Sigma fp Review

Sigma fp Review - Sigma's new fp full-frame mirrorless camera is the World's smallest full-frame camera, offering a hybrid mix of stills and movie, with a somewhat modular approach simply add what you need, and leave behind what you don't.


|  Sigma fp in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sigma Fp 45mm (6)
 

Quick Verdict

Sigma don't tend to stick to the rules when it comes to releasing cameras, and the Sigma fp is no different here. In that, it's actually a whole new full-frame mirrorless camera that doesn't look anything like your traditional camera. It's designed to be modular, meaning you add what you need, and leave what you don't need. Designed for both stills and "CINE" video recording, we test it to find out how it performs, and find that while image quality is excellent, the shooting experience could be better. For videographers, there are a number of advanced options that you don't find on most cameras, and this could make it a very appealing option. It's also the World's smallest full-frame mirrorless camera, and this has got to be one of its key selling points.

+ Pros

  • Full-frame 24mp BSI CMOS sensor
  • Modular design makes it very compact
  • Extended ISO range from ISO6 to ISO102400
  • 18fps continuous shooting
  • DNG raw files
  • World's smallest full-frame mirrorless camera
  • Open system encourages others to develop accessories for the camera
  • Silent shutter

- Cons

  • Slow focus
  • No headphone socket
  • No compact viewfinder available (LCD loupe available)
  • Lack of Wireless limits remote shooting
  • Electronic shutter means banding at higher ISOs / under some lighting
  • Lacks In-body Image Stabilisation
  • Adding grip is an optional extra

 

Sigma Fp Body (2)

Sigma has never been afraid of trying something new, and different, producing cameras with the Foveon sensor, in fact, something that made Sigma cameras unique. Compact camera, DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, have all been made by Sigma using the Foveon sensor as their unique feature, being the only company currently around that uses the Foveon sensor. Even then, the cameras haven't been particularly standard in design, with the dp quattro series featuring a somewhat controversial design, and style.

Then came the "L-Mount Alliance" and enter Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma, all committed to producing cameras, lenses and accessories, sharing the same L-Mount lens-mount. Several months later the Sigma fp is introduced, it's the World's smallest full-frame mirrorless camera, and much of this is due to the modular nature of the camera. Want a flash hot-shoe? Screw it on to the side. Want a grip? Screw this on to the bottom. etc.

But one thing you'll find "missing" from the Sigma fp is the lack of a Foveon sensor, instead, Sigma has gone for a "standard" Bayer Filter sensor, rather than a Foveon sensor, and inside you'll find a full-frame 24mp BSI CMOS sensor.


Sigma fp Features

Sigma Fp Body (3)

As part of the L-Mount alliance, the camera has access to all Leica L-Mount lenses, all Panasonic L-Mount lenses, and of course, all Sigma L-Mount lenses, of which there are a vast number of lenses available. There are currently 15 lenses available from Leica, 12 from Sigma, and 6 from Panasonic, with more on the way from all three companies.

"Build your own camera" - In the box you'll find a variety of things, including strap loops that you screw on to the camera, and a flash hot-shoe is also something that you need to screw on to the camera if you want to use it.

Sigma Fp With Battery Strap Loops Hot Shoe 1
Sigma Fp, with Battery Strap Loops, Hot-Shoe, and battery.
 

There's a Full-frame 24megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and you'll also notice that this is the World's smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera, it weighs just 422g with battery. The fp doesn't have a built-in mechanical shutter, instead, it uses an electronic shutter, this helps keep the camera small. There is electronic image stabilisation, again, keeping the camera small, as an in-camera image stabilisation system would use additional space.

On lenses, the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 is one* of the smallest L-mount lenses available (*excluding APS-C lenses), and is a great lens to keep on the camera, keeping it small and lightweight. We also have been using the 35mm f/1.2 DG DN, 85mm f/1.4, and 50mm f/1.4 - notable for their size and weight, with many of the L-Mount lenses from Sigma being adaptations of their DSLR versions.

 

The Sigma fp is clearly designed to meet stills and video needs, with a dedicated switch to quickly switch between CINE and STILL modes.

 

Shooting features

The Sigma fp has P, A, S, M shooting modes, plus 3 custom modes (extendable to 4), giving you full manual control. To switch between modes you use the Mode button, as there isn't a mode dial to be found on the camera. You'll also notice there aren't any "Scene" modes or "Intelligent Auto" modes to be found on the camera, instead, the P / Program AE (Auto Exposure) mode is the closest you'll get to a mode designed for beginners. There is built-in HDR, focus stacking, and colour options available, so you can be more creative.

For Foveon fans, there is FOV (Foveon) Blue and FOV (Foveon) Yellow colour options available, designed to reproduce the look/colour achieved with Sigma's Foveon cameras.

There's built-in DNG (raw) processing which lets you adjust multiple settings including "Fill Light" a technology available with Sigma Photo Pro, that was first introduced with the Foveon sensor and has now made its way over to this camera.

 

CINE mode

The Sigma fp has a strong emphasis on CINE video recording, however, doesn't offer 4K CINE (DCI 4096×2160) resolution video, instead recording 4K UHD (3840x2160) resolution video.

To access some of the more advanced video modes, including CinemaDNG Raw at 12bit or 10bit, you'll need to attach an SSD drive, such as the Samsung T5, to the USB3.1 connection, however, you can use a UHS-II SD card if you want to record CinemaDNG at 8bit and 25fps.

You can, of course, record standard 4K UHD video at 30, 25, and 24fps to SD cards, and these are recorded as MOV files.

There are numerous features and options that will appeal to videographers, and the modular nature of the camera will also add to the appeal.

Sigma Fp Body (8)

Key Features

  • 24mp Full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • L-Mount Lens Mount
  • 3.15inch touch-screen, 2.1m dots
  • ISO100 to ISO25600 (Standard), Extended ISO6 to ISO102400
  • 49 focus points, contrast detection
  • Face and eye-detection focus (AF)
  • 14-bit RAW (DNG)
  • 18fps continuous shooting speed
  • 4K UHD video, CinemaDNG
  • Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS)
  • UHS-II SD Card slot
  • HDR, Focus bracket, Fill light bracket
  • Weather-sealed, dust and splashproof

Sigma fp Handling

Sigma Fp Body (11)

The Sigma fp is designed to be a “modular” camera, and if you unscrew the strap loops on the left and right sides, you’ll find additional tripod sockets, that can be used to mount the camera on a tripod, or to add additional accessories, such as the flash hot-shoe. Underneath there’s another tripod socket, in the normal place you’d expect to find one.   

The camera features a metal body, and feels tough, and solid, with rubber grip where it is needed, albeit, we felt that it was missing from the front. However, the optional grip(s) easily resolves this, and the sides, as well as the back, provide a good level of grip. If you’re using a larger lens, then this also provides another point for holding the camera securely.

One thing you don’t need to worry about is the shutter potentially shaking the camera, something known as “shutter shock”, as the camera does not have a mechanical shutter, instead the camera uses an electronic shutter. This helps keep the camera smaller than it would be otherwise. The danger from this, however, is the risk of banding or "jello" in images.

Sigma Fp With Large Grip Flash Hot Shoe P1153580

The Sigma fp, in its native form, doesn’t feature much in the way of a grip, it doesn’t even feature a flash hot-shoe, until you attach the flash hot-shoe “accessory” that attaches to the left-hand side of the camera. This makes the camera look even more "odd".

However, this also makes it small, and compact, in fact, the smallest full-frame camera available, but it also makes it a little too small when used with bigger L-mount lenses. If you want a small system, then the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens is particularly compact and makes a good match for the system. If you’re using a larger lens, then you’ll most likely want to use a grip with the camera, and there are two options available from Sigma, the “Hand Grip HG-11” for £59.99, or the “Large Hand Grip HG-21” at £99.99, as shown above.

With the optional large HG-21 grip (RRP £99) the camera height is increased, and the grip is large (as per the title) giving a good handling experience. We'd particularly recommend this if you are using any lens other than the 45mm lens. The grip has a cutout to provide quick access to the battery and memory compartment.

 

Controls and ergonomics

The camera controls are clearly laid out, with a large on/off switch, as well as a clear CINE / STILLS switch to let you switch between the video and stills shooting modes. There’s a top command wheel, as well as a scroll wheel on the back – this makes it easy to adjust the exposure (shutter, aperture, exposure compensation etc).

The QS (Quick Select) button gives quick access to common settings, making it easy to change common settings. There are also dedicated buttons to adjust the colour settings (where you’ll find “film” like settings, such as “CINE” and “Foveon Blue”, “Forest Green” etc). Another button lets you adjust the tone, where you can adjust the highlight and shadow tone. Another button you’ll find on the back is the “Mode” button, which you can use to switch between the different modes, including P, A, S, M, etc. There is no mode dial. The QS menu options can be customised.

Sigma Fp Body (16)

The menus are clearly laid out, and colour coded split over "Shoot", "Play" and "System" (Settings). The menu options are different depending on whether you're in CINE mode or STILL mode. There is no built-in help, and if an option isn't available (greyed out) it's up to you to work out why, as the camera doesn't explain this. Referring back to the printed manual is therefore recommended.

There is no viewfinder included, nor is there a true electronic viewfinder option available from Sigma, instead Sigma offers an “LCD View Finder LVF-11” attachment (with dioptre adjustment), that turns the rear LCD screen into a large electronic viewfinder. Looking at the camera, you might think that the screen tilts, but unfortunately, it’s entirely fixed in position. The sides around the screen, that make it look like it should tilt, are instead a cooling area (heatsink) for the camera to aid in keeping the camera cool with extended video use. The screen looks great, with a high resolution of 2.1million dots, and it's slightly larger than most, being 3.15inches in size. The screen has great viewing angles, and viewing outdoors is also good.

Focus points - The camera gives you 49 focus points, which can be manually selected, using the touch-screen, or the directional 4-way controller / scroll wheel. These cover a fairly wide area of the sensor, although surprisingly not the entire sensor. You can see where they are in the photo below.

 

Sigma Fp Focus Points
Sigma fp Focus Points

What is the AF-EV range? With a good autofocus EV range, down to -5 EV, the camera can focus in low-light but will also struggle at times, and occasionally fail to focus, taking several attempts to correctly focus.

Battery life is rated at 280 shots, however, we found the battery life to be shorter, as we took around 200 shots and then needed to switch to another battery. There is one battery provided in the box, so we'd recommend buying a second with the camera. You can also power the camera using a portable power bank, such as one you’d use to charge a smartphone. The camera has a USB Type-C connection, and to charge the battery, you leave it in the camera and use the provided USB cable and AC Adapter.

Sigma Fp Body (9)


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Photographs taken using the Sigma fp

Portrait, outdoors

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