Lens Guides

Sigma DP2 Merrill: First Impressions by Jack Howard

The Sigma DP2 Merrill is seriously amazing at capturing even the finest nuances of detail. Check out this super-detailed view of Battery Peck at Sandy Hook, NJ shot at F7.1 for serious depth of field. 1/320 F7.1 ISO 100.

I’ve spent the past few weeks experimenting with the Sigma DP2 Merrill and I am quite honestly blown away by the images this compact prime lens camera produces. The Sigma DP2 Merrill creates amazing photographs with exceptional detail and beautifully smooth color gradations and nuances of tone. The overall image quality of this camera is simply amazing and outstanding.

Click here to view the images in this story in full 4704x 3136 pixels resolution in a Flickr Set.








Here is another variation of this scene, shot at F/4 to selectively focus on the greenery popping up from the safety fence. Notice the fine details in the leaf and the gorgeously defocused quality of the background. 1/800 F4 ISO 100







And the feel of the images is stunning both when there is significant depth of field, and also when there is selective focus and a softened background thanks to the F2.8 maximum aperture with rounded blades and that large APS-C sensor for a “big camera” aesthetic to the images that is often lacking from so many small-chipped compact cameras.

Here is the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville, NJ. Notice how smooth and fine the nuance and variations is in the marble. And notice how even the finest simple and complex geomtric details are captured when viewed at full resolution. 1/640 F5.6 ISO 100.

The build and operation, too, is rock-solid: Metal shell, metal tripod socket, 920K LCD, and fast, responsive autofocus. This is the compact camera for photographers who care first and foremost about image quality.

Here’s a busier view from a block away from the courthouse. Here, pay attention to the tiny details in things like the crosswalk sign, the honeycomb reflective pattern behind the green and white of the street sign and so on. 1/250 F8 ISO 100.

All of the images shown here were captured in X3F RAW format, and processed lightly in Sigma Photo Pro 5.3 as 16-bit TIFFs. These 16-Bit Images were then converted to Highest Quality JPEGs as a batch action in Adobe Camera RAW as Highest Quality 8-bit JPEGs in sRGB space for web display.  Click on the images to pull them up at full screen slideslow display. And view this Flickr set at 100% resolution to really appreciate the nuances of tonality and fineness of details this camera captures. There is so much visual information in these files!

Here’s a classic motorcycle during a Cruise Night in downtown Somerville, NJ. Check out the thin focal plane at F2.8 and the beautifully soft feel of the backdrop. 1/250 F2.8 ISO 100.

Yes, X3F Raw write time with the Sigma DP2 Merrill may take some time, even when using super-fast storage like the Lexar Professional Class 10 600x speed 16GB SDHC card. (We recommend Class 10 cards like the Lexar used here for best performance.) But the focus with the DP2 Merrill is on quality, not quantity. Seeing the quality of the images on the hi-rez LCD, and then in their full glory displayed on a big computer monitor makes that write time seem very worthwhile. And yes, I am glad the camera ships with two batteries, as the BP-41s can drain quickly.

Check out this view of the Empire State Building from the High Line Park! And check out the vibrant color palette on a bright sunny day, with our focus on the green grasses in the foreground. 1/400 F6.3 ISO 100.

All in all, the Sigma DP2 Merrill is the sort of camera that will get you wanting to think about where you’re going next and what you’re going to hope to capture through its amazing lens when you get there.

Here’s another NYC view from the High Line. We are focused on the front of the building on the left side of the street at F6.3 for pretty serious depth of field. Notice how crisp the fine detail is, and how smooth the fine nuances of color are rendered in this scene. 1/320 F6.3 ISO 100.
And here, look at the amazing detail and nuances of color and tone in the foreground foliage. Can you spot a few birdhouses down there? And looking past the container ship to the Verranzano Narrows Bridge, the main suspension cables are three feet in diameter, and the vertical support cables are much thinner than that, but still visible across the bay from near the tip of Sandy Hook. 1/640 F8 ISO 100.
And here is a shot from this series converted to Monochrome in Sigma Photo Pro 5.3. Again, explore the fine tonal transitions and super-crisp detail. Same tech specs as above.

For me, this means testing out some HDRI scenes to take advantage of that super-wide +3/-3 AEB sequence, and also joining model photographer Robert Lopshire for a field test. We should have fun utilizing that up-to-1/2000 second shutter speed sync both indoors and out for creative effects with the models.

Now, this is pretty amazing. Check out the fine detail in this orbweaver spider. This was lit by a studio strobe at about an 85 degree angle to the camera, triggered by a shoe-mount PC cord. The spider takes up less than a 400×400 pixel area on the APS-C sensor, but still so much amazingly fine detail is illuminated! 1/1600 at F/8 ISO 100. (I cropped the edges of this frame a bit to eliminate a lot of empty space in the image to speed up load time.)
In case you thought the tech specs in the spider shot were a typo, here it’s spelled out on my hand. This strobe-lit shot was captured at 1/2000 second at F9.0 at ISO 100 via a shoe-mount PC cord trigger. (And notice the fly that alighted on my index finger for this one frame in the series!) Again, I cropped out some of the pure blackness to speed load time. But yes, the Sigma DP2 Merrill will sync with a studio light up to its maximum 1/2000 shutter speed, which is kind of awesome for both high-speed studio and outdoor location work. Stay tuned for a very special field test with models on location to go live in just a few weeks!

Click here to view the images in this story in full 4704x 3136 pixels resolution in a Flickr Set.

And Check back in a few weeks for more images from both of these upcoming shoots!

Comments (1)
  1. malle says:

    ok nice pictures, but what about low light scene ? I am really interested by DP2 but it’s impossible to find dp2 picture up to 400 iso and more ..

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