Sigma has a solid reputation for making quality lenses for all popular camera makes, but it's less well known as a camera maker per se.

In fact, Sigma has been producing D-SLRs and compacts for quite a few years now, using Foveon sensors rather than the more conventional CCD/CMOS-type devices.

The Sigma DP1s is an update of the DP1 compact that came out two years ago, and as with its predecessor, incorporates a 14.6 megapixel Foveon sensor and 28mm f/4 lens.

So what's new with the Sigma DP1s? To be honest, the new features aren't earth shattering, and centre around improved performance when taking backlit shots and the ability to change function buttons.

Styling-wise, the Sigma DP1s is quite an attractive, albeit boxy, camera, recalling the old Canon G-series.

sigma dp1s

While it's a bit of a squeeze to get the camera into your pocket with the 28mm lens extended, the camera is relatively light at 250g. Build quality is reassuringly sturdy; the Sigma DP1s is made from aluminium alloy and is clearly built to last.

When it comes to layout, less is more with the Sigma DP1s.

sigma dp1s

Sigma is pitching it as an SLR replacement, in other words a more compact, but still powerful, camera to take out when an SLR feels too bulky.

So there's a PASM dial on the top, as well as buttons for other key functions, and the layout is logical and uncluttered. It's a relief not to have to figure out a plethora of widgets and dials, and there are none of those tedious scene modes and exposure pre-sets that you get from Sigma's rivals.

sigma dp1s

Indeed the Sigma DP1s is very easy to use, though not as intuitive or slick as similarly priced models from Canon, Nikon or Sony.

As a quality compact/D-SLR replacement costing around £250, the Sigma DP1s is facing some stiff competition.

sigma dp1s

Rivals in this hard-fought-over price category include the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 and Canon PowerShot SX210IS; stump up another £100 or so and you can get an entry-level SLR, like the Canon EOS 1000D or Nikon D3000.

Sigma's less well-known as a camera maker than Canon and Nikon, too, so the plucky contender will have to work hard to win hearts and minds.