Sharp Shooter With A Single Focal Length

YOU'VE HEARD OF "advanced compact" cameras—those pocketable powerhouses that shoot RAW, sport hot-shoes, and give you much more control than typical point-and-shoots.

But Sigma's DP2 ($650, street) is different from many of those, such as the Canon PowerShot G12, Nikon Coolpix P6000, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. It fits into a subcategory comprising just three others, including an older current model, the DP1, and Ricoh's GR Digital and GR Digital II: all have high-quality lenses, with fixed focal lengths. If you want to zoom in or out, you've got to do it with your feet.

The DP2's gorgeous seven-element lens, full of aspherics and low-dispersion glass, will appeal to shooters who mainly use primes anyway. And Sigma's sensor, designed for its DSLR models, has nearly seven times the area of the ones used in other advanced compacts—called the Foveon X3, it has a unique, three-layer design.

This new camera improves on the DP1, tested in our May 2008 issue. Its lens has a longer focal length (equivalent to 41 mm on a full-frame sensor, up from 28mm) and is brighter (f/2.8, rather than f/4), for better low-light performance and shallower depth of field. It uses a faster processing engine. And it has a new QS ("quick set") button for speedier access to frequently changed settings, such as ISO, meter pattern, and white balance.

Standout image quality

In imaging ability, the DP2 doesn't disappoint. On RAW files converted to TIFFs in Sigma's Photo Pro software at the default settings, tested resolution rated High through ISO 1600 and Acceptable at ISO 3200. Its scores might have been higher were it not for occasional banding that blurred finer detail in our test target.

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16th Annual • Readers'

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