Published on May 27th,2008 at 4:14 AM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

Sigma DP1 Review: Pure Images from Your Pocket

Many people will come to covet the Sigma DP1, and this is understandable! When you see the picture quality produced by this little digital camera, you will be surprised. Clearly, 1 pixel equals 1 pixel! It ignores interpolations that inflate the number of mega pixels… Here Sigma is seeking clarity for the record!

Getting Started

The DP1 fits well in your hand, and with it you’ll appear less touristy than if you were carrying a conventional digital camera. Its rectangular design and lens cap creates a retro effect that some will appreciate, tho others may curse the cap as it hinders Lucky Luke point & shoot techniques… Clearly, this is a camera for those who are patient when taking pictures. Although it possess automatic modes, for a great finished product pictures should be taken in manual mode.

The DP1’s design is well conceived and works well when using manual settings. I particularly found the manual focus knob to be very comfortable, and its wide 2.5″ screen provides enough light for outdoor use, and a practical field of view.


The Foveon sensor is IMPRESSIVE! Image detail is breathtaking when set at 100%, and clearly a slap in the face of the best reflex! I’ve never had a camera capable of this level of quality in my hands… The sensor’s 3CCD technology is revolutionary. On the stroke we have actual pixels, not the interpolations provided by other sensors.

Some may scoff at the specs’ 4.6 Mega pixels… Indeed! But these are ACTUAL 4.6 Mega pixels! When other manufacturers advertise 10Mpx, they’re really saying 2.5Mpx of Blue, 2.5Mpx of Green, and 5Mpx of Red… all this is interpolated to provide an image of 10Mpx. The DP1’s Foveon X3 sensor’s 4.6Mpx image is composed of 4.6Mpx of Blue, 4.6 Mpx of Red, and 4.6 Mpx of Green… the equivalent of 14Mpx when calculated as the others. Its 4.6Mpx, when extended to 14Mpx, provides an image rendering almost identical to a reflex.

Technology is not everything, we must also take into account the DP1’s sensor is the same size as that found on a reflex… namely 12 times the size of those generally found on a camera!

All this combined, we can easily see that picture rendering is worthy, and may be superior to high-end digital reflex cameras.

Not everything is perfect…… far away…. Although the sensor is a great technological advance, the rest the camera is lagging and similar to digital cameras released five 5 years ago. Auto-focus is slow and imprecise (not considering the image freezes for an instant when focusing… taking a picture of something in motion is nearly impossible), long lag time between two shots, ignition slowness, forget setting ISO sensitivity too high…… etc. Use is really reserved for those who have the time to prepare their shot… Point & shoot aficionados should forget it.

The 320×240 pixel video format is simply ridiculous, and shows how behind Sigma is on this point…

The menus are clear, and their’s also a certain freedom in manual settings.

Finishes and Accesories

No need feel careful when handling this camera, it’s like possessing a handmade and robust device. Although the lens is excellent, I feel Sigma is fudging a bit… This is not really a wide-angle (it’s advertised as a 16.6mm, but including the size of the sensor, it’s really a 28mm lens ) and you will end up with an average image size… A shame because this camera is clearly designed for those who want to do something different… something artistic!

Accessories are interesting but far from essential… really for addicts.


– Picture quality surpassing all that exists
– Foveon X3 Sensor
– Lens quality
– Manual settings
– Finishing and robustness of the casing


– Very slow electronics
– Ancient auto-focus (Too Old…)
– 320×240 videos
– Maximum ISO 400
– Macro mode to 30 cm (Is that macro?)
– Protective cap


The Sigma DP1 provides the feeling of a unique, handmade product, a true handicraft where quality manufacturing prevails over performance, which appears to be Sigma’s aim. A beautiful device offering incomparable picture quality thanks to its revolutionary sensor (Sigma succeeded in this), but clearly dedicated to the professional who is looking for something different from that provided by a typical digital camera.

Drawbacks… The slowness of the electronics makes our digital camera suitable for still-life, but not for animated photos, and a 16.6mm lens, even if it’s excellent, is like having a 28mm lens (equivalent 24×36 )… excluding those who are looking for originality of vision outside the typical box.

Take a look on my full size sample here

58% Yes
21% No
21% If Canon uses the Foveon X3 technology

(52 votes)

Via Sigma DP1
Category Image
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  • Clifford

    It doesn’t bestow much confidence in the reviewer when the first line gets the cameras type completely wrong. The camera itself sounds horrible and the canon G9 is probably a far better, and cheaper option.

  • none

    Honestly, to call 16.6mm /28mm as a drawback is silly. The lens is advertised as what it is, and can’t be considered a drawback just because the reviewer’s preference is it be wider. 28mm is already too wide for lots who have openly voiced their disappointment that it wasn’t 35mm or 50mm equiv.

    Imho making it 28mm was exactly right, wide enough to satisfy most, while it’s still possible to crop to make it 35 /50.

    Second, making it wider than 28 would probably involve making it bigger, thus compromising by making it less compact.

  • gbrgn

    I don’t get the poll.

    Where did this come from and how is it relevant to a Sigma camera?

    “If Canon uses the Foveon X3 technology”



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