A terrible camera that produces singular images

lattiboy

Regular
Mar 6, 2011
68
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.

1)


2)


3) Forgot my CPL, improvised!


4)


5)
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
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...

20130721-SDIM0550-Edit
by Ray, on Flickr

-Ray
 
Last edited:

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
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
 

Biro

Super Moderator
Aug 7, 2011
124
Jersey Shore
Steve
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:

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
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.

1)


2)


3) Forgot my CPL, improvised!


4)


5)
I could never put up with what you describe, but those shots, WOW!!!!
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
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! :)
 

Archiver

Top Veteran
Jul 11, 2010
103
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.

DP2M - The Green
by Archiver, on Flickr
 

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