For ages now I’ve been wondering about buying the brilliant-but-flawed Sigma DP2. Or maybe DP1.
All the internet gurus seem to be raving about it, from eminent elder statesman photographers such Michael Reichmann or David Taylor-Hughes to uber-tech-geeks such as LLoyd Chambers. Not to mention the hordes of forum dwellers, including some of the more intelligent of the species. It seems to be the camera that has everything: amazing image quality, close to ultimate resolution, film-like rendition, practically pocketable, discrete, well designed and not unrealistically expensive. Of course you have to accept that it has a fixed lens (a very, very good one apparently), that it can’t take photos in the dark, like the latest Canikons, that it munches through batteries like a pig in a field of clover, and that you can only process it’s RAW files in Sigma’s own software, which apparently is truly dreadful.
Well, on that last point, most of the reviewers obviously have led a very sheltered life when it comes to software. I’ve downloaded Sigma Photo Pro, and found a few DP2 Merrill RAW files, and tried it out. It isn’t that bad. I would put it about on a par with Olympus Studio/Viewer - a bit slow at times, a tendency to do things in an unconventional way, but it works. It seems it’s biggest sin is that it’s not Lightroom, which is not a problem as far as I’m concerned.
And the results are, indeed, breathtaking.
But… in what way are they breathtaking? The resolution and clarity is exceptional, and to a lesser extent so is the colour. But unless I’m going to be printing on the side of a house, does this matter? At screen / web size, there’s no practical difference between the Sigma images and those from my 12 megapixel Olympus E-5 or E-P3. And both of those come with exceptional, interchangeable lenses. Which I’ve already got. I doubt that there is any practical difference in printing up to A3, or even A2, which is as far as I go. And there’s no end of software applications which can happily handle Olympus RAW files.
So, it’s a thumbs down then? Well, I don’t know. I have a feeling that the Sigma could be very nice to have along with me on my forthcoming trip to Antarctica, but then I’d start getting (even more) stressed about which camera to use. On a nice, clear day it could really come into it’s own for certain landscape shots, but then again the E-5 does a good job too. And I’m still debating if I should take the XPan, adding even more variables to the mix.
Of course there’s a considerable deal of GAS (Gear Acquistion Syndrome) and Retail Therapy involved here. But this is counterbalanced by a general feeling of too-many-toys nausea. And they don’t call me Indecisive Dave for nothing.