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Full-frame Sigma fp uses L mount, can shoot pro video

Create: 08/10/2019 - 11:48
Sigma fp

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Full-frame 24.6 CMOS sensor
  • Body weighs less than one pound
  • Has electronic shutter only

Sigma has become the latest company to announce a full-frame mirrorless digital camera, and the Sigma fp is unique in its approach.

Sigma also becomes the third maker to produce a camera that uses the L mount.

The Sigma fp began as a concept camera. Unlike other concept models, the concept is the camera. Concept models usually are used to test different designs and features, and the final product often looks different from the test model.

With the Sigma fp, it is adopting "less is more" by starting with a somewhat barebones body and allowing the owner to add the lenses and accessories that match how the camera will be used.

At the heart of the camera is a full-frame 24.6 back-illuminated Bayer CMOS sensor with a a native aspect ratio of 3:2. The sensor does not have a low-pass filter.

There are seven selectable image- and video-recording aspect ratios, from 21:9 to the popular 16:9 to others, including square. The ISO range is 100-25,600, which can be extended lower to 6 and upward to 102,400.

Images and video are saved to a single SD memory card or to a tethered SSD (solid state drive) via a USB 3.0 connection. For those shooting video, recording to an SSD is a welcome option.

FIRST THE BODY, THEN ACCESSORIES

If a camera is just a box, the Sigma fp is the clearest expression of that, being quite literally a box with a sensor, LCD monitor and a handful of controls.

Using this approach, Sigma is able to offer a variety of accessories to fit specific needs for traditional photographers, as well as videographers, whether the photography shoots "in the field" or in a studio.

The body is miniscule compared with most other mirrorless cameras, where the trend as of late has been toward larger bodies. The Sigma fp is 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 inches (112.6 x 69.9 x 45.3mm) and weighs just under a pound at 14.9 ounces (422 grams).

This makes it roughly the size of the Olympus E-PL1 although about a half-inch thicker (more on that later). Remember, this carries a full-frame sensor, while the Olympus, being a Micro Four Thirds camera, uses a sensor that is half that size.

When the mirrorless concept was introduced back in the mid-2000s, the promise was for smaller, lighter bodies, and this camera might be a return to that principle.

Accessories include a magnifier for the LCD screen, which is fixed and doesn’t pivot. The 3.15-inch monitor is touch-enabled. With the LCD screen magnifier mounted, there is no ability to use the touchscreen.

There is no electronic viewfinder, nor is one offered at this time.

There also are two types of accessory grips to allow for a more secure hold when not shooting on a tripod. Neither allows for additonal batteries.

Image stabilization is built into the body.

THE L MOUNT ALLIANCE

As montioned, the Sigma fp uses the L mount, which first appeared on the full-frame Leica SL. Sigma was one of three manufacturers to sign on to the L Mount Alliance in 2018, with Leica and Panasonic being the others.

At the moment, Sigma is releasing three lenses with the fp, in addition to the 11 existing L-mount lenses:

  • f/2.8 45mm DG DN | Contemporary
  • f/1.4 35mm DG DN | Art
  • f/2.8 14–24mm | Art

The other L-mount lenses cover a range from 14mm up to 135mm. There are no telephoto zooms available in the L mount. Nine of the lenses are shorter than 50mm, with the remaining five covering focal lengths of 50mm, 70mm, 85mm, 105mm and 135mm.

A lens-mount adapter allows for the use of Sigma SA and Canon EF lenses, which greatly broadens the number of available lenses.

ELECTRONIC SHUTTER ONLY

The Sigma fp is unique among mirrorless cameras in that it lacks a manual shutter and operates solely with an electronic shutter. The shutter speed range is 30 seconds to 1/8,000. That an unusually slow top shutter speed. Recent cameras have had top speeds of 1/20,000 or faster.

The camera can record photos at up to 18 frames per second, and there is a self-timer with either a two- or 10-second delay.

There is no hot shoe, although one is available that attaches to the side of the camera.

HANDLING HEAT BUILD-UP

As digitial cameras have become more powerful and now include the ability to record video at the highest resolutions, heat has become a very serious problem. Some cameras will turn off video recording after a designated amount of time, which is not ideal if you are shooting a movie.

Because Sigma sees this camera being on for hours at a time, it has devised a way to wick off heat. There is a large magnesium heat sink between the body and the LCD monitor with the singular purpose of venting off excess heat.

This makes the body a bit thicker, but for those who plan to use this as the basis for a video system, a slightly thicker body is negligible.

A small slide switch on the top of the body allows the user to quickly switch between still and video.

There are connectors for USB 3.1 Type C, HDMI and an external microphone. There is no headphone jack. Those shooting professional video wqill likely tether the Sigma fp to a device that allows for audio monitoring.

The Sigma fp uses a single lithium-ion battery but also can be powered via USB, which will be welcomed by studio photographers.

Still images are saved as either RAW or JPG, while there are two formats for video: CinemaDNG and MOV. The Sigma fp has a number of advanced features for videographers, including the ability to sync with high-end ATOMOS and Blackmagic accessories. Videos are recorded either as Ultra 4k or Full HD. There are no other resolutions available.

There is no release date for the Sigma fp, nor has the price been announced.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.