The DP3 Merrill has a 50mm f/2.8 optic, whereas the DP1 Merrill has a 19mm lens and the DP2 Merrill a 30mm lens.

Because the DP3 Merrill has an APS-C sized (23.4x15.7mm) sensor this 50mm lens produces images comparable with a 75mm on a full-frame camera.

As with Sigma's other 46MP compact cameras, the DP3 Merrill's sensor is a Foveon X3 Merrill device that makes use of the fact that light of different colours penetrates silicon to different depths. As a result, rather than having a Bayer pattern of coloured filters over its surface the Foveon X3 direct image sensor captures light via 15.26 receptors at 3 different depths.

Sigma claims that this, plus the lack of an anti-aliasing filter and the Dual TRUE II image processing engine enables the DP3 Merrill to produce images with detail on a par with those from 46MP cameras and excellent tonal gradations.

Image quality is further enhanced by the fact that the 50mm lens is specifically made to work with the camera's sensor and has a telecentric design so that light waves are close to perpendicular when they hit the sensor. The lens also makes use of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, aspherical elements and has Super Multi-Layer Coatings to reduce flare and ghosting.

Fast shooter

A large memory buffer enables the DP3 Merrill to shoot up to 7 raw images in a continuous burst of 4fps. Files may also be recorded in JPEG format or raw and JPEG simultaneously. These images are subsequently written to an SD, SDHC or SDXC card.

Manual focus is possible using a ring on the lens, but the camera also has a 9-point autofocus system and the points can be selected manually or automatically by the camera. There's also a Face Detection AF mode and a Shutter Priority AF option that speeds focusing by stopping the live view feed.

At the back of the camera is a 3-inch TFT LCD monitor, with 920,000 dots. Sigma claims that the screen has good visibility in various lighting conditions and benefits from a wide viewing angle.

A hotshoe can be found on top of the camera for adding accessories such as a dedicated external flashgun.

A Sigma DP3 Merrill price has yet to be confirmed, as has the availability date.