“Mini however mighty, Sigma’s Fp is not afraid to face out by being totally different.”

  • Extremely-compact design
  • Wonderful construct high quality
  • RAW video
  • 24MP full-frame sensor
  • Comparatively cheap
  • No mechanical shutter
  • No built-in viewfinder or sizzling shoe
  • Distinction-detection-only autofocus
  • Poor battery life

Sony. Canon. Nikon. Panasonic. Leica. 5 corporations had been making full-frame mirrorless cameras earlier than Sigma entered the fray with the Fp. It’s a extremely aggressive area. So how can Sigma hope to face out?

Apparently, by constructing a really bizarre digital camera.

The Sigma Fp is a distinct breed. In and out, it doesn’t adhere to the design requirements of different producers. Regardless of this, or due to it, the Fp is among the most intriguing cameras available on the market. Relying in your standpoint, it’s both a miniature marvel or a irritating flop. It is going to enchantment most to videographers, however for the aim of this assessment, I’ll be wanting on the Fp primarily as a nonetheless digital camera.

The Fp can’t do a variety of issues different cameras within the $2,000 value vary can. But it surely additionally can do issues others can’t. It doesn’t have a viewfinder or mechanical shutter, for instance, however it does shoot RAW video and provide a computational low ISO of 6. Sure, ISO 6. This makes it a difficult digital camera to fee compared to its friends, because it doesn’t appear to straight compete inside its personal value group.

Possibly it doesn’t even have friends, however calling it “peerless” appears too sturdy a praise. It’s definitely distinctive, although, and that’s thrilling.

Design and specs

Let me backtrack a second. It isn’t fully truthful to say the Fp doesn’t adhere to any design requirements, because it does embrace two that assist give it a foothold.

One, it makes use of the Leica L mount versus Sigma’s personal SA mount, making it suitable with a lot of lenses from Leica and Panasonic along with Sigma’s personal.

Two, it makes use of a daily 24.6-megapixel Bayer sensor as a substitute of the Foveon X3 chip of earlier Sigma cameras, just like the SD Quattro H. I hope to see Foveon improvement proceed because it presents benefits for sure nonetheless images purposes, however the change was obligatory to offer the Fp such sturdy video capabilities.

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The Fp seems and seems like a small, matte black brick. Measuring 4.Four x 2.6 x 1.Eight inches and weighing a hair beneath 15 ounces, it’s the smallest and lightest full-frame digital camera. Sigma made sacrifices to get to that measurement, however not in construct high quality. The digital camera feels prefer it might survive something wanting a direct nuclear strike. Just a few totally different grips can be found to enhance ergonomics.

Sprouting between the physique and the LCD display screen is a ribbed sample that runs alongside the sting of the digital camera. This isn’t a design assertion, however a warmth sink. This retains the digital camera in its optimum temperature vary even when recording lengthy takes of RAW video. Regardless of the uncovered warmth sink, the digital camera is totally climate sealed.

Nevertheless, there’s some unhealthy information. The Sigma Fp lacks an digital viewfinder, the touchscreen is mounted, and the shoe mount will not be built-in, however slightly a screw-on attachment that stands out to the aspect of the digital camera.

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I discovered all this forgivable, however there may be one factor the Fp lacks that may’t be ignored: a mechanical shutter. With out one, distortion from the digital rolling shutter is a continuing risk when panning or taking pictures fast-moving topics. Worse, it means flash sync velocity is restricted to simply 1/30 second for JPEG and just one/15 for RAW. In case you ever shoot with flash, whether or not on or off-camera, the Fp isn’t going to be just right for you.

Actually, taking a look at its specs, I doubt Sigma supposed the Fp to be a lot of a nonetheless digital camera. It will probably shoot bursts as much as 18 frames per second, however just for 24 frames. It makes use of a contrast-detection-only autofocus system with 49 factors, and it’s not a “fancy” kind of distinction detection just like the Depth from Defocus tech in Panasonic L-mount cameras. As a result of ultra-compact construct, it additionally has a small, 1,200mAh battery. Sigma doesn’t state the battery life, however after about 50 exposures, the indicator dropped to 50%. I used to be in all probability reviewing images extra continuously than the typical individual, which might have contributed to fast decline — and the indicator is probably going not 100% correct — however I nonetheless wouldn’t anticipate greater than a pair hundred pictures per cost.

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On the video entrance, nevertheless, the information is best. The digital camera information inner RAW video within the Adobe CinemaDNG format at as much as 24 fps in 4K, or 60 fps in Full HD. 4K RAW is restricted to 8-bit internally, however 12-bit output over USB-C straight to an SSD is supported. Full HD might be recorded as much as 12-bit internally. Along with RAW, the Fp may also shoot .MOV video at 440 megabits per second in 4K at 24 or 30 fps, or as much as 100 fps in Full HD.

Just a few options at the moment lacking are deliberate for a future firmware replace. These embrace in-camera playback of CinemaDNG recordsdata, RAW output over HDMI, and a log profile for preserving extra dynamic vary in .MOV recording.

As a video digital camera, the Fp might very effectively be a recreation changer.

Consumer expertise

Taking pictures with the Sigma Fp is enjoyable. Paired with the 45mm F2.Eight pancake lens, it feels extra like taking pictures a point-and-shoot than a full-frame mirrorless digital camera. It’s a refreshing expertise, particularly within the L-mount realm, the place different cameras are recognized for his or her bulk (the Lumix S sequence cameras weigh greater than most DSLRs; the Leica SL2 isn’t far behind).

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In fact, that adjustments once you mount a bigger lens to the Fp. Along with the 45mm, I additionally examined the brand new 14-24mm F2.Eight Artwork and 35mm F1.2 Artwork. Whereas these are a part of Sigma’s new, mirrorless-specific “DN” line, they’re significantly bigger than the Fp. The 14-24 is impressively compact for what it’s, way more so than the older DSLR model, however it’s nonetheless hefty. The 35mm F1.2 is comically massive.

Efficiency is enough, however not nice. For portraiture and different static topics, autofocus works effective. Eye-detection gave me correct focus when taking pictures large open on the 35mm F1.2. It additionally works effectively in low mild. Sigma says it’s good to -5 EV, although that depends upon the quantity of distinction in your topic.

Nevertheless, in comparison with the phase-detect autofocus in cameras from Sony, Canon, and Nikon, the Fp is gradual and inconsistent. Fast pictures are troublesome consequently.

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Ergonomics and autofocus matter much less in video manufacturing. Videographers will love how adaptable this digital camera is, each to totally different lenses and totally different environments. Further 1/4-inch threads on either side assist you to mount the digital camera to a tripod vertically or connect extra equipment straight to it. It’s well-suited to aerial work since its mild body ought to make it simple to mount to a drone. I think about it should additionally discover use as a crash cam. You might stick it anyplace on a automotive, and it would simply be sturdy sufficient to outlive the affect.

Whereas Sigma sees this digital camera being utilized by everybody from vloggers to Hollywood administrators, I do have hesitations earlier than recommending it to the previous. With no flip display screen, there’s no technique to monitor your self with out an exterior monitor, and steady autofocus will likely be unreliable for all however essentially the most primary pictures.

Nevertheless, for any manufacturing that has a crew, even a small one, I feel the Fp will likely be improbable. You want some equipment to totally notice its potential, together with a quick SSD and an exterior energy answer, however the outcomes will likely be price the additional work.

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For nonetheless images, the Fp delivers strong outcomes — with one unlucky exception. The 24MP full-frame sensor is predictably nice relating to dynamic vary and excessive ISO efficiency. ISO 6,400 may be very usable, and even the utmost 25,600 confirmed an impressively low quantity of noise. Below the correct situations, you will get beautiful stills out of the Fp.

Nevertheless, there may be one image-ruining downside. Along with severely limiting what you are able to do with flash, the digital shutter creates banding when working indoors beneath fluorescent or LED lighting (see picture beneath). For a lot of photographers, that is merely a deal breaker. Picture-specific LEDs, just like the Lume Dice Panel I used to mild the above picture, are designed to be flicker-free and work simply effective.

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On the plus aspect, Sigma continues to show itself a frontrunner in lenses. The 45mm isn’t the sharpest on the planet, however as a compact lens, that’s not what it’s going for. The 14-24mm and 35mm Artwork lenses are stellar. I’ll save the in-depth evaluation for their very own opinions, however suffice to say, when you’re in any respect involved concerning the availability of excellent glass on the L mount, effectively, don’t be.

As for video, I’m not set as much as deal with RAW 4K footage. I’ve neither the processing energy nor space for storing. Even in 8-bit, 4K CinemaDNG burns by 128GB in simply 10 minutes. I did shoot some transient take a look at clips in 1080p and, wow, RAW video actually is a recreation changer when you have to make publicity or coloration changes in submit. 9 instances out of ten, I might take the 12-bit Full HD from the Sigma Fp over compressed 8-bit 4K from different cameras — however it does present some aliasing round sharp particulars, like textual content, the place 4K would have a profit.

Our take

I’ve to applaud Sigma for not being afraid to attempt one thing totally different. The Fp is a good distance from excellent, however it’s a formidable first step. In-camera RAW video, an ultra-compact physique, superior construct high quality, and L-mount versatility are all benefits. Many videographers will find it irresistible.

Nonetheless photographers will likely be much less impressed. With no shutter, viewfinder, or different niceties like phase-detect autofocus and in-body stabilization, there are higher, easier-to-use decisions on the market. Ought to Sigma ever make a “mark II” model of the Fp that cures a few of these points, I feel it might be an actual contender. Right here’s hoping.

Is there a greater various?

Throughout the L mount, the Panasonic Lumix S1 is the closest competitor. It is going to price you extra, however it’s additionally an entire digital camera out of the field that doesn’t require extra equipment. Nevertheless, it’s a lot bigger and heavier, and, whereas it shoots good 4K video, it doesn’t provide RAW video.

Past the L mount, the Sony A7 III is one other sensible choice. It doesn’t have the video chops of the Fp, however its nonetheless picture options are higher, particularly the autofocus. Plus, Sigma makes all of its DN lenses for the Sony E mount along with the L mount, so that you received’t miss on the market.

How lengthy will it final?

It is a strong machine, and a plus of not having a mechanical shutter is that’s there may be little or no that would break or put on out. You need to simply get 5 years of use out of it if no more, and it seems like Sigma plans to maintain it contemporary with firmware updates.

Do you have to purchase it?

No, not for nonetheless images. Video is one other story, however the Sigma’s superb use is a distinct segment.

Up to date January 14 with extra feedback about battery life.

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