First Impressions: Sigma Fp (Did Sigma Finally Get a Camera Right?)

The Sigma Fp convinced me that Sigma could have finally gotten a camera right, but I’m still not totally convinced.

I’ve been testing Sigma cameras for years, and the culmination of a long list of failures has resulted in the Sigma Fp. For all of those years, I’ve legitimately been in love with the image quality that their Foveon sensors produced at lower ISOs and coupled with their stellar lenses. But I never liked needing to work in their software, their deplorable battery life, the snail’s pace autofocus speed, and don’t forget about the lens mount that no one ever truly cared about despite its analog lineage. With the Sigma Fp, the company joins the L mount alliance and allows photographers to affix Leica and Panasonic glass to the camera in addition to some of their own. Built with weather sealing, much-improved ergonomics, a full-frame sensor, and a small body that is quite obviously aimed at the enthusiast and the cinematographer, the Sigma Fp is still intriguing. Recently, we had five minutes with the camera and found it to be really fascinating.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from the Adorama listing for $1,899

  • World’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera
  • Robust & lightweight aluminum body
  • Dust and splash-proof structure
  • Supports UHD 4K/24, 25 & 30 fps
  • Supports 12-bit Cinema DNG
  • Electronic image stabilization
  • Full-time electronic shutter
  • Face/Eye Detection AF
  • Configuration: Body Only
  • Max Video Quality: 4K 30fps
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame Camera

Ergonomics

The Sigma Fp is a small camera. In fact, the body is significantly more akin to that of a point and shoot camera. There is no viewfinder to speak of. If anything, you could liken it to a Sony RX1 style of camera but with interchangeable lenses. Of course, Sigma’s 45mm f2.8 pairs perfectly with it.

Sigma took a lot of care with the design of the Sigma Fp. On the side, you can see that the LCD screen is slightly away from the rest of the body. That’s because rain and snow were considered in the design. This screen is designed to have elements pass between it and also help keep the camera cool. It’s connected to the other side.

On the other side of the camera, you can see ports. With the strap that was attached to the Sigma Fp, we didn’t see a door. However, I’m sure that the door would complete the weather sealing of the Sigma Fp.

Turn to the top of the Sigma Fp, and what you see is the controls. Here you can easily switch it into the cinema or still mode. There is also a power switch, record button, and exposure control. Of course, you’ll also spot the shutter release here. Note that the Sigma Fp doesn’t have a hot-shoe. So if you’re the person that loves shooting with natural light, then you’re fine.

On the back of the Sigma Fp, you’ll spot the LCD screen along with a plethora of buttons. But the design is in such a way that the buttons don’t get in the way. I really like that.

Build Quality

The Sigma Fp is said to be weather sealed. With Sigma’s bigger lenses for L mount, the weather sealing would be fully complete. But with the company’s 45mm, the weather sealing isn’t as robust. Overall, the camera feels really lovely and light. If you put a bigger lens on there, it would genuinely feel unbalanced. It would need a grip and an electronic viewfinder. I’m a bit perplexed here as the shutter is electronic only. We have to test it in a variety of situations involving artificial lighting. But so far, Sigma has been saying that it’s very good. And I have to agree.

Ease of Use

Sigma’s menu systems are akin to those of the Ricoh GR series of cameras in that they take some getting used to. They’re not complicated, but I’d rather not spend a while in them. Some things will appeal to enthusiasts and pros alike. There are easy modes and full cinema modes along with a full manual. The Sigma Fp has touchscreen capabilities for those that want and need that sort of thing too.

During my short time with the Sigma Fp, I found it to be pretty simple to use. But I’m going to need to spend a lot of time with it to get a better idea of how it works. From my initial impressions, I found it to be the camera equivalent of a Tumblr blog. That is to say that the design can either be super simple or incredibly complicated with no in-between option. I could very well be wrong, though.

Autofocus

To my pleasant surprise, the Sigma Fp is pretty fast to autofocus. It’s not going to win awards, but the autofocus is surely very usable. It’s better than Panasonic’s, not totally better than Leica’s, and it can’t hold a candle to the latest Nikon, Canon, and Sony algorithms. But as I was autofocusing with this camera, I indeed found myself wondering if I’d do just that. I could easily see myself adapting some Leica L glass to this camera and having fun with it. Cinematographers will inevitably not care.

Image Quality

Luckily, the Sigma Fp shoots DNG raw files. Sigma has been doing this for a long time, and it was truly the right decision. These images were shot at the Photo Plus trade show we were at.

First Impressions

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Sigma Fp. It’s a small camera at an affordable price designed to move units. It’s good for a novice. But it can also be fantastic in a cage for a cinematographer. There is an electronic only shutter with no mechanical shutter. Perhaps this was Sigma’s though as they probably can’t compete with a bunch of the other products out there on the market. The L mount is very fruitful and alive with lens options though. Still, I’ll need to spend a solid month with the camera around NYC until I figure out who it’s really for. Overall though, it would be wrong of me to not acknowledge how far Sigma has come when it comes to the creation of a camera. Even more care and thought was put into this one. I’m waiting for a review unit. Even if I don’t end up liking the Sigma Fp, I have to say that I’m excited to see how it finds its way in the market.