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Sigma DP1 Gordon Laing, June 2008

Sigma DP1 results : Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise

Sigma DP1 vs Canon EOS 450D / XSi vs Panasonic FX500 real-life noise

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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Sigma DP1, Canon EOS 450D / XSi and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 within a few moments of each other using each of their ISO settings. We wanted to see how the DP1 measured-up against a DSLR and a flagship traditional compact camera in this respect.

Since the DP1 has a fixed focal length lens, we matched its field of view by adjusting the zooms of the Canon and Panasonic lenses. The 450D / XSi was equipped with the standard EF-S 18-55mm IS lens. The FX500's taller 4:3 field was adjusted to match horizontally, so horizontal strips at the top and bottom were effectively discarded.

The image above was taken with the Sigma DP1 at 100 ISO, f8 and the original Hi Fine JPEG measured 3.1MB. All crops are reproduced here at 100% and show different-sized areas depending on the output resolution of the camera - from left to right below, the output resolutions are 4.69, 12.2 and 10.1 Megapixels.

Note: just before going to press with this review, Sigma released firmware revision 1.03 which added a new LOW 50 ISO option. This setting was too late to be included on this particular page, but we have included a 50 ISO sample in our Gallery and reshot our resolution chart on the previous page at 50 ISO.

As seen on our first set of outdoor results, the Sigma DP1 can capture an astonishing degree of per-pixel detail compared to other cameras - this is down to its sharp lens and the full colour capture of the Foveon X3 sensor. The relatively low output resolution may mean the crops show a large area compared to the other two cameras below, but there's certainly no lack of fine detail as a result.

At 100 and 200 ISO, the DP1 delivers images which are packed with detail and bereft of undesirable noise or processing artefacts. The results from the Canon DSLR and Panasonic compact are quite soft in comparison - although note our Canon 100 ISO sample was fractionally out of focus here. It is however worth noting the colour balance of the DP1's default JPEG images looks quite different to that of the other two cameras shown here - and indeed of most digital cameras in general. You'll see more examples of this in our sample image gallery.

At 400 ISO, the DP1's quality takes a noticeable hit with visible noise and some undesirable chroma processing artefacts coming in. That said it's still a lot better than a typcial compact camera at 400 ISO as seen below. At 800 ISO, there's a much bigger drop in quality on the DP1, with significant chroma noise visible, especially in shadow areas. The saturation is also noticeably reduced and again you can see more examples of this in our sample images gallery.

Sadly this is also where the DP1's sensitivity ends. With its large DSLR-sized sensor, we hoped for decent high sensitivity performance and also a usable 1600 ISO option, but neither are the case with the DP1. As seen below, it's certainly a big improvement over a typical compact, but the quality really does reduce more than you'd hope at 800 ISO and is below that of most DSLRs. This is especially unusual as the lower resolution of the Foveon sensor would imply it could be more sensitive to light.

So we'd say the DP1 can be matched or beaten at higher sensitivies by a decent DSLR, although the Sigma does comfortably beat a typical compact in this regard. To see more real-life images taken with the DP1 across its entire sensitivity range including several taken indoors under low light, check out our Sigma DP1 Sample Images page.

Sigma DP1
Canon EOS 450D / XSi
with Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
Panasonic Lumix FX500
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO not available
1600 ISO
1600 ISO

Sigma DP1 results

Outdoor resolution / Studio resolution / Real life Noise

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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