As premium compact cameras go, the Sigma DP2 takes a different tack to the likes of the Panasonic GF1 and Canon G11.

It doesn’t support interchangeable lenses or rock a built-in zoom lens – instead, it features a fixed focal length lens with a large aperture, teaming it up with an advanced three-layer sensor to deliver what its makers claim is DSLR-quality performance in a tiny body. Does it live up to the promise?

Back to the old school

Well, to put it simply: sort of. The Sigma DP2 is unashamedly old school. It’s aimed at photographers who know what they’re doing when they adjust the aperture or shutter speed or exposure compensation, who don’t mind manually focusing, don’t mind moving their feet to frame shots and don’t mind spending time processing them on the computer afterwards.

That’s all because the Sigma DP2 doesn’t make things easy for you. Having a 24.2mm fixed focal length lens is a design choice, which is fine, but having to manually focus because the autofocus is slow and unreliable isn’t, especially when the fuzzy, small screen makes doing so trickier than it should be.

Process your own

You’ll have to process your own RAW files because the Sigma DP2’s camera-processed JPEGs don’t do the triple-layer Foveon X3 sensor justice.

This sensor can capture colour information super accurately, and if you shoot in RAW and process in Photoshop, Lightroom or something similar you can retain this in your finished shots. Let the camera do the work and colours become lifeless.

So if you just want to point and shoot the Sigma DP2 definitely isn’t the camera for you. It doesn’t make things easy, but if you’re willing to put in the effort you can achieve some genuinely impressive results: bright, vibrant colours, fine detail, a wide dynamic range and almost no distortion from the lens.

Lack of flexibility

All good stuff, but does it offer more than the likes of the Canon G11 and Nikon P6000 it’s going up against? We’re not convinced – you can take excellent photos on all three cameras, but the versatility of the Canon and Nikon isn’t a huge trade-off for that. In the case of the Sigma DP2, you feel you’re losing a lot of flexibility for the sake of a high quality lens and sensor.


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Sigma (Jenoptik UK Ltd) DP2 review

Bags of potential in the right hands, but trickier to use than it should be

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