Since I had decided to get more serious about photography, I wanted to get a camera which had better image quality than the Sony P200 I had. It was okay but not as good as I wanted.
I also wanted to stay in the small camera space if possible. Someday I will get a dSLR but that will be down the road.
Conventional digital camera sensors only record a single color (red, green, or blue) at each pixel site and sophisticated algorithms are used to interpolate (guess) at what the true color should be. In addition the conventional sensors use and anti-aliasing filter which slightly blurs adjoining pixels together to reduce moire effects. This has the side-effect of blurring the images slightly.
Also, small cameras have small image sensors. Those small image sensors suffer from noise (random color and/or light and dark pixels). The anti-aliasing filter tries to compensate for this but again, ends up blurring out detail.
I have been intrigued with a different kind of sensor technology from a company called Foveon. Their sensor records the full color spectrum at each pixel site. Because the true color is detected at each pixel location, cameras with the Foveon sensor do not require an anti-aliasing filter. This contributes to significantly greater sharpness in the images. To some people, the images from the Foveon sensors have a 3-D feel to them. There is also a smoothness to the areas of similar colors which is nice to see.
Currently there are few camera manufacturers utilizing the Foveon sensors. The only consumer-level company with current products on the market is Sigma Corporation. They started using the Foveon sensors in their digital SLR (dSLR) line beginning with their SD9 and SD10 cameras. in 2006, they announced the Sigma SD14 dSLR with improved resolution and capabilities. At the same time Sigma announced the DP1. The SD14 launched in early 2007. It took until this year for the DP1 to arrive. Sigma wanted to make sure they got it right with the DP1.
The Sigma DP1 is a groundbreaking concept. It is a compact camera but uses a dSLR sensor and has a lens rivaling that of top quality dSLR lenses.
The net result is a compact camera that you can carry around with you that is capable of absolutely stunning image quality. This was the camera for me.
I've had my DP1 for about three weeks now. It is one of the most impressive pieces of equipment I've seen. I am constantly amazed at the stunning image quality it is capable of.
Here are a some recent shots from the Sigma DP1 - Click on them to see a larger version.
Originals are located on my SmugMug site.