Sigma DP2 Merrill First Impressions Review
It's rare in the digital camera market to see something that truly innovates. With their DP1 in 2008, Sigma did just that, putting a completely new type of APS-C image sensor in a fixed lens compact camera. The size and sensor combination was bold enough, but the Foveon X3 image sensor in the camera was radically different from any other thing on the market.
While most cameras create a digital image from an array of alternating red, green, and blue pixels (interpolating the actual image's color from that data), the Foveon sensor has three sensors stacked on top of one another—one for each color. This produces three times the data, with each pixel having information from across the color spectrum.
The DP1 was hardly a success however, and several years later Fuji X100 was released to mass acclaim for following essentially the same formula with a more traditional APS-C sensor. Like with most true innovation, Fuji proved it's better to improve slightly and market effectively rather than take the initial risks yourself.
The Foveon sensor has seen drastic improvement since 2008, with the DP2 and DP1 Merrill now including the same 15.4-megapixel model (46 megapixels in total) as their well-received $6000+ SD1 full-size DSLR. All this fits into a simple compact camera that can slot easily into a jacket pocket.
The DP2 Merrill is in many ways the exact opposite of the Fuji X100—it's the yeoman camera, without ornament or embellishment. It's designed to be a vehicle for its sensor, and nothing more. It's not meant to call up distant memories of some faux-nostalgic love of photography; if the Fuji X100 is The Tree of Life, then the Sigma DP2 is a forty-five minute instructional video on wood carving.
That doesn't make it a bad camera, by any means. It's compact, it has a great control scheme, it's a simple camera to use, and there's nothing particularly offensive about its operation. We'll have to get the camera through a full range of performance tests to say more, but Sigma once again has a camera that's a rarity in the market: it just takes photos, period.