Sigma DP1M and DP3M arrived...

DHart

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In my quest to improve capture quality of landscapes for large wall prints (40"+) I decided to order up a DP1M and a DP3M.

Most of my landscapes in recent years have been done with m4/3. I've made some impressive 40" canvas prints with the m4/3 gear, but have demand for larger prints in the 50" to 60" range. So, I'm hoping the Sigmas may help me achieve those sizes with greater clarity and detail. 40" @ 100 ppi is about at the limit of what I can push m4/3 to with printing on canvas.

I just got the Sigmas and haven't had a chance to take them anywhere exciting, but around my house... I am a bit stunned by the degree of micro-contrast and fine detail these cameras can capture! These cameras definitely are well suited to desert landscapes. The fine spines on cacti are rendered with great detail and precision.

Taken from my back porch. I made an image with the GX7 and 12-35, at 15mm, ISO 200, f/5.6. And another image with the DP1M, nearly identical FOV, ISO 100, f/8. Here's how tight the crop was on the images:

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The m4/3 crop:

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The DP1M crop:

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The detail in the fine foliage is amazing. These cameras excel at capturing fine textures and details.

Here are a few more images with the DP1M, which are all very heavy/tight crops of much larger images. I am posting the tight crops, rather than the full images, as it allows seeing the fine detail on the dumbed-down Photobucket jogs.

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I think these little DP Merrills are going to be tagging along with my m4/3 gear whenever I head out to shoot. They are not well-suited to applications requiring fast follow focus, quick moving children, high ISO's, or low light levels. And most of my shooting isn't that anyway. But when the light is sufficient and fast AF isn't required... these cameras can produce stunning image quality. I think my Gitzo CF tripod will begin to see some use with these cameras and landscapes!

The DP Merrills each sell for little more than the cost of a reasonably-priced premium m4/3 lens. I paid about $1350 for both cameras. DP1M has 28mm equiv. FOV and DP3M has 75mm equiv. FOV.

I can't wait to get the DP1M and DP3M out into the desert behind my house (Tonto National Forest).
 

kwalsh

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Thanks for sharing Don! I've been eying a DPxM as a landscape accessory to my system too. As you continue your exploration with these cameras I'd love to hear your thoughts on, or perhaps see samples of two big questions I've been having:

1. The corners on the DP1M stopped down a bit (say F/8). I've heard the DP1M knocked for its lens IQ compared to the 2 and 3 but of course its FoV is well suited to a lot of landscapes. So curious what a desert landscape shooter like you thinks - especially since you've got the DP3M to compare to!

2. Tripod mounted deep twilight exposures. So shot at base ISO but 20-30 mins after local sunset. Exposures of around the 5 to 10 second range at F/8 and ISO 200 would be a good example. I do a lot of shooting in such light and most of the DPxM shots I see are in very bright light, so curious how the sensor does at longer exposure times.

Oh, and if you haven't figured it out already apparently ISO 100 is an "extended ISO" setting, it is just ISO 200 overexposed as far as the RAW file goes. So ISO 200 is the "base ISO" actually.

Have fun with your new little beasts and very interested in your upcoming experiences with them!
 

Turbofrog

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I've always been really blown away with the image quality of the Sigma Merrills, but I find I'm less convinced in this comparison. The DP1M looks fairly unnatural here - almost like you took the first image in Lightroom and just blasted the Clarity and Sharpening slider up by 50 or so.

However, you being there, are the only one that can say whether the colour and texture is more accurate. But from a photographic perspective, I wouldn't say it's a no-brainer which one looks better. But then again, subtlety is not popular in contemporary photography.
 

DHart

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Thanks for all the wonderful feedback. I didn't mention, but should make clear that I've only shot a bit over a dozen images in one area with the DP1M and no images, yet, with the DP3M, so I am virtually completely inexperienced with these DPMs, really. I've only just begun to dip one toe in the shallowest of waters.

Working the SPP software, adjusting color balance, sharpening, opening shadows, pulling details from highlights, all of it wth these cameras is brand new to me. So, I won't be able to say with any certainty just how suited these cameras will be for me with landscape photography until I have a lot more experience in varying conditions with these cameras. I can say that the ability to resolve very fine detail is fantastic... and that's a very important requirement for me with the landscape captures. All the little leaves in small distant areas tend to look just mush in many m4/3 images I've made (as you can see above), so I'm hoping to do better in that area.

kwalsh... I will definitely get around to those things that you would like to see! And THANK YOU for the base ISO comment. I haven't even gotten around to reading the manual on the camera yet! I didn't realize that it was an extended ISO. I generally don't like to use extended ISO, so I'm going to work at ISO 200 as much as I can from now on. Now I know why I had a devil of a time correcting overexposed white areas on the sunlit walls and bright edges of light colored areas!

Turbofrog, I'm not liking the color in the distant desert view myself, either. With either camera, actually. Though I like the colors better in the courtyard images of the cacti. I have much to learn and work with in processing these files. I am greatly encouraged by the many fantastic examples I've seen from these cameras elsewhere, on other forums. Thus, I will soldier on in my quest!
 

ripleys baby

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Thanks for sharing Don! I've been eying a DPxM as a landscape accessory to my system too. As you continue your exploration with these cameras I'd love to hear your thoughts on, or perhaps see samples of two big questions I've been having:

1. The corners on the DP1M stopped down a bit (say F/8). I've heard the DP1M knocked for its lens IQ compared to the 2 and 3 but of course its FoV is well suited to a lot of landscapes. So curious what a desert landscape shooter like you thinks - especially since you've got the DP3M to compare to!

2. Tripod mounted deep twilight exposures. So shot at base ISO but 20-30 mins after local sunset. Exposures of around the 5 to 10 second range at F/8 and ISO 200 would be a good example. I do a lot of shooting in such light and most of the DPxM shots I see are in very bright light, so curious how the sensor does at longer exposure times.

Oh, and if you haven't figured it out already apparently ISO 100 is an "extended ISO" setting, it is just ISO 200 overexposed as far as the RAW file goes. So ISO 200 is the "base ISO" actually.

Have fun with your new little beasts and very interested in your upcoming experiences with them!
Extended ISO ??
Nothing in the manual regarding that.
If that were true it would have to be enabled in the menu.
Nothing in my menu about extended ISO

Please could you clarify ? Thanks
 

kwalsh

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My comment was based on this thread at DPR:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53693725

The first responder there is one of the more thorough and knowledgeable Sigma shooters in that forum. Googling around a bit I found any contradiction to this (people claiming the base ISO to be 100) was based on not understanding exactly what "base ISO" means or not testing properly. Many of the responses are confusing as a number of people misuse or misunderstand the concept of DR or do things like only look at shadow or midtone noise without checking for highlight recovery.

All that said, it is probably worth verifying directly by testing with the camera itself.
 

ripleys baby

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I always shoot my DPM at ISO 100 with exposure comp set at 0.7, Then adjust if needed. Expose for the highlights and adjust shadow in post.
This works well for me. Minor tweaks in Spp then export the tiff for final post in Lightroom.
Lightroom can deal with the shadows better than SPP. (I think)
 

kwalsh

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I always shoot my DPM at ISO 100 with exposure comp set at 0.7, Then adjust if needed. Expose for the highlights and adjust shadow in post.
This works well for me. Minor tweaks in Spp then export the tiff for final post in Lightroom.
Lightroom can deal with the shadows better than SPP. (I think)
With most "extended ISO" cases if you are already exposing for highlights then there really is nothing wrong or better about using the lower ISO. A few cameras have in the past had dumb implementations of their low extended ISO that made it worth giving a skip, but presuming the DPM does it intelligently (again assuming it really is extended) then using ISO 100 and exposing for highlights should be just fine and essentially the same as using ISO 200 and exposing for the highlights.
 

DHart

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I always shoot my DPM at ISO 100 with exposure comp set at 0.7, Then adjust if needed. Expose for the highlights and adjust shadow in post.
This works well for me. Minor tweaks in Spp then export the tiff for final post in Lightroom.
Lightroom can deal with the shadows better than SPP. (I think)
Thanks for your comments. Are you using SPP 6.0? I need to look into that comparison to LR, myself.

In my very limited use of SPP 6.0, I found the "X3 Fill Light" tool to have some real power in opening the shadows.

I almost always open shadows in LR with my images, because there is usually a lot of nice detail there that isn't seen without opening shadows. So, that's a biggie for me, the way I like to process RAWs.

I need to compare the effectiveness of X3 Fill Light in SPP 6.0 with the Shadows slider in LR on these files.
 

mezapp

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Thanks for your comments. Are you using SPP 6.0? I need to look into that comparison to LR, myself.

In my very limited use of SPP 6.0, I found the "X3 Fill Light" tool to have some real power in opening the shadows.
For me, I'm sticking with SPP 5.x until SPP 6.1 comes out -- there have been issues with processing Merrill files in 6.0.

The only processing I do is white balance adjusting and X3 Fill Light. The fill light control is amazing, especially with B&W images.

Another thing to try is under-exposing instead of doing the usual ETTR. The Sigmas tend to blow highlights very easily but are great for pulling shadow detail with the fill light control. Figuring this out was what put me into full-on addiction to my DP2M!
 

DHart

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mezapp... thanks for that. I just downloaded 6.0. I'll have to go back and see if I can download 5.x an use it instead. Do you know what the issues are with 6.0 and Merrill?

Good to know that highlights are easy to blow with the Sigmas. I will be vigilant now to keep my exposures from pushing the highlights.
 

mezapp

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6.0 was released with Quattro support only. They did release an update that would take Merrill files but Sigma indicated they aren't done providing full compatibility. The only place I know of to get any info on release plans is at sigma-rumors.com.
 

DHart

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Oh yes, 5.5.3 is working very nicely and quickly (as compared to 6.0). Thanks again for that tip.

I've read that SPP software is so terrible, but honestly, while it's not like my favorite (LR), it gets the conversion job done easily and well and then I'm off to LR for the real fun. I don't find the Sigma software to be near the burdensome app that some have painted it out to be.

I am finding that my cameras really tend to over-expose in desert scenes. It looks like I am going to need to dial in a good -0.5 EV when shooting.
 

pdk42

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Don - can you post a link to SPP 5.5.3?

Regarding highlights, I think too-easily-blown highlights is the big Achilles heel of the camera's IQ (well, along with odd colours sometimes). It would be worth trying some controlled testing of ISO 100 vs 200 to see if the higher ISO improves things. Either way, I think much more so than with our m43 sensors, it's essential to keep the histogram from sliding off the right.
 

letsgofishing

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Thanks for sharing Don! I've been eying a DPxM as a landscape accessory to my system too. As you continue your exploration with these cameras I'd love to hear your thoughts on, or perhaps see samples of two big questions I've been having:

2. Tripod mounted deep twilight exposures. So shot at base ISO but 20-30 mins after local sunset. Exposures of around the 5 to 10 second range at F/8 and ISO 200 would be a good example. I do a lot of shooting in such light and most of the DPxM shots I see are in very bright light, so curious how the sensor does at longer exposure times.
I'm also very interested to know how the DP1 copes with this scenario...
 
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