The Sigma DP3 Merrill, which will be available soon at Adorama, is unique among the small but growing number of posh digital cameras with fixed focal length (prime) lenses: It is the first with a telephoto angle of view. The DP3's 50mm f/2.8 lens, combined with the camera's Foveon APS sensor, shows the same angle of view as a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera. The new camera is designed for optimal performance for both portrait photography and macro work. While Sigma has not yet released pricing or availability, we expect it will cost just around $950, just like its sibling shorter prime lens cameras, the Sigma DP1 Merrill and Sigma DP2 Merrill, each of which is available from Adorama for $949.
Let's take a closer first look at the Sigma DP3 Merrill.
As with the DP2 and DP1, the Sigma DP3 Merrill is built around a 23.5x15.7mm 46MP Foveon X3 sensor. The sensor consists of three 4800x3200 pixel layers representing red, green and blue; combined, they add up to 46 megapixels. No low-pass filter is required, which means increased more light reaches the sensor; Sigma claims this design produces cleaner, more three-dimensional images.
The 50mm f/2.8 lens was designed by Sigma to precisely match the DP3 Merrill's sensor. It includes Special Low Dispersion glass and aspherical lens elements to compensate for aberrations and keep the lens compact. Super Multi Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting. The lens focuses down to 8.9 inches, resulting in a near-macro magnification of 1:3.
Aperture, shutter speed and menu access are all controlled via a command dial; a QS (Quick Set) menu provides access to the camera's most commonly-used functions. Users can customize menu content and the order in which features appear to suit their needs. The ISO range is 100-6400, adjustable in 1/3 stops.
The camera can capture up to 7 RAW images in one sequence, at up to 4fps, and can capture RAW+JPEG image formats. Sigma recommends shooting RAW to get the most image data with the least compression. A 9-point select Autofocus mode and Free Move mode let you fine-tune focus points, while Face Detection is great for portraits and group shots. An AF limit mode can adjust the focus range, which can speed up focus acquisition time. Manual focus is also available.
The camera is backed by a 3-inch, 920k pixel resolution LCD, has a hot shoe and lens hood, and accepts SDXC memory cards. We're not sure why Sigma bothered to include a movie mode, since it will only record 640x480 resolution. If you're buying this camera, it's not for video.
The Sigma DP3 Merrill now fills out what Sigma says is a complete trio of prime-lens compacts, including The DP1 (28mm equivalent) and DP2 (50mm equivalent).
In addition to the DP3 Merrill, Sigma also announced Photo Pro Monochrome Mode, which allows for creation of Monochrome photos in RAW mode post-processing, and the pricing and availability for two new lenses:
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM will be available from Adorama in March for $499
Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM will be available from Adorama in March for $3,599.