Sigma fp L hands-on: Small size, large resolution, severe compromise

Sigma created some buzz with the original 24-megapixel FP thanks to cool, diminutive body and high-end video capabilities including RAW recording. Now, the $ 2,500 fp L with the same body but a much higher resolution 61-megapixel sensor. Along with the camera, Sigma unveiled an external electronic viewfinder, which is the requested look of the original model.

As always, the Sigma fp L is the smallest full-frame mirrorless camera you can buy. More impressively, it is also the tallest model in full-frame fit, period, in a tie with Sony A7R IV (which probably shares the same sensor). Is the size too small for the sensor? I got my hands on it in a week, along with many of Sigma’s best lenses, to find out.

Gallery: Sigma fp L hands-on gallery | 25 Photos

The fp L has a strange, boxy shape like a squished one Leica rangefinder. The manual controls are minimal, with only one front dial to adjust exposure settings, along with a video recorder, stills / videos and a power switch at the top. On the back there is another (fiddly) dial with a center “OK” button, plus eight buttons for AE lock, quick menu, menu, mode, color, tone, display and playback .

The 24-megapixel fp is designed as a video and a street camera and the small, square body fits that purpose. However, the fp L has a 61-megapixel sensor, so it’s less useful for video (much faster) and better for photos and landscape shooting.

The lack of a proper grip and grip of the screen is a problem in these situations. Although small and lightweight compared to competing cameras (427 grams compared to 665 for the Sony A7R IV), it’s less comfortable to handle. The lack of a handle can easily fall off, even if it has a tank -like construction.

Another issue is a 61-megapixel sensor begging for heavy, high-quality glasses. For example, Sigma lent me a very good 35mm f / 1.2 GN DN Art lens and it weighed 1,090 grams or 2.4 pounds. Without a decent grip, it’s difficult to hold the camera and lens without a tripod or other support.

Steve Dent / Engadget

While the manual controls are small, I know that the height and back restrictions can control most of my exposure settings. However, the D-pad controls on the back dial are extremely sensitive. If I tried rotating it to adjust the ISO or other settings, I always turned the focus setting on incorrectly.

In fp L, Sigma introduces the EVF-11 external electronic viewfinder also available with original fp. It attaches to the side camera, which connects to the HDMI and USB-C ports.

It was hard to connect the EVF, because I had to wiggle the connectors on the ports and then turn it into a standard tripod type receiver, which had a lot to juggle. However, already connected, the 3.69 million dots offer decent resolution, color accuracy and refresh speeds It aspires to be up to 90 degrees, making it possible to use it for both regular and low-angle shooting.

As for the touchscreen, it’s reasonably bright and the color is accurate, but sadly it’s fixed so it doesn’t tilt or swivel. As a result, I find it hard to use for high and low angle shooting, especially for video.

The touch functionality is limited to select selection, like older Sony cameras. However, it is a bit laggy and not very appropriate for that purpose. Since it doesn’t have a joystick, though, you’re stuck with using either or the rear dial / D -pad – and the latter is a bit slow as well.

Sigma fp L full frame mirrorless hands-on camera

Steve Dent / Engadget

The menus aren’t very well designed, though it’s hard to tell at a glance whether you’re in the main or in the sub-menus. For that purpose, the quick menu can be your friend if you use this camera.

The performance is not ideal. The researches don’t sound bad, with blasts up to 10 fps, along with a new phase detector autofocus system that supports face and eye autofocus. However, despite the change in technology, the AF system did not easily lock in my subjects at most and often failed to keep track of moving subjects. As a result, I missed a lot of shots and a lot more that went unnoticed.

In any event, the lack of a mechanical shutter means that the firing of the shot is almost out of the question, as the rolling shutter on this camera is pretty bad. If you try to move a moving subject, you may get a lot of corners or distortions without using the shots. Lack of physical reinforcement doesn’t help, because it forces you to rely on lens reinforcement. And many of the L-Mount lenses you’ll want to use with this camera lack that look.

If you take subjects that don’t move very much (i.e. scenes or photos) fp L delivers in terms of image quality. The 61-megapixel sensor allows sharper photos than any other full-frame camera other than, of course, Sony’s A7R IV.

Gallery: Sigma fp L sample image gallery | 53 Photos

The colors and skin tones are clinically accurate, easily made warm or cool if necessary. As before, the fp L delivers multiple JPEGs directly without the camera and offers multiple designated color modes (natural, portrait, landscape, monochrome, etc.) eliminating the need for post-processing.

RAW DNG files can easily tweak the post if you need to remove highlights or shadows. Like the Sony A7R IV, it’s not as bad as you’d expect in low light considering the small pixels. In many cases, it’s better that you don’t reveal a bit and pull the shadows off the post.

The fp L has many specifications for video on paper, such as 4K 30p recording on 8-bit RAW DNG or H.264, or even 12-bit 4K RAW DNG recording if you hook up an SSD via USB-C port. However, the 61-megapixel sensor has a slower reading speed and about seven times more resolution than you need for 4K, making it a poor fit for video.

Sigma appears to use more than just skipping the line like Sony did with the A7R IV. That makes for very sharp video, but terrible shutter shutter because the sensor has a slow reading speed. There’s less of a rolling shutter when you export video to an external recorder via the mini-HDMI port, but then it switches to a line-skipping mode that delivers much smoother video.

In the right conditions (internal 12-bit RAW recording on an SSD without a lot of camera or subject movement), video quality should be stable. However, as such Gerald No more Focused, and as I see it myself, it seems like there may be decent dynamic coverage or good color accuracy, but not the same.

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