Sigma, popular for its lenses, has recently launched a new mirrorless camera called Sigma fp, which is now available in India. Sigmar’s camera lineup may not be as well known here as its lenses, but the new fp has been identified as the world’s smallest full-frame mirrorless camera, which makes it special. That’s not all; It is designed with professional videographers in mind and boasts in-camera RAW video recording, timecode and many more movie-grade features.
Like most full-frame cameras, it comes at a sticker price of Rs. 2,15,000 for the body alone. It’s time to see what this professional-level camera likes to use on a daily basis and whether it makes sense for you to choose from the more mainstream choices in the market.
Sigma FP Design
The design of Sigma FP is something we liked immediately. The body is deceptively small for a full-frame camera and it looks like a small block of metal and rubber. With the battery and SD card inserted, the weight is still around 422g, which is quite light. The compact body is also somewhat pocketable (without a lens attached, of course).
The body is made of aluminum, which makes it very tough. The whole structure is claimed to be dust-proof and splash-proof. The Sigma FP is designed to be adaptable and flexible, so you won’t find any built-in flash or even an electronic viewfinder. The camera is shipped with the HU-11 hot-shoe flash unit, if you need an external use. Even side clips for a camera strap are both removable; Held in place with standard tripod mount.
Another unique and obvious addition is a heatsink, with perforated edges visible around the rear display edge. Sigma says it will help control the temperature when shooting for long periods of time, especially in 4K RAW. For buttons and ports, we have a USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen1) port, HDMI (Type-D); A 6-pin terminal, and a dedicated microphone port on the left. All of this is covered by rubber flaps, but a camera is not attached to the HDMI port, so it can be easy to misplace. There are no built-in headphone sockets for audio monitoring, which means you need to use an accessory.
You’ll find a decent selection of buttons at the top and back of the camera, with some dedicated to changing tones and colors. There is a switch to switch between still and cine modes, which we found to be very easy. You’ll also find a Dedicated Record button, two dials and a shortcut for Quick Settings (QS Button), and AEL (Exposure Lock).
The Sigma FP has a 3.1-inch touchscreen with 2.1 million dot resolution. The screen is fixed and does not tilt or flip in any way, but considering that the camera is designed for use with an external monitor, this should not be a huge dealbreaker. The battery compartment and SD card slot (UHD-II speed supported) are at the bottom of the camera. You can even record footage directly to a portable SSD via the Type-C port.
Overall, the build quality and finish of Sigma FP is impressive. The matte black material doesn’t pick up stains or dirt easily, it’s incredibly compact, and we like the modular nature of the design. However, if you are going to use this camera without a rig, it may not be great.
For example, fp does not have a handgrip because the front is completely flat. It didn’t give us the best confidence when shooting with one hand. We found the rear dial to be a bit more stable, as it has some gameplay and can be easily rotated even with accidental touch. However, the quality and response of the rest of the buttons and switches is very good.
Sigma FP Specifications and Features
The Sigma FP has a 24.6-megapixel, full-frame bare CMOS sensor. Sigma uses only one electronic shutter here, the way this camera is capable of achieving 18fps burst shooting. FP uses L-Mount, which makes it compatible with Leica, Panasonic and Sigma lenses, as well as Sigma’s own DSLR and Cine lens adapters, which you need to purchase separately. An optional MC-21 mounting adapter lets you use Canon EF lenses as well.
For stills, fp is capable of taking 14-bit RAW (DNG) images. It has an ISO range of 100-25,600 (extensible up to 6-1,02,400), and a maximum shutter speed of 1 / 8,000 per second. The Sigma FP has 49 selectable autofocus points and depends on the contrast detection autofocus. There is no on-sensor phase detection autofocus, which is why continuous autofocus is a bit slow.
For video, Sigma can record in MOV format using fp 12-bit CinemaDNG (8-bit for in-camera recording) or H.264, if you need something that is easy to share and edit. You can shoot up to 4K 30fps, other framerates such as 24p and 25p are also available. Full-HD resolution videos can be shot up to 120fps. fp can also capture metadata like a timecode for use in filmmaking. It supports the ability to adjust the shutter angle, a frame guide for different movie-grade shape ratios, and features such as the ‘Director’s Viewfinder’, which mimics how the frame would look on movie cameras like the Red Maestro 8K.
Sigma has sent a 45mm f / 2.8 DG DN lens with fp for our review. It is part of Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’ series and features a focus ring and an aperture ring. This prime lens has no stability of its own, which means you have to rely on the electronic stability of the camera.
Sigma fp’s menu system is fairly simple and easy to get used to. It is divided into three main sections – shoot, play and system. The Shoot menu has multiple tabs that allow you to configure things like Auto ISO, Drive Mode, Bracketing, HDR, Crop Mode and Stability. The shoot menu changes depending on whether you’re in still or cine mode. Some additional features promised for future software updates include HDR for video recording; Cinemagraph, which lets you create animated GIFs from short video clips; Ability to play and review RAW footage on camera; And the ability to record video using the manager’s viewfinder option.
Sigma FP performance and battery life
We start with the video performance of Sigma FP, since that is its primary purpose. Due to the small size, it has become very convenient to shoot videos on the go as well as capture candid moments. This camera is also convenient for street shooting as it does not attract much attention. We initially used the fp handheld, but professionals would ideally want to use it as a gimbal or camera rig, where it has real potential.
However, for casual shooting using the MOV format, we were impressed with the quality of the videos that Sigma managed to capture FP. The color was right, the sharpness was nice, and the prime lens we used made some pretty bokeh. The video quality was equally impressive in low light with good detail, sharpness and color. fp seeks a little more focus than usual in low light, especially when trying to focus on distant objects.
One of the best features of fp is the ability to play with different tones and color settings via dedicated buttons while recording. There is a huge variety of preset color options or filters to choose from and the power of each filter can be adjusted based on your shooting style. The ‘Tone’ button lets you manage shadows and highlights on the fly, which we found extremely helpful.
Other features of the camera include face and eye detection, which works well as you point it at a human object. Due to the Contrast Detection AF system the continuous autofocus is not very fast, but if you tap on a different area in the viewfinder and press half of the shutter, the focus jumps faster. Tracking also has autofocus, but it is not accessible in cine mode. We’ve tried electronic stabilization, and found that it does a good job of stabilizing video. While shooting, the Sigma FP warms up but never gets too hot.
Switching to photo mode, Sigma FP is quite efficient in this regard as well. The stills we captured had a nice amount of detail. The edges around the object had good sharpness and the colors were presented quite accurately. Burst mode works very well, and thanks to the electronic shutter, it is virtually silent. The steel captured in low light had good dynamic range and detail. The noise was very well handled and the colors were well presented.
With a UHS-II class SD card in the camera, we didn’t have to wait long before storing the exploded images. We hope the touchscreen has some more functionality, because without using it to shift focus in playback mode and zoom into an image, it can’t be used to quickly interact with settings or the main menu. We’re still able to get around quickly using two dials, but it would be nice to have the option to use a touchscreen.
HDR is convenient for stills when you need more dynamic range, but human HDR photos don’t always look great. The skin tones looked a little reddish, but it wasn’t too bad for the landscape.
We put sigma fp through our ISO tests to test how high the ISO levels are actually usable. The camera provided excellent sharpness up to about ISO 3,200, at which point, we began to notice light noise and sharpness reduction. After that there was not much of a difference until ISO 12,800, where the details became more visible.
However, the sound level was still very much in check. At most native ISOs, 25,600 details and textures look remarkably smooth and sharpness is significantly reduced. Going through the expanded ISO range, we saw that the image quality was preserved up to ISO 51,200, but going beyond that it took a big hit.
Battery life was not the best. Only when shooting stills, we were able to get about 220-250 shots per charge, and if we record a few of these 4K video clips, that number drops to about 175 shots. You’ll probably want an extra battery easily during the shoot. You can record video when this camera is plugged into an external power source. The bundled USB Type-C charger can fully charge the battery in two hours. If necessary, you can also charge using the power bank.
The Sigma FP may look like a mainstream mirrorless camera, but it’s nothing else. It is designed to compete with professional-grade cameras, such as the Blackmagic movie Pocket Series, rather than Sony or Nikon’s offers. The biggest advantage of fp is its size and flexible nature, which makes it easy to fit into any rig or professional setup. Also, its compatibility with a wide range of lenses is an added bonus. The build quality is excellent, the video quality is very good, the high-ISO performance is strong, and the steels are decent.
Focusing speeds and battery life may be better, and if you’re looking for something more casual, cameras like the Sony A7 III or Nikon Z6 might be a better option. However, if you are looking for a compact camera with movie-level features for filmmaking, you may find Sigma FP more attractive.
- Sigma FP – Rs 2,15,000
- Sigma 45mm f / 2.8 DG DN Lens – Rs 47,500