About a year ago the Sigma fp arrived here. And we had big plans with it. According to that plan, I would now be editing a documentary about Formation DanceSport. The idea was to follow the creation of the costumes for two teams, done by my better half. Covering the road of those teams and their costumes to their respective World Championships which were to be held in December 2020. Well, that didn’t happen and we all can easily guess the reason why, Covid-19.
Did that mean the Sigma fp was laying around unused? No, far from that, I actually used it a lot more than I thought I would and started to really like it as a photo camera. Why did I really like it so much, well I’ll get to that at the end but let me first introduce the Sigma fp.
Sigma fp, the smallest and lightest full-frame sensor body possible
This camera is Sigma’s first digital camera with a Bayer array image sensor, all cameras before included a Foveon sensor. But instead of copying what other manufacturers did they set out to create something unique. Pocketable, scalable, seamless.
Seamless; by using a prominent switch on the top of the camera it is very easy to switch between the Stills and Cinema mode.
Scalable; using an ‘open system’ allows the camera to be used with a broad range of lenses and accessories from Sigma and other brands. Making this camera a great central component for a configuration the user desires.
Pocketable; despite the use of a full-frame sensor the body is very small and light, making it pocketable. This is achieved by omitting features like a mechanical shutter and a (electronic) viewfinder but without compromising on image quality.
You can find the technical specifications at the bottom of this page.
The video side of things
Well, I actually can’t say too much here I’m afraid. I did use it occasionally but never in a production environment. The videos every time looked very good to me though and were easy to work with, also at higher iso values. On the other hand autofocus capabilities could use some improvements. In the end I mostly used manual focus.
My “take it everywhere” photo camera
I am mainly an event and (dance)sports photographer and my work basically came to a complete hold last year. As a working professional, I am of the opinion though that one should always keep practicing. So I always take a camera with me, wherever I go. And that’s where the Sigma fp turned out to be the perfect companion. Coupled with the 45mm lens the whole package is so small and light that it is really easy to throw in a bag or simply hold in hand.
My hands are pretty small and to them, the camera fitted much better than I expected despite its boxy shape. I don’t have an extra grip attached but still found it easy to hold. The lack of a viewfinder was something I had to get used to in the beginning, bringing the camera up to my eye occasionally. Must have looked funny. After a few weeks I got totally used to it though and it didn’t bother me anymore to shoot from the back monitor. Only in very bright conditions, I found that the screen was not bright and contrasty enough though.
Very satisfying was the use of the aperture ring on the 45mm lens. I was not sure I would use it as I was so used to using the camera dials for that. But using the aperture ring is so fast and seamless to use and now use that all the time. Hoping more lenses will include this ability in the future.
For such a small body there are still quite some buttons. And most of the time it was easy to find my way through them. Only the Mode-button, to me, is placed wrongly. It’s a bit hidden under a part of the body that sticks out and covered by the hand holding the camera. So I was often searching for it.
This camera does not have a mechanical shutter and it is therefore using an electronic shutter. As this sensor does not have a particularly high read-out speed I was expecting some problems when using it as a photo camera. To my delight, it turned out to be not so much of a problem. When shooting under artificial lighting banding can occur easily though. But by shooting at for example 1/100th banding is not an issue (in Europe) I found. Rolling shutter at times is clearly seen on fast moving objects. But in the end, it was only very seldom an issue with my shooting.
But thanks to the electronic shutter the camera can shoot at 20fps. And that’s fast and quiet. Didn’t need it that often but it was great to have that trick in the bag.
One thing that I very much hope that can be improved in the future is the shooting lag. Timing shots is hard because of the lag of getting the live view on the screen plus the additional shutter lag. When shooting some action, be prepared to anticipate the shots.
Slow but accurate, most of the time. Sometimes the camera seems to struggle when the subject is close to the lens, like less than one meter. Otherwise, it gets the focus relatively easy. Eye autofocus is also very reliable as long as the subject is not moving. Action photography is clearly not where this autofocus system shines. Continuous mode is really hit and miss, probably more miss. Maybe future updates could improve on that. The firmware updates released to date did bring improvements to the autofocus.
Nothing to complain about here. In fact, I really love the files coming out of this camera. They are very clean, have a good dynamic range. Lots of room in the highlights and the shadows are easily lifted without much degradation. I have no doubts to shoot up to iso 12.800 if necessary. I have found the colors to be very lifelike with good saturation.
A nice touch is the extra color modes available when shooting like for example, Teal & Orange, Sunset Red, and Forest Green, in addition to the more common ones like Portrait & Landscape. This mode is applied to the JPG and preview of the DNG file. But the DNG file still has all the RAW info. Those color profiles are also provided with the recent versions of Lightroom and can be applied to the DNG. I enjoyed very much shooting in Teal & Orange but still having the full flexibility of the RAW files afterward.
So why do I really like this camera?
Besides the image quality which I enjoy a lot, it comes down to basically one thing. It’s very unobtrusive. It’s so small, especially with the 45mm attached, that nobody seems to be intimidated when you point this camera at them. I can roam the streets with this camera in hand without turning heads. People seem to think it’s some compact camera. This gives me a lot of opportunities that are harder to get with bigger DSLR or mirrorless cameras. But I still am able to use a full-frame, top image quality camera. Couple this to the fact that I can almost always take this camera with me and I think Sigma has produced a winner here.
Sigma fp Gallery
A little bit of everything 🙂