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Getting a DP2 Merrill - hope this works

Discussion in 'Sigma DP Forum' started by Archiver, Jan 19, 2016.

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  1. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hi guys,

    I love the original Sigma DP1 and DP2, and still use them from time to time as I really enjoy the transparent clarity and sparkle of the images. There's something about the way the raw files in SPP have a unique look in the shadows and highlights.

    I'm about to buy one of the last remaining DP2M's in Australia (so it seems), and I hope that it gives me the same 'oh wow' factor of the original cameras. The original DP2's images are sometimes marred by their very quirky white balance and colour handling, often resulting in a greenish cast, but from what I have seen, the Merrill cameras have much better colour accuracy but have lost a bit of that 'transparent sparkle'.

    I hope I'm making the right choice...

    Any thoughts from users or observers?
     
  2. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    I bought mine from the Oz importer about 3 months ago for what I considered a too good to miss price ($549) and am using it for the SiJ. The well documented quirks are there but I love the output. I've been told the Merrills are a big step up from the original DPs. I am shooting jpgs for the SiJ :eek:.

    I think Sigma lost the plot with the Quattros.
     
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  3. theoldsmithy

    theoldsmithy SC Top Veteran

    828
    Jan 7, 2013
    Herefordshire, England
    Martin Connolly
    I had a DP2M for a while. The handling is surprisingly intuitive, and the images are superbly detailed. ISO 800 or better is fine for colour, people say B&W is fine to higher ISOs but I never tried. However I lost patience with the time it took to process the raw files, and I couldn't get the latest version of SPP to install on my machine after trying many, many times. Plus the x3f files are 80mb+ each, TIFF files from SPP are also over 80mb, and I didn't want to buy a second hard drive!
     
  4. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    I borrowed my brother's DP2m for a short while and was blown away by its image quality. It's not just sharper, it's so much sharper that even at resolutions where it should not matter the image just looks different. If I was doing photos where this was the difference between a good photo and a great photo then I'd have one by now.

    Here's a post from my old blog: What Blog is This?: Damn You, Sigma DP2m
     
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  5. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thanks to a little Googling, I was able to find some DP2M raw files, courtesy of pond.org.uk. Loading them into SPP 6.3 and processing them gave me an idea of what to expect, both from imagery and processing times. The results have been very encouraging and relieving, as my computer doesn't take too long, and the images look pretty darn good. I'm picking up the camera tomorrow morning, which will begin the next stage in my Sigma journey.
     
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  6. theoldsmithy

    theoldsmithy SC Top Veteran

    828
    Jan 7, 2013
    Herefordshire, England
    Martin Connolly
    Good luck and happy shooting, the DP2M is a great camera if you can live with the processing.
     
  7. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    As I type, the sky is dark and rain has been falling for a few hours, but I'm still enthralled with the DP2M.

    The top control dial and Mode button is an excellent system, and it's a doddle to operate once you do it a few times. Startup is much faster and more quit than the DP1 and DP2, and focus is reasonably quick. I'm used to shooting with slower cameras, and the rewards of the images are so great that the trade off is worth it. Processing the images with SPP isn't the fastest, but it is decent enough for me. I'm using a i7 390Ghz with 16GB of RAM, Windows 7. A Sandisk 64GB class 10 micro SDHC card in SD card adapter works perfectly in this camera, yielding just over 1000 raw files at maximum size.

    Colour accuracy is much better than the DP2's slightly greenish look, and while it doesn't quite have the same luminous translucency of tone, it retains a certain 'Foveon' look. And oddly, even though it is an aps-c sensor, the files have a rich look that I associate more with full frame cameras. Honestly, these first few images make me think of it as having a Leica M9 in your pocket.

    I now wish I had been watching the distributor website earlier, because they would have had the DP1M at the same price, and I love the 28mm look.

    Fun times ahead!
     
  8. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    If I was studio photographer with full lighting gear, I'd probably shoot nothing but Merrill bodies & ART lenses ;)
     
  9. taqtaq

    taqtaq SC Regular

    135
    May 31, 2015
    Espoo, Finland
    Tuukka
    I'm glad it works for you! I let mine go as, like others, I found the processing too cumbersome. I still keep thinking about it every now and then though...
     
  10. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    As someone remarked on this forum shooting a Sigma is a bit like shooting film - you may take more time setting up the shot and processing the .x3f files but you are rewarded for your patience.
     
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  11. ivoire

    ivoire SC All-Pro

    Dec 3, 2011
    chicago burbs
    mike
    Have never regretted getting a DP2M. It's more versatile than I expected. The latest version of Sigma software is much better and batch processing eliminates some of the effort. If you enjoy BnW you can easily shoot in color up to 1600iso and process using the blue channel in the software. Very nice images with film like grain. Post some pics once you get it.
     
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  12. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    the images are amazing.... the process absolutely blows.

    I did say the images are amazing. I still kinda want one....even though using one makes me want to pull out what remains of my hair.
     
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  13. Ripleysbaby

    Ripleysbaby supernatural anesthetist

    Sep 9, 2011
    Cumbria UK
    Garry
    I've bought and sold the DP2m twice. And the 1 ! I've regretted it both times. In fact even with a couple of months with the Sony A7r hasn't stopped me wanting one again. In fact I'd probably swap my Sony and 35 mm for the sigma merrill trio !
     
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  14. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 SC Rookie

    19
    Jan 24, 2014
    image. image. DP2M Brissy and Melbourne shots
     
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  15. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    It's been a number of months since I bought the DP2M, and it really is a mixed bag for me. I've been unable to bond with it the way I have with the originals, particularly the DP1. The Merrill is much faster to operate, but the buffer clearing time makes it impossible to review an image for many, many seconds before the buffer is clear. It is worse than the original DP1! Battery life is abysmal, worse again than the DP1. Even though it focuses and shoots faster than the originals, the slow buffer clearance really slows down your ability to make adjustments after a shot.

    24630820002_9e51875b9c_c. DP2M - The Green by Archiver, on Flickr

    Image quality and look is another mixed bag. The images are so sharp that they are almost 'bitty', if that makes sense. The only way to deal with this is to reduce Sharpness in SPP before processing. Colours are here and there: sometimes they can be great, other times they are awful, particularly skin tones. Fair caucasian skin tones can be quite reasonable, but Asian (Chinese and Japanese) skin tones are a dark yellow, sallow, mush. There is a general yellowish colour cast which needs to be individually balanced out in post. And there is a definite lack of the translucency of the original DP1 and DP2, which disappoints me. They are like extra sharp Bayer images; and if I want extra sharp Bayer images, I'll shoot with the Leica M9 and get much better colours and dynamic range.

    30397331335_07304abdfb_c. DP2M - Juicy by Archiver, on Flickr

    Dynamic range is another issue. The DP2M exposes for mids at the expense of highlights, and as a result, the highlights get blown a lot. Auto in SPP doesn't work the same way with Merrill files; with the DP1 and 2, Auto processing would recover highlight detail and bump up the shadows to create an attractive, well balanced look. Merrill files are barely adjusted by Auto, making it necessary to either process each image by hand, or create a Custom preset in SPP. Merrill files are not supported by Adobe at all, so don't hope you can use Lightroom to process them. I've been told to shoot the Merrill at ISO 200, as this is the base ISO of the sensor and it gives a bit more highlight range, but I haven't run enough tests to confirm this approach yet.

    I'm still working with it, and I'll give it yet another go over the weekend.
     
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  16. Kompaktkameratyp

    Kompaktkameratyp SC Rookie

    15
    Jul 6, 2010
    Oh, really, now! I always wonder how people can get so upset about the Merrills!

    The processing with SPP is solvable, because there are, for the Merrills (though not yet for the Quattros) other programs. Iridient Developer is the program I use. It's as fast, reliable, and as easy to use as any other program out there. The look of the picture it returns is stunning, period. Pictures are very sharp, always. White balance is pretty good in most lighting situations, and controls to make changes are easy to understand and give you quick results if the camera guessed wrong. By the way, all cameras I ever owned were often wrong. They are computers guessing, what do you expect. Shoot RAW, use a proper program, and it's white balance without the tears.

    As for the cameras (and I own a DP1m and DP3m, for the record): AF is absolutely fine in good light, and okay in bad light. For the record: After all the false positives my DSLRs have given me, I prefer a camera that errs on the side of caution: it tells me it's done focussing when it is, in fact, in perfect focus. I have shot a dance event (that's people moving, as some of you may know!) under low tungsten light, with the Merrill DP3m. I had another camera, in case it had turned out the DP3m wouldn't be able to do it, but never used the backup, in fact. The DP3m was completely predictable: Pre-focussed it, shot, got the pictures, with a slave flash coming in from the side for more 3D pop and a bit of extra light. I could show you the pictures to prove it works, but sadly, I actually can't, because I have sold them to the organizers of the dance event. This was a demanding task, and picture quality was ex-ce-llent, with a little planning before the shoot, and minimal work in ID afterwards.

    For the record, I also own the M9 that has been mentioned here a couple of times. The Merrills will outresolve the M9 easily, every time (Merrills compete with Nikon D800s, and some older medium format backs, in fact). As for the M9: Focus is dead on with the Merrills always (it's a closed-loop, off-the-sensor system, after all), whereas rangefinders can go out of calibration, and manual focussing on the M9 can be error-prone, to say the least. Color from both cameras sometimes need a bit of work, and other times they are just beautiful from the start.

    However, in some sense I would compare the Merrills to the Leica, too: Superb IQ, easy to understand as all the useless features of other cameras are left out. Both cameras compete with analog for "all too often magical" output. With the prices of the Merrill so low (and the M9 still so high), I'd recommend a Merrill to every- and anybody. Don't believe the naysayers. The Merrill 1-3 (and the M9, of course) are picture artist's dreams cameras all of them, with enormous potential. If you know halfway what you're doing, that is. If you're looking for the pet-face recognition program of your Panasony toy, please leave the Merrill for the photographers to buy.
     
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  17. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    there are simply too many 'nay-sayers' not to believe them, or at least take their comments into account. over many years ive found both absolute zealots and absolute critics to be equally suspect on any given issue. however, when one hears the same comments over and over--great resolution and IQ, but awful process and suspect dynamic range--it makes sense to take both sets into account before commiting.
     
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  18. Kompaktkameratyp

    Kompaktkameratyp SC Rookie

    15
    Jul 6, 2010
    Well, of course you should take all sides into account. However, as for SPP: Forget about it. It should not be used, because the other programs are better: More reliable and faster. So, this is neither a problem of the cameras, nor a problem an owner cannot solve. It's easily solved, in fact, for very little financial outlay.

    As for the cameras, again: An OM-D focusses faster, a Canikon has more FPS, the Leica has an optical viewfinder. But you know all these things coming in. So, if these points are deal breakers for you, skip the Merrill, sure. I will admit that the wait before you can review a photo can really be annoying, but only at times: You don't need to chimp after each and every photo, do you? Dynamic range, for the record, I'll admit that I haven't done testing to compare the DPs to other cameras. However, I have never noticed any issues with DR either. So, why worry? :)
     
  19. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I've heard a lot of things about Iridient. Too bad that it only works for Mac OS; I'm not going to buy another computer with a different OS just so I can use one program.

    I'm very familiar with raw processing programs, including Lightroom, Raw Therapee, Capture One, Photo Ninja, and have been working with raws since Canon DPP and Photoshop CS in 2003. I've also made extensive use of the Canon 30D, 40D, 5D Mark II and a slew of other raw shooting cameras. To tell me that I just need to use a 'proper program' is somewhat condescending, but you obviously don't know my history, so that point is moot. Or are you going to tell me that I need a 'proper computer' as well?

    M9 vs Merrill: the same arguments about focus accuracy and longevity can be made for almost any other autofocus camera. The Merrill does have very reasonable autofocus abilities in good light. But tell the Merrill to autofocus on clouds like the original DP1 and DP2, or focus on a subject in low light with minimal hunting. Or show me how to put a 35mm f1.4 lens on a Merrill. Comparing a manual focus rangefinder with an autofocus fixed lens camera is more about the needs and abilities of the user, because they are completely different tools.

    As for whether the Merrill will outresolve the M9, I will have to run my own tests. As far as I'm concerned, the M9 outresolves darn near everything within the same megapixel range, especially with a good lens like the Zeiss Biogon 21/2.8, the Leica Summicron 50, or the Zeiss 25/2.8. I won't deny that the Merrill can produce some great files, and that the sharpness and detail is superb, but sharpness isn't worth jack if the colour isn't pleasing, or the highlights clip to all buggery.

    I couldn't recommend the DP2M to most shooters, nor would I recommend the M9 to most shooters, unless I knew they were fully aware of the shortcomings of either camera and were willing to work with them. From my experience so far, I much prefer the original DP1 and DP2 to the Merrill, and the M9 is still my favourite camera of all time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
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  20. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    yeah, thats the thing, no tool is perfect, and as long as one is realistic about a given tools shortcomings vs positives, then there shouldnt be a problem.
     
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