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!
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!