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Sigma DP1 hands-on

Dennis Hissink
Photokina report
Monday 2nd, October 2006
Posted by: Dennis Hissink

During our meeting with Kazuto Yamaki, Chief Operating Officer, from Sigma Japan, I had the opportunity to touch and try the new Sigma DP digital compact camera. Although the status of the Sigma DP1 is pre-pre-pre-production, in the words of Kazuto Yamaki, we can already share our thoughts with you based on this model. The Sigma DP1 is compact and is basically similar to ordinary compact camera models. However the big difference between an ordinary compact camera and the Sigma DP1 is its image sensor.

Sigma DP1 hands-on

Sigma DP1 - Foveon X3 image sensor
The Sigma DP1 incorporates the same Foveon X3 image sensor like the Sigma SD14 digital SLR camera. And this is kind of unique cause every other digital compact camera incorporates smaller image sensors, often smaller then before. Sigma is walking in the opposite direction and is aiming to deliver a high-end digital compact camera. The Sigma DP1 produces large JPEG and RAW files produced by the 14 Megapixel sensor. At this stage we cannot conclude anything from the image quality or what so ever, because there are simply no images to review.

Sigma DP1 hands-on

Sigma DP1 - Fixed focal f/4 16.6mm lens
The back of the camera shows a button assuming a zoom function. However the introduction clearly stated that the Sigma DP1 will not carry an optical zoom lens, only a fixed focal length of f/4 16.6 mm, equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm camera. It would have been great to see a brighter lens on the DP1, but this would not be possible without changing the dimensions of the camera. Therefore the f/4 brightness is a kind of compromise. The same goes for the integration of an optical zoom lens. The sensor in the Sigma DP1 is large, much larger than other digital compact camera's. To guarantee an outstanding quality the lenses must be designed so that the light rays are falling straight on the sensor. With smaller lenses, the rays are hitting the sensor in an angle. If we want the rays straight in the sensor, the lens must be very big. In the end this would make the Sigma DP1 too large. Therefore the zoom function of the buttons will refer to a digital zoom. According to Kazuto Yamaki this is a surprisingly good alternative due to the characteristics of the Foveon X3 image sensor.

Sigma DP1 hands-on

Sigma DP1 - JPEG & RAW data shooting
Because the Sigma DP1 features the Foveon sensor the user will be able to shoot in JPEG and RAW data (X3F). The RAW format will provide full image capture detail of the utmost quality. The back of the Sigma DP1 features a 2.5-inch LCD monitor offering 100% image preview. On top of the camera you find a wheel featuring full P/A/S/M settings to fulfill the demand of the serious photographer.

Sigma DP1 hands-on

Sigma DP1 for serious photographers
At this stage the Sigma DP1 is only available as a pre-production model, but the goal of Sigma will be to let the Sigma DP1 compact camera become available around February 2007. The Sigma DP1 is developed for the serious photographer looking for a compact digital camera but without the need to make any compromises as to image quality. On the other hand the Sigma DP1 camera could also mean the first step for a future SD14 user. By buying a DP1 the user can experience the quality of the Foveon technique without the need of buying a complete new system.

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