For those who are fans of the Foveon sensor and is drooling over the Sigma SD1 Merrill with an APS-C sized 46-megapixel X3 image sensor, you would be glad to know that the same sensor is now available in a much smaller and cheaper compact camera body in the DP2 Merrill or DP2M in short and that this camera is now available locally ahead of many other countries worldwide. As part of a National Day promotion, the agent is giving away a free Sigma EF-140 TTL flash worth $140 with each set of DP2M bought.
Although it is considered to be a reinvention of the DP2, it is a very much different beast altogether. Here are some of the differences:
(a) The DP2M has a much higher resolution Foveon sensor (APS-C sized 24x16mm 46-MP producing a 4704 x 3136 pixels image size) compared to DP2's 20.7x13.8 mm 14-MP, 2640 x 1760 pixels image size.
(b) DP2M's LCD: 3-in 902k dots; DP2's LCD: 2.5-in 230k dots
(c) The DP2 Merrill has a 30mm F2.8 lens (equivalent to a 45mm lens on a 35mm camera) which is specially designed from the ground up to match the new sensor. The DP2 has a 24.2mm F2.8 lens which is equivalent to a 40mm lens in a 35mm camera.
(d) The DP2M is actually significantly larger (or longer more accurately) in size than the DP2.
(e) The DP2M has two TRUE II processors toimprove the processing speed and overall quality of the final image.
(f) The built-in flash is now missing in the DP2M. It is just as well that the agent is giving away the EF-140 flash at the moment.
(g) Manual focusing on the DP2M is now very useable. With a touch of the dedicated Focus button on the back, the camera can be switched to MF mode with a lens focusing scale appearing on the LCD display. Manual focusing can then be carried out by turning the new focusing ring on the lens barrel of the DP2M just like on a normal lens. Another press of the OK button while in the MF mode activates the magnification display which can magnify the view to x4, x8 or x12 to assist in the focusing. None of these features are available in the older DP2.
The DP2M uses a different battery (BP-41) from the DP2 which is rated for only 96 shots probably because of the higher resolution of the new senor and the larger amount of processing required. Luckily this is the same battery as the Ricoh GRD camera for which there are many cheap 3rd party alternatives available.
So far so good right? What unfortunately is almost the same as the DP2 is the focusing capabilities of the DP2M. To me, the DP2M focuses almost as bad as the DP2 and about similar to the Fuji X100. Those who are spoilt rotten by the speedy focusing of DSLRs and the latest mirrorless system cameras would be disappointed with the DP2M. In good light, it is OK but in low light, and/or low contrast situations, focusing can become problematic.
The consolation is that once focus is achieved, the image quality achieved is stupendously good due to the excellent lens which is sharp from centre to corner even wide opened and the 46-MP sensor. In fact at ISO 100 & 200, I dare say that it matches or even betters the outputs from more high end Full-frame cameras the likes of the D800 and 5DMk3. The amount of details captured is just unbelieveable. Alas, the Foveon sensor still cannot-make-it when it comes to High ISO shooting at anything about ISO 800. Sigma's answer to high ISO photography seems to be to apply aggressive noise reduction processing until the image details turn to mush.
More test images to follow....