Sigma, known for its lenses, recently launched a brand new mirrorless camera called Sigma fp, which is now available in India. The Sigma camera may not be as well known as the lenses here, but the new fp is touted as the smallest mirrorless full-frame camera in the world, which makes it something special. That's not all; It was specially developed for professional videographers and offers RAW video recordings in the camera, timecode and many other functions in cinema quality.
Like most full-frame cameras, this camera also costs a high sticker price of Rs. 2.15,000 just for the body. It is time to see how this professional camera works in everyday life and whether it makes sense for you to choose the more common options on the market.
Sigma fp design
We immediately loved the design of the Sigma fp. The housing is deceptively small for a full-frame camera and looks like a small block made of metal and rubber. With the battery inserted and the SD card inserted, the device still weighs only approx. 422 g, which is fairly light. The compact housing can also be inserted to some extent (of course without a lens).
The body is made of aluminum and is therefore very robust. The entire structure should be protected against dust and splash water. The Sigma fp is adaptable and flexible, which is why you have neither a built-in flash nor an electronic viewfinder. The camera comes with the HU-11 flash if you need an external flash. Even the side clips for a camera strap are removable. Is held in place with standard tripod mountings.
Another unique and eye-catching addition is a heat sink, the corrugated edges of which are visible directly around the edges of the rear display. Sigma says this should help control temperatures during longer shots, especially 4K RAW. The buttons and ports are USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen1), HDMI (Type-D). a 6-pin connector and a dedicated microphone connector on the left. All of these are covered with rubber flaps, but the one for the HDMI connection is not attached to the camera, so they can be easily relocated. There is no built-in headphone jack for audio monitoring, so you'll need to use an accessory.
You get a decent selection of buttons at the top and back of the camera, as well as some special buttons that let you customize the tone and color. There is a change between the "still picture" and "film" modes, which we found to be very practical. You also get a special record button, two dials and shortcuts for quick settings (QA button) and AEL (exposure lock).
The Sigma fp has a 3.1-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 2.1 million points. The screen is fixed and cannot be tilted or rotated. However, since the camera is designed for use with an external monitor, this shouldn't be a big deal breaker. The battery compartment and the SD card slot (supports up to UHD-II speeds) are located on the bottom of the camera. You can even record footage directly onto a portable SSD using the Type-C connector.
Overall, the build quality and finish of the Sigma fp are impressive. The matte black material doesn't pick up stains or dirt, it's incredibly compact and we love the modularity of the design. However, if you use this camera without a rig, it may not be particularly good.
For example, the fp has no handle because the front is completely flat. This did not give us the best confidence when shooting with one hand. We also found the back dial to be a bit fiddly as it has a bit of play and can be turned easily even when accidentally touched. However, the quality and feedback of the other buttons and switches are very good.
Sigma fp specifications and features
The Sigma fp has a Bayer CMOS full-frame sensor with 24.6 megapixels. Sigma only used an electronic shutter here, so that this camera can take serial pictures at 18 frames per second. The fp uses the L-mount, which makes it compatible with lenses from Leica, Panasonic and Sigma, as well as Sigma's own DSLR and cine lenses with adapters, which you have to buy separately. With an optional MC-21 mount adapter, you can also use Canon EF lenses.
For still images, the fp can take 14-bit RAW images (DNG). It has an ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 6-1,022,400) and a maximum shutter speed of 1 / 8,000 seconds. The Sigma fp has 49 selectable auto focus points and is based on auto focus with contrast detection. There is no sensor-controlled phase detection autofocus, which is why the continuous autofocus is somewhat slow.
When it comes to video, the Sigma fp can record in 12-bit CinemaDNG format (8-bit for recording in the camera) or in MOV format with H.264 if you need something that is easier to share and can be edited. You can record up to 4K 30fps, although other frame rates such as 24p and 25p are available. Videos with full HD resolution can be recorded at up to 120 frames per second. The fp can also capture metadata such as timecode for use in filmmaking. It supports functions such as setting the shutter angle, image guidance for various aspect ratios in cinema quality and the so-called “Director’s Viewfinder”, which simulates what the image would look like in cinema cameras such as the Red Mostro 8K.
Sigma sent us the 45 mm f / 2.8 DG DN lens with the fp for review. This is part of Sigma's "Contemporary" series and has a focusing ring and an aperture rung. This premium lens does not have its own stabilization, so you have to rely on the electronic stabilization of the camera.
The menu system of the Sigma fp is quite simple and takes some getting used to. It is divided into three main categories – Shoot, Play and System. The shooting menu has several tabs that allow you to make settings such as auto ISO, drive mode, bracketing, HDR, crop mode and stabilization. The shooting menu changes depending on whether you are in still or cinema mode. Some additional features that are promised for future software updates include HDR for video recording; Cinemagraph, which allows you to create animated GIFs from small video clips; the ability to play and review RAW material on the camera itself; and the ability to record videos using the director’s viewfinder option.
Sigma fp performance and battery life
We start with the Sigma fp video performance as this is the main purpose. The small size made it very convenient to record videos on the go and capture open moments. This camera is also useful for street shots as it doesn't draw too much attention. We primarily used the fp handheld, but professionals will ideally want to use it with a gimbal or in a camera rig where its true potential lies.
However, when we recorded occasional filming in MOV format, we were very impressed with the quality of the videos that the Sigma fp could record. The colors were accurate, the sharpness was excellent and the main lens we used produced a very nice bokeh. The video quality was equally impressive in low light conditions with good details, sharpness and colors. The fp looks a little more for focus in low light conditions, especially when trying to focus on distant objects.
One of the best features of the fp is the ability to play around with different tone and color settings while recording using the corresponding buttons. There are a variety of preset color options or filters to choose from. The strength of each filter can be adjusted depending on the shooting style. With the Sound button, you can quickly edit shadows and highlights, which we found extremely helpful.
As for the other functions of the camera, there is face and eye recognition that works well once you point it at a human subject. Continuous autofocus is not very fast due to the AF system for contrast detection. However, if you tap another area in the viewfinder and press the shutter button halfway, the focus will jump quickly. There is also a tracking auto focus that cannot be accessed in cine mode. We tried electronic stabilization and found that video stabilization works fine. During the recording, the Sigma fp became warm, but never too hot.
The Sigma fp is also very competent in this area. The photos we took were very detailed. The edges around objects had good sharpness and the colors were pretty accurate. The burst mode works very well and is practically noiseless thanks to the electronic shutter. Still pictures taken in poor lighting conditions had good dynamic range and good details. Noise was treated very well and colors were well represented.
With an SD card of the UHS-II class in the camera, we didn't have to wait long for the serial images to be saved. We would like the touchscreen to have a little more functionality, as it is not used to shift focus and enlarge an image in playback mode, but cannot be used to interact with the quick settings or in the main menus. We still managed to find our way around quickly with the two dials, but it would have been nice if we had had the option of using the touchscreen.
HDR for still images is useful when you need a wider dynamic range, but HDR photos of people have not always been great. Skin tones looked a bit reddish, but it wasn't that bad for landscapes.
We put the Sigma fp through an ISO test to see how well the higher ISO levels actually work. The camera delivered excellent sharpness up to around ISO 3,200, and at this point we noticed a quiet noise and a decrease in sharpness. After that there was no big difference until ISO 12.800, where the details became more visible.
However, the noise level was still very low. At the maximum native ISO of 25,600, details and textures were noticeably smoothed and the sharpness was considerably reduced. When we went through the extended ISO range, we found that the image quality could still be saved up to ISO 51,200, but beyond that there was a great success.
The battery life wasn't the best. If we just took still pictures, we managed to take about 220-250 pictures per charge, and if we took a couple of 4K video clips in between, that number dropped to about 175 pictures. You will probably need a spare battery that is on hand during the recording. You can record videos if this camera is also connected to an external power source. The included Type C USB charger can fully charge the battery in less than two hours. You can also charge it via a power bank if necessary.
The Sigma fp may look like a mirrorless main camera, but it is anything but that. It is designed to compete with professional cameras like Blackmagic's Cinema Pocket series, rather than Sony or Nikon's offerings. The biggest advantage of the fp is its size and flexibility, which makes it easy to integrate it into any rig or professional setup. In addition, compatibility with a variety of lenses is an added benefit. The build quality is excellent, the video quality is very good, the performance at high ISO values is solid and the still images are decent.
Focusing speed and battery life could be better, and if you're looking for something for occasional use, cameras like the Sony A7 III or even the Nikon Z6 are the better options. However, if you're looking for a compact camera with movie-making capabilities at the cinema level, the Sigma fp may be more appealing.
- Sigma fp – Rs. 2,15,000
- Sigma 45 mm f / 2.8 DG DN lens – case 47.500
- Robust and compact
- Pro-level functions
- Solid ISO performance
- Good picture and video quality
- The continuous auto focus is slow
- Restricted use of the touchscreen
- Battery life could be better
- No built-in handle
Reviews (of 5)
- Build / Design: 4.5
- Image quality: 4
- Video quality: 4
- Software / functions: 3.5
- Battery life: 3
- Value for money: 3.5
- Overall: 3.5