The Sigma DP1 is a high-end point´n shoot style camera that offers a 16.6mm wide angle F4 Sigma lens (28mm equiv.) and a DSLR sized (APS-C) sensor that seems to be in style today. The Sigma Dp1 was the pioneer in this genre and currently Panasonic and Olympus has similar compact bodies featuring APS-C sized sensor.
The Sigma DP1 is along with its new brother the Sigma DP2 still by far the most compact.

The Sigma DP1 is mainly targeted at landscape photographers with its wide lens. The lens is a sharp prime lens and is therefore uniquely without zoom. That means a much more compact design and sharper lens which is quite obvious the first time you unwrap the nicely styled case containing various cables, software and of course the camera itself.
The DP1 is powered by your standard lithium-ion battery with a somewhat decent battery life at around 200-300 shots.

sigmadp1_700Bracketed shots -2 , 0 and +2 ev.

The camera body is nicely styled with a industry standard sized 2.5″ sharp LCD screen and a matte black body finish that extends to the various buttons – Its a great and expensive looking camera!

The built quality is equally great for a compact camera on par with the Leice D-lux and similar Panasonic models but not as rigid as the Canon g10.
The Dp1 features a flash hot-shoe for the Sigma Ef-140 compact external flash in case the built-in isn’t fulfilling your needs. Surprisingly is does not include lens hood and adapter for various filters. This is available as an accessory and is highly recommendable. The filter size is a standard 46mm.

Powering the camera the lens extends from the body a couple of centimeters and is quite exposed to flare and abuse if you choose not to buy the lens hood. I would highly everyone to buy the lenns hood and filter adapter from get go. – Another great optional accessory is a bright and fair sized viewfinder that is to be placed in the hotshoe. Its features the same wide image that the camera uses and is a great choice when using the camera in strong lighting conditions since the built-in screen isn´t super useful here.

sigmadp1_700_2Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

The menu system takes some time getting used to as it feels a bit outdated and sluggish in speed. But if you´re a landscape photographer you´ll easily settle and adapt. The systems contains close to whatever option you would want in a camera. One thing that is a huge plus is that you can customize the preview zoom-in and out button for your needs for example bracketing – Other camera brands could learn from this.
Another great feature is the manual focus adjustment dial placed right at your thumb letting you easily selecting focus very effectively. Its often much faster in use than the built-in auto focus.
The auto focus is although quite precise somewhat noisy and quite slow. It certainly brings you back to the early digital camera age. Focusing when using a bigger sized sensor is apparently not as easy as you might think since the camera is forced to use the contrast-detect method. – If you have ever tried a DSLR with liveview using contrast detect focusing t he Sigma Dp1 would feel like a rocket next to.
Again for the landscape photographer speed is not the number one factor and the Sigma Dp1 isn´t all that bad when it comes to focusing – Using the newest firmware increases focusing speed.

Using the mode dial similar to one found on pretty much every DSLR camera there´s the typical aperture and shutter priority modes plus a full automatic and full manual mode – Great!

The built in flash isn´t to much use and casts a heavy shadow when using the lenshood but it can supply with some fill-flash. If you need a flash when using the lenshood buy the EF-140 Sigma flash. The camera despite the aluminium houseing is quite light perfect for the hiker and certainly a superb choice if you´re hiking in tougher areas where a DSLR would be to heavy.

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The unique feature in the Sigma DP1 is the special Foveon APS-C sized sensor and despite, by todays standard relatively low resolution at around 4.7 Mpix, it captures a bucket load of details often surpassed the entry level kit-lens featured DSLR.
The pictures are so rich in detail also thanks to the very sharp 16.4mm F4 lens which performs great even wide open. Sigma rates the camera as a 14 Mpix camera due to the sensor design and to their fair share you could easily make great A3 sized prints.

The dynamic range is equally great. There´s a greatly placed exposure button that can easily be pushed when needed.

sigmadp1_600Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

The built-in screen is although not good in direct sunlight, great for framing shot with accessible help lines, shutter speed, ISO choice, and pretty much every other information you might need. The camera features an auto iso feature that is more than happy to select the lowest possible setting. Although its good when the light is bright its not as usable in lower light situations. Iso noise at ISO 800 is quite good easily better than the Leica D-Lux and Canon G10 but not as good as the entry level DSLR camera.
The DP1 handles bright and tough sunlight next to perfect with a lovely flat curve without pushing neither exposure, contrast and color too much in standard setting. I recon the average Sigma DP1 shooter would use RAW files instead of Jpegs.

sigmadp1_700_3Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

Again this isn’t the fastest camera on earth and after a RAW shot the camera locks up for a second or two. That time expands if you´re bracketing shots. It is something so you´ll learn to live with and it makes you think more about what you shoot which in the long run can be a good thing.
The camera has a video mode that is laughable at best and I wonder why they bother to include this in a compact camera for the serious photographer.

Downloadable Jpeg´s straight from RAW – No processing :


Certainly the Sigma DP1 made a strong impression on me.
At first I was a bit irritated about the somewhat slow menu system but it all disappeared when I saw the first shot and I was literally blown away by the quality and detail the DP1 captures. It is surely a photographers tool.
So if you in to the market for a wide angle camera that captures stunning images without choosing a fullsize DSLR the Sigma DP1 is the way to go.
If you´re into HD-video, a huge zoom area and lightning fast operations look somewhere else.
I know what to choose the next time I´m hiking in the mountains.


Nature lover turned 36, Avid Nature Photographer and fan of all things living. Every second spend outside with or without a camera is a second for me to grow and learn. Got question, requisitions or just in for a chat shot me an E-mail or connect me on Facebook or Twitter

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