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Sigma DP2s review: Sigma DP2s

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The Good Plain and functional controls; clear detail.

The Bad LCD display is small and low-quality; sluggish autofocus; slow image processing.

The Bottom Line The Sigma DP2s is only marginally improved over the DP2 we reviewed a year ago, and the competition has raced ahead in that time

6.5 Overall

Is it really only two years since Sigma launched its revolutionary big-sensor compact camera, the DP1? It seems like a lifetime, during which PanasonicOlympus and Sony have launched their own, much more conventional compact hybrids. Does the DP2s, heir to the DP2, have what it takes to compete? It's available now for around £550.

Spartan carcass

The DP2s isn't a replacement for the DP1, or the updated model of that camera, the DP1s. These cameras run side by side. The DP1 and DP1s have a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, while the DP2s has a general-purpose 41mm-equivalent lens. You're meant to choose the model which suits your own style of photography.

The DP2s delivers detail to rival that of any competitor. It's not so good at very high ISOs, though, and it's a surprise to see barrel distortion in a fixed-focal-length lens (click image to enlarge)

The 's' in the name stands for an update that brings an improved autofocus algorithm for faster performance, redesigned buttons on the rear and a power-saving mode that increases the number of shots you can take on a single charge. Otherwise, the camera has barely changed from the DP2.

The neat, rectangular body has the bare minimum of controls. They're clearly labelled and well separated, making for a camera that should suit traditionalists down to the ground.

The minimalist controls are a pleasure to use, but the display feels like it belongs to a much cheaper camera

There are no scene modes. The closest the DP2s gets to full automation is the program AE exposure mode. The other options are aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes. This back-to-basics approach might leave beginners and gadget-fans dismayed, but it's perfect for experienced photographers who just want a camera that does what they tell it.

Don't worry about that Foveon sensor, either. A 4.7-megapixel resolution on each of the three layers sounds terrible, but these pixels are three times better than any others. Conventional cameras use a grid of red, green and blue pixels and mathematically interpolate to create full-colour data for each one, but the Sigma's sensor has three layers, sensitive to red, green and blue light, and these produce full-colour data for each pixel right from the start. The result is images with an uncanny sharpness that can be blown up far further than those taken with an ordinary, single-layer sensor.

Get a move on

But the DP2s has some problems. Sigma might have speeded up the AF with the 's' upgrade, but it's still not quick enough, and it's quite noisy too. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Sony NEX-5 and Olympus Pen models are better in this regard.

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