Technophile

Sigma fp: A compact full-frame camera for the pros

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 10, 2020 Published on January 09, 2020

The outlier shooter has all the right ingredients to become a favourite of professionals as well as aspiring amateurs

A household name in the lenses and photo accessories market, Japanese giant Sigma is, however, not exactly known for the cameras it makes. Sigma does make DSLRs and other kinds of cameras, but the world of photography has not given it due attention. It seems the Sigma fp, the latest mirrorless camera from the Sigma stable, is going to change that perception. Here’s how.

The Sigma fp comes with some interesting tags — it is said to be one of the smallest and most compact full-frame MILCs (mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras) around. To be specific, the body dimensions are 112.6 mm × 69.9 mm × 45.3 mm. Full-frame cameras are costly affairs, and this one, priced at ₹2.15 lakh is no exception. The camera looks elegant and classy in black and is not so heavy given the hard and sturdy body and the hardware inside.

This is inarguably one of the most handle-able cameras around. Weighing just a little over 400 gms, the Sigma fp can be easily carried in one hand, even without the support of a strap or a kit, and it will stay safe with you. The full-aluminium body and the rear display screen are scratch-, dust- and fingerprint-free. You need to twist a tony handle at the bottom of the camera to pop open the door to the battery and SD- card casket, and the process is quite easy to figure out.

 

The camera has a USB Type-C port, an HDMI (Type-D) and a dedicated microphone port on the left, all protected by rubber flaps. There’s no built-in headphones socket for checking audio. The camera does not have a built-in flash. For value-for-money users, that might be a moment of sulking, but it appears Sigma wants to keep the camera frills-free and focus on the core competencies. You can attach an external flash unit as usual. The rear screen is your viewfinder and this is not flexible. The fixed panel is a tad disappointing, but that also means less damage to the screen, and one can also infer that Sigma wants the camera to be used more for traditional photography with optimal results and not exactly for assignments that require extreme levels of maneuverability.

Make no mistake, this is a feature-rich camera that requires your time and patience in order to deliver the best results. Which also means, its main aim is to please the pros. This is not exactly a camera for starters or the dilettantes. It demands higher degrees of attention and dedication. Interestingly, one of the most impressive hardware features of the Sigma fp is the dedicated switch that helps the user change shoot modes between stills and video.

The menu has plenty of options to choose from. If you are familiar with the options in Nikon’s or Canon’s high-end DSLRs, you may be able to navigate through the options in the Sigma fp as well. It takes some patience, though, because a few options are not so easily customisable.

Another interesting feature is a large-size heat sink placed between the LCD back panel and the body. Thanks to this, the camera’s heat-combating capability is quite telling. Even during long shoots (video included), the Sigma fp doesn’t get heated up at all.

Stills, camera, action

The review unit came with the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN lens, which costs around ₹47,500. We didn’t test the camera with any other lenses and this review is entirely based on results enabled by this lens. The camera has a 24.6 MP (effective) Bayer CMOS sensor, which is a full-frame set up with a 35mm full size. This means you can click high-resolution stills and movies with ease. Our experience suggests the Sigma fp sticks to the promise. The camera’s static focussing ability is very impressive, though it responds a little slower when it comes to continuous autofocus. The camera offers a focus grid with 49 points that the user can manually select on screen. This is a super cool feature. You can touch on the rear view screen to shift focus, which is a really helpful faculty. That said, the 3.1-inch touchscreen with a 2.1- million dot resolution is not a touchscreen in the purest sense of the world. Since the screen is fixed, you’d need an external monitor.

Stills from the Sigma fp are a delight in detail. The camera captures a lot of details even under dimly lit situations and delivers them with impressive honesty. The camera supports the L-mount. For starters, the L-mount is backed by Leica Camera, Sigma and Panasonic; which means the camera can use lenses from these providers.

The Sigma fp has an electronic shutter, since its makers feel that mechanical shutters are passe. The company says mechanical shutters have issues such as shock, sound and lags. An electronic shutter helps the camera adapt to a variety of different shooting scenes, helping avoid even the mildest of shakes while clicking. Thanks to the e-shutter, the Sigma fp can deliver 18fps burst shooting, which means you can capture fast actions without blemishes. The camera allows shooting in RAW (DNG, or digital negative, an image file format patented by Adobe). The camera supports an ISO level of up to 25,600. It achieves a maximum shutter speed of 1/8,000.

While the stills are of high quality, the videos are a class apart. One gets a sense that the Sigma fp is made for the cinematographer rather than the photographer. The camera can shoot in 4K and the video is sharp and detailed. Most of the default options are enough to produce pro-quality movies which can be a post-production technician’s delight. The Sigma fp has an interesting colour-grading facility which helps you change the colour of the video shot. This can be done in-camera. The available colour options are of class and character. This can be used in both the still and the cine mode.

The camera’s HDR shooting feature is a handy tool for filmmakers. This uses the electronic shutter to take multiple images of different exposures in one go and then merge them into a single image or video with a dynamic range that could not have been achieved in normal shooting. To be frank, this is a great help for amateur film or documentary makers.

The Sigma fp has a really disappointing battery performance. If you are shooting video non-stop for a few hours, the camera’s battery drains out in next to no time, and for charging, it takes some decent quantity of time. Ideally, you must carry an extra battery. To sum up, the Sigma fp is a game-changer MLIC that must get its due in this market. It is a compact delight, can shoot sharp, detailed images and great video, making it a handy tool for professional filmmakers.

Sigma fp Overview
  • Price: Body: ₹2,15,000 Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN lens: ₹47,500
  • Pros: Great body, compact size, detailed images and video, full of functions, can shoot broadcast quality content, great under low-light environments
  • Cons: No motion-tracking, not many auto options to help a beginner, menu navigation is cumbersome, no Wi-Fi-sharing, fixed LCD screen, accessories are extra

Published on January 09, 2020
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