SIGMA DP1 & DP2 MERRILL VS SONY NEX-7 REVIEW
Enjoying the blog? Support us with a PayPal donation:
THE SIGMA DP1 & DP2 MERRILL VS SONY NEX-7 REVIEW WITH SIGMA LENSES: A COMPARISON
Since I got my Sigma DP Merrill cameras, I wanted to do a Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review, in particular using Sigma lenses on the Sony Nex-7. For this test, I got the Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN & Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN for the Nex-7, two lenses supposedly very similar if not identical to those built-in the Sigma DP1 Merrill & Sigma DP2 Merrill.
I am a Fine Art landscape photographer, not a camera or lens reviewer. Therefore, you will not see here shots of charts, brick walls or the like. Instead, I brought all three cameras with me to Venice, where I went to work on images for my VIERI BOTTAZZINI FINE ART PRINTS collection. In Venice, I took images with both the Sigma and the Sony cameras, set at the same aperture, at each location I went to. I subsequently processed the images putting them through my usual workflow, working on the Sigma DP1 Merrill & Sigma DP2 Merrill’s batch first, followed by the Nex-7’s batch a few weeks later.
As I mentioned above, the purpose of my trip to Venice was to create images for my Portfolio. Therefore, all images you’ll see here have been taken around sunrise or sunset, with filters, on a tripod. This comparison will be meaningful for people interested in a similar application, i.e. the use of large sensor, small cameras for landscape work. For other kinds of work, your requirements, and therefore your conclusions, may be totally different.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am not affiliated with either Sigma or Sony in any way. I am a professional photographer looking for the best equipment for my work, I buy all my gear with my hard-earned cash and I don’t get paid by anyone to write articles for my blog.
Let me start by saying that all cameras in this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review produced excellent quality images for my intended purpose. Both the built-in and the removable versions of the Sigma lenses I used here turned out very sharp all over the frame. Both outputted very nice colours, albeit the Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill’s Foveon sensors showed an interesting green/magenta cast in some images. The biggest technical problem I faced in post-processing, with all cameras in this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review, has been getting rid of Chromatic Aberrations (CA) and colour fringes. To do so, I used CA removal both in Sigma Photo Pro and in Capture One, but that wasn’t always enough to get rid of it all. To completely rid my images of it, I often had to further clean them in Photoshop.
Let’s look at the images now. Let’s start this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review with a comparison of images of S. Giorgio Maggiore at dusk, after last light. Sigma DP2 Merrill first, followed by the Sony Nex-7 with the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN (click on the images to enlarge):
As I mentioned in my SIGMA DP1 MERRILL & SIGMA DP2 MERRILL REVIEW article, images shot with the Merrill cameras often show some colour cast. When this happens, you can choose to edit it out, or play along with it. Here, for instance, I found the magenta spot clearly visible in the middle of the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s to be working well with the subject matter.
However, the colours of the Sony Nex-7’s image are closer to my vision. Furthermore, the Sony Nex-7’s image benefits from having been shot a few minutes after the Sigma’s, resulting in a slightly longer exposure and in a calmer sea as well (incredibly, no boats passed by for a few minutes!). A tiny bit of CA was still present in both images after RAW conversion, more so in the Sony Nex-7’s than in the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s but was easily cleaned up in Photoshop.
Both images are evenly sharp all over the frame. Even at this size, however, it is clear that the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s Foveon image shows more detail, despite its nominal disadvantage in resolution (15 Mp vs 24 Mp). All said and done, I went for the Sony Nex-7’s image, which better expressed my vision of the scene. Sure, I could get the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s colours to match the Sony Nex-7’s, but there wasn’t anything I could do to fix the sea in the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s image to make it look like the Sony’s.
In this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review’s next comparison, we’ll enjoy images of S. Marco at dusk. Sigma DP2 Merrill first, followed by the Sony Nex-7 with the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN (click on the images to enlarge):
First of all, please note the very different colour rendition in the images above. The DP2 Merrill’s shows a pretty evident green-magenta cast here, and while I got rid of it in part of the image, I left it almost completely uncorrected in the water pool at the bottom of it for effect.
The Nex-7’s colours, however, work better for the mood I was after at the time of the day the picture has been shot. CA was practically non-existent in either image.
Again, both lenses produced very sharp results over the frame, and again the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s image shows more detail than the Sony Nex-7’s, despite the difference in nominal resolution. Both images work well for me here: The Sigma’s has a more “active” feel, the Sony’s a more “peaceful” one. I ended up choosing the Sony’s image for print and to add to my portfolio.
Coming up next in this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review, Ponte dei Sospiri at sunrise. Sigma DP2 Merrill first, followed by the Sony Nex-7 with the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN (click on the images to enlarge):
Once more, we can see how different the colour rendition of these two camera and lens combinations is. In this case, you can see how the Sony Nex-7’s image is much warmer on both sides of the bridge, while the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s is cooler on the sides, leaving the centre a bit warmer. This is a pattern we saw in the previous two images as well, and one that works remarkably well for the subject matter here.
Again, both lenses showed no CA here, and both lenses proved very sharp all over the frame. Once more, it is worth noting how, despite the difference in resolution, the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s image is more detailed than the Nex-7’s. I much prefer the Sigma DP2 Merrill’s rendition here, being much closer to my vision of the scene.
Up next, two sunrise images of S. Giorgio Maggiore, with gondolas in the foreground. Sigma DP1 Merrill first, followed by the Sony Nex-7 with the Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN (click on the images to enlarge):
Again, we can see in this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review the different interpretation of colours rendered by each camera. The Sigma DP1 Merrill always shows a bit of a green cast around the frame, while the Sony Nex-7 tends towards a more blue/magenta colouring of the whole image.
Both camera and lens combinations fared badly here in respect to CA. Despite using the CA removal tools in RAW conversion, I still had to do some pretty heavy cleaning in Photoshop. The sea’s real colour was closer to that of the Sigma DP1 Merrill’s image, which – again – is more detailed than the Sony Nex-7’s. However, I liked my processing of the Sony Nex-7’s shot better here, plus I found that the bird on the pole added a lot to the image. In the end, while I really liked both images, I ended up choosing the Sony Nex-7’s image.
Incidentally, one of the main problems when shooting long exposures in Venice is dealing with the passing of boats. While one obviously expects to see boats in Venice, a city built in the middle of the sea, the traffic can make it difficult to use a delayed release, as I did here to further reduce vibrations. The problem is that in the few seconds wait between pressing the shutter and the effective start of the exposure, a boat can appear out of nowhere and ruin your shot. Despite constantly looking around, trying to time boat passages was often difficult to achieve and I ended up with unwanted boats in more than one frame.
Back to our Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review now, below you’ll find a few “singles” from each camera. Enjoy a couple of Sigma DP1 Merrill images first, followed by a couple of Sony Nex-7 images, taken from almost the same location first at dusk and second in the morning of the following day (click on the images to enlarge):
First of all, let me tell you how much I enjoyed walking around Venice with a very light camera bag and a small tripod, while still being able to obtain results good enough to print big! I am looking at great looking 24″ x 30″ prints out of this series as I write this, and that’s exactly what I hoped to get out of this little experiment.
Back to this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review, all camera and lens combinations examined here produced very high-quality images, sharp all over the frame and with plenty of details. The biggest technical problem I had with both cameras’ files was dealing with abundant chromatic aberration.
Under an artistic point of view, which is what interests me the most, I have been very happy with all camera and lens combinations. In particular, I found the sharpness and detail of the Merrill more to my liking than the Sony’s, despite the slight odd colour casts. However, the Sony Nex-7 is definitely the better camera when it comes to flexibility, features, battery life, speed of use and ease of file processing. One of my biggest problems with the DP Merrill series of camera is that Sigma Photo Pro, usability-wise, is closest to be the worst piece of software ever designed. As always, choosing a camera system vs. another is a trade-off that depends on what you shoot and what your priorities are.
That said, the Sigma DP1 Merrill and Sigma DP2 Merrill produce image quality with a look that I could define, for lack of better words, close to medium format. They do in a small, light package, and they suit my shooting style very well. I will keep them and give them a try on future trips as well. As I said at the beginning, your requirements, and therefore your conclusions, can be different than mine – that’s the beauty of it, especially in times such as these, when compact cameras are getting so good.
In short, the Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill and the Sony Nex-7 with Sigma lenses all offer you great image quality in very compact and light packages. You can’t go wrong with choosing either.
Thanks for reading this Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill vs Sony Nex-7 review, I hope you enjoyed it! Why don’t you share it with your friends, or drop me a comment to let me know how you feel about this?
Have a great day, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER!
Enjoying the blog? Support us with a PayPal donation: