Sigma delays, redesigns high-end DP1 compact camera

The DP1 packs a large sensor in a small camera body, but Sigma decided it had to take the DP1 partway back to the drawing board.

Sigma's DP1 camera
Sigma's DP1 prototype, shown at PMA in March 2007 Stephen Shankland/CNET News.com

Sigma has delayed the debut of the DP1, a high-end compact camera with an unusually large image sensor, to redesign its image-processing technology.

The Japanese company had shown off the DP1 at the Photokina show in 2006 and later at the Photo Marketing Association show in March 2007, where it said it planned to ship the DP1 in the summer. The camera's sensor, made by start-up Foveon, is as large as the one used in Sigma's SD line of SLR cameras, offering the potential for much greater sensitivity and dynamic range than the much smaller chips typically used in compact cameras.

By the summer, the DP1 design had reached "pre-beta" development stage, said Kazuto Yamaki, Sigma's chief operating officer, in a note published Friday on the company's Web site. But after testing and comparing images with those produced by Sigma's SD line of SLR cameras, the company concluded it needed to back up and redesign some elements.

The sensor size on Sigma's DP1 compared to a common 1/2.5-inch size. Sigma

"The images looked OK, but they clearly did not have the special image qualities that we see in our SD cameras: delicate, refined, and three-dimensional images rendered in fine detail," Yamaki said. "After a careful evaluation, we found that the image-processing pipeline we had developed for the DP1 was not ideal for achieving the best image quality as it was intended for the faster image processing speed, and we needed to make major revisions to it...After long and sometimes intense discussions, we finally decided to change the entire image processing pipeline."

The camera prototype had been designed with a 28-mm-equivalent f/4 lens and the Foveon sensor. Image processing was handled by Sigma's True chip, short for Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine, which Sigma boasted was four times faster than alternative products.

What of that technology will remain isn't clear. "We had to change some of the specifications that we had announced," Yamaki said.

The redesigned camera entered alpha tests during the beginning of November for "what we feel will be the final design," Yamaki said in the note, but said it's not yet possible to predict when the camera will go on sale. "I deeply apologize for the length of the time you have been holding out for the DP1 and appreciate your patience very much. I know it is difficult for some of you to wait a little more time, but we're working very hard to deliver a camera that we think will be worth the wait."

(Via The Online Photographer.)

 

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