally. I was out this weekend (and a bit today) with my Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill cameras. Both fit in my small ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag and I still had room for filters, extra batteries (needed with these cameras), a microfiber cloth, and my wallet.
Previously, I had two Leica M's: an M8 and M9-P. And two Leica lenses (Summarit-M 75 and 90mm), and three Zeiss lenses (25, 35 and 50mm). I sold all of them when I got the opportunity to use the Sigma D2 Merrill thru a friend of mine, who had just bought one. Of course, Leica stands for quality, but somehow I just had enough of the elitist image of the brand, and the very high price tags for cameras and lenses. I went out looking for a light, relatively small camera with the highest possible image quality at an affordable price. I tried the OM-D, and thought it was o.k., but nothing more than that. I went to Photokina last month and tested other options, like the Fujifilm XE-1 and X-PRO 1, the Leica X2, the Sony RX1 (I could only look at it - it was behind glass). Strangely enough, I didn't go to the Sigma booth and therefore didn't see the DP1 and DP2 Merrill's.
After returning from Photokina and checking out photography websites and buying some magazines, I already read a bit about the two Sigma DP Merrill cameras. Then when my friend told me he bought the DP2, we went out and I used the camera for a few hours. When back home, I downloaded and installed the Sigma Photo Pro software and the image quality and colors just blew me away. I hadn't felt this satisfied since I first used my Leica M8, and that is already years ago. I also have a D700 with good lenses (Zeiss 18mm f3.5, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and 16-35 f/4), and still love the image quality. I never felt the urge to upgrade to the D800(E) or the recently released D600. I still use my D700. Especially, for landscapes. But the two Sigma's I now have are far more satisfying to me. The 19mm (28mm in 35mm equivalent focal length) and 30 mm (45 mm in 35mm) are more than adequate to fill most my needs.
I somehow also really like quirky cameras. I had a Pentax K-01 for several months and really loved it. Boxy, simple, great quality. The DP1 and DP2 Merrill stand out for:
- image quality (clarity, crystal clear colors, being able to make large prints)
- holding a brand in my hand that no-one seems to care about (I'm more incognito now)
- being slow as far as reading files to the card is concerned (I don't shoot sports and don't do reportage, and I love being able to think a bit before taking my next photo)
- the design of the camera... I have no problems holding it in my hand... feels good and solid - it's different!
- the buttons... simple layout, easy to understand, not too many options in the menu (Leica-like)
- being small... I can fit both in the two zip pockets of my Nike jackets/sweaters
Actually, both Sigma's are so good in my opinion, that I now always have them with me. Even when I just go to the supermarket or for a short walk. And, yes, I love cameras that are a bit different.
I really liked your detailed and interesting review of the DP1 Merrill, Lloyd. I am also aware of the things you point out in your conclusions of the camera and agree with most. I do think the quality of the lenses on both the DP1 and DP2 are really good. The design of the body is truly minimal. I love it, but also understand it won't appeal to everyone.
The only thing I sometimes have problems with is holding the cameras absolutely still. There's no body stabilization, so one has to have steady hands. I did miss a shot or two, but now I'm really aware of it and know to pay attention. Oh, yes, battery life! I have four batteries (Sigma supplies two with every DP camera - they know!) and just ordered four more. Isn't it great that a small camera writes files so large, that it takes about 11 seconds to get to the card and drains your battery? :-)
Really, these two cameras are the best I've used in a long time. Sigma claims it's medium format quality and, of course, it is since - don't forget - there are 22MP medium format cameras. :-) For 2000 Euros (the price I paid) one can have fantastic image quality in two small bodies with two prime lenses (19 and 30mm).
DIGLLOYD: Useful perspective.
Markus H writes:
I have a feeling the Sony RX1 might replace the Sigma DP1 Merrill in your list (larger sensor, faster lens but bigger and more expensive). Hopefully almost the resolution of the DP1 with even lower noise and much less quirks.
DIGLLOYD: I now own both the Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill, having gotten both at around the best Black Friday price— I thought they would prove useful in the field and as reference cameras. That won’t stop me from owning the Sony RX1 if it turns out to be truly useful. But the Sony RX1 is around US$4000 with accessories; I can’t buy everything and a camera of that price has to have some ROI to justify. Besides, the Sony RX1 has no built-in EVF (neither does the Sigma, but it’s less than 1/3 the price). Lack of a built-in EVF is a design flaw for a $2800 camera, and it means that mass-coupling cannot happen for low-speed shooting. A really good sensor and lens and other factors could sway me, but I doubt it.
Richard J writes:
Here is a thought. Looking at 2 different disasters (imho) in the photo industry of late, each with some great aspects and some not so great. I have read everywhere on just how good the Sigma DP1 Merrill output is, however, like the bigger brother DSLR, the camera and functionality is quite poor. Then you take a company such as Hasselblad who make great cameras, but have now decided to take an already great camera, the Nex7 and soup it up with bits of wood and gold.
Well I am here to say why did someone not suggest a Sigma/Hasselblad relationship. Imagine a Hassy taking the foveon chip and designing a new, hopefully interchangeable lens camera with great esthetics and functionality. Now would that not be worthy of the Hassleblad name, and I think a big hit in sales.
DIGLLOYD: actually, the Sigma DP1/DP2 Merrill is a thoughtfully designed camera ommitting the design-vomit features found in most cameras, along with a menu system far better than Olympus or Sony menus because it is not overloaded with garbage features. I would improve upon the design by omitting all modes except M and A, and ripping out the JPEG and video features (well, and adding an EVF). Then it would be about perfect.
A Hasselblad-NEX reminds me of a cheap american SUV with a $5000 set of gold-plated wheels. I’m not sure how wood and gold make a better camera, or why I’d want a glitzy version of a missed-the-mark camera when digital cameras are evolving so rapidly.