Sigma fp L Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sigma fp L
Resolution: 61.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 24.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 6 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 in.
(113 x 70 x 45 mm)
Weight: 15.1 oz (427 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $2,499
Availability: 04/2021
Manufacturer: Sigma
Full specs: Sigma fp L specifications

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L Mount 35mm
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Front side of Sigma fp L digital camera Front side of Sigma fp L digital camera Front side of Sigma fp L digital camera    

Sigma fp L Preview -- First Impressions

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 03/25/2021

Sigma has announced the Sigma fp L full-frame mirrorless camera. The fp L is the world's smallest and lightest 61-megapixel full-frame mirrorless camera. The fp L has the same form factor as the Sigma fp and looks identical. However, the internals are different. The fp L incorporates a new high-resolution image sensor, an improved hybrid autofocus system, additional features for photo and video, and more.

Sigma fp L Key Features

  • Compact full-frame mirrorless camera
  • World's smallest and lightest full-frame camera
  • Uses L-mount
  • Scalable design
  • Weather-sealed camera body
  • Compatible with EVF-11 electronic viewfinder
  • 61-megapixel backside-illuminated Bayer image sensor
  • Native ISO range of 100-25,600, expandable to 6 -102,400
  • Hybrid autofocus system with contrast-detect and on-sensor phase-detect AF
  • Face/eye detect autofocus
  • 4K UHD video at up to 30p
  • Full HD video at up to 120p
  • Supports 3 RAW video formats
  • Includes videographer-friendly features like time code, waveform display and zebra patterns
  • 240-shot battery life
  • USB charging while shooting
  • Electronic shutter only

Sigma fp L body and design: Like the fp, the fp L is remarkably compact and lightweight

The Sigma fp L, like the fp, is a tiny and lightweight full-frame camera. The fp L has the same dimensions as its sibling. It's 4.4" (112.6mm) wide, 2.8" (69.9mm) tall and is 1.8" (45.3mm) deep. With its battery and an SD card inserted, the fp L weighs 15.1 oz. (427g), which is 5g heavier than the fp.

The fp L is weather-sealed at 42 points. Despite robust weather sealing, the camera promises a strong thermal design. The camera includes a dedicated heat sink between the image sensor and the 3.15" rear touchscreen display. Looking at the rear of the fp L, the display takes up much of the camera's rear aluminum alloy panel. Beneath the screen are five buttons: playback, view mode, Tone, Color and Mode. To the right of the display are AEL, Quick Select and Menu buttons, plus a rotating control dial.

The L-mount takes up much of the space on the front of the camera. The top deck includes a power switch, a Cine/Still mode switch, dedicated record button, shutter release and control dial. Like the fp, the fp L includes dedicated user interfaces for stills and video.

The rectangular fp L is designed for significant expandability. The camera is compatible with many optional accessories, including an attachable hot shoe unit to allow for flash use, an LCD viewfinder, base plate, hand grip and more, including a new EVF-11 attachment.

The EVF-11, which is also compatible with the fp, is a new high-resolution OLED EVF. The EVF-11 has a 0.5" display with 3.68M dots and 0.83x magnification. Of the new electronic viewfinder, Sigma says, 'SIGMA's attention to detail is evident in the EVF-11's tilting mechanism, expandability with external accessories, and highly functional user interface, which is designed to ensure convenience and comfort during use.' The EVF-11 can tilt upward 90. The EVF-11 also includes a USB Type-C port, allowing users to record to an SSD using the EVF-11.

Sigma fp L shooting features: 61-megapixel BSI CMOS image sensor, hybrid autofocus and more

One of the primary differences between the Sigma fp and the new fp L is the image sensor. The fp L uses a 61-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor, up from the 24.6-megapixel sensor found in the fp. Like the fp, the fp L's sensor is Bayer pattern, meaning that fans hoping for a full-frame Foveon image sensor will have to wait longer. According to Sigma, the 61MP sensor includes a built-in optical low-pass filter to help reduce moiré and aliasing artifacts.

The sensor has a native ISO range of 100-25,600, which is expandable to ISO 6-102,400. This is the same native and expandable ISO range as the fp despite the vast difference in megapixel count between the two cameras.

Using the dedicated 'Color' button on the rear of the fp L, users can access a total of 15 Color Modes, including a pair of new ones: Powder Blue and Duotone. The full list of Color Modes is as follows: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Teal and Orange, Sunset Red, Forest Green, FOV Classic Blue, FOV Classic Yellow, Monochrome, Powder Blue and Duotone. You can also fine-tune the camera's tone curve using the 'Tone' button.

The fp L includes numerous special features for both stills and video. The camera includes in-camera RAW processing, the ability to pull stills from video files, Cinemagraph functionality, HDR for stills and video and more.

The Sigma fp L's 61-megapixel image sensor allows for much more cropping than the 24.6-megapixel sensor in the fp. Using the fp L's touchscreen, you can pinch/expand to control digital zoom, much like how you zoom in on a photo on a smartphone. The fp L allows digital zoom up to 5x, turning an attached prime lens into a zoom lens.

The new image sensor comes with a new autofocus system. The fp L uses a hybrid autofocus system rather than the contrast-detect AF found in the fp. The fp L has on-sensor phase-detect autofocus points, which will hopefully result in overall better autofocus performance. The user can control the autofocus system across 49 AF points, as was the case with the fp. Like the fp, the fp L's AF system is rated to work down to -5 EV. The fp L includes face/eye detect, tracking autofocus, AF+MF, MF assist, and magnified AF.

Like the fp, the fp L includes only an electronic shutter. This allows the camera to maintain its compact form, and it means that the camera is always shooting silently. The shutter speed range is 30s to 1/8000s, plus a bulb mode. Due to its electronic shutter, the maximum flash sync is 1/30s on the fp, which is unimpressive, but it's even worse with the fp L at 1/15s.

The increase in resolution results in a decrease in burst performance, as well. The fp L can record at up to 10 frames per second, down from 18 with the fp. At its maximum speed of 10 fps, the fp L can record a dozen 14-bit DNG frames, the same as the fp.

Available metering modes include evaluative, spot and center-weighted average. The metering range remains at -5 EV to 18 EV. When recording still images, +/- 5 EV exposure compensation is available. When shooting video, the range decreases slightly to +/- 3 EV. In addition to in-camera HDR functionality, 3-frame and 5-frame exposure bracketing options are available.

The fp L has a new save/load settings feature. You can save custom camera settings, which isn't unusual, but the fp L can save settings as a QR code, allowing you to load various settings quickly and easily. You can also exchange QR codes with other fp L users, allowing photographers and videographers alike to try out each other's settings.

The Sigma fp and fp L both can be easily turned into a webcam, as well. Using just a USB-C cable, you can use the fp L as a webcam with your PC. The fp L supports USB charging while the camera is in use. You can change settings when the camera is connected, including exposure compensation, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and Color Mode. The Hybrid AF promises impressive tracking performance as well.

Video: Sigma fp L is a very expandable cinema camera

Like the fp, the fp L is well-suited to video applications. The fp L can record DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p (only with RAW output via HDMI) and 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) at 23.98p, 24p, 25p and 29.97p frame rates. 4K/60p video remains unavailable. When recording Full HD video, you can shoot at 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 48p, 50p, 59.94p, 100p and 119.98p. There is an automatic crop at 100p and 120p frame rates of 1.67x, which is not the case with the fp.

The fp L can record 4K UHD video in 12-bit CinemaDNG format at up to 24p. The camera also shoots 8-bit and 10-bit CinemaDNG, in addition to MOV H.264 video. The camera has a built-in stereo mic that records 16-bit 48kHz audio, plus you can plug in a microphone. The fp and fp L don't have a dedicated headphone output. However, the new EVF-11 includes one, which is a great addition.

The fp L includes a director's viewfinder function. This allows you to simulate the framing of other cinema cameras, including models from Arri, Sony and RED. Being a capable cinema camera, the fp L can also display the camera's shutter angle, and it includes time code, waveform and zebra pattern features.

Compared to the fp, there aren't many differences in terms of video features. However, there are some minor changes. While the overall ISO range remains the same, the fp L when recoding CinemaDNG video at 12-bit is ISO 1250, rather than ISO 3200. Further, the 8-bit and 10-bit RAW video ISO has shifted from 640 to 250. We expect that the new autofocus system will have advantages when recording video with the fp L as well, but we won't know for sure until we go hands-on with the new camera.

Ports, Power and Accessories

The Sigma fp L includes USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI Type D and cable release/microphone ports. This camera, like the fp, doesn't include a built-in hot shoe, requiring an optional accessory to use flash. The fp L uses the same BP-51 lithium-ion battery, although the new sensor has increased power demands, decreasing the battery life from 280 images to 240 images. In video terms, the battery life has decreased from 70 minutes to 60 minutes. That said, the fp L can be charged while in use, something that the fp is unable to do.

Pricing and availability

The Sigma fp L will cost $2,499 USD (body only) when it launches in mid-April. A bundle with the new EVF-11 will also be available for $2,999. The EVF-11 will be sold separately for $699 and can be used with the Sigma fp after the camera receives an upcoming firmware update.

Sigma fp L vs Sigma fp

There are many similarities between the Sigma fp and fp L, including many of its features and specs. However, there are some key differences worth summarizing. The biggest change comes in the form of the new 61-megapixel image sensor. This image sensor significantly outclasses the Sigma fp's 24.6-megapixel sensor in terms of resolving power. In terms of image size, the fp L can record 9,520 x 6,328 images, while the fp tops out at 6,000 x 4,000.

The fp L's new sensor also includes on-sensor phase-detect autofocus, making the fp L a hybrid AF camera, whereas the fp offers only contrast-detect autofocus. There's no change in overall autofocus features, but we expect the fp L to deliver faster autofocus and potentially better subject tracking as well for both stills and video. Time will tell.

With respect to video, overall features are the same in terms of resolution, frame rate and RAW video recording capabilities. However, the fp L records with a 1.67x crop when shooting Full HD video at 100p and 120p frame rates, something the fp doesn't do. This is the case whether you're recording internally to the SD card or using an external recorder.

Overall shooting modes and features remain the same, overall, although the fp L does add a couple of new Color Modes and the ability to save and load camera settings using a QR code. It's possible the new Powder Blue and Duotone Color Modes will be added to the fp via firmware update, however, so that's something we're going to be looking into.

Both the fp and fp L include an electronic image stabilization system. However, whereas the fp can use its IS when recording all video, the fp L can only stabilize video shot at 59.94p or less.

The higher resolution sensor has an impact on maximum shooting speed. The fp L shoots at up to 10 fps, while the fp shoots at up to 18 fps. In both cases, when shooting at maximum speed the buffer depth is only 12 frames, so neither camera is particularly well-suited to action photography. The new sensor also has a slower maximum flash sync speed: 1/15s vs 1/30s.

Power demands have increased with the new image sensor, which reduces the rated battery life from 280 images to 240 images (70 minutes to 60 minutes of video). However, the fp L has an ace up its sleeve; you can charge the camera via USB while using it, something that's impossible with the fp.


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