DP1 - 28mm viewfinder - adapter+hood - 0.75x wide converter - circular polarizer - white balance keychain
With the introduction of the DP1, Sigma promised an exceptional lens and a large full-color sensor in a compact body. They certainly delivered on this promise, but they seemingly forgot to provide the rest of the package. The results were less than stellar reviews and frustration for early-adopters expecting more. While I've had a digital camera since high school, I didn't get into serious photography until a little over a year ago. Luckily, the DP1 had been in the hands of customers and reviewers by the time I began researching professional and enthusiast cameras. There were several reviews and user testimonials available for the DP1 so I knew what I was getting into. I was also able to take advantage of the price drop, a rather significant one compared to its initial price. I fell in love with the concept and immediately discarded any plans for an entry-level DSLR.
Trolls, cheat sheets, and Sweden
Before taking delivery of my first serious camera, I spent a lot of time in the Sigma section of the DPReview forums. Hidden among countless arguments about the Foveon sensor's actual pixel count were some helpful threads leading me to various places like Carl Rytterfalk's website and another containing a collection of tips from several experienced users. To summarize what I learned from my rigorous forum lurking: The DP1 is a camera for the deliberate photographer who doesn't mind massaging each RAW file to get the desired results. I also read what photographers had to say about their experience with film and the techniques used to overcome challenges that are largely addressed with recent digital cameras. Observations from rangefinder camera users were especially helpful.
A camera that gets faster over time
Keeping in mind the things I've read and looking back on several mistake-laden photo outings, I've settled on a particular way of using the camera - a process that I really enjoy. Almost all of my shots are hand-held. With the LCD off, I estimate the distance of the subject and turn the focus wheel. I then frame with the optical viewfinder and press the shutter button. If I'm forced to use a slow shutter speed, I use continuous shooting mode to maximize the odds of getting a sharp image.
Although the LCD is off, a press of a button will activate it temporarily for a quick settings-change. With the latest firmware, the zoom buttons can be set to a number of setting combinations. Personally, I have the 'W' button set to change ISO and the 'T' button set to switch from single shot to continuous. With these options available and my familiarity with the system, the camera is no longer slow.
The DP1 is a camera that fits in a jacket pocket and can be freely used without attracting too much attention. A larger camera would likely sit on the shelf and a small-sensor compact lacks the image quality that I'm after. I know iPhone photographers and toy camera shooters disagree about the importance of image quality, but ultimately, my photography is for me and I want good image quality.
I feel that the camera is a good match for me. I'm not against innovations to make our lives easier, but there is always the allure of cars with manual transmissions or GUI-less computer interfaces. As a newcomer, I have found the DP1's difficult nature invaluable in learning the fundamental elements of photography.
As much as I love my DP1, I have to post links to a few threads that every buyer should read - especially buyers of used DP cameras. I understand that all electronic equipment are prone to failure. However, these threads point to a common issue: the failure of the lens retract mechanism. I posted one of the threads. I talked to Sigma on the phone after sending them the failed unit and they said I must have dropped it. I persisted and they sent me a refurbished unit free of charge. I know there are many customers that weren't so fortunate. I estimate that I will probably get about a couple more years out of this camera before it fails. It will probably be my last Sigma camera, as I have lost confidence in their durability. I hope the rumored "GF2" + 20mm f/1.7 pancake will be a small enough package since I have cancelled my plan to buy a DP2.
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