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Thread: Ordered Sigma DP2M

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2007
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    Ordered Sigma DP2M

    I finally ordered one after seeing the great images on this thread.

    I was wondering if mere mortals can get such detailed images as you folks, or do we need some form of special training to get similar results??

    Seriously, the quality of the images has sold me! I realize that this camera is far from perfect, and I must live with its limitations. I think that the quality of the images makes up for most of the limitations.


  2. #2
    Senior Member peterb's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Tysons Corner, Virginia
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    Re: Ordered Sigma DP2M

    Hi Martin,

    Welcome to the hopelessly altered forever club of DP Merrill owners. Being among the mere mortal set I can easily attest to the DP2M's capabilities. Generally to achieve the shots you've been seeing from the various postings here's my top 10 considerations:

    1. Think of the camera as a tiny view camera. This is not an AP or Sports Illustrated machine gun. It's slow and deliberate. You can focus reasonably well on objects and get a good lock but it's not blitzkrieg fast. (AF is probably as fast as most folks are with a Leica RF with it's manual focus.) In low light conditions the AF will hunt so try to find a good highlight or something of contrast to aim at that's the same distance as your subject of interest. Seems to work well. Also, you can pre-focus at some a good DOF aperture and fire away. Just remember at low ISOs shutter speeds will be slower. AE lock set to either AE or AF (in the case of focus) or AE + AF is a great asset.

    2. Keep your ISO around 100-200 for the most part. That's the sweet spot where noise is really kept at bay. You can go to 400 in a pinch but after that 800 works but it's probably better to suck the color out with saturation and make them BW.

    3. Handling is pretty straightforward as there's not a lot to choose from. PASM is it. No scenes. No effects. No kidding. The control dial is really good. And in manual the upper dial works aperture while the left and right rear control buttons work the shutter speed. (In S mode the dial works shutter speed.) At f2.8 the bokeh/3D effect you've been hearing (and seeing) is most pronounced. If you're a sharpness demon go for f4-f8. F5.6 seems to be a particular favorite, however. I like aperture priority as I like to keep DOF the main consideration due the camera's unique 3D effect. The layout of the controls is refreshingly simple and logical. Even the indent and finger bumps are very zen-like and simple.

    4. When the shutter speed is fast enough you can certainly go handheld (and get jaw-dropping results) but for ultimate quality get a tripod or, what I'm about to pick up today, a monopod with legs. While I have a tripod I felt it was a bit rough to shlep around everywhere and set up. This design by Manfrotto (Model 682b which goes for $108-$129 US) has a stabilizing tripod at the base. While it may not be the best for a considerably heavier DSLR w/lens for this little guy it should be more than enough.

    5. A good OVF can help with framing while keeping the camera steady. I have Sigma's VF-21 attachment and it's pretty decent. I've also heard good reports using the Voigtlander 40mm OVF attachment. Use the LCD for ultimate accuracy. With practice you'll be able to 'know' where the AF target is (it varies with distance due to parallax) and not need to hold the camera away from you to be assured of what's in focus. (Remember that 5-6 inches you pull the camera to your face after focusing can affect the final output on a camera as sharp as this.)

    6. Consider just saving as RAW only. It'll make things go easier using less card and battery. (Unless you absolutely have to have a jpg ready to roll.) You'll still be able to view shots. And speaking of batteries the camera eats them like a ravenous dog takes to hamburger. While some people think the batteries are way underpowered in actuality they're not. When you think about it since the Foveon sensor consists of THREE full sized layers of pixels each time you take a shot you're actually taking THREE shots. So in actuality getting 110 shots per charge is really getting 330 shots per charge...which ain't too shabby. But reality is reality and the thing definitely runs out of steam fast. Keep your settings for LCD and stuff to the shortest time possible. When it's asleep it really wakes up in a jiffy so that could help. (I'm actually about to fashion a battery pack that has 8000 maH that I plan to connect via Sigma's SAC-5 power connector designed for extended periods indoors or where there's a handy outlet.)

    7. Remember, 45 MB files are a LOT more than your typical 16MB ones. Expect the little guy to chug to process all those pixels. The good news is you can keep focusing and firing (in a nice steady pace a la Henri Cartier-Bresson) while the camera is writing to card. You just won't have that instant gratification and feedback like you do with every other digital camera on the planet. (But it's still faster than waiting to take a roll of film out, processing it and printing it!)

    8. Don't worry too much about the processing software. While it can be slow and depending on your computer platform, buggy, for the most part it works pretty well. (I use a MacBook Air and an iMac and have had no problems). A simple workflow is to connect your camera to your computer then, before you open Sigma's software, drag the files from the camera to a folder on your pc/mac. Once done, then open SPP and start with a setting that actually dials down the sharpness (ironic but true). I've seen some variance in range from -0.5 to -2.0. One poster, however, actually kicks it up a crack to +0.1. You may need to experiment but this is a good place to start. Next dial down the noise and luminance controls to the left. (The lowest setting on a five part notch slider--you'll see it.) Then save the file as either a 16 bit Tiff (for absolutely best quality) or 8-bit TIFF or even a jpg. When you do save it, I recommend creating a separate folder to place the completed files as some have reported that when a folder gets too 'full' the Sigma software tends to get a bit 'confused' and bogged down. From THERE you can do some final tweaks to contrast, lighting, dodging and burning with another program like LR or PS or PS Elements (which, by the way, works nicely in a pinch for a lot less money than PS.) If you take a lot of shots one suggestion has been to keep the number of files in a folder to a nice small number. The software apparently likes to start working on things and this may have been a source of it's apparent slowness at times. So if you take a lot of shots create a number of folders for them and drag them in accordingly. It'll make things somewhat nicer.

    9. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. And experiment.

    10. Have a blast. (And be prepared for the most jaw-dropping images you've ever seen.)
    Life is an infinite series of moments called..."now".
    My job is to capture them.
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