Sigma DP2x review: Sigma DP2x

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Unique, often beautiful, quality to photos; full manual controls in a compact form; accessory shoe.

The Bad Expensive; no zoom; unusable video quality; plain-looking design.

The Bottom Line If you're a camera fanatic with cash to spare, the compact and quirky Sigma DP2x would make an excellent addition to your collection. But, despite its convenient size and often stunning photos, a dSLR offers more possibilities.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

Sigma claims the DP2x is a digital SLR trapped inside a compact camera's body. At around £450, the fixed-focus DP2x isn't an impulse buy, but it certainly has some interesting features and unique qualities that will appeal to camera enthusiasts.

Design and features

The DP2x's plain, matte black design is something of an acquired taste. From the front it looks quite classy, but the back feels lumpy and outdated. The DP2x is somewhat larger than the average compact and heavier too, weighing 260g.

The fixed lens housing protrudes by a good 25mm when the camera is in standby. Switch it on and the lens extends to approximately 55mm in length. Even MC Hammer's generous pantaloons would struggle to accommodate this fellow.

Sigma DP2x test shot 1
The DP2x's images are sharp, amazingly detailed and miraculously free of digital picture noise but, if you're not careful, it's easy to end up with unbalanced colours (click image to enlarge).

Unlike your average point-and-shoot camera, the DP2x's controls are manual-centric. There's a proper mode dial, with program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and full manual modes available. Manual focusing is also possible, although not via a lens ring. Instead a thumb dial on the rear is used.

Other unusually advanced offerings include support for raw capture and an active hotshoe, which can be used to attach an external flash or Sigma's optional electronic viewfinder.

Many of the standard features that casual camera users may have become accustomed to are either limited or absent altogether. The video mode, for example, records at a resolution so low (240p) that it's not really worth bothering with. As for face detection, pet modes, miniaturisation filters and the like, the DP2x just isn't that sort of camera. In fact, there's very little hand-holding of any kind, so, if you're new to photography, this may not be the camera for you.

Sensor and lens

The DP2x uses Sigma's own Foveon X3 sensor, a 14-megapixel version of the same APS-C sensor that powers the company's dSLRs. Not only is it much larger than the average compact sensor (20.7 by 13.8mm), the Foveon X3 also works in a very different way to normal CMOS chips.

Sigma DP2x rear
The back of the camera feels rather lumpen and old-fashioned.

Without getting too technical, the main difference is that the sensor is divided into three layers, with each layer dedicated to absorbing different wavelengths of light. This essentially allows the sensor to capture red, green and blue light equally across the whole sensor. It also means that, in theory, images require less processing.

In terms of its optical abilities, the DP2x has a bespoke Sigma lens, built specifically to complement the X3 sensor. Equivalent to a 41mm lens in 35mm terms, it benefits from a large aperture (f2.8).

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