Sigma DP3 Merrill - the horror and the joy

I was warned before buying this camera that it would frustrate the hell out of me. I didn't listen...and it does. There are times when I want to bounce it off the nearest concrete surface, which is probably why months into my ownership I have not really written anything about it, let alone posted any images.

 Converted to B&W using Sigma Photo Pro...don't get me started on that!!!

Converted to B&W using Sigma Photo Pro...don't get me started on that!!!

So, let's start with the bad. This thing is sloooooow. Slow to focus, slow to write images, slow to allow you to view those images. It also doesn't have a viewfinder, which I have to say in normal circumstances would instantly be a no-no for me. It's also a little awkward, slightly improved by the fact that the model I have at least has a grip (called an iShoot I think). 

 Flower to the people, Barcelona

Flower to the people, Barcelona

To be fair, the menus are minimal and the button layout relatively intuitive, meaning its easy to select aperture (I tend to use aperture priority in all cameras as I am a lazy ass), focus point and mode, exposure compensation etc.

Overall though, the camera is a pain in the ass, I haven't even mentioned battery life yet (it ships with two batteries, which should tell you all you need to know). So, why have I not consigned it to the scrap heap? Well, the impatient among you are probably have begun looking at the images. Nice aren't they (forgetting for a moment any niceties such as artistic worth, composition etc)?

 57 YU, Barcelona

57 YU, Barcelona

This camera pairs an incredible 50mm f2.8 lens (equivalent to 75mm in full frame) to Sigma's weird, but wonderful, Merrill sensor. Lots has been written elsewhere about the sensor but its safe to say that I have not seen similar quality in any other camera I have owned (saving perhaps the Nikon D750, which I did get rid off due to size and weight).

The detail in the images is stunning, particularly if you can nail the exposure at ISO 100 (images rapidly get noisy at higher ISO). Below you'll find a complete frame, followed by a crop to show the type of detail you can expect. 

 Jana, Barcelona

Jana, Barcelona

 Yep, this really is a crop of the above image!

Yep, this really is a crop of the above image!

I can honestly say that the images from this camera are worth all the hassle of the use, particularly when used as a portrait camera. This of course assumes your subject hasn't wandered off by the time the damn thing has powered up and decided to focus (do use the AF/MF mode, it will save you).

 The old and the new, Barcelona

The old and the new, Barcelona

So, would I recommend one? For IQ alone, yes, but you need to be really rather patient. That of course assumes you can find one, which is not easy these days. You see, and here's the thing, owners who can put up with the quirks love this stupid thing. I know I do, and I will not be bouncing it off concrete any time soon.