At CES 2013 Sigma announced the DP3 Merrill to their DP line of compact cameras. Designed to impress, the DP3 features a 46 megapixel Foveon X3 image sensor (the same sensor found in Sigma’s SD1) and a 50mm f/2.8 lens. Perfectly complementing the DP1 (with a 19mm f/2.8 lens) and the DP2 (with a 30mm f/2.8 lens), the DP3 is simplistic in design. The 50mm f/2.8 lens is equivalent to 75mm on a 35mm SLR camera and was created to complete the DP line of cameras giving users greater telephoto focal length and allows for macro shooting.
The Foveon X3 image sensor works by combining the talents of 3 sensor layers (each layer at 4,704 x 3,136) to ensure the capture of full and complete color. A low-pass filter is not required which allows for better capture of light and color. The camera is powered by two TRUE II processing engines. This allows for the camera to produce high definition images that Sigma promises will be so life-like that they’ll have a three-dimensional feel.
The 50mm f/2.8 lens uses Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass and aspherical elements that reduces aberrations and allows for improved image quality. In addition, the DP3 allows users to choose from P,S,A or M mode for more control over image production. The camera has the ability to shoot in RAW mode, as well as shoot JPEGs. ISO sensitivities range from 100-6400. Movies can be recorded at 640×480 at 30 fps. But that clearly makes a statement that this is camera is meant for creating great still images, not recording stunning video.
The camera’s design is simplistic and minimalist. A few physical buttons are housed on the top of the camera, no buttons are on the front and a handful of buttons are located on the back. The DP3 has a 3-inch TFT monitor with 920,000 dots for better viewing in various situations including bright, outdoor lighting.
My first impression of the DP3 was mixed. The camera I previewed was a pre-production unit, so some things might change. I was not able to really test image quality (which was a good thing because the lighting was less than ideal and would not have been a good representation of the camera’s abilities), but the samples I saw were very good. The auto focus was fast. The lens was a nice size and felt solid, although the focal length might be difficult to get used to. I prefer more physical buttons that allow me to change the shooting to manual or aperture without having to access the menu. I also question how comfortable the camera would be to hold since a grip was non-existent. But, none of these things are deal breakers if the image quality is amazing. Time will tell and I can’t wait to get the DP3 in my hands for a full review.