The quality medium format cameras no matter what the brand stand out as superior to most DSLR cameras. This is particularly true when super large prints—thirty by forty inches and large—are to be made. Color fidelity in medium format is superior too thanks to the larger size of the photo sites that produce the pixels. This quality comes at a price measured not only in dollars, euros or yen. It is a price paid in size and flexibility. Medium format cameras are much heavier than DSLRs. It’s reasonable to want to use a tripod when shooting one.
I have a Hasselblad thirty-nine megapixel medium format camera that makes really fine, high quality photographs. It’s big, heavy and pricy too. So imagine what happened when Sigma introduced the SD1 Merrill. DSLR size, lighter, less money and more megapixels—forty-six and true color fidelity. My medium format camera wasn’t getting much use. Wait. It gets better. Sigma took their forty-six megapixel APS-C sized sensor and put it in a point-and-shoot body complete with a 50mm f/2.8 lens and called it the DP3 Merrill. At slightly shorter than double that format’s normal focal length (28mm) it is the perfect portrait camera. Best of all it can go anywhere. [2799-001.jpg]
The images from the DP3 Merrill are… well, stunning. These photographs were made at Photo Plus Expo in New York in October of 2013 in Sigma’s Safari Experience. I could shoot only between helping people attending the show make their own pictures of models made up as wild animals. The DP3 Merrill really delivered!
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There was one issue with all point-and-shoot cameras. I truly don’t like holding a camera at arm’s length to use the screen as a viewfinder. I want a viewfinder with an eyecup (and diopter correction so I don’t have to wear glasses) that makes hand holding it more stable. My first pass at giving my DP3 an eye friendly viewfinder was to use thin bungee cords to hold a Hood Loupe on the screen. Not too elegant looking; it was really useful. The permanent solution became the Nikon custom finder kit from hoodmanusa.com This beautifully made system attached to the camera’s tripod socket. It has it’s own socket for a quarter inch tripod screw or for a mounting plate like the one I use from Really Right Stuff. Best of all it feels great in my hand while my eye rests solidly on the included diopter equipped Hood Loupe. First issue solved!
Most regular readers of my Sigma Pros blog posts recognize that my happy place is the studio with lots of electronic flash light available. The DP3 Merrill does not have a flash socket, but with a Pocket Wizard Plus III mounted in the hot shoe my super tiny medium format quality portrait camera is ready for studio shooting. Yes, I hand hold it. [2799-005.JPG]
Sigma has put a lot of thought into the three DP cameras. By far the DP3 is my personal favorite thanks to its portrait focal length lens. The other two are wonderful for landscapes (DP1 19mm f/2.8) and street shooting (DP2 30mm f/2.8.)
This parting shot, of Amy Patterson was made during a testing at my Atlanta studio with the DP3 Merrill. [2799-006.jpg]