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Sigma DP1 (gallery up at dpreview)

Phil Askey over at has just posted a beta gallery of the new and upcoming Sigma DP1 (site)

The new Sigma is the latest iteration in a series of cameras which tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to capture the hearts of "serious" photographers.

There have been many notable attempts, including the memorable Sony R1, Canon Pro1, Sony V3, and a few more. Nearly none of them had any successors.


The Sigma had to make a very big compromise. Instead of attaching a slow zoom lens, they've gone and attached a (moderately slow) fixed prime lens, thus keeping the total size and weight extremely pocketable. This means that the DP1 will have NO optical zoom whatsoever. It comes equipped with a compact 28mm f/4 that seems to be extremely sharp.

This is because of its sensor.... an APS-C sized sensor, which is around 5x larger than compact camera sensors. Sigma have stuffed a Foveon X3 sensor in it. This created the need for a larger lens. Having such a large sensor will invariably result in much greater image quality than regular compacts.

Looking at the samples this seems to be a great camera! Images are nice and sharp, and noise is kept low. Those 4MP images look fantastic from corner to corner with little CA and distortion. They look like prime candidates for up-rezzing to much larger resolutions like 10MP or so (a signature of Foveon sensors).

Colour is excellent, vibrant yet very natural. I'm a little put off by the greens, which seem a little strange, but maybe it's just me.

I have never seen this kind of superb quality in a compact camera! I'm impressed on so many levels (Sony R1 fans: you can't call your camera "compact").

Will it sell?

Sigma have been very brave with this camera. They certainly didn't go for big numbers with this camera like virtually every other compact camera manufacturer.

They're not selling a huge zoom range. They're selling a good quality 16.6mm (28mm equiv) lens capable of rivaling the best lenses out there.

They're not selling a big pixel count. They're selling a sensor capable of outputting very sharp images, albeit low-res.

They are selling image quality.

Sigma have also done a great job on the design. It's all-black, with black buttons, knobs, etc. They've included a hot shoe and even a mini-control dial. Great for photographers! Unfortunately though, the general public isn't likely to see it that way, and will probably be more tempted by that cute pink 12MP Casio sitting next to it.


So will it sell? I certainly hope so, but unfortunately I doubt it. It's drawback sales-wise is its lack of big numbers, making it harder to sell if you own a camera store. It will appeal to the niche of real photographers who want a compact when they can't lug around their bulky DSLR.

That said, this so far seems to be a great, great compact and offers a very interesting alternative to the throngs of compacts out there. Judging by its output here, I would pick one up in a heartbeat!

Coming in Spring 2008, apparently.

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