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Sigma DP3 Merrill Initial Experience

The Sigma DP3 Merrill arrived today. See my blog entry Four Cameras for the price of One?

See also my review of the Sigma DP1 / DP2 / DP3 Merrill cameras in Guide to Mirrorless. I’ll be adding material on the DP3 Merrill soon.

Sharpness

The DP3 Merrill uses the same Foveon true-color sensor as found in its DP1 and DP2 Merrill siblings, a sensor capable of fantastic per-pixel detail, and especially superior to conventional cameras for color-on-color detail (like red on blue or blue on yellow, etcetera).

The DPM image sharpness is unapproachable by anything less than a 20-24 megapixel conventional sensor— unrivalled in its megapixel range (14.75 megapixel finished images). The DP Merrill (any model) is also the best compact camera on the market for monochrome images, because it records true color at every pixel.

Downsides

Like its siblings, the DP3 Merrill has perhaps the worst battery life in the industry (it ships with two batteries!) and slow save speed, in part because its raw files approach 60MB each (12 bits per pixel X 3 layers). And no EVF and a high resolution but mediocre LCD and a few other quirks.

That said, the DP Merrill control layout and menus offer a straightforward layout that I find more usable than most all compacts.

The DP3 Merrill lens

My initial impression of the 50mm f/2.8 lens (75mm equivalent) is highly favorable. Sharpness and bokeh appear to be lovely indeed. I do intend to press the 75mm (equiv) focal length into some portrait tests. The 50mm lens can focus quite closely for near-macro work down to a reproduction ratio 1:3 (70.5mm X 46.8 coverage, nominal).

The longer focal length is ideal for stitching multiple images together for higher resolution images by tiling a scene and then assembling.

Tulip Riot
Sigma DP3 Merrill, 13 sec @ f/9, ISO 100

The image below is a multi-frame stitch. It results in a 27-megapixel finished image after being assembled and cropped as shown.

Tulips
Sigma DP3 Merrill, 2 sec @ f/9, ISO 100
27-megapixel stitched image
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