It seems the Sigma DP2 Merril may have the record for pure image quality in a compact camera. It is apparently pretty much in a class of itself.
That is amazing. But another thing which amazes me is that after three generations of the Sigma DP series cameras, even the newest ones still carry over the original faults: not very good in high-ISO, and they are slow and uncertain in operation. I wonder why Sigma still stumbles here, when Panasonic and Olympus has squashed these problems with vigor in the last couple of years. Perhaps it's a question of research budget.
A couple of other weaknesses is more a question of choice: Sigma DP1 Merril and DP2 Merril don't have stabilization, surely a must-feature today. And they don't have a zoom lens. Admittedly a prime lens solves many problems of bulk and such. But I found out when I used the Fujifilm X100, despite its ideal lens of 35mm-e (faster too, 2.0), I was much less inspired when working with just one focal length. Two prime lenses or two cameras might help the situation. But even so, one of them should be a short tele.
... Anyway, when the X100's little brother X10 arrived, with an excellent and fast zoom, I loved it much more. So much more flexible. The X100 in contrast was more of a "trophy wife", simply because one knew it was outstanding quality and it is just so beautiful, and looks so much like a classic rangefinder camera! (Love has strange ways.)
It's funny, a photographer friend talked about buying it from me, and I said "which one do you mean, the X10 or the X100?" He said: "Er..... I don't know. The one that looks like a real camera." Heh. One X100 coming up.