Sigma DP2 Merrill Review

September 26, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 JS

Impressive detail and sharp lens, great jog!

3:40 pm - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#2 A reader

“...the images that it produces thanks to the combination of the 30mm fixed lens and the intriguing Foveon X3 sensor are simply outstanding, by far the best images that we’ve seen from a humble compact camera and even rivaling a DSLR with an equivalent prime lens.”
But at a fraction of the costs. And thus it ends up Essential? Highly recommended? No, Recommended. Hm…

4:29 pm - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#3 Kendall Helmstetter Gelner

I have a few corrections to the review:

1) You can override AF with the MF ring - you need to turn on “AF + MF” mode in the menu.

2) The camera is not unusable for the first four seconds after taking an image.  You can adjust settings or take another shot or use the menu, the only thing you cannot do while saving is review images.  The camera is responsive at all times, unlike previous DP-2 cameras.

3) You mention slow AF speed.  Were you using firmware version 1.01?  I ask because you didn’t mention the “AF Speed Priority” menu item, that when enabled further speeds up focus - and the firmware update overall greatly improved AF speed all around.

4) You mention saturation drop-off in images beyond ISO 400, but in the samples you do not see that until after ISO 1600.  In my use I find use up to ISO 800 really good, beyond that you start to have some noise issues but ISO 1600 is somewhat usable and the higher resolutions can work well for B&W images.

5) In addition to 3rd party close up filters Sigma sells a close-up filter also - the AML-2.  It does not need the lens hood, since the camera itself has a 49mm filter built in to attach any filters you might want without the hood.

6) You have the price wrong, your amazon link goes to the SD-1, a Sigma DSLR!  The street price of the DP-2M is $1k, not $2k.

5:04 pm - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#4 Lin Evans

Why do you have the price and description of the Sigma SD1 next to a picture of the DP2 Merrill? Why, in your “Rivals” section have the DP2X mentioned rather than the DP2M when compared to cameras like the Sony RX100? This introduces lots of confusion into an already confused market. Your Sony bias is showing when you use terms like “Exciting, New, is it the best” and with other cameras “can it compete,” etc., in the descriptions. Without reading the reviews, wrong conclusions are easily drawn…

5:32 pm - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#5 ben

If i had money to burn ill buy one. But the reality is its too expensive no flash no assist lamp and no electronic viewfinder!
Sorry Sigma i am out. But saying that if i win the lotto!

7:13 pm - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#6 Vladimir

I used to have Sigma DP2S for a while. Marvelous picture quality was offset by small screen and unusable ISO higher than 400 and I sold it.
Now it looks like Sigma has fixed these problems. But I guess I will wait when they fix the price problem - 800 dollars will make me buy it.

2:42 am - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#7 Kerala Wedding Photographer

Thinking of buying one!! is there anybody who is using it??

5:55 am - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#8 GMercer

Its all about image quality.  Sigma has created the perfect lens/sensore combination to produce images with more detail and quality ( IQ) than anyone for the sensor size and format. 
Sigma’s development of this lens on the DP2M is a little taste of what Sigma has for us in the future with its lens offerings for Canon,Sony, Nikon and Pentax and the 4/3 mount. 
The camera is well built and will soon be part of my photography business.
I don’t think there are any current real peers to this camera in terms of the image quality it produces. PERIOD.  Good job Sigma!

6:25 am - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#9 Jonathan

come on, not a single photo showing the camera from the top so one can see the top plate…

8:03 am - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#10 Ertan

Thanks for the review. The sample pictures are terribly chosen, though. Dull colors, uninteresting buildings, interior and street shots. I’d like to see more people and color.
This camera is best used with a tripod I guess. Anything over ISO800 is not acceptable Keep it between ISO200 and 400 and you will get excellent results with RAW.

11:37 am - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#11 JS

Some pics are blurred again(slow shutter speeds?)

6:26 pm - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#12 C Murdock

Although I don’t own this camera yet (I’m planning to buy it), I’ve looked at dozens of sample images on the web.  One thing that they don’t show in this review is that the RAW images are FANTASTIC.  As good at the JPG images are (at low ISOs), the RAW images are vastly better.  The colors are more evocative and more intense.  Photographs of beautiful scenes result in photographs that are nearly artworks in themselves.

I agree with the other poster that the sample images are awful.  All the reviews on this site have dull, uninspiring sample images.  Try photographing something beautiful!

8:11 pm - Thursday, September 27, 2012

#13 CG

What is the dynamic range?

12:45 am - Friday, September 28, 2012

#14 omo

All of you who liked the sample pictures of this review should have a look at this resource: Ryuichi Oshimoto’s photo essay (

Although this is a site in Japanese and you cannot read the language (like me), you can search for the “DP2 Merrill” pictures. Have a look at the dates 2012/08/24, 2012/09/7 and 2012/09/20 on the left side.

The pictures are full-size conversions of the raw images, that were taken. Most of the pictures were converted using Sigma’s included Photo Pro software. So you can get a good impression of what is possible with this camera and the software.

The most impressive thing for me (as always with Foveon pictures) is the sharpness and the level of detail, when you look at the pictures at a full-size 100% view.

5:43 pm - Friday, September 28, 2012

#15 Rick

If you want to see how this camera performs in everyday use check out Jun Seita’s photostream on Flickr where you can see some very nice casual photos. I liked this one in particular:

6:27 am - Sunday, September 30, 2012

#16 Vladimir

Thank you, Omo.
Pictures are stunning in their detail and color.
I am tempted to go and buy this camera. It is weird but in Russia it is for 875 Euros (cheaper than in Europe).
One thing prevents me from doing it - our late autumn is usually so dull and grey…

6:39 am - Sunday, September 30, 2012

#17 Abinaya

It looks very nice, i am planning to buy this camera, did any one already purchased this camera, please tell me about this camera features.

7:01 am - Monday, October 1, 2012

#18 AlpCns

This little camera has THE perfect sensor/lens combination. Reichmann tested it too and compares the results with medium format - and my own tests agree with that. It’s a unbelievably good lens and sensor, capable of breathtaking results if sufficient care is taken.

1:19 pm - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#19 ???????

“stunningly sharp” - LOL, where did you see that? I went through several images, searching for a sharp area, but found none. Am I doing something wrong, or is the king naked?

4:30 pm - Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#20 Krtko


Ok. Post here some pictures which aren’t from sigma, but they are even sharper. I would really like to see one. LOL
For this price range you will NOT find sharper pictures.

6:47 am - Thursday, October 4, 2012

#21 Vintage Wedding Photographer

I tried this one and I quite liked it. Very sharp image indeed

10:40 am - Monday, October 22, 2012

#22 C Murdock

The sample images are all JPGs, which are not as sharp as the raw images.  If you want to see really sharp images, go to the DP1M review and see the comment by Frank.  He lists a bunch of fabulous photos that he took with the DP2M there.

11:30 am - Monday, October 22, 2012

#23 Mitchell

Like the X Pro 1, the DpMs’ strength is IQ, but there are far too many misses than hits—a rattle-trap horror show, really, like a quirky (British, say) compact car from a previous generation with an F-1 engine bolted on. It can only usefully be taken to the track or for sunny, Sunday drives in the country ‘cause of the terrible gas mileage, leaky windsheild, lack of side mirrors,  tiny rear window, soft brakes and touchy steering.  Sure goes fast in a straight line, though.

I’ll wait for companies like Sigma and Fuji figure out the basics.

8:07 pm - Monday, October 22, 2012

#24 RTogog

Any one can tell me the improvement of this model against Sigma DPX of its AF speed ? I used Sigma DPX and think to upgrade for its higher resolution.

1:43 am - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#25 Kendall

@mitchell:  It’s way better than a “rattle-trap” camera.  The build is quite solid, they fixed the focus speed in a firmware upgrade.  Rather than being like a previous generation British car, it’s a modern MINI John Cooper Works.  It’s not the largest or fastest car on the road but it’s the one in the end you will love to drive for the sheer joy of it.

@RTogog: I had the older DP-2s, and the DP-1x.  The newer cameras (the DP-2M with the last firmware update) are substantially faster to focus, and can focus in lower light.  It’s still not the fastest around but it’s pretty quick now. 

I leave you with an example image from some recent shooting (get to original size image by right clicking):

3:05 am - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#26 C Murdock

Kendall, your picture is wonderful.  You should go to the comments on the DP1M review and look at the pictures that Frank posted in his comment (i.e., posted the URLs for).  I am finding that images from this camera are so sharp that they have almost a surreal quality.

Your picture reminds me of an experience I had in 2005.  I was in California on a cliff or bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean.  It was a gorgeous scene.  So I took a bunch of pictures with my 7 MP Canon point-and-shoot camera.  When I got home and looked at the pictures, I was hugely disappointed.  The details were all blurred (by the AA filter probably), and there were lots of noise-reduction artifacts and halos from sharpening.  That was when my quest for a camera with clear images began.

9:31 am - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#27 Myr

don’t you notice the green on the sides of the pictures?  compare with the center of them? like on your pictures sigma_dp2_merrill_09.x3f or sigma_dp2_merrill_15.x3f

5:52 pm - Sunday, November 11, 2012

#28 C Murdock

If there is a green tint along the edge, I don’t see it on my monitor. However, that’s a known issue with Sigma images.  I would rather see a little green on either side than have all the details of the image blurred, which is what other cameras do.

7:17 am - Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#29 speedyk

Great photo Kendall, and thanks for the reassurance for those of us on the fence about it. I’ve been meaning to tour CO by motorcycle, maybe this spring, and that photo explains why.

Another place to see Merrill photos and read discussion…worth looking through if you’re considering buying, some lovely shots in there with real detail and color…

2:05 am - Sunday, November 25, 2012

#30 george lee

The hard bit is how best to bench mark a camera like this. It is an apple and every other non sigma camera is a pear. This is reflected in what people describe as deficiencies when measured against other cameras. Sigma cameras are unique cameras and they are demanding of the end user if you want the best results. I have a DP1S and an SD15. The web is full of rude comments about sigma cameras but in general there is agreement about the image quality. I have seen similar comments about the Leica X1, good image quality, but comparatively poor performance.

IMHO you have to use a sigma camera for a while to really make your mind up. I was told the DP1s was poor in low light. I have some fantastic exposures from within churches with only low natural light, I was told it was poor for street photography, again not my experience.

However, sports, fast moving subjects? Its the wrong tool for the job. Maybe rather than try to compare cameras, we should look at how well a particular camera performs within a genre of photography, the DPM2 would blow away many more expensive cameras at landscape, still life etc, but for obvious reasons it would trail in other genres.

The other issue is few pros or enthusiasts have one camera, I think the sigma is very niche and will compliment most setups.

1:26 pm - Sunday, January 6, 2013

#31 FoveonFan

So, when will some company buy out Sigma so that they can pump money into developing the Foveon for much more useable cameras? Sigma seems to think we all want interchangeable cameras rather than interchangeable lens cameras.

6:39 am - Friday, May 3, 2013

#32 George Lee

I think it’s very clear there is a market for compact format large sensor cameras. Ricoh and Nikon just lately jumped on this bandwagon, and with fixed lenses. I doubt whether Nikon or Ricoh would have wasted R&D resources and product development for something no one wanted.

However it would be really sweet if Sigma did manufacture the Micro 4/3 Foveon based camera. I’m really pleased to note there are at least continuing to develop lenses for micro 4/3.

Personally I hope that Sigma continues to do really well and has not bought out by a company who wants to deal in safe bets and the middle ground, or to lessen the threats of competition to its ubiquitous grey cameras. It is really hard to resist the idea that Sigma is not an innovative company in its own right, certainly its current product line suggests this.

I also own other cameras (olympus, Nikon, Ricoh), I haven’t yet seen a single solution camera on the market. In the end I think this is less about Sigma and more about what individuals perceive their needs to be, and to what extent product fulfils these needs. My sigmas are not perfect, but they are perfect for the applications that I use them for.  when they reach the end of their serviceable life I will certainly buy Sigma replacements.

8:34 am - Friday, May 3, 2013

#33 Ovi

First of all, this camera is the easiest camera to use on the market. It is so simple! I am very disappointed about the rating. It does not reflect the reality. And what’s wrong with the design?! The worst design is Canon G1 X (from main rivals). The image quality from Sigma cannot be beaten. Why would you rate this camera last in its class?! What’s more important, taking good photos or just taking photos? Same for all three compact DP cameras.

3:27 am - Sunday, November 10, 2013

#34 Holger

While Sigma has updated their dp-series to the Quattro, I finally managed to get all 3 of the Merrills. Seems like photographers have finally found out about the IQ of these little machines: at least over here in Switzerland the dp1 merrill is nearly impossible to find, even used, while dp2 and d3 are still available new. I use all 3 of them, mostly for panos (dp2 and dp3 landscapes, dp1 indoors and cityscapes). Stich those phantastic pictures, and you get a marvellous quality. I love the Merrills, hope they keep going for a long time to come!

6:12 pm - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Entry Tags

review, 3 inch LCD, compact, lens, RAW, prosumer, prime, sigma, 30mm, fixed, 45mm, 46 megapixel, dp2, merrill, x3f, foveon, dp2 merrill, Sigma DP2 Merrill Review

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