DP2 Merrill observations
Old 01-09-2016   #1
ampguy
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DP2 Merrill observations

So only have 30 images through it, but here are some quick observations:

The sensor is quite amazing for a compact, zooming to 100% looks quite printable, but beyond that at least from the on-screen imaging, you'll see JPG artifacts.

All of the bad things you've read about this camera are true. It is probably the slowest auto focusing camera you can buy, the AF whines. The menus and interface are kludgier than most modern cameras, in A mode, having the big round dial be an Aperture ring, is nice. White balance is like a '90s camera, and will often be off.

The good things, and why this will be my 2016 one camera one lens, along with cell phone and EPL1 with body camera 9mm lens maybe, is that it slows you down, not just the AF, but knowing that the battery with eye-fi mobi is only good for 30-40 shots or so, slows you down like film, you don't want to waste battery, and you want to take "keepers"

The IQ beats any Leica or Fujifilm, at least for landscapes. And that's pretty much the main advantage. I'm shooting in auto-iso JPG mode, toggling between color and mono. The 3:2 is also refreshing.

The lens is not perfect, there is slight barrel distortion, less than most newer Leica and Nikon lenses, but it's there at the edges, which of course could be dialed out. The Eye-fi mobi will only move the JPGs to your phone, not raw, though the pro will do raw, but the pro reportedly uses even more battery.

There is flare when shooting into the sun, and no hood comes with the camera, though I have one coming. You do get two batteries, but for trips, you're going to need more than 2.

Overall, I couldn't recommend this camera to anyone, but myself. Did I mention that this is not a camera for ........ ??
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Old 01-09-2016   #2
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The IQ out of the Merrill sensor can beat any full-frame camera up to (and including) the original A7R, imo. The files are extremely printable. Jpegs are a bad idea.

It's a specialty camera: so yeah quirky and difficult until you learn it. Treat it like a technical camera and you'll be blown away, at least that's what reviews say (I treat it as I would any other camera, though the technical limitations fit my style of shooting). And nothing else has the Foveon Merrill look. It's already a classic.

Some questions: why shoot auto-iso Jpeg? Why is 3:2 refreshing? If you want to shoot mono, you really should be developing in SPP, as there are some blue-channel tricks that will allow you to shoot around 1600 iso and get pretty clean, filmic files.

I hope this thread turns into your one-camera 2016 thread, as that really interests me.
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Old 01-09-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samouraï View Post

I hope this thread turns into your one-camera 2016 thread, as that really interests me.
Same thought here… looking forward to seeing your images as you climb the foveon learning curve. Thanks for sharing your initial thoughts.
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answers
Old 01-10-2016   #4
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answers

Have you shot JPGs? How did they compare with other cameras?

Why are they a bad idea? Why is SPP 14-bit RAW better?

I don't want tricks of color for my mono files. That is like shooting Kodachrome, and converting to mono, using the additional color channels for unrealistic filtering.

3:2 is about the original ratio of 35mm film. 4/3rds is not, and was what I was using, so going back towards the 3:2 ratio is "refreshing" for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samouraï View Post
The IQ out of the Merrill sensor can beat any full-frame camera up to (and including) the original A7R, imo. The files are extremely printable. Jpegs are a bad idea.

It's a specialty camera: so yeah quirky and difficult until you learn it. Treat it like a technical camera and you'll be blown away, at least that's what reviews say (I treat it as I would any other camera, though the technical limitations fit my style of shooting). And nothing else has the Foveon Merrill look. It's already a classic.

Some questions: why shoot auto-iso Jpeg? Why is 3:2 refreshing? If you want to shoot mono, you really should be developing in SPP, as there are some blue-channel tricks that will allow you to shoot around 1600 iso and get pretty clean, filmic files.

I hope this thread turns into your one-camera 2016 thread, as that really interests me.
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Old 01-10-2016   #5
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The DP2m is all that but I think you are a bit overly critical. The only things about it that bothers me are the battery issue, the problematic iso performance and the focal length. And even then the iso performance is only an issue because you have to use the screen to compose and so no stability unless on a tripod. Batteries can make it a hassle at times but then I don't want 1000 shot/day as I have no time to shift through them. And focal length isn't that much of a problem as I have a DP1m.

Great camera but I couldn't live with it as the only camera.
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Old 01-10-2016   #6
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They can be an only camera but they definitely change the way you shoot.

And the jpegs suck IMO. I've never bothered with them.
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Old 01-10-2016   #7
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I meant to mention one thing that has always really impressed me about the raw files is how forgiving they are when you blow the highlights. You can't recover data where there isn't any of course bit the transition into those areas seems to be a lot more pleasing on the eye than many other digicams.
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Old 01-10-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
And the jpegs suck IMO. I've never bothered with them.

Yep ... its the only digital camera that I always shoot raw.
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Old 01-10-2016   #9
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I still sometimes think about getting one of the DP1 versions. Had the original pretty much since launch. It was very quick to use with the thumb wheel MF. Removal of this feature is one key reason why I never bought one of the newer versions. That and RAW workflow.

I used the DP1 with an OVF, and that experience is actually why I started looking into rangefinder cameras in the first place.
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Old 01-10-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
Why are they a bad idea? Why is SPP 14-bit RAW better?

I don't want tricks of color for my mono files. That is like shooting Kodachrome, and converting to mono, using the additional color channels for unrealistic filtering.
RAW gives you more dynamic range captured, the ability to correct white balance after the shot, SPPs fill light, and a better jpeg conversion later on, more control over noise reduction and sharpening and so on. If you think the JPEGs from the Merril are good you need to try out some X3F conversions. They are even better.

As far as monochrome that is not what was intended at all. SPP (or RawDigger or Iridient Developer) will let you create monochrome conversions using just the top layer of the sensor. That layer has much less noise than the next two layers so you are able to shoot at a much higher ISO without running into noise problems. The top layer is called 'blue' but it is really full spectrum. Shooting this way is very much like shooting a monochrome camera, you can even use color filters the same way as you would on B&W film.

To do this you *must* shoot RAW. If you do the previews on the camera will look *horrible* at ISO 1600. Trust that the monochrome conversions will be dramatically better when you get back to your computer.

Here is an example showing the monochrome conversion....

https://fotogenerellinternational.wo...iso-usability/

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Old 01-10-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
The menus and interface are kludgier than most modern cameras
BTW, the best way to solve the menu issue is to setup the QS1 and QS2 options the way that works for you. You then have very quick access to whatever settings you use the most frequently. The dial is nice and you can remap that for other functions as well. I have mine swapped so the side to side buttons will adjust aperture and the dial is exposure compensation. You change that in the Key Arrangement menu option.

Have fun,

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Old 01-10-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
Have you shot JPGs? How did they compare with other cameras?

Why are they a bad idea? Why is SPP 14-bit RAW better?

I don't want tricks of color for my mono files. That is like shooting Kodachrome, and converting to mono, using the additional color channels for unrealistic filtering.

3:2 is about the original ratio of 35mm film. 4/3rds is not, and was what I was using, so going back towards the 3:2 ratio is "refreshing" for me.
I'll just repeat what the last few posts have noted:

-the RAWs are super-forgiving when pulling back blown-out highlights (the opposite is true of the Quattros)
-in fact, you need to be exposing for your shadows to some degree, as you'll be losing color detail in underexposed areas
-the Fill Light slider is one of the best reasons to use SPP
-try editing some color shots in SPP and compare to your jpegs
-try isolating the blue channel in SPP for your high-iso BW photography and compare it to your jpegs
-the jpegs out of the DPMs are worse than almost any other cameras, not meant to be used for a finished photo

Back to the blue channel. This is the top layer of the sensor, basically a very pale blue. You can isolate that layer by setting your BW color filter to 100% blue. It's not as severe as using a true blue filter, imo. And it's the only way to eek out clean files at high isos. Treat the camera like a mini-Leica Monochrom when you need the sensitivity. After the Monochroms, this is the best digital BW camera on the market (you should exploit that, not shun it).

It should really be interesting to compare the results at the start to the finish. That said, this thread is redundant as this information is available all over the net.
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Old 01-10-2016   #13
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Well my interest is piqued, but I am sticking with JPG mode. I will however save RAW images for future potential image manipulations.
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Night and day difference between raw and jpg
Old 01-10-2016   #14
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Night and day difference between raw and jpg

The amounts nt of detail that is waiting for u in the raw vs the jpg is just night and day pre-Quattro. The Quattro improved the jpg engine quite a bit compared to the Merrill cameras, but the raw is still better.

I remember being very impressed by the detail in the jpg as well. Then finally went thru the process of learning to develop the raw in SPP. Even w/o doing any real adjustment, just converting to tiff file. The detail in the tiff file is night and day difference....

I shoot jpg+raw. Preview and mark keepers using the jpg files. Run the keepers thru SPP to convert to tiff. Import into Aperture for final editing.

Have fun w/ your Merrill
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Old 01-10-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryLH View Post
I shoot jpg+raw. Preview and mark keepers using the jpg files. Run the keepers thru SPP to convert to tiff. Import into Aperture for final editing.
Since you are a Mac user if you just use the JPGs to find keepers there is an easier way...

Download this:

http://www.corpus-callosum.com/softw...ies_v1.5.1.dmg

And follow the instructions to install it the quicklook utility.

After you do that the finder will allow you to preview X3F files directly by showing the embedded JPG.

Shawn
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Old 01-10-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn View Post
Since you are a Mac user if you just use the JPGs to find keepers there is an easier way...

Download this:

http://www.corpus-callosum.com/softw...ies_v1.5.1.dmg

And follow the instructions to install it the quicklook utility.

After you do that the finder will allow you to preview X3F files directly by showing the embedded JPG.

Shawn
Neat.. Thanks will give it a try.

Gary
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Old 01-10-2016   #17
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Because OOC jpegs are so bad, shooting raw only adds to film days charm: results are not usable immediately, but after some time when photo is developed
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Old 01-10-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn View Post
Since you are a Mac user if you just use the JPGs to find keepers there is an easier way...

Download this:

http://www.corpus-callosum.com/softw...ies_v1.5.1.dmg

And follow the instructions to install it the quicklook utility.

After you do that the finder will allow you to preview X3F files directly by showing the embedded JPG.

Shawn
Woah, thanks for this. This should be a sticky at the top of the Foveon subforum. Maybe a regularly updated software link repository. Say new firmware update links (Gary's threads usually let me know before Sigma Rumors), SPP links, and then these awesome custom mods like this.
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Old 01-10-2016   #19
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You are welcome. That is an incredibly useful utility for Sigma shooters that use Macs. I don't have a Quattro but downloaded an X3F from the DP0 and it showed the embedded JPG in that too.

Shawn
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Old 01-11-2016   #20
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Prior to the Quattro series, the embedded jpg in the raw file was compressed small, just big enough for most quick browse type functions.. When Quattro was released they introduced a full size jpg. The standard jpg can be extracted from the raw using the SPP batch operation, so u don't have to do jpg+raw if don't mind the extra process set through SPP. The new browser saves even that step.

Gary
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Old 01-11-2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn View Post
Since you are a Mac user if you just use the JPGs to find keepers there is an easier way...
Thanks for this. Very helpful.
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Old 01-11-2016   #22
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If you use a Mac then give Iridient Developer a try for raw files. Much faster than the Sigma software and very capable. It even has a method to extract a monochrome image that is, as far as I am aware, a native luminance image, with no mixing of RGB pixels. Kind of a poor man's Monochrom, plus you still get the luscious colour image to work with.

Worth a look,

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Old 01-12-2016   #23
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Well my interest is piqued, but I am sticking with JPG mode. I will however save RAW images for future potential image manipulations.
IMHO you night as well pick a different camera. There are far better choices for JPG shooting. The only reason to put up with the PITA aspects of the merrills is to be able to work with the amazing raw files.
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Old 01-27-2016   #24
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For the last few days, I've been shooting with a new DP2M, coming from original DP1 and DP2 cameras. Some things I've noticed:

- battery life is ridiculous, especially in these early days of using the screen often to change and experiment with settings. The classic DP cameras had twice the battery life! The DP2M is a step backwards in that regard, ugh.

- operation is much more streamlined, shooting is faster and more quiet. However, I'm noticing that while it can focus faster than the DP2, it can flub focus more often, as well.

- Auto processing in SPP no longer creates those gorgeously luminous files that the DP1 and DP2 had as a unique feature. This disappointed me, intitially. I've had to take side by side test files with the DP2 and DP2M and adjust the DP2M image until it better approximated the look I wanted. Then I saved the settings as a custom preset, and now I'm good to go.

- colour accuracy is much better than the original DP2, which is kind of greenish. At the same time, I like the greenish cast of the DP2, so I've made a preset which emulates this in SPP. Under normal circumstances, the DP2M produces very true to life images, and with a colour palette that reminds me of the Ricoh GR and GXR aps-c modules.

- the processed raw files have a richness and density that I associate more with full frame cameras.

- Edited to add: shutter speed is limited to 1/1250 when shooting at f2.8, presumably because the shutter and aperture iris are the same mechanism, and it cannot physically move fast enough to shoot at higher speeds while maintaining f2.8.

Overall, I'm really getting into this camera. The raw files are malleable enough to be able to give me a pretty good classic Foveon look, as well as a more conventional colour palette. Operation is way better than the original DP1 and DP2, although I still love the classic rendering.
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Old 02-25-2019   #25
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I've had the original DP1 since it came out. Got a used DP2 Merrill I've had for 10 days and am still deciding whether to keep it or return to KEH.

I do like the controls better than the old DP1 but I was initially a bit disappointed with the RAW files, in that every daylight image seems to have a slight brownish color cast that needs to be adjusted in photoshop. At this point at least, I don't see the files being any better than the old DP1, unless you're looking to print larger. I'm thinking about trading back for a DP2s which has a slightly wider focal length, would save some money, and is a bit more compact.

I also have a Leica M240 and can say that while the Sigma files have a unique look to them, overall they are NOT superior to Leica's full frame. The Leica DNG color files are usually dead on, with some adjustment optional for personal taste. High ISO performance is good for night shots up to 3200. Not thrilled with b&w conversions for the most part though with the Leica. I'm still a film guy when it comes to b&w.
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