Sigma DP Merrill Series – Still Relevant in ’21.
First of all, I want to say a huge thank you (and I really should do this more often, I’m sorry) to everyone who contributed and commented on my last post. It was actually extremely warming to know that, despite the fact that I’m back working with what is to me (again, and for the present time at least) a new system, that I was still able to make a few frames worthy of such kind contributions. Thank you!
The DPM series, as it has been written many times (and then some) – is not a system for the faint-hearted photographer, and – having been doing this for many, many years, it still manages to scare me a little, in a way; and herein lies the reason for it. Knowing its (vast array of) limitations is absolutely the key to being able to exploit its one massive strength; this helps hugely to maintain a constant focus on the real possibilities and easily dispels the airy-fairy visions we often have for our own personal photography. This one element is so important for serious photographers and cannot be overstated. I can think of one analogy that explains this perfectly: I once bought into a M43 system and for the most part, I loved it. I loved it because it opened up a whole new slew of opportunities for me to expand on what I have always enjoyed doing and, in a portable system with reasonably decent IQ. A few lenses here, some colour options there, modes galore – and the reasons why I took to it so well in the beginning were to become the very reasons why I began to resent it after only a few months. In my heart and in my head – I shoot the way I shoot and no amount of gear is going to change that, no matter how many bells or whistles there are. I began to realise that all I needed was a lens, and the means to change my Tv, Av, ISO, WB and metering mode. That was all I wanted – oh, and a decent sensor would be a bonus. Even mid-range DSLRs were coming equipped with scene modes, crap ‘kit’ lenses and therefore, being the snob I can be – I resented even those aspects too. I began to feel that photography was being made – cheap, too accessible (an archaic, short-sighted, even elitist view) and, I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like it at all.
I | Talla’s Pump-House | 1/400th – f8 – ISO:200
All I really wanted to carry was a camera, the way I used to in the 90s. No faff, no bullshit modes – just a camera, a lens, a little bit of know-how and inspiration. Sigma’s implementation of these core photographic aspects were brutal and necessary. Right back as far as the original DP series, the DPs, the DPx, and then – the hallowed DPM, core photographic values were held close, if rather shunkily implemented in reality of their limited hardware / software collusion. (I can’t include the DPQ here because I have never used them and, the design simply does not enamour me at all). In a huge way, Sigma went down the route that I always felt that Ricoh should have taken with their GR (APS-C) series. What I would have given to see them offer the tools that Sigma came up with. As much as Sigma cameras can be much of a mystery to most, to those who’ve used them and persevered, the draw is easily understandable. With a little thought, and a little work – they still produce today some of the finest image quality that I have ever seen. Whilst their JPGs far outweigh any OOC jpg I have seen in any Bayer systems, their RAWs are mind-blowing. Limitations accepted – but keeping within them, there’s still nothing like it today. (The Fp can be argued as yet another Sigma revelation – but that’s a whole different system).
II | Fruid Reservoir & Hills | 1/250th – f8 – ISO:200
Three years ago this very month, I started writing this blog. My initial view for these pages was to only shoot a 35mm FL and display just how ridiculously versatile this focal-length is. Not long after I started publishing, I then wrote a page that you can still read here discussing the huge value I have always given to short prime lenses. With this understood as still very much an aspect of my ethos – it’ll come as no surprise as to why I refer to the DP1/2/3M series as the Holy Three.
III | A Talla Prince in Disguise? | 1/100th – f8 – ISO:200
My creativity is limited, my imagination is flawed, my images far from perfect and yet, with these three in the bag – I have more brain-space to use for composition and less to waste on the airy-fairy. This surely, can only be a good thing and, among other things – what photography should always be about. The image.
As always, thank you for reading and, I wish you all a fabulous weekend.
[All frames: X3F to 16-bit tif in SPP & Exported to Lr for final edits].