Sigma asked me for feedback on the DP Merrills, so I in turn asked readers for feedback on the Sigma DP Merrills, to supplement my own concerns.
There was an outpouring of interest; clearly those who have a DP Merrill or have used one really like some of its qualities including the image quality but also the menus and size and layout.
Just as clearly, some issues are problematic enough that in spite of the enthusiasm, the camera gets sold or a 2nd or 3rd DP Merrill is not purchased.
Feedback has been sent to Sigma (names and personal info stripped out).
Editorial comments in square brackets [...].
- Image quality had universal enthusiasm: “stunning”, “best image quality”, “superb”, “remarkable”, “unmatched”, “fantastic”, “landscape camera of choice”, “really deep and lustrous”, “resolution”, “monochrome quality”.
- Lack of digital artifacts.
[Not to be confused with the unavoidable discrete stepping from digital sampling of any kind at a resolution approaching the limit; think a line sampled on very fine graph paper].
- Light, discreet, compact: “love the compactness”, “minimalist design”, “unobtrusive”, “invites me to stop and think and engage”.
[Innocuous and plain-looking is a huge plus in some shooting scenarios].
- Menus well liked: “Menu design is flawless”, “ability to customize settings and quickly adjust”, “Menus/Q button functions”, “menu system”, “understandable/ usable”, “easy to use”, “simple and direct”, “simple and logical”. [It is among the very best designs on the market].
- Controls: “to the point and very well thought out” but counterpoint of “too easily activated”, “one must use the menu system for most changes”, “wish I could “lock” the exposure compensation”.
[I’ve had little trouble but it is true that they can be pressed a bit easily. Still, I shoot in manual most of the time and find it a non-issue]
Key limitations and dislikes
- Near universal agreement: software support is awful (Sigma Photo Pro); no DNG or Lightroom support. [This issue is about more than workflow alone; 5 years from now will X3F support be available? The Mac version of SPP is still a 32-bit program using old APIs and badly needs an update].
- Grip: “no grip”,“lack of”, “slippery”, “really needs”, “battery grip”, “improve”.
[The RRS grip for Sigma DP Merrill is excellent, but it should be built-in like the Sony A7R].
- EVF option sorely missed by most users: “no EVF”, “lack of”, “problematic”, “must”, “would help immensely”, “sold because lack of”, “problem”, “difficult in low light”, “strongly prefer”.
[including your author, see Why an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is Not Optional, and Not Sufficient Either and Geezers].
- Poor quality rear LCD: “too low resolution”, “very poor quality”, “color bleeding”, “blows bright high values”, “useless for motion”, “fold out”, “better”, “smudging”, “greater resolution”, .
[Needs a big step up in quality, along with at east an optional EVF to address the glare and shooting issues].
- Battery life: “horrible”, “short”, “poor”, “pathetic”, “sucks”, “laughable”, “ridiculous”.
[Batteries are small and cheap, my solution is to carry seven batteries for a day’s shooting, but it would make sense to redesign for a battery with twice the capacity along with a camera with twice the efficiency].
- Speed: “poor responsiveness”, “long time to save”, “long time for pic to come up”, “super annoying”, “image Processing speed”, “slow write speed”, “speed”, “underpowered processor”.
[Indeed, the ~12-15 second write delay means waiting that long to see the histogram. Slowest camera on the market, by far].
- Exposure: “highlights clipping warning”, “difficulty nailing exposure for ETTR”, “ETTR feature for full optimization of dynamic range”, “guess about any exposure adjustment”.
[A huge plus would be support for a true raw histogram as with the Leica M Monochrom, because ideal exposure is critically important for getting peak quality in both detail and color from the Foveon sensor.]
- Build-in flash would be especially useful with the leaf shutter lens.
- No remote release of any kind.
Noted / nice to have
- Video capability is silly; such low resolution. [Better to simply remove it rather than be a pretender?]
- Not usable at high ISO; ISO 400 about the realistic limit.
[This type of limitation is not a plus, but as a specialized tool it bothers me little for shooting where I’m after image quality; use a more appropriate camera for dark shooting]
- Weather resistance would be nice to have (several comments).
- More focal length options and/or faster lens speed.
- In-body image stabilization.
- Full frame sensor and/or higher resolution..
- Mentioned by few: HDMI output, WiFi.
- Increase time lapse exposure to 300 secs.
- Color rendition reactions range from very strong liking: “beautiful”, “superb” all the way to “inconsistent, inaccurate, unrealistic”, “imprecise”.
[I felt this way about different film types too! The color can be fantastic with reds, yellows and orange), but green consistent” and “inaccurate” to “Foveon green”. Blue has trouble. Also, loss of saturation in shadow areas.].