Sigma DP1 Merrill Review

October 18, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Chris

Why would anybody buy this! It’s about the same price as the Fujifilm X100. The X100 is better is all respects including image quality, speed, dynamic range, looks, high ISO etc.

If you are seriously considering this camera have a look at the X100 first (and perhaps other cameras as well, for example the Sony RX100).

10:35 am - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#2 JohnC

The reason to buy it is the quality/tonality of the images at low iso. Nothing else like it out there, including the x100. But it’s unfortunate Sigma have not been able to address the issues with general operational speed inherited from the older DP1, not sure if the sensor is enough of a justification to purchase.

11:45 am - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#3 JS

@Chris-you are right, I’d choose X100 too for many reason but if you want razor sharp pictures with outstanding resolution, this camera is tough to beat! At this moment it’s still unrefined and unfinnished product for me…I am sure people who buy this camera will be happy. This camera is not simly for everyone…

12:01 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#4 xpanded

The X100 is not better in low ISO IQ. It is not even close.

12:02 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#5 Ben

I agree its completely overpriced and terrible battery, no flash or viewfinder. But there is something about the image i just love. Ill take the sigma over the fuji but it will never be my main camera.

12:02 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#6 Peter

I have the DP2 Merrill and since I got it my Fuji X-Pro1 and Nikon D800E have been sitting on the shelf.  There is a clarity and 3D look to the Sigma photos I just don’t see in my other cameras (including my Leica M9 I recently sold).  As the review states, the camera is lacking in many respects, but when you see the photos it can take it seems like a bargain.  I may get the DP1 to complement my DP2.

2:00 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#7 Joshua Amahit

the sigma dp1m and dp2m are outstanding digital cameras in the image quality division and nothing else. there is something different when it comes to the images that they take. just take a look at the sample photos around the web from the camera.

sure you shoot at raw to get the best, sure it is slow, sure the high iso performance makes you want to throw it away and you might find yourself losing the moments too much due to slow autofocuse and write speeds but the the main strength of the camera is the IQ. as such it performas well i n that respect and produces amazing photos that are on par with some DLSrs with nice glass. check out luminous - landscapes on the camera.

i do wish though that sigma would address the slow speed, the write times and the focus speed as well as the battery life so that people will give this camera some serious value for what it is worth.

in all honesty, it is expensive but under the right photographic conditions, this camera is nothing but amazing.

2:41 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#8 Rick

This unique camera, in my case the DP2 Merrill, does what it does within its limitations and it does so extremely well. It is not a general purpose or snapshot camera, it is not an action camera, it does not do well in low light, it does not fit in your pocket, it does not interact with social media, it does not do HD video, battery life is shorter than other cameras, and it is not sexy. But under the right circumstances and with proper handling it is a superb imaging machine given the price point and size. I don’t mind the slow write time - it gives me extra time to compose my next shot. I like not having a zoom - one less thing to worry about while composing the shot. I like the size - the camera fits my hands perfectly, is easy to hold steady and will be easy to use while wearing gloves. The Quick Set interface is great and it doesn’t take long to learn how to use this camera. If I want a tricked-out pocket camera I use my Sony RX100. If I want to shoot action or need interchangeable lenses I use my Nikon D7000. I don’t expect one camera to be able to do everything. The DP1 and DP2 Merrills are special cameras for special people, that’s all there is to it.

9:39 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#9 Frank

I own the DP2 since around 4 weeks and I’m totally happy with the outstanding image quality, I never got from my EOS 50D with Canon “L” or Zeiss lenses. It’s totally different to work with this cam but if you are interested in taking photos outside with good weather conditions, there is nothing better for great results and unique photos.

Here are a few photos I shoot with it during the last few weeks. All photos were taken in RAW and converted with Sigma PP (best JPEG quality setting).



10:05 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#10 Chris

Looking at the samples here, I can only conclude that they are ones of poor quality. Not as good as my X100. Perhaps someone here can direct me to samples that make my X100 inferior?

10:45 pm - Thursday, October 18, 2012

#11 C Murdock

Photography Blog deserves kudos for reviewing both the DP1M and the DP2M.  There seems to be some prejudice against Sigma cameras on other sites, and I am pleased and gratified that such prejudice doesn’t exist here.

I do wish that instead of posting just the raw sample files, you would post them after converting them to JPGs.  The low-ISO JPG images from these cameras are very good, but the converted RAW files are truly outstanding.

Thanks so much.

4:37 am - Friday, October 19, 2012

#12 Eddie

To Chris:
Luminous Landscape has a few sample images showing Sigma DP2 Merrill and other cameras, including Fuji X100. I find the quality of Frank’s samples outstanding.


11:11 am - Friday, October 19, 2012

#13 C Murdock

Frank, thank you for posting those sample images.  My computer is slow, and I’ve only looked at the first one so far, but it is sharper and more detailed than any other camera can produce short of medium-format cameras.  Look at the pine needles or the little antenna grid at the bottom of the large antenna.  Look also at the vines on the building and the texture of the cement (stucco?) sides of the buildings.  Amazing.  Chris, your X100 cannot produce images like this.

11:30 am - Friday, October 19, 2012

#14 Frank

To Eddie,

Chris does not mean my samples. My comment was blocked until this morning so he could not see my samples when he wrote his comment yesterday evening.

sorry to all, I’ve posted the DP2 files in this DP1 topic by mistake. I’ve ordered the DP1 also and I will show you a few test files later.



11:50 am - Friday, October 19, 2012

#15 Chris

To FRANK (and others)

I didn’t see your pictures until this morning, hours after my post. I was referring to the samples provided by PhotographyBlog, which are, to say the least, uninspiring and not impressive at all.

Thank you for posting yours Frank and taking the time and effort to do so. I think I can speak for all when I say ‘much appreciated’.

I am impressed by the resolution and quality of your pix. Outstanding!

I know that a camera (like a tablet or smartphone) choice is a very personal thing and people, for some strange reason, get really uptight about their own personal choice. I am not going to knock people who want to buy this camera, but, it isn’t for me.

Another point, I shoot weddings, I do half a dozen A3 prints per annum, what would I do with all this resolution? What do you do with all this resolution? Print A2?

Looking at the higher ISO pix from the Sigma, it falls somewhat behind my X100. I can shoot with impunity at ISO800 (which is almost indistinguishable from the base ISO) on DR400 and benefit from hugh dynamic range, wonderful skin tones etc. Perhaps the Sigma is not well suited to the weather here in the UK, the further West and North you go, the more unsuitable it becomes. Bright and Sunny days staying on low ISO doesn’t occur that often. I spend a lot of photographic time up Welsh mountains - not known for their bright and sunny weather.

It’s a pity really, because the image quality in terms of pure technical quality is quite stunning.

Saying that, I take a lot of photos with shallow DOF and I think that defeats some of the purpose of the Sigma. I couldn’t use this cam at a wedding. I don’t need that kind of resolving power (not to mention the speed of the thing).

If I was a landscape photographer with tripod then, yes, I would buy one, without doubt.

In essence, I would need more than the stunning quality to buy. It doesn’t float my boat. If it floats yours, then brilliant, and that is all that really, really matters. If it suits YOUR purpose and fulfils YOUR criterion. Whatever other people think and buy is totally immaterial.

Besides, ALL cameras have one common fundamental flaw! And that is the person using it!

Thanks Frank!

1:41 pm - Friday, October 19, 2012

#16 C Murdock

Chris, no one’s saying that you should buy the camera if it doesn’t suit you.  I like to go out on a sunny day and take photos at a leisurely pace, so this camera is exactly what I need.  However, I also photograph products to sell on the web, and for that I wouldn’t use this camera ever.  Sigma cameras are for those quixotic photographers, who (like the early photographers a century ago) are willing to do a little extra work to get fabulous images.  It’s not meant to be a work camera.  The reviewer over at Luminous Landscape said that he found himself taking photos just for the fun of seeing how perfectly the photos came out.

By the way, the low-light performance of these newer Sigma cameras isn’t that bad as long as you shoot raw and don’t exceed ISO 1600.  But they are no good for action shots.

I wish that one of the big manufacturers would start buying Foveon sensors and put them into a good body.  However, if Sigma keeps those sensors to itself, it may some day position itself as the manufacturer with the best, most premium photo quality, even if their cameras aren’t so user-friendly.  Actually, they have done that already.

I still don’t know why this site’s sample images aren’t better.

10:30 pm - Friday, October 19, 2012

#17 Garry

I wish Sigma would give their sensor and lens to someone who knows how to make a camera that I’d want to buy.
Put the lens in the middle, and put a viewfinder on it!

3:35 pm - Saturday, October 20, 2012

#18 Joshua Amahit

what would it be like if Sigma make a medium format camera Foveon sensor? Hmmm waht do you think? :)

8:17 pm - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#19 Dhoxax

I got the Fujifillm x100 and was very impressed. The Fujifilm Xpro1 came out, and I got it right away (plus all three lenses). Was I impressed? You bet!!  But then, after downloading lots of images taken by Sigma DP2 Merrill, I had to buy that one too. What happened?  The Sigma DP2 Merrilll produces images with extreme quality, sharpness is unbelievable (and colors very, very good too). Far better than my Fujifilm x100 and my X-Pro1!

I have printed several images from Sigma DP2 in A2 format (on Epson Pro 3880), upsized a bit, and the prints are just amazing. I own Nikon D800E as well, and when comparing prints (at A2) from D800E and the DP2 (blind testing) you cannot see the difference. You don´t have to believe this. But do the comparison yourself and you´ll see!

I kind of hesitate writing this “review”, because I know it sounds rather unbelievable. But I am not the only one, though, coming to the same conclusion.  As soon as the Sigma DP1 Merrill came out I got it too. It is indeed very good, but not as sharp as the DP2 (very good, but not producing the same very, very sharp images).


(See some DP2 images at my site on Shutterstock:

12:46 am - Friday, November 2, 2012

#20 gsum

Frank, thanks for posting your images. I’m a D800 user and all I can say is, I’m very impressed. For image quality, the Sigma is undoubtedly the best compact that I have yet seen. The clarity of the images equals the D800 with pro glass attached.

4:30 pm - Friday, November 16, 2012

#21 sam

Funny I found this thread… Because before I read this, I was dead SET on getting the DP1 (wanted the wide(r) angle lens than the DP2M.

Anyways, I’m selling my X100 for a DP1M. I’m going to loose money on this, the low light, the bigger aperture, and the speed and features simply cannot be matched.

But the Foveon sensor has me intrigued beyond anything else, so much that I’m willing to give up all that extra Oomph of my X100 for the sigma

is my ad!

9:44 pm - Monday, November 19, 2012

#22 leonard

It’s interesting that some of the most inspired shots on Flickr are coming from this camera in the hands of its owners. Who can tell which is the most important, the camera or the person, and does it matter? Some posters on this website are unbelievably aggressive over a box with a hole in it and a lens and sensor. Great review and thanks for taking the trouble to review a niche camera.

2:57 am - Thursday, February 14, 2013

#23 Mario

LOL it’s not a camera for have to know how to use it, how to convert the files efficiently, how to photograph too…it’s no Nikon or Canon that will give you nice pictures with idiot proof auto mode

10:08 am - Thursday, May 23, 2013

#24 Frank


I’ve posted a few of my DP2 Merrill test photos here a few month ago per mistake, here are a few I did yesterday and today with my DP1 Merrill. All photos were not extra sharped in SPP.

(F 4.0)
(F 5.6)
(F 5.6)
(F 8.0)
(F 5.6)
(F 5.0)
(F 5.0)
(F 5.0)



7:19 pm - Sunday, June 30, 2013

Entry Tags

review, 3 inch LCD, compact, lens, RAW, 28mm, prosumer, prime, sigma, fixed, 46 megapixel, merrill, x3f, dp1, 19mm, foveon, dp1 merrill, Sigma DP1 Merrill Review

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