Sigma DP2x review

12 Jul 2011

With little changed compared to its predecessor, Sigma's luxury compact is looking increasingly behind the times

Price when reviewed 
449
3

It took camera manufacturers a long time to respond to customers' demands for an SLR-quality camera in a compact body. In the end it was up to Sigma – better known for its lenses than its cameras – to lead the charge with the DP1 back in 2008.

It took the sensor from the Sigma SD14 SLR and paired it with a fixed-zoom, wide-angle lens to keep the bulk down. It was an expensive and fairly eccentric camera, but it put the pressure on its more established competitors to raise their game.

Unfortunately for Sigma, that's exactly what’s happened. Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and Sony all now produce large-sensor compact cameras with interchangeable lenses, while Leica and Fujifilm have followed Sigma's fixed-lens route.

Sigma DP2x

With these cameras also boasting vast megapixel ratings, 1080p video capture, modern LCD screens and HDMI sockets, Sigma is struggling to keep up. The DP2x is the third-generation model, but it still uses the same sensor as the original. Its screen remains 2.5in in size with a resolution of 230-kilopixels, and video recording is at a thumbnail-sized 320 x 240 pixels.

The unusual sensor has a modest 4.6-megapixel resolution, but measures each pixel in full colour; other cameras use a grid of single-colour pixels and extrapolate for full colour. It's a clever idea, but for all its charms, this particular sensor can no longer compete for detail or noise levels. Our test shots at ISO 100 were breathtakingly smooth and sharp right into the corners of frames, but rivals such as the 14.2-megapixel Sony NEX-5 capture significantly more detail.

Noise was a problem at ISO 800, manifesting itself as grainy shadows and streaks of discoloration across block colours. Higher ISO speeds are available only in RAW mode, and aggressive noise reduction was needed to rescue these images. With the Sony NEX-5 delivering great results at ISO 3200, this sensor simply isn't up to today's standards.

We also found automatic exposures were somewhat unreliable. The automatic white balance would sometimes go awry: the Auto ISO mode's unwillingness to venture beyond ISO 200 lead to blurry shots in low light. Admittedly, most potential users will know their way around manual settings, but we'd prefer the automatic mode to give us more of a head start.

Sigma DP2x

Performance falls behind current standards, too. Autofocus speed is better than on the DP2s, but it still isn’t as fast as Panasonic's G-series cameras, for instance. Elsewhere, the camera often kept us waiting, taking more than four seconds to switch on and almost three seconds from shot to shot. Continuous mode ran at 3.3fps, but lasted for only four frames. The control system is much improved over the original DP1, but the main menu is still awkward to navigate.

Sigma currently sells two models – the DP1x and DP2x – which are differentiated by their lenses. The DP1x has 28mm wide-angle lens with a fairly conservative f/4 maximum aperture, whereas the DP2x is more cropped at 41mm and is brighter at f/2.8. That makes it the more obvious choice for indoor photography, but the 41mm lens is a reasonable choice for general use indoors and out.

However, it's difficult to recommend either model when cameras such as the Sony NEX-5 offer much better photo and video quality, faster performance and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. Still, the DP2x looks and feels much more like a photographer’s tool than the NEX-5 or any other camera at this price. Maybe that's enough to earn it some success.

Details

Price ex VAT £374
Price inc VAT £449
Overall rating 3
Performance 2
Features & Design 4
Image quality 3
Value for Money 3

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 4.6mp
Camera screen size 2.5in
Camera optical zoom range 1x
Camera maximum resolution 2640 x 1760

Weight and dimensions

Weight 260g
Dimensions 113 x 56 x 59mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 250 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f2.8 - f2.8
Camera minimum focus distance 0.28m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 41
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 41
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/2,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 15s
Bulb exposure mode? no
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 3EV
ISO range 50 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? no
Memory-card type SDHC
Viewfinder coverage N/A
LCD resolution 230k
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Aluminium
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type proprietary USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? yes
Software supplied Sigma Photo Pro 4.2
Accessories supplied soft case