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Why I Just Bought The New Sigma FP Mirrorless Camera For Filmmaking

There have been a ton of new camera announcements and releases over the past year, but perhaps none more interesting than Sigma’s brand new FP mirrorless. It offers some of the most unique and innovative features that we’ve seen in a long time, including 12 bit raw capabilities – which a big reason I took the leap and pre-ordered one myself.

Once the camera actually arrives – likely in the next 1 – 2 weeks – I’ll publish some of my test footage along with a written review. For now though, I want to share some of what went into my purchase decision, for those of you who may be considering it too..

For a while now, I’ve been looking for a camera that could fill a gap in my kit. On the high end, I have my Arri Alexa Plus 4:3 which is great for bigger productions, but too large and heavy for smaller run-and-gun shoots. For medium sized narrative and commercial productions I’ve mainly been shooting on Blackmagic URSA Minis, which are fantastic, but again too large (physically) for some of my much smaller scale productions.

So I found myself in need of a tool for those small projects like impromptu short films, pickup shots, website content, or anything else I might need to shoot entirely myself.

Until recently, my go-to camera for this type of thing was the Fuji X-T2 (which I love), but sold it several months ago with the intention of upgrading the the X-T3.

Before I got around to actually buying an X-T3, the Sigma FP landed on my radar, and was hard to ignore. Like the X-T3, it would offer gorgeous image quality and a small footprint – but some of the added bells and whistles on the FP were too tempting to pass up.

The safest bet would have been to stick with Fuji, but in the spirit of experimenting with something new and unique, I pulled the trigger on my pre-order.

I will definitely miss those gorgeous Fuji colors (and perhaps will move back to Fuji at some point down the line), but for now I look forward to seeing what the FP is really capable of… Especially with these specs/highlights – 

  • Full frame sensor
  • Extremely small body size
  • Directors viewfinder mode
  • Raw internal (4K/8bit HD/12bit) & external 12bit
  • Still/Cine modes
  • Up to 120fps at 1080p
  • Extended ISO up to 102400
  • L Mount

For many filmmakers, the FP’s full frame sensor is going to be a huge selling point. Although there are already some popular FF mirrorless cameras out there (like the Sony A7R IV), this segment of the market is still relatively underserved. The FP will certainly be a welcome addition and a great alternative for many filmmakers and hybrid shooters.

Personally, full frame has never been a huge selling feature for me, so this wasn’t really a variable in my decision making process. While I’m sure I’ll benefit from the added DOF control and low light sensitivity, if the camera had a Super 35mm sensor or ever MFT, I would still be interested.

The biggest draws for me were the form factor and raw capabilities. My ideal camera is small, light and portable with pro-level image quality that can rival a true cinema camera. It’s a tall order, but I’m hoping the FP will at least come close… On paper it certainly does.

The camera is capable of outputting 12bit 4K CinemaDNG raw to an external drive, or recording 4K CinemaDNG raw internally to SD cards in 8bit. Set to full HD (1080p) the FP can capture 12bit internally as well.

Just a few years ago it would have been hard to imagine these kind of specs on a small mirrorless body. But Sigma has pulled it off, with a clear aim at professional filmmakers.

If anything tells us who Sigma’s target customer is for this camera, it’s the Director’s Viewfinder feature. This will allow filmmakers to use the camera (with a loupe) as a professional on-set viewfinder to assist with framing and lensing choices. It has presets for many different professional cinema cameras (like the Arri Alexa) and will replicate the field of view of those cameras for you automatically.

This type of versatility makes the FP a no-brainer for big productions too… Not just for the viewfinder feature, but also to capture still photos, behind the scenes footage, or even for use as a b-cam.

Another thing I love about the camera is the minimalist design and simplicity of use. A single button on the top of the camera switches the FP between still and cine mode, making it easy to transition from shooting videos to photos.

There’s a ton of power under the hood, most of which you’ll access via the touchscreen. The body itself is simply a box designed with minimalism in mind, which I’m a fan of.

The less obtrusive a camera is, the better. Especially in this case, where the goal is to benefit from the small form factor and have ability to remain inconspicuous.

Sigma opted to go with an L mount for this camera, which was a wise decision. Because the flange distance is so short, lenses from practically any other mount (including EF and PL) can be adapted to the camera easily. I’ll be picking up some adapters soon, but also using the native 45mm L mount lens that comes bundled with the camera.

Priced at $2199 for both the camera body and the 45mm lens, that’s a pretty solid offer. The camera can also be purchased on its own for $1899.

It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the camera/lens package as a whole, since it’s all so new. But based on the specs so far, and where Sigma clearly seems to be placing their focus, I’m feeling very optimistic.

Once the camera arrives and I have a chance to work with it on some test shoots and real world productions, I’ll be sure to report back with a more thorough review.

For now, let me know your first impressions of the Sigma FP in the comments below!

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

20 Comments

  • Danny
    October 18, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Cinema5d just uploaded a short documentary using the SIGMA FP ( non final firmware). The footage looks very nice. Check out there YouTube channel.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Cool to hear! I’ve got a bunch of test footage coming soon too.

      Reply
      • Jason Carter
        June 27, 2020 at 10:00 am

        How did it work out with the Sigma FP? I am thinking of getting one – especially with the new update just released. Have you tried using it with the Black Magic Video Assist? Do you I or if it will give you 4k60p? Anyways – looking forward to seeing some of your footage with this little beast.

        Reply
        • Noam Kroll
          August 5, 2020 at 3:57 pm

          I loved it while I had it, but ultimately sold the camera to make room for some new gear I needed for a specific production. I didn’t shoot with it as much as I anticipated, but otherwise would have held on to it I’m sure.

          Reply
  • Hippase
    October 19, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    interesting read, i look forward to the reviews ! Any reasons to choose it instead of the Blackmagic 6K ?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks! I was definitely considering the 6K as well, but wanted to change things up a bit. I like experimenting with new cameras and seeing what’s out there. Also, wanted to use it for stills too, and the FP is definitely more suitable in that regard.

      Reply
  • Art Bell
    October 21, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    I was wondering too about vs. the BMD Pocket 6K.

    One other thing – does this need to record to a specific Recorder like a codex or Odessey?

    I saw a fellow with a BMD pocket 6K and he had this taped to the back of it. ( the Samsung micro SSD with very fast transport) https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07G392XCK/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_nuKRDbP9FWCCP

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:30 pm

      If I didn’t have any other cameras, I’d likely go with a Pocket 6K as my main camera for video/narrative productions. The FP can use any external SSD drive fast enough for the RAW files, so no need for an Odyssey or similar device.

      Reply
  • JR Lipartito
    October 26, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    I also went Fuji for a while but have recently sold my X-T3 and X-H1 for a Panasonic S1H. So I know what you mean when you say you’ll miss those Fuji colors! L-mount really seems to have a bright future though. The S1H does everything I need, especially with the upcoming raw update so it really is worth the extra $$$ in my opinion. But it’s big and I really miss the size of the X-T3, so I’m hoping the fp will be a worthy b-cam/travel cam to supplement my S1H . I’m looking forward to see your full review and test shots!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:32 pm

      Awesome to hear, JR! Let me know how it all works out and I’ll look forward to sharing some FP footage soon.

      Reply
  • JR Lipartito
    October 26, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Just one more thought as you mentioned you would still be interested if it had a smaller sensor. Seems almost like a given that Sigma would make an APS-C fp, and bundle it together with an L-mount version of their 18-35 f1.8 zoom. I was surprised when they didn’t announce L-mount versions for their F1.8 zooms along all their new primes, but maybe they are just waiting until they have a camera that goes with it perfectly.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:33 pm

      That’s a great point. For now, at least the FP can be used in Super 35mm mode with adapted lenses. But would be cool to see native L-mount versions in the future!

      Reply
  • EJ
    October 27, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    First impressions about the Sigma fp, very much like those of yours, for very similar reasons, but what has stopped me from hitting the pre-order button so far is one little detail in the specs, namely the lack of a low pass filter.

    When I noticed that little tidbit I instantly thought about the footage I got from the original BMPCC before I installed the Mosaic Engineering LP/IR filter. In other words, simply gorgeous images, but sometimes ruined by oh so ugly moire!

    How are you going to battle moire with the fp?

    Well, suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how bad –or hopefully not too bad– it will be.
    Maybe Mosaic Engineering will come up with a filter for this camera, too. Let’s hope so.

    Besides that, the other issue I’m a bit wary about now is the dynamic range, after reading the first test by the Johnnie Behiri in the C5D blog, albeit with unfinished firmware. A bit too early to draw definite conclusions.
    Looking forward to your stomping the mines… er, testing the new camera soon-ish, with final firmware. 🙂

    The potential moire issue aside, I’m still quite interested in this little camera, for similar reasons as you are.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing your 2 cents here, EJ. So far, I haven’t had any issues with Moire, but I have noticed a lack of DR when shooting compressed. Will aim to detail this at length in an upcoming follow-up post.

      Reply
  • Kit Laughlin
    November 18, 2019 at 3:11 am

    Joining this thread to keep up with developments. My reservation with this camera is only that it does not have a viewfinder (built in). The 45mm lens is a perfect first lens for me; it’s my favourite focal length.

    Is anyone aware of any viewfinder solutions being talked about for this camera (thinking stills, here).

    I have a 4-camera video setup here in the studio already and these cameras have external monitors. But when thinking stills, I want to be able to anchor the body against my body, and it’s not possible to shoot that way holding a small camera at arm/s length.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:44 pm

      The lack of a viewfinder has definitely been a source of frustration when shooting stills. To this day, I still prefer to use an optical viewfinder (on a DSLR) for stills, but even an EVF is better than using the LCD screen. That said, for video it’s a non-issue for me… Would also love to see a VF solution for this camera in the near future.

      Reply
  • Tom Board
    November 18, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    I’m loving the look of this camera. I’m not a pro film-maker, more a YouTuber. I’ve been thinking what to replace my aging GH4 with (which I love BTW), and in particular I’d like better dynamic range and low light performance in my next camera. I have a Ninja V recorder, so I know I don’t really need/want more than 10 bit files for my purposes. I’m not worried about IBIS as I use a gimbal or tripod most of the time. The SH-1 is too bulky for my liking, and twice the price, not to mention over-specified for what I need (though as a gear freak that’s never stopped me in the past, ahem). So the Sigma fp is really attractive, plus it has the weather sealing and small form factor that I love about the GH4.

    I found a beautifully shot example of footage from the fp and an Atomos Ninja V (I’m not sure if the V was used just for the screen, or as a recorder – I asked him in the comments, but no reply yet) of Japanese cooking: https://youtu.be/m63xfhhlYKc. I think the colours and the image really lovely, and this was all shot in 8 bit raw! For me, I’m sure I’d only need to use internally recorded 12 bit HD Raw or 8 bit 4k raw most of the time, based on this footage.

    However, I’m wondering what you are thinking in terms of the post-production workflow for projects you shoot with this camera. Would you edit in Davinci Resolve, or would you transcode in ProRes and edit in FCPX? And how would you handle the colour grading?

    The workflow is the only thing that puts me off working with Cinema DNG files, and I have been putting off buying Resolve 16 until I decide on the next camera. I’ve already invested in many plugins for Final Cut that work really well and make the simple graphics work easy, and so I prefer not to have to buy them all again for Resolve and then climb a new learning curve. And since my editing machine is a modestly-powered Apple Mac Mini with an i7 chip (6 cores) and eGPU (with Radeon Vega 56 graphics card, same as the BlackMagic eGPU Pro), the ProRes codec makes a lot of sense for me to avoid my projects bogging down. Which is why I got the Ninja V…

    All that said, there’s so much to like about this camera. And potentially a lot more to come via firmware upgrades and third party add-ons in the future… we are really spoilt now with cameras getting so good and affordable!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 22, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks for all your thoughts here, Tom! I have a follow-up post coming soon that will address a lot of this at length. For now though, I can tell you that I plan to convert all of my files in Resolve and then edit in FCP X. Then I will roundtrip back to Resolve for final color. I’m used to that workflow when working with other RAW formats, so it’s not a huge issue for me. The bigger issue so far is the lack of record time when shooting 4K RAW on the internal cards. I’m getting just over 10 minutes on a 128GB card.

      Reply
  • Jeremy
    December 8, 2019 at 6:38 am

    I would love to read your thoughts on how well the Sigma FP’s cinemaDNG codec matches with the UMP4.6K. Will you be covering that aspect in your upcoming Sigma FP review?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 3, 2020 at 12:31 am

      Hi Jeremy – great question. I haven’t compared the two cameras to each other just yet, but will definitely aim to in the future.

      Reply

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