Thursday, 9 May 2013

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 vs. Sigma DP2 Merrill (first impression and final)

After traditional “spring clean-up” of my collection (read: sell, sell, sell) I got some cash to acquire new toys. Since I already have superb 35mm and 14mm lenses for my Fuji X-Pro 1 I start thinking about 18mm lens. But after some research I quickly realized that for additional $200 I can acquire Sigma DP1M. Similar focus length as Fujinon 18mm but it would give me an opportunity to explore famous Foveon sensor.
I closely followed Foveon story since its introduction about 10 years ago and several times I seriously considered to buy it but couldn’t justify the price. With the recent price drop DP1M become a very attractive alternative to Fujinon 18mm.
Next step, I contacted several fellow photographers and they all recommended going with DP2M instead of DP1M.  They unanimously claimed that DP2M sensor /lens combination is magical and rivals medium format quality. Medium format?? They’ve got to be kidding me…
But the seed was planted and few days later I made the most impractical decision, I purchased DP2M and ended up having two cameras both with exotic APS-C sensors, tons of quirks and lenses that cover similar focal length.

Obviously my next step was to compare them :)
Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and Sigma DP2M are completely different beasts. I hope there is no need to explain the differences. I also will not talk about camera's performance, AF speed, ISO, AWB, battery life, etc, etc. It is all well documented and discussed thousand times.  Yes, they both have quirks, but those quirks are nothing compare to shooting  4x5 sheet film @ ISO 50 (with image upside down), which I still occasionally do.
I don't care about quirks as long as I can get excellent image.

So I decided to compare them to see just how much details each camera can render at their lowest ISO. That's all.

Part 1 - default settings

1. Fujifilm X-Pro 1, Fujinon 35mm, ISO 200, RAW processed to TIFF 16 bit in Capture One Express. Sorry Adobe but if I would process Fuji raw with ACR it would fail miserably in this comparison.
2. Sigma DP2M, Sigma lens 30mm, ISO 100, RAW processed to TIFF 16 bit in Sigma Photo Pro

All photos were taken in aperture priority (@5.6), on a tripod, using self-timer. Both raw converters were set to their default settings.
Please consider that focal length is different (35mm vs. 30mm). Both test RAW files can be downloaded from my Dropbox here

Do you see the difference? Another one

The difference seems less obvious in close-up pictures, especially if RAF files is processed in Aperture.  But I am still getting slightly more details from DP2M. See below.

* Both raw files are available at my Dropbox.

Couple more DP2M photos (full size followed by 100% crop)

Day 1: one word - impressed, two words - blown away :)

DP2M may looks like a toy, but it's not.

*** May 09, 2013 Update ***

Part 2 - beyond default
I will process both files to the best of my ability and tools available.

I decided to stop testing after reviewing this DP2M file.

Don't click on the picture above, you should go to my ==>  Flickr gallery, open file in its Original Size and View in the Full Screen mode.

Folks, I have never seen anything like DP2M image quality with any of my previous or current cameras (both film and digital). Yes, I got some very close results but not the same.



  1. Not from a camera in that price range (by a very wide margin!) very impressed!

    1. Mark, I am very much impressed as well. DP2M can delivery some mind blowing images, but like a medium or large format film camera it should be treated accordingly. Not for amateurs for sure.
      As a side note, all photo controls are extremely well placed and vey easy to access.

  2. So, given that the Sigma camera is do great, do you now intend to sell your Fuji camera?

    1. No, not really. Fuji and Sigma are completely different cameras and work together well for me. But I sold my Canon 5D MII :)

  3. The DP2 m is not as good as the Pentax 645D. I have both. When I want a near pocket sized package that delivers 70% of the detail of the Pentax then its the Sigma.
    The Sigma accompanied me on an outdoors adventure and got crushed very hard, slighly bending the body.
    It still works perfectly !

    1. Amount of details that I am getting with DP2M is just mind blowing...for $799????

  4. Thank you for this short but eye opening post! Have to admit, I never bothered researching Sigma, but now I think I can't go on photographing without it. Just recently sold all my Nikon gear (that was collecting dust since I bought Fuji X100) and switched to Fuji Xpro1. But my next purchase will be Sigma (maybe a DP3). That image at the end has the level of details that I have been trying to capture for years. WOW, once again thank you.

    1. Thanks Serge.
      I think that Fuji x-trans and Sigma Foveon is just the best combination, to date :)

  5. Hi Guys,

    Great contributions.

    Leica X1 versus Merill DP3 anyone? Mainly regarding lively colour, natural poeple's faces, natural film like feel...

    Do you think DP3 is close to film, or film is still superior?

    And do the DP2/3's pictures need a lot of post editing, I hate computer editing! I would like to print as soon as I get the shot:)

    1. DP2M can easily beat 135mm film (resolution, DR, etc). But film still has it character:)

      Although DP2M OOC jpegs are fine I prefer to shoot raw and post process to my liking.

    2. DP2m vs Film:

  6. It would be great if anyone can do the same comparison, a DP3 versus Leica x1, using the same shots by each camera:)

  7. OK, for a complete comparison, try setting ISO values to 1600 and look again. ;)

    1. No need to use 1600, or even go beyond ISO 200. It is clear who is the winner.

      But I like DP2M for what it does at base ISO, and Fuji can cover the rest :)

  8. I have the X-E1 and 35 1.4 as my sole lens, but against my better judgment, you just cost me $500! Hope I can live with the, eh, 'quirks'

  9. Thank you for this...i own a dp2 but
    just got the XT2 with xf18 55 OIS to "cover the rest" and was considering a 35mm or 23mm prime lens to suit that will give me dp2 quality. Should i just save my money and stick with dp2 or go for the xf35 f1.4?


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