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REVIEW: Sigma fp

SIGMA FP FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS INTERCHANGEABLE: An ultra-small full-frame camera with a modular body design that can be customised with accessories to suit stills shooting and/or professional video recording. Sigma describes the fp as ‘casual enough to take anywhere, anytime and high-spec enough for serious photo shooting’ and, with the wide range of compatible lenses, that has a ring of truth. But it appears to be targeted primarily at cinematographers, rather than stills photographers because it supports a wider range of options and formats than comparable cameras from Nikon, Panasonic and Sony.
RRP: $2999.
Sigma fp
Sigma is promoting its new fp camera as ‘the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless digital camera’. Weighing only 370 grams, its ‘soap bar’ styled, die-cast aluminium body can fit comfortably into a pocket but has a mount that takes the latest L-Mount lenses. The camera is supplied with the HU-11 hot shoe unit, which attaches to the left side panel with a large mounting screw. These screws are used for all other fittings and they have a deep slot on top that fits a 5-cent piece, making them easy to attach and remove.

Optional Sigma accessories include the LVF-11 viewfinder, BG II base grip and BPL-11 base plate, CR-41 cable release, CN-21 DC connector, BC-71 battery charger, SAC-7P AC adapter, EF-630 electronic flash and MC-21 mount converter. Users can also choose from 14 dedicated L-Mount lenses as well as 13 cine lenses and 29 DSLR lens, which can be attached via mount converters.

The fp can be set up for professional movie recording with 4K UHD recording as well as being the first to support external recording in 12-bit CinemaDNG format. It is also compatible with most popular cinema camera interfaces allowing users to add lenses, external solid-state drives, gimbals and accessory cages as well as the Blackmagic Video Assist 4K portable recorder, Timecode Systems UltraSync ONE time code generator and the IDX A-E2EOSC external battery to extend recording capabilities.

Sadly, the fp lacks in-built stabilisation; its electronic stabilisation only works when recording in MOV mode and there are no Log profiles. The AF system is contrast-based and not particularly fast, especially in Cine mode. And while anamorphic shooting is available, there’s no facility for ‘de-squeezing’ footage for viewing it on the camera.

Sigma fp long lens
This picture shows the Sigma fp camera (outlined in red) fitted with the 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports lens, MC-21 mount converter, HG-11 hand grip, LVF-11 viewfinder and BPL-11 base plate. (Source: Sigma.)

On the plus side, for stills shooting, the fp supports DNG.RAW recording and the resulting files are excellent with a wide dynamic range and good colour accuracy. Of the optional accessories, the LVF-11 is the most worthwhile and essential when shooting outdoors in bright conditions (when the LCD screen is virtually unreadable). It’s not as compact or flexible as electronic viewfinders, and adds 275 grams to the overall weight of the camera. But it provides a remarkably clear view of the screen with 2.5x magnification and a dioptre-adjustable eyepiece that is comfortable to use when wearing glasses.
Purchasing points:
Sigma fp 45mm lens1. The 35.9 x 25.3mm back-illuminated Bayer CMOS sensor delivers an effective resolution of 24.6 megapixels, which is optimised by having no low-pass filter to compromise acuity.
2. The Sigma fp’s body is made from die-cast aluminium with a textured surface to provide a non-slip grip. Dust- and splash-proof sealing has been applied to a total of 42 points to enable the camera to be used in challenging conditions when fitted with a dust- and splash-proof lens.
3. A simple slider switch provides easy switching between the Stills and Cine modes. A large heat sink is mounted between the monitor and camera body to dissipate heat, particularly during long movie recordings.
4. Still photos are recorded with a native 3:2 aspect ratio but aspect ratios of 4:3, 5:4, 16:9, 7:6, 1:1, 21:9 are also available.
5. The shutter is electronically driven, which provides plenty of flexibility in both Stills and Cine modes. Burst shooting at up to 18 fps, although the buffer capacity is limited to 12 frames for large, high-resolution JPEGs or 24 frames with small, low-resolution files.
Sigma fp top6. Interesting in-camera functions include a Fill Light that can brighten shadowed areas without altering highlights. Adjustments across a range of +/-5 steps are available. Separate adjustments are available for the tone control and colour mode menus. The Tone button allows users to adjust the tone curve on the monitor screen while the Colour button provides adjustments across 11 levels, from -5 to +5.
7. HDR shooting takes advantage of the electronic shutter, capturing multiple frames at different exposures (3 frames for still photography and 2 frames for video). These are combined in the camera to produce an image or video with an expanded dynamic range. (This function will become available in Cine mode through a future firmware update.)
8. Interval timer recording enables users to record time-lapse movies at resolutions up to 4K quality. Intervals can be set between one second and 60 minutes and the number of shots can range from 2 to 99, with unlimited recording also available. A Cinemagraph function, which records GIF animations, will be added via a future firmware update.
9. Special video functions include shutter angle and waveform displays for exposure and colour information, focus peaking and zebra patterns. The fp also includes a Director’s Viewfinder function that can simulate different angles of view and how an image looks, on cinema cameras. It supports leading models from all major cinema camera manufacturers, including Arri, RED and Sony.
– Margaret Brown

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