Though it looks to be one of a million digicams, the Sigma DP2 (and it’s DP1 and DP3 siblings) are a revolution in digital imagery. All on behalf of the Foveon sensor. I’ll show you why:
Some explanations are in order: The Foveon sensor is a multi-layered image sensor that registers all three additive main colors at each sensor site. Diagrams on Sigma’s site remind me of color slide films of days (almost) gone by. Chemistry of course plays no role here. Precisely because it has no Bayer pattern, it can forego an anti-alias filter that most conventional sensors have, exceptions being the digital Leica M-s, the Nikon D800E and the Ricoh GR. This improves resolution, helps with local contrast and avoids moiré from beat frequencies between subject and the anti-alias filter. I also suspect color differentiation is easier to program into the camera and the RAW-converting software if you don’t have to demosaic and interpolate between sensor sites for red, green and blue. So far for the technicalities of the sensor. It would all be moot if it didn’t show so clearly in the pictures! By the way, sample pictures in this post can be clicked for full size. Do it!
To be done with specs, the Sigma DP2 is an embodiment of your typical digicam, has a 30 mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 45 mm if it loaded 35 mm film) that is fine from open aperture for the center. Corners catch up at f/4.0, cushion distortion disappears around that f-stop, too. Bo’keh is nothing to write home about but not annoying. Electronics are a bit overtaxed for the data stream that this sensor produces, it definitely is a camera for considered shooting. Once the 7-9 RAW images buffer is full, it will take it’s sweet time storing those images away. Within this buffer size, release is not postponed, though review of images is.
These niggles aside, the camera astounds with it’s sharpness and color representation. I’ve last seen this rendering when I used Kodachrome (the 25 and 64 ISO variants, not the pale 200).
The colors may not always be Macbeth-color-chart-correct, but they are always expressive. Every patch of color has a quasi fractal amount of tones inside itself, and that, my friends, is as it is in nature. If you know how to look for it! One must applaud Sigma and the inventors of the Foveon sensor for taking a way off the beaten path here