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| p.1 #1 · Sigma DP2M thoughts and observations |
Now that I've had the DP2M for a little while, and have been shooting with it extensively, I thought I would share some thoughts and observations on the camera.
A lot of things we already know, for example, the battery life is poor, the AF is slow etc. Really no need to rehash what has already been written countless times. I will add thought that the build of the camera is actually very good. I see so many people who have never handled the camera make absurd claims about how cheap it feels, how its made of plastic and creaks when you squeeze it etc. This simply isn't true. The camera is a solid aluminum brick, both in literal design and figurative build. Its very solid and while utilitarian in design, it actually works quite nicely in use. Very simple and effective interface with all of the menu options, limited as they are no more than a button push away.
Having owned NEX, XPro, X100's in the past, I can say that the overall feel and build quality of the DP2M is every bit the level of those cameras if not higher. Now battery life etc is another story of course, but this is not a creaky plastic camera body.
Image quality is both amazing, unique and at times frustrating. A large part of the later comes down to Sigma's software and trying to figure out what its doing both on the surface and under the hood so to speak.How well it plays with other software too can prove a bit confusing, for example, using SPP noise reduction or a stand alone program, and how it works on any blotchiness. No real clear answers there yet, but hopefully as more people use it, we will come up with some more solid workflows.
As we know too, the lens is exceptional, and really is what is giving it that quite impressive across the frame sharpness. I've seen similar results with glass like the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 Biogon C, just very, very well corrected, no CA and a rather pleasant bokeh quality that offsets its somewhat "slow" f2.8 speed.
Its also interesting to note that part of what we are seeing is the combination of the lens/sensor. Looking at the SD with Sigma average quality glass but the same X3 sensor just doesn't give nearly as impressive of results. Very good still, but you need the absolute best lens to really show what the X3 sensor can produce, luckily the 30mm is up to the task.
Really what stands out above all else though to me at least is the ability to render fine detail on distant subjects. Even with the D800e and good glass, I can't focus on distant subject, say a house or power cables etc, and get such fine detail rendered, even with the big increase in resolution. I don't know if this is due to the lack of the CFA and spacial resolution or what exactly, but its one thing the DP2M does that no other camera I've owned can match.
As for overall resolution though, its very good, but I'd say it is about on par with a 24meg sensor more or less. Higher resolution Bayer cameras can match it or exceed it through brute force. Its interesting because on a per pixel basis, and at moderate sized prints its fantastic, but its no D800e when it comes to really large prints (or test strips as I'm not doing 40" prints just for curiosities sake)
I'm also really not doing too much comparison to the D800e, simply because other than the fact that we already know its technically better overall, its a much bigger/heavier system not to mention far more expensive. For me, the whole point of a camera like the DP is to have something I don't mind hiking with, and that can give great results for a fairly minimal investment. If $999 is "minimal' is debatable of course, but given its both lens/camera for that price, I think its pretty reasonable for what you get, as far as IQ goes.
Camera I've actually done a lot of comparison with is the little Sony RX100, both because its portable and used when I don't feel like lugging the D800, and also because I no longer own a NEX or m4/3 etc, so its the only other option I've got.
On a per pixel basis the DP obviously gives the better file, especially in the corners, but the little RX100 still continues to surprise me at just how nice of output something that fits into my pocket can produce. not to mention being FAR more useful socially than the DP. DP2M just is not a camera to try to shoot anything other than static scenes as far as I'm concerned.
What really surprised me, thought perhaps it shouldn't of, is that doing a quick stitch from the RX100 can actually out resolve the DP2M. Again, as good as the X3 sensor is, sheer resolution ultimately trumps it.
Now in a way, this does speak of how good the X3 sensor is though at the same time. If you have to shoot 3-4 vertical frames and stitch them and hen downsize to 16 meg just to equal a single frame, well, thats a darn good single frame!
At the same time though, that downsized stitched shot is going to give you the same great resolution and viewing experience when viewed at what is now 100% as a DP2M file. Exception being very distant subjects in the background still will be sharper from the DP as I mentioned earlier.
What is most interesting of all though, at least for me, is that given the DP2M needs to be shoot from a tripod, or in great light, does it really make life that much easier than just stitching a few files from a Bayer camera to get what is for all intensive purposes the same overall file quality ??
See, the DP2m, much like the D800e, really is a very demanding camera. the 1/focal length rule just doesn't hold up true, and when you factor in your going to want to shoot at base ISO, unless your shooting in sunny weather the IQ just isn't there. Some of it may be my technique, but on an overcast day, trying to shoot at say, 1/30th, the files I get aren't nearly as good as they are on a tripod. The camera just shows any flaws as its resolution is so high.
So this comes down to about 90 of my shooting being on a tripod with the camera. Its small and light, and you don't need a real heavy one, so its not a big deal to carry, but at the same time, if your going through the trouble of always shooting from a tripod, is it really any more or less effort to do a quick pano ?
Same goes for post work, is stitching a pano any more work than dealing with SPP workflow ??
I can update this post later tonight with some crops, but really, when comparing a quick higher resolution pano which is downsized, to the 100% DP2M file, they are pretty much equal, if not even better with the stiched file due to less issues with color, blotchiness etc.
In the end its really leaving me pondering if I need/want to deal with the DP2M.
On one hand it offers some fantastic quality, and for the way I work with, its known shortcomings aren't a big issue.
However, it also means I'm always going to be working from a tripod, and if I'm dragging a tripod around anyways, could I not just do a quick pano with a Bayer camera for those scenes where I want high across the frame resolution ? (Or drag the D800e if the shot is near the parking lot lol)