Out concept of a full frame camera is usually a large and heavy body that is best left to professionals. Sigma wants to change just this with the Sigma fp, the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera. In fact, the camera is small enough to pass off as an older point and shoot, but is so capable that it can replace professional cinema cameras.
Sigma fp specifications: 24.6 megapixels Bayer sensor | 3.15-inch touchscreen TFT color LCD display | 30 – 1/8,000 sec shutter speed | ISO 100 – 25,600 | USB-Type C, HDMI (Type D) | 422 g
The Sigma fp has a black body with a solid feel. It does not offer a DSLR-like grip and is more akin to a point-and-shoot. There are not too many dials and buttons to figure out, which is good. But unlike a compact camera, this one does not offer a display that can be adjusted for different shooting angles. One thing I really liked was the toggle to switch from still to cine shooting — yes, they don’t call it video. Under the 3.15-inch monitor are buttons that let you switch modes, colour tone and format. This strip of controls is very convenient.
With all this, the camera body is just 422 gm heavy including battery. I reviewed the camera with a 45mm lens which could have added another 200 gm, still the camera is lighter than anything you will use with a full frame and can easily go into a jacket pocket. Just this could be a big incentive for a lot of users to try out this camera. Also, Sigma fp uses an L mount and you can use other lenses which you might have.
With a 35mm full-frame (35.9mm x 23.10mm) back-illuminated 24.6MP Bayer CMOS sensor, the Sigma fp is good enough for anything you want to do with it. But the camera stands out from the rest of the pack for its ability to CinemaDNG along with the JPEG and RAW that every other camera does.
I tried out the camera both in still and cine formats. In still mode, the camera is more like a Fujifilm X series and offers sharp images with different colour profiles. It is also a fast camera offering very precision focus options. My only issue was it did take some time to get the hang of the dials and navigation. For instance, the most prominent dial is used for exposure and not shutter speed or aperture. Also, the touch screen of the LCD display can be used only for swiping through photographs and to select the focus area you again have to use one of the dials. That took some getting used to.
This is a very versatile camera and you can quickly change most of the settings via the QS button. There are all sorts of aspect ratios, picture quality and other tweaks available so that you get the shot just the way you want. Also, this camera performs very well in low light too, even with monochrome images. In fact, the Black and White mode was something I really enjoyed with this camera and I kept going back to it.
A lot of video people I know were excited by this cameras cine mode, which offers the kind of feel only professional cinema cameras could create so far. In that, this camera is different from any digital camera that can shoot video. Even while shooting in then cine mode, the monochromes were tempting. And you can tweak any setting in the cine mode too and there are no restrictions on what can be achieved there. But for shooting in CinemaDNG you will need some storage backup as a 32GB or 64GB card will run out of space in minutes. In fact, that is one of the great features of this camera: it can record video continuously for up to two hours. This is an aspect where DSLRs are still struggling.
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The camera does not have a Wi-Fi mode to transfer images and videos to a phone, maybe because this is meant for more professional users and not time sensitive streams like news photography. That is a convenience I missed. But there all the ports and connections you would need, along with microphone ports.
The Sigma fp is a good buy for those who want to create high-quality short films and maybe even longer projects. I would not really recommend this camera for enthusiasts, but if someone wants to buy it there is nothing that prevents him from enjoying its capabilities. But then this is not a very affordable camera with a price tag starting at Rs 2,15,000 with another Rs 47,000 for the 45mm F2.8 DG DN Lens. But the price is not such a big deal when you consider that the Sigma fp could well be the start of miniaturisation of full frame cameras and that is a welcome development.
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