Sigma DP3M - A User's Review


tomcat

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The Sigma DP3M is the third camera in the DP Merrill range. While the DP1M and DP2M were designed to cover the wide-angle and standard ranges respectively, the DP3M features a high-performance 50mm F2.8 lens (equivalent to 75mm on a 35mm SLR camera) is meant for mid-telephoto, portrait and macro photography.



Externally, the DP3M is almost identical to the DP1M & DP2M. The most obvious physical differences are the significantly larger lens and the lens cap which is now similar to that of the 35mm f/1.4 lens.

Internal features that are new to the DP3M according to Sigma are:
(a) A unique, dual, Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine (TRUE) II image processing engine, which is dedicated to Foveon X3 direct image sensors to improve the processing speed and overall quality of the final image, and provide high-resolution power
(b) Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass and aspherical lens elements are used to compensate for optical and chromatic aberrations and to allow for a more compact size
(c) A minimum focusing distance of 22.6cm and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3 is achieveable for true macro capability
(d) Besides the standard 9-point select mode, there is a 'free move mode' which allows the selection of the desired focus point anywhere in the frame. Also new to the DP3M is Face Detection AF which prioritises focus on the face of the subject when detected by the sensor

So, with these additional features, how does the DP3M compare with the DP1M/DP2M in actual use.

First, the DP3M is supposed to have 2 of the TRUE II image-processing chips built-in to improves the processing speed and quality of the final image. But when I compare the processing and writing speed of the DP2M and DP3M by simultaneously pressing the shutter buttons of both cameras and visually comparing how long each camera took to process their respective shots, the DP3M is only milli-seconds faster than the DP2M. The difference is not really statistically significant.

As for focussing, the DP3M has a new focusing engine that is more complicated and user-customisable than those of the DP1M and DP2M. The DP3M does not however seem to focus any faster than the DP1M and DP2M though.

What the DP3M does have is more options for the AF Limit Mode. The menu for AF Limit mode is as shown in the pic below.



There is now Macro (0.226m - 1.0m), Portrait (0.35m - infinity), Landscape/Snap shooting (default) (1m - infinity), and Custom AF Limit. The DP1M & DP2M also have an AF Limit Mode but they are limited to a choice of only the Landscape/Snap shooting mode.
The AF speed of the DP3M can actually be slower than the DP1M/DP2M if the camera has been set to an AF Limit mode that is inappropriate for the subject distance required.

Since the DP3M is meant for macro, portrait and mid-telephoto shooting, so how is its performance in these areas?
I tested its macro-photography capability by shooting a $2 note close-up at around the minimum focussing distance of 22.6cm at aperture settings of f/2.8 (wide opened) and stopped down to f/8.

#1

Macro Close-up of $2 Note at F/8.0

#2

Macro Close-up of $2 Note at F/2.8

Looks like it is a very sharp macro lens without any observeable colour fringing. At f/2.8, the top left and right corners are just slightly soft compared to those at f/8.0.

And here's the first portrait shot taken wide-opened at f/2.8 from the DP3M, but it is a portrait of one of my cats though.

#3

1/100s f/2.8 at 50.0mm ISO 100
 

tomcat

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This is a close-up of a spike of Ixora flowerets with an unexpected find.
#4


#5

100% crop reveals the presence of a tiny, tiny spider on one of the flowerets

This is a mid-telephoto out of my baloney to check on the resolution of the lens.
#6


#7

100% crop of the block of flats in the distance
 

incurable

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#3
Excellent review as before bro.

Lens focal length aside, there doesn't seem much of an improvement in terms of handling over its siblings. However the "free move" focus point mode is a very useful feature, which I hope Sigma can incorporate into future firmware upgrades for DP1M and DP2M.
 

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#4
Thanks for that, Tomcat ...

As for "free move", I have that on the DP1M, but it moves only within the rectangular frame where the 9 points are. Does the "free move" on the DP3M go to any point of the screen and not just in the rectangular area ?
 

tomcat

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Thanks for that, Tomcat ...

As for "free move", I have that on the DP1M, but it moves only within the rectangular frame where the 9 points are. Does the "free move" on the DP3M go to any point of the screen and not just in the rectangular area ?
Actually you are right. The 'free move mode' is already available in the DP1M & DP2M. Don't know why Sigma say that this is a new feature for the DP3M. I have never used it on any of the DPxM camera though since I find it easier to just focus using the centre point and then move the camera to where I want the actual focus point to be before pressing the shutter button.
 

tomcat

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#6
Another mid-telephoto shot from my balconey.

#8


#9

100% crop of the SingTel tower in the distance.
What a resolution ! Just like being there ! :)
 

incurable

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#7
Actually you are right. The 'free move mode' is already available in the DP1M & DP2M. Don't know why Sigma say that this is a new feature for the DP3M. I have never used it on any of the DPxM camera though since I find it easier to just focus using the centre point and then move the camera to where I want the actual focus point to be before pressing the shutter button.
oh, i thought that feature enables you to choose a focus point outside of the existing 9-point area. wouldn't that be great if it had it.
 

incurable

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#8
just tried the free move mode on the DP1M/DP2M, pretty nifty feature indeed. didn't know they had it till i read this thread. you can actually select a fine focus point outside of the 9-point area, nice!

waiting for tomcat for more input on the DP3M.
 

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tomcat

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I think the only things that are new in the DP3M is the macro-capability of the 50mm lens, the additional AF Limit modes and the Face Detection mode. Other than that, the DP3M operates practically the same as the DP1M & DP2M, including the short battery life. Looking at this like a glass half-full, there would be little in the way of a learning curve for those who already owned the DP1M/DP2M if they were to add the DP3M to their arsenal. And... the DP3M is more cost economical than the DP1M or DP2M as we now save on the need to spend another $100+ to buy a close-up lens attachment to take close-up shots and still get much better results too. :)

Here's another 2 shots from the DP3M doing what it does best... shooting close-up.

#10

1/320s f/8.0 at 50.0mm ISO 100

#11

1/100s f/2.8 at 50.0mm ISO 100
 

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tomcat

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And... the DP3M is more cost economical than the DP1M or DP2M as we now save on the need to spend another $100+ to buy a close-up lens attachment to take close-up shots and still get much better results too. :)

Here's another 2 shots from the DP3M doing what it does best... shooting close-up.
That said, the Close-Up lens AML-2 is really sharp when used on the DP2M. however, with the AML-2 mounted on the DP2M, the camera can only focus on subjects from 19-32cm away from the sensor and the magnification is much lower than the macro mode of the DP3M.

Below are the close-up shots of the same $2 note taken with the DP2M + AML-2 at f/8.0 and f/2.8 respectively.

#12

1/50s f/8.0 at 30.0mm ISO 100

#13

1/50s f/2.8 at 30.0mm ISO 100
Slightly soft at the corners at f/2.8 too.

Another pic from the DP3M... :)
#14

1/50s f/2.8 at 50.0mm ISO 100
 

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#12
superb picture as always...

love your cat shot....

waiting for your next set of picture...
 

incurable

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#13
That said, the Close-Up lens AML-2 is really sharp when used on the DP2M. however, with the AML-2 mounted on the DP2M, the camera can only focus on subjects from 19-32cm away from the sensor and the magnification is much lower than the macro mode of the DP3M.

Below are the close-up shots of the same $2 note taken with the DP2M + AML-2 at f/8.0 and f/2.8 respectively.

#12

1/50s f/8.0 at 30.0mm ISO 100

#13

1/50s f/2.8 at 30.0mm ISO 100
Slightly soft at the corners at f/2.8 too.

Another pic from the DP3M... :)
#14

1/50s f/2.8 at 50.0mm ISO 100
it appears to me that the sample shots here from tomcat's DP3M are sharper than those from its siblings.

wasn't really intending to get the DP3M, but now am not so sure anymore, really poisonous! :D
 

tomcat

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#15
it appears to me that the sample shots here from tomcat's DP3M are sharper than those from its siblings.

wasn't really intending to get the DP3M, but now am not so sure anymore, really poisonous! :D
I don't think that the DP3M is really sharper than its sibling, especially the DP2M... as sharp as maybe.
Anyway, because of the differences in focal length, there are shots that DP3M cannot take easily but the DP1M & DP2M can, and vice versa. So the 3 cameras complement each other.
The DP3M should be better for macros and portraiture though as there would be less perspective distortions in facial features in head shots compared to the DP1M & DP2M. ;)
 

incurable

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#16
I don't think that the DP3M is really sharper than its sibling, especially the DP2M... as sharp as maybe.
Anyway, because of the differences in focal length, there are shots that DP3M cannot take easily but the DP1M & DP2M can, and vice versa. So the 3 cameras complement each other.
The DP3M should be better for macros and portraiture though as there would be less perspective distortions in facial features in head shots compared to the DP1M & DP2M. ;)
you are right, and that is why i'm really inclined to add it to complete my line up.

btw your last shot of the cat is really nice!
 

tomcat

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you are right, and that is why i'm really inclined to add it to complete my line up.

btw your last shot of the cat is really nice!
Thanks.

Another 2 mid-telephoto shots.

#16


#17


The composition of these 2 shots is a bit tight and could do with a few steps backwards but unfortunately that's not possible due to space constraints. This would be where the DP2M would come in useful. :)
 

incurable

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#18
Thanks.

Another 2 mid-telephoto shots.

#16


#17


The composition of these 2 shots is a bit tight and could do with a few steps backwards but unfortunately that's not possible due to space constraints. This would be where the DP2M would come in useful. :)
Excellent details even when viewed from my mobile phone.:thumbsup:
 

tomcat

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#19
Get ready to break your piggy banks...the DP3M would be available at your friendly dealers before the week is out. No cash rebate like in Japan or Australia but there would be the usual free flash EF-140 which is not free elsewhere. ;)
 

weekh

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#20
Out this Friday at 1260..... Hmmmm......
 

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