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Reader Comment: 14.75MP True-Color Sigma DP Merrill vs 36MP Sony A7R

Sigma DP3 Merrill

With the current Sigma DP Merrills at bargain prices, it’s not a major investment to find out firsthand whether reader Peter L comments match your own sensibilities:

I own both the Sigma DP2 and DP3 Merrill and couldn’t agree more with the tulip print comments- they are fabulous cameras but you need to understand the terrible software (Sigma Unprofessional Pro) to get the best out of them.

With a good technique (ISO 100, good tripod and 2 sec timer F5.6 or F8) I can churn out pin sharp (even at 1 ft away) 36 by 24 prints @ 360 PPI.

Frustrated by Sigma , software and firmware issues and not the least battery problems a couple of weeks ago I purchased a Sony A7r with the CZ 55 and 35 mm lens. I need not have bothered.

Using the best PC raw converter DxO optics 9 I was able to produce some excellent quality prints far better than the normal FF DSLRs.

However and this is a big however, they were not as good as the Merrills at A2 , 36 by 24 and 40 by 28 @ 360 PPI size. Image quality is not just about sharpening ( for the DP Merrills I use none in camera – 1.00 to –1.6 in SPP ie negative sharpening) but tonal balance, colour separation and a certain 3D look which separates these images from other cameras- DP Merrill owners know what I mean. The Merrill resolves fine detail much better if you watch the sharpening.

I showed the 36 by 24 prints of the DP2/DP3 Merrill (JPEGs and RAW) to a number of people and they all preferred the Merrills.

Of course on a computer screen or on Flickr its hard to see but with a big print on the wall in colour or BW they are astounding.

Each time I go out on a shot with these cameras its exciting and I can hardly wait to get back to see the results ( other Merrill owners know what I mean).I suspect that unless the gap between the Merrills and the Sony comes down , the Sony will become a very expensive paperweight.

I have just subscribed to Diglloyd and am looking forward to learning more –it’s a great website.

DIGLOYD: yes. Six feet wide tulip print on my wall, and it’s a better print than anything I ever got from my 4 X 5 Linhof Technikardan view camera.

See Sigma DP Merrill blog coverage including Pixel for Pixel, *Nothing* Beats a Sigma DP Merrill as well as the in-depth review of the Sigma DP Merrill cameras. I very much look forward to seeing what the new Sigma dp2 Quattro can deliver.

But might the assessment be affected at least somewhat by the Sony A7R shutter vibration? The Sigma DP Merrill cameras use a leaf shutter which has no vibration.

8 sec @ f/10, ISO 100, fill-flash at -1.7 stops compensation
Sigma DP2 Merrill

R writes:

I agree with much of your readers assessment of the SD Merrills; to the point I now own one of each, and two DP3's. The macro capability is something I need.

I have not figured out how to take these Sigmas to a workshop (I'll be in the Palouse in June), however. Typically, after the day is done and we share/comment/critique images, a widely accepted RAW converter is needed. I would be embarrassed to make the conversion with SPP in front of a class! No matter how good the result, they would wonder "What is that crap software doing"?

So I'll take the A7R, AND my Merrills. The Sigma images will be for myself. I hope I can keep the Sony A7r shutter from being a factor.

DIGLLOYD: group psychology is one reason I no longer find group workshops useful for personal photographic growth, but I have taken some in the now distant past and they were valuable to me then in some technical ways, though they threw me off track for years by warping my sense of what and how I should shoot. Workshops can have a socialization and camaraderie component—very enjoyable going in understand and wanting that—but not my thing.

Steve P writes:

I own a Nikon D800E, a Sony A7r and a DP2 Merrill and each has its strengths and its weaknesses.

Although I was tempted to simplify and sell the Nikon and possibly the Sony, my wife made a very astute point; if you do not need to sell them, keep them for the specific use that you want.

With the D800E and the Zeiss lenses I bought for it, this is my large landscape road warrior, i.e. when I drive to some location and can carry as much gear as I like.

The Sony is the travel system, it all fits quite nicely in a courier bag with pouches and does not scream 'rich tourist'.

The DP2 Merrill is my dedicated Black and White system. The fabulous IQ and its rendering of color tones make for exquisite black and white images.

DIGLLOYD: well stated.

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