Boing Boing Video review: Sigma DP2 camera

Should you buy the Sigma DP2? Only if you're in love with the sensor. While it's definitely a better choice than its predecessor and is not without its manual charms, its high price puts it in range of DSLRs and other cameras that come without as many limitations. Looking through a glass viewfinder is such a treat, though—too bad it doesn't seem to actually line up very well with the actual pictures. If you'd like to download my talking-at-the-camera review that's embedded above, here's a link to a direct MP4 download. Below, a slideshow of unretouched images from the DP2. (They were shot in RAW, but uploaded to Flickr in JPG, as Flickr does not understand Sigma's RAW format.)
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24 Responses to Boing Boing Video review: Sigma DP2 camera

  1. mcscruffington says:


    I wouldn’t really say it was ‘a nice change’ to hear from a layman’s perspective, it’s more just… obvious. That’s like saying it’s nice to hear an OSX user’s perspective on using Linux (yes yes, I know, Ubuntu). Seems like it’s designed by software engineers? Hehe. How did that puppy fall into Joel’s hands, anyways? Why not just review an SD1100IS (or is it 1200 now?), the de facto camera of people who just don’t care.

  2. Rickyneck says:

    Comparing this to a DSLR is missing the point completely – as has been pointed out, a DSLR is not pocketable – as such, the opportunities for use are severely curtailed. This review is good and to the point – the Sigma is definitely a contender for a high quality street shooter…

  3. Piers W says:

    I’ve had a DP1 (more or less the same camera with a wide angle lens) for a while. It takes fantastic pictures. Its colour is as good as or better than really high end equipment. I’d rather not have a picture of something than a bad picture of it.

    If you aren’t reasonably familiar with the basics of photography, or you don’t want to put up with it’s pretty crappy user interface, or you want to take pictures in low light, don’t buy one.

  4. John says:

    So is the DMC-LX3 a better bet?

  5. Astin says:

    @2 – Sure, the LX3 is a good P&S, but it’s a different beast than the Sigma.

    This isn’t a review about what features a good P&S should have, it’s about a very specific type. Sigma’s put a DSLR sensor into a P&S, and it’s a Foveon sensor. So the question is if the fantastic RGB resolution and increased sensor size over a standard P&S makes it worthwhile. The answer would seem to be no.

    I’ve been pulling for Sigma for years now to get the technology right (back when Foveon was a seperate company) in their cameras, but every iteration has fallen short. They tend to suffer in low light, are slower than the mainstream options, and with the constant CMOS advances and MP increases on full-frame sensors, the gap keeps narrowing between the technologies.

  6. hohum says:

    Don’t really see how this was anything short of a well done review… I’m guessing the people who are complaining have never see a Joel review before? Anyway, he pointed out the good and the bad – if all you’re concerned about is IQ and size, this is probably the camera for you… If you have any other concerns, it probably isn’t…

    I’m still completely convinced this is the camera for me… Nice color, good DOF/bokeh, small enough for urban photography… Now to find the money…

    P.S. Nice shots, 9 Hayagriva!

    P.P.S. Pretty kitty!!!

  7. randwolf says:

    When you talk about a camera designed by engineers, you could almost be describing a Leica. Well, except for the fixed lens, which is a big deal. Still, a lot of photographers left a moderate wide-angle lens on their Leicas and produced exquisite images. So, maybe…

  8. hohum says:

    @John 23, If you’re still watching this now-antique thread, I’d say search on flickr for DP2 photos and LX3 photos. If you find the quality of the LX3 photos acceptable, then it’s probably a better bet – zoom lense is more versatile, UI is better, and I believe the camera is a bit smaller. But if the DP2 images blow you away, then that’s probably the way to go.

  9. BB says:

    Hipster douche bag with the crappy camera please go away!

  10. emeb says:

    “…a camera designed by engineers, not necessarily a camera designed for photographers…”

    Good thing all the other cameras out there aren’t designed by engineers… oh wait…

  11. SimeonW says:

    So this camera os like the opposite of a Canon G10, where everything is kind of good to great, except for the tiny sensor.

  12. jeaguilar says:

    Not that this would sway anybody but the specs say that the camera can shoot video, albeit “QVGA:320×240 (30 Frames Per Second).”

    Um, OT – but, what’s a “hail fellow well met type of chap”?

  13. rak0ribz says:

    Once again, I’m going to mention that the Panasonic Lumix LX3 is a fantastic point-n-shoot-n-pretend-you’re-a-pro camera. It has fast glass, a pretty wide field of view, and decent SNR in the dark. The wife and I took one along on our honeymoon & got some great pictures. Of landmarks.

  14. hbl says:

    My Nikon D40 DSLR is pretty pocketable. It’s weighs the same as half a squirrel.

  15. IamInnocent says:

    There are plenty of professional reviews for the DP2 already. They say that this camera is aimed at the pro or very serious amateur photographer who wants a P&S which still can capture pictures of a great quality. Those people likely already own gears in the 10K$+ and won’t be put off by the price of the Sigma.

    So it was a nice change to hear from someone who know fairly little about advanced use of cameras. You put the accent on many aspects which would never come to mind to someone more experienced. This completes the picture nicely. Moreover, your review is then more useful to any person of your level/type-of-use than any pro review they may come across.


  16. haineux says:

    It is a pretty good thing that you tell people that the viewfinder is a poor match for what you end up getting in the picture, because people don’t know this.

    On the other hand, this shortcoming has been true with all cameras where the viewing lens is not the taking lens. Ever. There WILL be parallax and shift, because the two lenses are in different places, and light goes in straight lines.

    This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that SLR cameras, which are more bulky and fantastically more complicated, became common. What You See Is What You Get.

    Well almost. It turns out that even the newest SLR cameras have a certain amount of inaccuracy — typically, they include a little bit more in the picture than what you see in the viewfinder. The camera reviewers argue about which camera has the “best” inaccuracy.

    The ideal viewfinder, as it turns out, is to use a display screen that shows precisely what the sensor sees, no more no less. Exactly like the displays we have on the back of inexpensive pocket cameras.

    EXCEPT that those displays typically have crappy resolution, crappy color, are overwhelmed outdoors in sunlight, etc. etc. etc.

    (Strangely enough, the displays on the back of the camera typically make novices take better pictures, because they become more aware of the way a finished picture will look, because they see it, in miniature, right there in their hand.

    Instead of seeing a gigantic floating image which has their kid in the middle, they actually notice that their kid is a tiny blob in the middle of giant expanse of boring crap. And since they notice this, they tend to move closer, or zoom in, or whatever, and they get a better picture.)

    In any case, the review is welcome, because it makes clear that there are enough missing features and rough edges that this particular camera is not worth buying. Better off getting an excellent pocket camera, or an entry SLR, or both.

  17. hayagriva says:

    I actually have a DP2 myself, and I do agree with most of what you said. It doesn’t work well as a snapshot camera – the focus is just too slow, and it does have a fixed lens. I bought my girlfriend a LX3 for just that reason. For a wide range of uses, a SLR of some sort would be better.

    I do like mine a lot, though, because it matches a specific style of shooting – set it to manual focus, aperture priority, and it basically becomes a digital Canonet – the camera that made me fall in love with photography. It just seems to work better when you stop treating it like a digital point and shoot and work with it like an old rangefinder.

    Thanks for the info on the viewfinder – I’ve been thinking about picking it up, but if the parallax error is that irritating, I think I’ll be better off without it.

    My DP2 set:

  18. editjunk says:

    @JEAGUILAR. I always assumed “hail fellow well met” meant that there you are, out in the wilds of the world when lo! you come across another person whose civility matches your own & the both of you can be jolly friendly even if you hold different points of view about fundamental things because you are both acting in good faith.

    I could, of course, be wrong.

  19. Finchypoo says:

    Liked the review. The DP2 is a unique camera and I think you did a great job of pointing out its oddities.

    One correction, the DP2 does shot video. Its really small and far from HD but it actually looks amazing, due to the sensor.

  20. IamInnocent says:

    @ 18

    On the Linux metaphor, a naive user just landing from OSX or Windows would be more likely to point out usability and reliability flaws, also enduring bugs, than a seasoned user like me, who will find the workaround almost without thinking of it.

    The same stands for the DP1 or 2: a seasoned photographer won’t stop at many details included in the present review.

  21. mcscruffington says:

    Did you install the latest firmware, 1.02? According to, it was posted on June 23, so maybe you can give it a spin before you have to return it.

  22. editjunk says:

    You can’t really call that amiable ramble a review. More a one sided chat about how much you don’t like the camera. A review would have presented some of the features & shortcomings of the camera. A video review would have had shots of you operating the camera & the resulting photos.

    You do seem like a hail fellow well met type of chap though, so that’s a plus I guess.

  23. Agies says:

    “…a camera designed by engeneers, not necessarily a camera designed for photographers…”

    So it’s kind of the PS2/PS3 of cameras?

    “It feels like… like the entire camera’s user interface is built around this sensor”


  24. randwolf says:

    Have you seen Mike Johnston’s acerbic comments on digital point-and-shoots, btw? The DP2 is in competition with cameras that only produce good results with considerable effort or, more usually, by accident. And then people go around thinking that they’re bad photographers. Cruddy cameras are actually part of persuading many people they are ugly. On reflection, the limitations of the DP2 don’t sound nearly so bad.

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