A terrible camera that produces singular images

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by lattiboy, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. lattiboy

    lattiboy Regular

    Mar 6, 2011
    So, after owning (and mostly loving) the Sigma DP Merrill cameras, I decided I would create a camera dichotomy:

    1) A Sony RX10 mkii which is likely the most technically sophisticated, easy-to-use, compact, and multi-purpose camera ever made. It produces detailed, clinically accurate files with huge latitude for processing.

    2) A Sigma SD1 Merrill which is likely the most backwards, difficult, limited, and over-sized SLR still in use. It produces a completely mixed bag of photos depending on random chance and the the mood of the technician who put the sticker on the front of it 4-5 years ago.

    Even if you do manage to get the (garbage) auto-focus to lock and get the shutter to fire, you wait with child-like anticipation while the buffer s-l-o-w-l-y empties its contents onto the CF (HA!) card. The red light pulsates wildly as you wait upwards of 10-15 seconds for the privilege to check focus on your shot... which often looks like a crude watercolor drawn by a mental patient on the abysmal rear LCD.

    Then, you get the joy of using Sigma SPP. I won't really get into this, except to say that it is a hot, inefficient, nonsensical pile of garbage that will destroy your will to process photos and leave even the most powerful computer begging for mercy. It is, however, extremely powerful and a necessary evil of the Foveon workflow.

    Now, after saying all this, it would seem like I have some kind of self-hatred which I medicate with increasingly horrible cameras. To an extent, this is true. HOWEVER, if (and it's a BIG. FUCKING. "IF".) you do everything right, the stars align, and the evil troll who lives inside the camera gets off his ass and does his job, you are rewarded with singular, distinctive, and most importantly interesting images.

    I've only had this monstrosity for a two weeks, but here are a few shots I've been very happy with.



    3) Forgot my CPL, improvised!


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  2. And they are just beautiful shots. I love the first. But I am impatient as heck and could not be bothered going through that nonsense, no matter how good the end result.
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  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Oh yeah, you could really write the same basic thing (without the DSLR part and maybe without the terrible rear LCD part?) about any past or current foveon based camera. I shot the DP2M for a couple of months a couple years back and it was the same thing. If you like amazing and ridiculous detail, it might (I repeat MIGHT) be worth the pain in the tuchous (that's a Yiddish pronunciation - not sure about the spelling). I consider myself fortunate not to be afflicted with a love of sharpness or detail - I'm from the HCB school of thought that "Sharpness is a bourgeois concept" and I'm a lonely holdout against high megapickel cameras. To me, the Sigma was a real horrorshow to work with and I didn't really care about the particular qualities of the image that makes the foveon unique. But I can't deny what it does, either. I still have a couple of shots that I occasionally go back to, pore over at 100% for minutes at a time, and sort of laugh at it's excellence. Here's one of them, of Positano, Italy at night. I spent a month there and this photograph allows me to reminisce about roughly EVERY detail of that town from this vantage point - you can click through and find the 100% view if you care to. Not even a close call in terms of being worth it to me, but if you're into that sort of thing, it'll get you there, and destroy your soul in the process...

    BTW, I like the first one and the two snow shots a LOT...

    9339237095_3821cd3102_h.jpg 20130721-SDIM0550-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
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  4. lattiboy

    lattiboy Regular

    Mar 6, 2011
    "Sharpness is a bourgeois concept" will be a tattoo on my face.
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  5. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Wow, those are interesting pix.

    And, Ray, your shot looks like it was taken at f/64 . . . amazing detail.

    It sounds like you both had to go through the horrors of the damned to get those lovely pictures. I suspect that in five minutes, I would be wondering how far I could throw the camera.

    Thank you both for sharing.

    Cheers, Jock
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  6. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Remember, compact Sigma Foveon cameras are pocketable field cameras. Sigma Foveon DSLRs are non-pocketable field cameras. Once one wraps one's mind around that concept, everything else falls into place.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
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  7. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    It's all true but after 31 days of SiJ I still fall on the love side of the love/hate relationship. Did shoot 95% jpg tho'.
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  8. ajramirez

    ajramirez Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    I could never put up with what you describe, but those shots, WOW!!!!
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  9. Hehe, yes, the Sigmas are unique beasts.
    I always keep an eye on the Merrill prices - to see if they come down to 'irresistible level' (not that they're expensive right now)

    Not sure though if I could go back to only 2 or 3 focal lengths (I'm never going to buy all 4) - so I understand your choice of the SD1 merrill...
    Maybe on their next ILC release (if there ever is one) I'll bite... who knows :)

    Lovely snow shots by the way! Really cool!
    Hope your 'relationship' to the SD1 gets even better over time! :)
  10. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    This is everything I've ever heard about these things.
  11. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    The original Sigma DP1, released in about 2008, was a camera from 2000 with image quality from 2010. Despite the horribly slow operation and the need for SPP, it remains one of my favourite cameras, simply for the combination of unique imagery and small size. I love my Ricoh GR, and I've created a Lightroom preset that emulates the look of the DP1, but I still love the original Sigma.

    Over a week ago, I bought a DP2M, and while it has greatly improved on the clunky awkwardness of original cameras, it is still hampered by some issues. Focus in lowish light is slow. It won't focus on clouds at all, so the famous Foveon cloud look is more difficult to obtain. The camera takes forever to write to the card, which means that it remains on for several seconds if you turn it off immediately after taking a photo.

    Strangely, it is almost too sharp, and I shoot with the notoriously sharp Leica M9 and Summicron 50, so I have some experience with sharpness. DP2M images can almost look like computer renders rather than images of real objects due to this extreme sharpness. Sigma Photo Pro gurgles along, even with my i7 350GHz system with 16GB of RAM. Is it worth it? Yeah.

    [​IMG]DP2M - The Green by Archiver, on Flickr
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