Sigma DP2 Merrill First Impressions Review
The Sigma DP2 Merrill utilizes contrast detection autofocus with nine points for it to choose between. The camera lets you manually choose which point to focus on or it will select for you. The camera also allows for manual focus simply by turning the focus ring on the 30mm prime lens, with a digital zoom magnifying the subject to ensure precise focus. We found the autofocus to be about normal for a point and shoot camera despite limited lighting. It certainly wasn't up to par with cameras such as the Olympus E-P3 or even the Sony NEX series, but we found the same problem with the Fuji X100, the DP2 Merrill's primary fixed lens APS-C competitor.
Exposure & Metering
The Sigma DP2M primarily meters automatically, with the option for evaluative, center-weighted average, or spot metering. The camera allows you to adjust exposure with a compensation of +/- 3 stops in 1/3-step increments. In most of the shooting modes the control dial will also alter a specific setting (aperture in aperture priority mode, for example). Even in program auto rotating the top wheel will shift your program to favor a specific aperture, though brightness is only affected by compensating the exposure.
The main menu for the DP2M allows you to change brightness, though one of the four directional keys is usually assigned to bring up the ISO menu by default. The camera features an ISO range of 100-6400, with the option to let the camera decide the appropriate ISO setting based on the brightness of the scene. There is no way to fix the range that the auto ISO can pull from.
In our limited time with the camera we did not notice noise on the rear screen at any ISO sensitivity below 400, which is in keeping with how this sensor performs on the Sigma SD1 DSLR. We'll have to hold off on making any proclamations about the noise performance until we get the camera into our labs for a full test, however.
The Sigma DP2M includes a variety of white balance modes and presets, with an automatic and custom white balance value available. The camera includes six white balance presets, including daylight, cloudy, shade, flash, incandescent, and fluorescent values. The custom white balance only allows you to store a single setting, without the option for multiple values that you can switch between.
The specs and the camera itself do not mention image stabilization in any way, with no option referencing stabilization in the camera menu itself. Therefore we have to assume that the camera does not feature any kind of way of correcting for camera shake, either optically or digitally by increasing sensitivity.
There are some basic color modes available on the DP2 Merrill that will alter the color balance of the images captured. There are seven color modes in total, including standard, vivid, neutral, portrait, landscape, black & white, and sepia. The camera also has several "picture settings" which are sliders that let you alter contrast, sharpness, and saturation on a +/- 5 stop scale.