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Sigma DP3 Merrill First Impressions Review$999.00
The previous DP Merrill cameras have been almost universally praised for their landscape shooting capability. You can interpret that praise in two ways: The cameras are great for landscapes because of their excellent wide-angle lenses and superb color reproduction, or they're great for landscapes because they can't focus properly on anything else. The truth is probably a combination of the two.
Without any autofocus improvement, we're a little worried that the DP3 Merrill's potential will be limited by its 75mm effective focal length. Sure, there are plenty of people who use telephotos for landscape shooting, but generally a wide-angle lens will be the first choice. On the other hand, the DP3M might be the perfect instrument for portraiture, whether in the studio or the real world. Again, a brighter maximum aperture would be helpful, but f/2.8 is still plenty wide to create pleasing shallow depth-of-field effects in portraits.
Regardless of how you use the DP3M, you're going to have to learn put up with some quirks if you want to love it. We've already mentioned the autofocus, but there are other issues, too. The battery life on the DP1M and DP2M was what could charitably be described as "horrendous," and according to the spec sheet, the DP3M is no better. You can expect to get just 97 shots on a charge. Furthermore, while the Foveon X3 sensor is superb in bright light, it's far from ideal (pretty bad, really) when you have to crank up the ISO. Ergonomics could certainly also stand to be improved.
This is a camera by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. But even among that small group of qualified users, the DP3M (and its siblings) will be divisive. There are other options in the large-sensor, fixed-lens game—such as the new Fujifilm X100S and the Leica X2—that provide a more seamless user experience without some of the more annoying quirks. But none of them offers a Foveon sensor, or a 75mm-equivalent lens.
We suspect that those who will be interested in the DP3M already have it on their radar, but if you've only just stumbled upon it and your curiosity is piqued, keep an eye out for our full review.