Sigma fp Review

 
Camera Reviews / Sigma Cameras i Hands-On Preview
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sigma fp
Resolution: 24.60 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.9mm x 23.9mm)
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: 14.9 oz (422 g)
MSRP: TBD
Availability: TBD
Manufacturer: Sigma
Full specs: Sigma fp specifications
24.60
Megapixels
L Mount 35mm
size sensor
image of Sigma fp
Front side of Sigma fp digital camera Front side of Sigma fp digital camera Front side of Sigma fp digital camera Front side of Sigma fp digital camera Front side of Sigma fp digital camera

Sigma fp Review -- First Impressions

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 07/11/2019

The Sigma fp is another in a long line of surprising cameras from Sigma

Sigma has just announced the world's smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sigma fp. Like other recent Sigma cameras, the fp employs a distinct design. However, unlike previous Sigma cameras, such as the most recent sd Quattro models, the fp does not use their distinct Foveon sensor, but rather utilizes a full-frame 24.6-megapixel Bayer sensor.

Key features and specs

  • "World's smallest and lightest" full-frame mirrorless ILC
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Versatile and scalable design with numerous optional accessories, including an LCD finder and grips
  • Uses the Leica L-mount
  • 24.6-megapixel full-frame backside-illuminated Bayer image sensor
  • Electronic shutter only
  • Native ISO range of 100-25,600
  • ISO can be expanded down as low as ISO 6 and upward as high as 102,400
  • 49-point contrast-detect autofocus system
  • Face/eye detect autofocus functionality
  • Can shoot still images at up to 18 frames per second
  • Electronic image stabilization for stills and video
  • Records 12-bit CinemaDNG 4K UHD video at 24p
  • Records 4K UHD at up to 30p and Full HD at up to 120p in MOV H.264
  • Supports external SSD recording
  • Offers videographer-friendly features, including zebra patterns, waveform display and time code
Sigma fp: What to expect, and where does it fit? By Jaron Schneider

Camera body and design: A "pocketable" full-frame camera within a flexible and versatile new system

The Sigma fp is very small. In total, the body itself is 4.43 inches (112.6 millimeters) wide, 2.75 in. (69.9mm) tall and has a depth of 1.78 in. (45.3mm). When empty, it weighs a mere 13.1 ounces (370 grams). When you insert the battery and an SD card, its weight goes up to 14.9 oz. (422g). This is about 60 grams less than a Sony A7 III. As of July 2019, the Sigma fp is the smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera in the world.

Despite its small stature, the Sigma fp is weather-sealed, including sealing at 42 dedicated points. Further, to ensure good thermal control, the camera not only has a dedicated heat sink between the full-frame image sensor and the touchscreen display, it incorporates die-cast aluminum alloy on the front and back of the camera, a material known for its rigidity and thermal conductivity.

Looking at the camera, you will note that the height of the body is dominated by the lens mount. The lens mount in question is a Leica L-mount, which has recently garnered widespread attention after Panasonic and Sigma joined with Leica to create the L-mount Alliance. It's a natural shift away from the SA mount for Sigma, given their support of the L-mount, including 14 native L-mount Sigma lenses due to arrive later this year. The Sigma fp can also be used with Sigma's MC-21 mount converter, which opens up the possibility to use 29 Canon EF and Sigma SA DSLR lenses and 13 Sigma CINE lenses.

On the back of the camera, the body is nearly filled by the 3.15-inch, 2.1-million dot touchscreen LCD. Along the small sliver of space beneath the display, there are playback, view mode, TONE, COLOR and mode buttons. The TONE and COLOR buttons allow direct access to respective tone and color control menus, which we will discuss further in the next section. To the right of the display are AE-L, Quick Select (QS) and Menu buttons, plus a rotating control dial with a central selector button.

The top of the camera has a power switch, a CINE/STILL switch, dedicated recording button and shutter release, which is surrounded by another control dial. Regarding the CINE/STILL switch, the camera offers specially-designed, independent user interfaces for stills and video, including different displays and button assignments.

The Sigma fp has been designed to be versatile and flexible, allowing users, through the use of optional accessories, to drastically change how the camera looks, feels and is used. The flexible design concept includes accessories such as an attachable hot shoe unit to allow for flash use, a Sigma LCD view finder (a bolt-on LCD loupe), a base plate, a small hand grip, a large hand grip, and more.

Sigma fp shooting features: 24.6-megapixel BSI CMOS image sensor, ISO 6, face/eye detect AF and much more

As mentioned in the introduction, the Sigma fp does not utilize a Foveon image sensor (to read about a possible Foveon full-frame camera next year, head to our Sigma Interview from this year's CP+ tradeshow in Japan). Instead, the fp uses a 24.6-megapixel backside-illuminated full-frame CMOS image sensor. This sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter and can record 12 or 14-bit raw (DNG) files in addition to JPEG images. Its native ISO range is 100-25,600, although it can be extended as low as ISO 6 and as high as ISO 102,400. The complete extended ISO options are: ISO 6; 12; 25; 50; 51,200 and 102,400. The Sigma fp also includes user-controllable automatic ISO functionality.

Images can be captured in a variety of aspect ratios, including 3:2, 21:9, 16:9, √2:1, 4:3, 7:6 and 1:1. Further, the fp has an Auto Crop feature when you attach a converted Sigma DC (APS-C) lens, which results in a 1.5x crop factor. The camera comes equipped with a variety of interesting shooting features, including Auto HDR for both stills and video. The stills version of the mode combines three frames in camera to create a merged image with an extended dynamic range, whereas the video version combines two frames. The camera includes a cinemagraph function, allowing the user to create a hybrid still/video GIF in-camera. A cinemagraph features both stationary and moving elements in a single frame.

As mentioned earlier, the camera has a dedicated COLOR button, which allows instant access to the camera's dozen Color Modes, including a new Teal and Orange color mode, which has been designed to recreate a popular Hollywood color grading technique. The full list of Color Modes is: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Teal and Orange, Sunset Red, Forest Green, FOV Classic Blue, FOV Classic Yellow and Monochrome. There is also a dedicated TONE button, which offers direct access to in-camera tone curve adjustments, a first for a Sigma camera. This allows easier-than-ever adjustments to the look and feel of your photos and videos from within the camera. Further, the camera has a flicker control shooting mode.

Turning our attention to autofocus, the fp utilizes a contrast-detect autofocus system. This system offers the user 49 autofocus points and includes free movement, face/eye detection and tracking autofocus modes. The system is rated to work in conditions as dim as -5 EV (f/1.4, ISO 100). The camera offers focus peaking, AF+MF, MF assist, magnified AF and more. It will be very interesting to see how the contrast-detect autofocus functions in the real-world for both stills and video.

Interestingly, the Sigma fp does not have a mechanical shutter, but instead relies on just an electronic shutter. This allows for full-time silent shooting and also removes the need to make space inside the camera body for not only a mechanical shutter itself, but also the surrounding mechanisms. Further, the camera offers electronic image stabilization for stills and video (it is currently unknown how many stops of shake reduction will be offered). The camera offers a mode which allows the user to capture four frames instantaneously and then the camera combines them into a composite with minimum blur. This also works with video, although it combines two frames rather than four. The fp's shutter speed range goes from 30 seconds to 1/8000s, plus a bulb mode. Because of the electronic shutter, maximum flash sync is only 1/30s, falling to 1/15s when shooting in 14-bit mode.

With respect to shooting speeds, the camera can capture full-resolution files at up to 18 frames per second in its "high" mode, with additional 5-fps and 2-fps modes available. When shooting at 18 or 5 fps, the buffer depth is rated for a mere dozen shots. At 2 fps, the camera's buffer is stated to be 24 frames. As of now, it is unclear if the camera performs AF and AE at 18 frames per second.

The Sigma fp offers evaluative, spot and center weighted average metering modes. It is unclear if the spot metering mode is tied to an active AF point. The metering system is rated for -5 to 18 EV. The camera offers +/- 5 EV exposure compensation plus 3-frame and 5-frame exposure bracketing options.

Video: Sigma fp is a 4K cinema camera in your pocket

The Sigma fp promises to offer many video modes, videographer-friendly functionality and high-end performance, though some of the details are a little nebulous at this point. We do know the camera can record 4K UHD (3,820 x 2,160) video in 12-bit CinemaDNG format at 24 frames per second. The fp can shoot 8 and 10-bit CinemaDNG as well, plus it offers MOV H.264 compressed recording of 4K UHD at up to 30 frames per second and FHD (1,920 x 1,080) at up to 120 frames per second.

The fp supports the ATOMOS open protocol, supports ALL-I recording in addition to GOP for H.264, and can record externally to SSD via its USB-C port, though it's not entirely clear yet what formats, resolutions, frame rates, bit depths etc., are supported for capture to SD card versus SSD, or will be initially available when the fp ships. The camera has a built-in stereo mic that records 16-bit 48kHz audio, and it also accepts a microphone (via the same port as the optional cable release uses). Unfortunately, the camera does not include a headphone output.

Videographer-friendly features include a nifty director's viewfinder function, which allows the user to simulate different framings of cinema cameras from select other manufacturers. Further, the fp can display the camera's shutter angle and supports timecode, zebra patterns and a waveform monitor. As mentioned earlier, the camera also has a dedicated cinema display when in CINE mode.

As far as video quality goes, we will have to wait until we can use the Sigma fp, but Sigma does state that the fp will offer 12.5 stops of dynamic range when recording 12-bit CinemaDNG, which sounds promising. Interestingly, the camera will not be released with the ability to view CinemaDNG files in-camera, but this function will be added via firmware at a later date.

Ports, Power and Accessories

The Sigma fp is equipped with USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, HDMI Type D (version 1.4) and cable release/microphone ports. The camera does not have a built-in hot shoe, although you can attach the included HU-11 hot shoe unit. Unlike the HU-11, the optional LVF-11 LCD view finder is not included. You can also add one of two different hand grips and a base plate. The fp comes with a Li-ion battery (BP-51), but battery life specs are not yet available. The camera can record to the internal UHS-II SD card slot or to a portable SSD via its USB 3.0 connection. You can charge the battery internally via the USB-C port, but we beleive external power requires the use of DC connector (CN-21) which is sold separately.

First impressions of the Sigma fp

The Sigma fp not only fits in your pocket, it also fits Sigma's modus operandi when it comes to its cameras: unusual and interesting. The camera has been designed around three core concepts: a pocketable form, existence within a scalable and open system and a seamless user experience. On paper, it ticks these boxes. To be sure, the camera body is very small and light. It clearly incorporates the idea of openness and scalability, from its L-mount to its compatibility with numerous attachments. Its user interface, due in part to the CINE/STILL switch and accompanying user interfaces, appears to be seamless.

Its still photography features may not tread much new ground, although that is not to say that they don't sound good. The switch from a Foveon to a traditional Bayer image sensor may disappoint the Sigma faithful, but it opens up the door for 18 frames per second shooting (although the 12-shot buffer at 18fps shooting speeds is a bit disappointing) as well as much better high ISO performance. The fp's ditching of a mechanical shutter is also a bold choice with intelligent reasoning behind it. The efficacy of the contrast-detect AF system will remain an open question until we get extended hands on time with the camera. The fp comes with a variety of interesting shooting and processing features, including a dozen Color Mode options and in-camera tone curve adjustments. Further, the Auto HDR and image stabilization shooting modes mentioned earlier could offer utility in certain situations.

The Sigma fp features comprehensive weather-sealing.

When considering video, the Sigma fp treads more new ground. The camera can record 12-bit CinemaDNG 4K video at 24 fps, including directly to an SSD external recorder. In this mode, the camera offers an impressive 12.5 stops of dynamic range. The fp's inclusion of its director's viewfinder mode, ATOMOS open protocol support, shutter angle display, zebra patterns and waveform display shows a high level of commitment to the camera's cinematic use cases.

The move to the L-mount is an unsurprising one, given Sigma's involvement in the newly-formed L-mount Alliance. It's a move that makes sense, immediately opening up the Sigma fp to a wide array of Sigma lenses, including 14 native lenses, 29 DSLR lenses and 13 CINE lenses via the Sigma MC-21 mount converter. The flexibility of the system overall is notable as well, including many different ways to change the way that the camera operates.

Ultimately, there are still some unanswered questions with respect to the Sigma fp. However, of what we do know, much of it sounds interesting. We look forward to having hands-on time with the Sigma fp and sharing additional information and impressions as soon as possible. Stay tuned to Imaging Resource for much more on the Sigma fp as we approach its autumn release window. Pricing has not yet been announced.

 



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