Sigma fp review: A capable but quirky cinema camera

Written by Chris Foreman

Part 2 of our comprehensive look at the Sigma fp. Here we take a look at the new firmware features and how the camera could work for you.

Sigma fp review part 2
Sigma fp new & improved features

Normally I’m not a fan of adding extra cages to cameras, instead preferring the stripped down approach, however in the case of the fp it might prove necessary. This is especially valid with version 2.0 of the firmware since it adds the ability for the camera to record the image when acting as a director’s viewfinder. This is very useful if you attach the optional LVF-11 (£289) viewfinder attachment.

When enabling the director’s viewfinder function together with the correct lens adapter it’s possible to add just about any lens that you may have planned for your shoot and emulate the angle of view of popular cameras. The menu options include Sony Venice and several Red & Arri cameras. You can also choose the recording mode of those cameras and if you’re using anamorphic lenses the fp will apply the correct squeeze to the recording. You can also record the surround view or look around area of the sensor as well.

Sigma fp director's viewfinder options.Sigma fp director's viewfinder options.

Sigma has added the ability to sync to an external time code signal through the 3.5mm microphone socket and also send out time code over HDMI.

A dormant option - dual base ISO support - has now been enabled with version 2.0. This allows you to choose between ISO 100 and 3200 with no change to dynamic range.

Version 2.0 also supports the creation of cinemagraphs however this is only in .mov format not .gif, It’s not something that I’ll be making use of but interesting to see the processing power of this camera as it requires you to draw a mask in camera using the touch LCD.

Sigma also make a mention of a new HDR video mode but that seems to be only available in HD when recording in .mov format.

There are a few other enhanced or modified features,

  • Ability to record 1080/120p RAW video in 8-bit and 10-bit CinemaDNG
  • Supports CinemaDNG 25 and 29.97 fps (UHD 12bit) shooting
  • Supports CinemaDNG 100 fps (FHD 12bit) shooting
  • Supports CinemaDNG 100 and 119.88 fps (FHD 8bit and 10bit) shooting
  • Exposure adjustment available in QS (Quick Set)
  • Tone control setting “Auto (Mild / Strong)” available during movie shooting
  • Camera movement control is compatible with ZHIYUN gimbals
  • Supports USB Video Class (UVC) setting adjustments while the fp is connected to USB
  • Compatible with BWF format
Sigma fp side vents.
Sigma fp side vents.

Improvements and Quirks

There are however still some missing pieces to the fp puzzle. Log capture is not supported, it’s just not possible on the fp and Sigma have apologised for this; quite a surprise. Sigma has also added a colour off profile that produces a flat image with no gamma correction for those that like to shoot this way. Although it’s only available when shooting .mov format.

It’s also not possible to record 10 or 12-bit in anything apart from Cinema DNG, and even then it’s only available via USB-C to an SSD. This is unfortunate as a compressed 10 bit codec recorded to an internal card would have been a useful addition. One other thing that threw me slightly is when using zebras you need to first enable them in the ‘shoot’ menu and then choose to display them in the ‘system’ menu. This means that in the 4 different display page options you can choose which page will display zebras.

Audio monitoring in camera is also lacking because there is no way to connect headphones directly - it has to be done though a 3rd party recorder. I also noticed that you can’t charge the battery via USB whilst the camera is on. This isn't unusual, but if you leave the camera on by accident when charging you’ll come back to a flat battery.

Would the Sigma fp work for you?

I’ve been testing this camera for a week and I love the form factor although I think that perhaps there have been a few too many compromises to make this work. It seems a bit strange to say but I really miss having a viewfinder, especially for work in bright conditions, more than once I caught myself moving the camera close to my face to position a nonexistent viewfinder against my eye for a shot or two.

It’s focus is most definitely cine work, it will be best suited to shooting RAW onto an SSD or being used with an external recording monitor. The director’s viewfinder function is also a nice addition for recces and it could be very useful as a B camera. If you prefer the stripped down approach you also have a couple of options, even though both are limited to 8-bit.

If Sigma continue to develop this hardware platform... the Mark II could be very interesting.

Tags: Production

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