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Battle of the Compacts: Sigma DP2s vs Canon G11

by Chris Gampat on 08/05/2010

The reviews of the Sigma DP2s and Canon G11 are now complete, and the cameras can go head to head in ThePhoblographer’s first battle of the compacts. Please note that the Leica D-LUX 4/Panasonic LX-3 have been counted out of the battle as the successor has already been announced. But while you’re at it, you may want to check out this posting on small cameras for professionals. So let’s get to it!

Reviews

Sigma DP2s

Day 1- Getting a feel for it.

Day 2- Tested the EF-140 flash.

Day 3- Did some walkaround shooting.

Canon G11

Day 1: Got a feeling for the camera.

Day 2: Used the camera at a party. Without flash, it floored me with its performance for a point-and-shoot. When the on-camera flash went on, it was a bit disappointing. Using the 430 EX II disappointed me as well because of the fact that it should be able to meter with the camera.

Day 3: Used the camera at a museum with a new form of composition that I’m currently studying. The screen helped me to do this as it is maneuverable.

Day 4: Comparison against the LX-3, D-LUX 4 and EPL-1.

Autofocus

The autofocus on the Sigma is a bit slow, but bearable. It is slower than Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras—which means that it is essentially on par with other point-and-shoot cameras. If you’re looking to photography pictures of your kids, start feeding them more McDonalds. Perhaps they will slow down enough.

The G11′s autofocus is one of the best I’ve seen and used on a point-and-shoot. I haven’t regularly used a point-and-shoot since the Canon S5 IS and this system trumps the older one by far. While it isn’t as snappy as the GF-1, it will still satisfy the needs of most users. The reason for this is because the focusing system is still very intelligent and can guess what the user wants to take an image of. Like the Nikon D3s, it’s correct most of the time, despite their being two totally different beasts. Most users will be happy with it, but will be thrown off when the camera says that it hasn’t focused correctly but still focuses on what the user wants it to.

Winner: G11

Image Quality

The image quality of the Sigma DP2s is good. In fact, it’s very good. Coupled with the sharp 24.2mm F2.8 lens and the Foveon sensor, the RAW files retain large amounts of detail and are very versatile in programs like Lightroom. The Foveon sensor is famous for great colors out of camera, and this one doesn’t disappoint. For this reason, this camera is highly recommended for photographers who want a compact camera that can deliver great images but don’t want to get stuck in the potential investment of Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The G11 is very, very good—for a point-and-shoot. In that regard, it’s good enough for most people then. The best results come in steady hands and with the flash off for the CCD to show off all the wonderful colors that are able to be produced. In all fairness, the best results come out in RAW. At high ISOs and in JPEG mode, you probably won’t be as satisfied.

Winner: Sigma DP2s. However, the Canon’s Image Stabilization can give it an edge.

High ISO

Perhaps the only problem with the DP2s is the High ISO output. I expected better quality from it, but its performance is almost on par with Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is strange since it has a much larger sensor.

When pitted against the G11, it is no contest. For a point-and-shoot, though, it still is very good. It can’t keep up with Micro Four Thirds models but the camera is still capable of doing very good things at high ISOs.

In truth, this is almost negligible now since most software can remove noise very effectively. However, this is true when shooting in RAW. Otherwise, the camera will present problems with noise.

Winner: Canon G11

Ergonomics

The Sigma DP2S has the feel of a small brick in some users hands and that of an old compact in others. I thought it was actually pretty darn good. It feels comfortable in the hand and with the HA-21 hood attached, it is even more comfortable to shoot because it feels as if you’re holding onto a lens. This will be a great and familiar feel to professional photographers or those more used to the feel of a DSLR or rangefinder. What helps with the grip is the textured areas where your fingers are supposed to hold the camera. These areas also provide easy access to the buttons for manipulation of settings. Overall, the camera is very easy to use.

In contrast, after using the G11 for a while, it is still big and clunky for a point-and-shoot. If you’re the type that wants sex appeal, it isn’t there. However, the button layout and dials make for easy access to the most important aspects of taking an image. That’s where it really saves itself. Add onto that the rotating screen and you’ve got yourself a nice winner there.

And what’s with the viewfinder? As a constructive criticism, I hope that Canon will make it more useful in the future.

One can tell from the image quality that sex appeal wasn’t the main selling point on this camera and that consumers know that when they purchase it.

Winner: DP2s

Metering

The metering on the G11 is accurate and reliable. Users will appreciate looking at the LCD to get a preview of what their image will look like when they manipulate the aperture and shutter speed. What’s better is that the LCD still works very well in bright light and is still very viewable. Coupled with the back dial and selection button, changing the metering is also fairly simple.

The Sigma DP2s’s metering is similar to the G11′s—which is great for Canon users. It takes the edge though when it comes to using off-camera flashes. The Sigma can meter with its own flashes. The Canon can’t.

Winner: DP2s

Lens

Canon- Starts at F2.8 and as it zooms in becomes slower.

Sigma- F2.8, fixed focal length.

It’s up to you, but personally, I prefer primes.

Winner: Tie

LCD Screen

Sigma DP2s- Approx. 230,000 pixels

Canon G11- 461000 dots

Winner: Canon G11

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