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Author Topic: Which camera offers DP2 Merrill image quality but better controls?  (Read 5818 times)
MrSmith27
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« on: June 16, 2013, 11:31:42 AM »
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Hi,

I recently got a DP2 Merrill and used it extensively in Iceland. It's probably a surprise to nobody that I found the image quality stunning. What I don't find so stunning is the battery life, the general responsiveness, the low-iso performance and the idiotic workflow for which I need to convert my raw-files into tiffs using Sigma's software and then import those into Lightroom.

So my question is: Independent of price which other camera/lens-combination offers the same insane sharpness that I get with my DP2 Merrill?

Cheers,
S
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BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2013, 05:42:49 PM »
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I've been disappointed not to see any responses to this thread, because I, too, am interested in the answer.  Michael has just told his readers that if they can afford the new Sony RX-1R (the one without the anti-aliasing filter), and don't already have the original RX-1, they should get it.  But he earlier reported that image quality of the DP2M was higher than the RX-1 (you just have to put up with the camera's quirks (like SLOWNESS to write to card, 7-image cache, my tendency to hit the "joystick" control and change the exposure compensation unintentionally, etc.).  Despite all this, I am reluctant to buy another camera and not get the image quality (which translates easily into the ability to print these images at very high quality large) of the DP2 (or 3)M.  For a good while, I've been thinking about the Canon 5DMKIII and the RX-1.  Unfortunately, despite having another Nikon full-frame, I just didn't like the feel in-hand of the D800.  Granted, I do most of my work on a tripod.  But I would just not feel inclined to pick up that camera.  The Canon felt much better in hand, and certainly has the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, but I just don't imagine I would find the wow-factor in the files that I consistently see in the DP2M images I take with the Sigma.  I took some test shots with the RX-1, and found (even in raw files) jaggies on slanting lines (receding edges of buildings) and color artifacts on closely spaced lines (edges of metal window trims).  These showed up on prints sized smaller than 11" x 14", so I don't want to think what they would look like in an enlargement.
Do I need to go to medium format for anything comparable to (or better than) what I am enjoying with the Sigmas?  I've wondered if I should just wait for a new Sigma iteration (full-frame, with their new lenses designed for the larger sensor)?  Replies from someone experienced with these cameras would be welcomed.  --Barbara
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duane_bolland
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 01:06:35 AM »
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You might want to read this review:

http://tashley1.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/6/leica-m240---executive-summary-final-thoughts-conclusion-is-it-a-keeper

Specifically, read the first paragraph below the last photo.  It starts with "The M240 has another trick up its sleeve too".  If that paragraph piques your interest, then read the whole review.  I think it is safe to say that all these top-quality cameras have certain usability quirks.  You may end up trading one set of quirks for another set of quirks. 
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BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 03:21:10 AM »
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It's not the quirks I'm concerned with.  I can live with quirks.  It's the image quality, at a 20" x 30" size.  The Sigma files look fantastic at 100% onscreen, and they look fantastic at 20" x 30" @300ppi, with really minimal sharpening.  And I've had no trouble getting focus.  What do I need to go to (equipment-wise) to get this same image quality, at this or a larger print size?  I had read Tim's piece when it was posted, and I don't think he was making any comparison with the small Merrill Sigmas.  It was his RX-1, which he had previously reported on, that drew the comparison.  --Barbara
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gbillett
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 08:52:13 AM »
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The Merrill attracts me too.  Here is a 36x24 inch print comparison between a D800 and Merrill.  If its image detail you want a 5d Mkiii may not match the Merrill.  The video features LuLa's contributor Nick Devlin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3VjyHQiqdE
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 09:07:15 AM by gbillett » Logged

Geoff Billett
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 04:49:44 PM »
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The Merrill attracts me too.  Here is a 36x24 inch print comparison between a D800 and Merrill.  If its image detail you want a 5d Mkiii may not match the Merrill.  The video features LuLa's contributor Nick Devlin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3VjyHQiqdE

First, Barbara thanks for breathing life into this thread. Now, concerning this video: The ergonomics are not nearly as bad as this weird person pretends they are. Regarding the DP2 Merrill Chris Niccolls is wrong. In fact I shot roughly 4000 frames with my DP2M and except the fact that I constantly have to change batteries and the cumbersome raw-->tiff workflow I find the camera to be a joy to use:

1) It powers on reasonably quick. Shutter lag is negligible and while I would prefer the camera to have no buffer, being able to shoot 7 raws in row is fine for almost all situations. When the buffer is full, the camera needs maybe 5 or so seconds to free up buffer space. For almost all situations that's fine.

2) Focus works. I tend to not focus manually because the autofocus is fine. When whatever I want to shoot is tricky, I might refocus and take another shot.

3) The raw workflow is bad, but it's manageable: I download a card to my Mac, power up Sigma's weird software and then batch process the entire folder into tiffs which work fine in Lightroom. On my old mac this takes about 30 seconds per picture, so I'll just let it do its thing and come back one hour later. Sure it's slightly annoying but it seems to be the price you pay for middle format image quality for $1000.

4) The form factor is fine. It's a brick, it's heavier than other small cameras but it's not heavy. You can pretty much hold it all day and it's fine. In fact because it looks so unassuming you can easily take images where a DSLR or a middle format camera would attract unwanted attention. I got away with the "oh, really, sorry just snapping some touristy pictures, haha, bye" routine several times.

5) The image quality IS better than any Nikon or Canon DSLR currently on the market. They are simply worse. Especially when you capture fine structures like, metal fences and in front of some highly patterned walls, or gravel, or pretty much anything that has a lot of geometric detail, the camera is INCREDIBLE. Even extremely fine detail is sharp. In fact at 100%, unsharpened, my DP2M pictures look like scaled down, sharpened images of lesser cameras... You can pretty much print them poster size out of camera.

6) Yes, low light performance is bad. The battery drains very quickly. The buffer should be larger. Sigma's software is annoying. This is all true, but you really need to respect Sigma for accepting these compromises so that they would not have to compromise on picture quality. Bottom: I simply have never seen sharper pictures and compared to this the quirks are minor and acceptable. As I said before: Buy some extra batteries, batch process the raws, accept the fact that this is not a lowlight camera and everything is peaches and cream. Smiley
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 04:53:43 PM by MrSmith27 » Logged
BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 05:36:07 PM »
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MrSmith27:  My experience with the DP2M mirrors yours exactly, with the one difference that I download my tiffs from the Sigma software into a working folder that I access to bring files into Adobe Camera Raw, rather than Lightroom.
Geoff:  I'd seen the video by TheCameraStore some time back, and hope others enjoy it too.  Chris Niccolls presents a too assertively negative description of the DP2M (makes for a "good guy - bad guy" type of exchange in the video, I guess), and I would like to see Nick Devlin make specific image quality comparisons with the Leica S2 and with the results he enjoys with the Alpa he has written about in the not-too-distant past.  Exactly what level of digital back is needed to noticeably surpass the results from the small Merrills?  Many equipment comparisons I've seen repeatedly employ the caveat, "unless you are printing large."  Printing large is what I am interested in.  --Barbara
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gbillett
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 06:52:40 PM »
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MrSmith27,  yes the negativity didn't put me off.  Its lightness and portability whilst travelling is its appeal for use mostly on a tripod.  The anonymity factor too as you say;  no-one takes you as a pro with valuable equipment.  Barbara,  I hope someone can compare directly with a medium format camera.  The video suggests it is comparable to the D800E,  perhaps check out resolution comparisons between that camera and medium format cameras.  When you say print large,  how large?  A1 is big enough for me,  which the Merrill can evidently achieve. 
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2013, 03:30:01 AM »
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As much as I love the files I am getting from my DP2m, I find my D800 files superior in terms of DR, detail, cleaness and colors.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2013, 04:24:06 AM »
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As much as I love the files I am getting from my DP2m, I find my D800 files superior in terms of DR, detail, cleaness and colors.

Hi Bernard,

The different price tag and size aside... , any Bayer CFA sensor camera with some 21MP or more should be able and trump the image quality of the DP2m. But that's not a really fair comparison for several reasons, assuming people know how to properly (Capture and Output) sharpen their images for large format output. Down-sampled output should look virtually identical, especially when the output size is reduced by 50% or more.

Cheers,
Bart
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eronald
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2013, 05:20:02 AM »
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As much as I love the files I am getting from my DP2m, I find my D800 files superior in terms of DR, detail, cleaness and colors.

Cheers,
Bernard


At 4x the price, the flagship hi-rez product of the great Nikon should at least be competitive with a no-name compact Smiley

I am using the $6K D4 and I think the sigma probably gives it a good run for the money.

BTW, Bernard, I do trust that the lens you have mounted on the D800 costs less than the DPx? Which wide prime from Nikon is that good, or are you using one of the expensive zooms?

Edmund
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2013, 06:34:18 AM »
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At 4x the price, the flagship hi-rez product of the great Nikon should at least be competitive with a no-name compact Smiley

I am using the $6K D4 and I think the sigma probably gives it a good run for the money.

BTW, Bernard, I do trust that the lens you have mounted on the D800 costs less than the DPx? Which wide prime from Nikon is that good, or are you using one of the expensive zooms?

My comment was a reaction to MrSmith27s statement that the DP2m was offering better absolute image quality than any Canon/Nikon DSLR.

It seems the quotation got lost in translation somewhere.

But I do of course agree that the Sigma is probably better at base ISO than anything besides the D800 and that it is amazing value. That's why I own one. Smiley

Cheers,
Bernard
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Vladimirovich
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2013, 09:23:22 AM »
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But I do of course agree that the Sigma is probably better at base ISO than anything besides the D800
you forgot to add @ base ISO and w/ a good amount of daylight-like spectrum light
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eronald
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2013, 09:23:55 AM »
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My comment was a reaction to MrSmith27s statement that the DP2m was offering better absolute image quality than any Canon/Nikon DSLR.

It seems the quotation got lost in translation somewhere.

But I do of course agree that the Sigma is probably better at base ISO than anything besides the D800 and that it is amazing value. That's why I own one. Smiley

Cheers,
Bernard

So which Nikon wide prime is better?

Edmund
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Vladimirovich
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2013, 09:29:38 AM »
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Which wide prime from Nikon is that good
since when 45mm eq FOV of DP2m (which was the camer in question) is wide ? 50mm prime on D800 stopped to F4 shall do it and it is not that costly
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2013, 01:56:56 PM »
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My comment was a reaction to MrSmith27s statement that the DP2m was offering better absolute image quality than any Canon/Nikon DSLR.

It seems the quotation got lost in translation somewhere.

But I do of course agree that the Sigma is probably better at base ISO than anything besides the D800 and that it is amazing value. That's why I own one. Smiley

Cheers,
Bernard

If you own a DP2M and a D800 could you upload some comparison pictures? I have shot both yet I don't own a D800 and I haven't been able to really shoot the same picture twice. Yet when I look at D800 pictures I feel that it lacks the sharpness that the DP2M offers, especially when shooting fine geometric detail. Obviously this refers to using the DP2M at base iso, on a tripod, and in daylight.

Full disclaimer: I'm neither in camp Sigma, nor camp Nikon. So please prove me wrong. The more amazing cameras the better Cheesy
 



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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2013, 04:10:44 PM »
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So which Nikon wide prime is better?

The DP2m has a 45mm equivalent lens. I guess that your question is "what 45~mm lens can be mounted on a D800 that, together with the D800 sensor, delivers results superior to that of the DP2m?".

My personnal answer is the Zeiss 50mm f2.0 makro, but I have not done a wide market comparison. The nikkor 50mm f1.4 is also excellent from 2.8 and up.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2013, 04:18:08 PM »
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If you own a DP2M and a D800 could you upload some comparison pictures? I have shot both yet I don't own a D800 and I haven't been able to really shoot the same picture twice. Yet when I look at D800 pictures I feel that it lacks the sharpness that the DP2M offers, especially when shooting fine geometric detail. Obviously this refers to using the DP2M at base iso, on a tripod, and in daylight.

Full disclaimer: I'm neither in camp Sigma, nor camp Nikon. So please prove me wrong. The more amazing cameras the better Cheesy

You need to consider that the DP2m is a 16mp camera without AA filter while the D800 is a 36mp sensor with an AA filter (albeit a very weak one).

Looking at non optimally captured sharpened images at 100% will not give you a realistic view of the relative image quality observable in print at a given size.

Besides, detail is just one metric, DR and file workability is a more important one where the D800 advantage is larger.

As far as shooting comparisons, I won't have time to do this, sorry. You can find D800 and DP2m sets on my flickr page linked below.

I am not sure what you mean by "camp"? We are photographers looking into the best possible tools for what we do within a given budget, right?

Cheers,
Bernard
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2013, 05:14:15 PM »
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I am not sure what you mean by "camp"? We are photographers looking into the best possible tools for what we do within a given budget, right?

Cheers,
Bernard


Yes we are. I just wanted to make extra sure because these "which camera is better"-argument way too often drift off into weird fanboy territory and really I don't care about that stuff. I just want the best tool, no matter what brand it is.

Regarding your Nikon - are you using the D800 or the D800E?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2013, 05:42:04 PM »
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Yes we are. I just wanted to make extra sure because these "which camera is better"-argument way too often drift off into weird fanboy territory and really I don't care about that stuff. I just want the best tool, no matter what brand it is.

Regarding your Nikon - are you using the D800 or the D800E?

I have been using a D800.

Cheers,
Bernard
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