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If you love the art of photography - the creation of a carefully crafted image - but live on a budget, I have good news.
Digital photography has offered photographic purists a limited choice of equipment. Leica's M8, with it's relatively large 27 x 18mm sensor - and built to Leica's legendary standard of quality - is the obvious leader of a very small pack. But with a suggested retail of $4,795, starving artists need not apply.
Enter the Sigma DP-1, a compact camera for the serious photographer. The DP-1 has it's faults (which we'll discuss shortly), but it's a camera designed with the photographic artist in mind.
First, Sigma started by transplanting the Foveon X3® sensor from its flagship DSLR into a compact camera. The 14-megapixel sensor differs from all others by virtue of its ability to record red, blue or green light at every pixel location. (Other sensors can record only one color per location.) This allows Foveon's sensors to record rich, true colors without interpolation.
But color is only the first advantage. The sensor is also 20.7 x 13.8mm - seven times the size of a standard 1/1.8" compact camera sensor. And a larger sensor means sharper images and less "noise."
Bucking the super-zoom trend, Sigma uses a sharp 28mm fixed-focal-length lens on the DP-1. At f/4, the lens is relatively slow, but it's an excellent choice for landscape or architectural photography.
While the DP-1 does offer auto-focus and automatic exposure, it's design invites manual shooting - and it features a full compliment of manual controls. And (Here come the drawbacks...) with noticable shutter lag, slow auto-focus and slow write times to memory, the DP-1 almost forces the user into the slower, more thoughtful photography of the past.
But the payoff is in gorgeous images. For photographers who like to create rather than merely shoot, the DP-1 may be the perfect digital camera for landscapes, travel, art or documentary photography. Because, at less than $700, you can actually afford it.