Back in March, I wrote about a 40 X 26 inch gallery wrap canvas print with gloss finish created by Picture Element from an image I made using the Sigma DP2 Merrill (image shown below). These coated canvas prints come alive—give one a try—I generally prefer the gloss finish. See more tulips with the Sigma DP2 Merrill in the review.
Printer Mike Chambers (no relation) who sees everything up to high end medium format and larger says “Print is looking amazingly awesome” and a photo industry executive says “Saw your tulip print at Mike's today. It is gorgeous. ”
Well, I now have this 72 X 49.5-inch inch (183 X 126 cm) print hanging on my wall. Wow! The pixel integrity is immediately evident: there is no sense that it is a “digital” image; nothing intrudes into the sense of 3D realism. As for sharpness, sure I can view it two feet away where my eyes can’t even span the entire image and thus observe that it is not fully sharp down to the finest details, but even then that is not the impression. Standing at a comfortable 4+ foot distance, the entire image looks fabulous. It is the pixel integrity: no artifacts, no aliasing, purity of color right down the single pixel, which makes edges and textures look like the real thing.
A signed and numbered 72 X 50 mounted canvas print of this image as I had it made is available for $5100 (freight additional if not picked up directly).
Image shown below had additional minor retouching for final print. Click for larger.
Wesley W writes:
I have written to you before. Since then I have acquired all three DP Merrills, and have been enjoying the image quality without ends.
I am a print master based in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and I work closely with Hewlett Packard Malaysia. I run a printmaking business specializing in large format photography and art reproduction.
I have tried printing DP2/3 Merrill files at 6'x4' and truly it's been most mesmerizing, further enhancing my belief in the capability of the Foveon sensor. I've done enough prints from other APS-C and FF sensor based DSLR right up to D800/800e, and even medium format from Leica S2, Hasselblad H4D-40/50 and Pentax 645D, I can safely say any Foveon image interpolates extremely well without noticeable (interpolation) artifacts. In other words, it easily surpass the quality (in print) at large sizes even comparing the D800. The micro-contrast and detail extraction from the lens/sensor on the DP Merrills are simply amazing!
I think you will be amazed and happy with the print you ordered. I am subscribing to your paid section (mirrorless) to learn more from your detailed analysis and comparison with other mirrorless cameras. Well done there!
Till then, I've always enjoyed reading your blog.
DIGLLOYD: Only those who try the DP Merrill figure out just how good the image quality really is—there is tremendous unawareness—and some reject them out of hand.
The key issues with DP Merrill are dreadful battery life, slow write speed, no EVF, and unreliable software. The first three are somewhat compensated for by one of the best usability experiences in any compact camera, including pinpoint AF mode, believe it or not! Different from most cameras, but eminently fast and well done (easily rejected with casual use I suppose).
The software issues might or might not be an issue, depending on Mac or PC and the volume of images and CPU cores and so on, and all can be converted to TIF. And the camera JPEGs are the best I’ve seen from any camera.
How can Sigma get traction in the market? Fix all these issues in an update, especially the software. And ideally, introduce a 1.3X-crop of even full frame sensor version.
Roy P writes:
The image below is really stunning! Very impressive. I don’t know what kind of lighting you used / had, but I’m surprised it took an exposure of 8 seconds! Was that picked by the camera, for the given ISO and aperture?
DIGLLOYD: Natural late-day light at dusk, taken inside (window light), one inexpensive large reflector on the side, fill flash at -1.7 compensation to open up things just a bit. Funny how easy it is with some patience: those 10 minutes at the end of the day are worth the 23.8-hour wait (I don’t have space for a proper studio).
Michael Chambers of Picture Elements
Michael responded to my inquiry which I forwarded on behalf of several readers about the printing process involved:
Unfortunately I can't remember my exact settings, but it was basically this: interpolate the file part way, apply some sharpening, interpolated again and apply sharpening again two more times different ways.
Also, to finish, I used the history brush to feather out some of the harshness in certain edges. I also cloned a few artifacts that seem to appear at the larger size. I didn't spend too much time... maybe 20 minutes (but I'm pretty fast with this stuff). It was a bit of trial and error before I got the file the way I wanted, but it doesn't feel like it was some amazing discovery or anything.
There were some creative juices at work, but nothing that added to the integrity of the file. The file just lent itself to this type of enlargement better than other digital images I see every day. We do have some custom ink settings and profiles with our printers, but I don't believe that made much difference in this case.
DIGLLOYD: I don’t have the time or the printer to make large prints or the space to coat and stretch canvas over a frame (or the skill or inclination for most of that!), so I just rely on Picture Element to do a first class job on the printage.