Price When Reviewed: 468 . 510
Pros: Large DSLR-like APS-C size Foveon sensor and high-quality 28mm f/4 wide-angle lens; compact dimensions; excellent picture quality at lower ISOs.
Cons: Noise levels higher than current crop of DSLRs; menu-driven operation for most features; poor battery life.
Sigma’s DP1 is unusual for a digital compact camera, in that it has an APS-C-size sensor, as found in many digital SLRs. Sigma has done an excellent job in keeping the DP1’s wide-angle 28mm equivalent lens small, but there’s a price to pay.
With a maximum aperture of f/4, it’s slow for available-light photography. There’s little ability to control depth of field wide-open for those compelling selective-focus shots. Be that as it may, the 28mm lens stops down to f/11 and is very sharp and well-corrected – there’s little barrelling, and chromatic aberration is minimal. Still, if anyone reading this thought the DP1 was aimed at Leica users, think again. It’s certainly no point-and-shoot, either.
Auto-focus is tardy, and while it has a nine-point AF system, this isn’t automatically selected by the camera. You have to select the AF point from the menu, like you do for most choices, and it’s not a particularly quick process.
Oddly, a dial to the rear is solely for manual focus. It would have made more sense if that control had doubled up as selector-dial for other features, like that found on the similarly specified Ricoh GRD II. The battery life and build don’t match up to those of Canon’s unstoppable PowerShot G9, but the DP1 is well-made, and the metal shell is preferable to the plastic-looking outer of the early mock-ups.
We like the DP1’s uncluttered design, though the power button feels cramped when used with the optional-extra viewfinder. An optional lens adaptor is ideal for grads and polarizing filters, and when they’re not being used a square hood is handy for cutting veiling flare. This obstructs the view with the optical finder, but the combination works in the field.