Smallest Full-Frame camera pairs with excellent lens: Sigma fp
The full-frame 24.6-megapixel, 4K UHD-capable Sigma fp caused a stir when it was introduced last year. Measuring slightly less than 4.5×2.75×1.785 inches and weighing a scant 13 ounces, the camera is packed with a lot of image-making power. Part of that power is its compatibility with a vast array of excellent glass. The fp uses L-mount lenses, of which there are 47 at the time of this writing. An optional Sigma MC-21 adapter allows photographers to use a wide range of Canon EF-mount lenses as well, and a newly announced MC-31 converter will allow users to adapt PL-mount cine lenses to the fp and other L-mount cameras.
It’s clear that Sigma’s designers put a lot of thought into how photographers and filmmakers can maximize the fp’s minimalist, bricklike design. All 15 physical controls are clearly marked and separated. A locking door in the camera’s base protects the single SD-type media slot and battery. The design lacks a hot shoe and an electronic viewfinder, but more on those aspects later.
With only 15 physical controls (five on top, five on the right side of the back panel, and five recessed along the bottom of the back panel), several serve multiple functions. It’s worth spending an hour or so learning to use them to set up the camera for different workflows and getting used to which do what in various shooting modes. The spring-loaded buttons and two control wheels feel good, and the sliding power and cine/still mode switches lock firmly into position. A large, touch-sensitive high-resolution LCD monitor dominates the camera’s backside and is cooled by vents on three sides. Rubber doors on the left side of the body conceal a USB-C port, a multi-function connection, a micro-HDMI port, and a 3/8-inch microphone jack. There are three 1/4“-20 threaded sockets, one on each side of the camera and one on the bottom.
The big idea behind the small body is to use it as a foundation for building up the camera for the user’s intended purpose. Image quality, when paired with Sigma, Leica, or Panasonic L-mount lenses, is exceptional. The camera is not without its operational quirks, but once you learn how to use it, it’s quite fun.
As a still camera, the fp has some notable limitations. The maximum sync speed for flash is 1/30 second, and if you choose the 14-bit raw mode, max sync speed drops down to 1/15 second. There is no hot shoe or PC-type sync connection, so you must use the supplied Hot Shoe Unit HU-11, which also doubles as a locking device for an HDMI cable.
There’s no electronic viewfinder, not even an optional one. Sigma offers a $292 LCD viewfinder, which covers the camera’s LCD screen and provides 2.5X magnification, but it more than doubles the size of the camera. Finally, because there’s no right-side grip I kept accidentally changing the setting on the rear control wheel, which controls exposure biasing in most exposure modes in its default setting.
• Small size is easy to adapt for many uses
• Simple control placement
• Rugged body
• Precise autofocus
• Image quality for both 4K and still photography
• Excellent ultra-high ISO signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range
• Support for L-mount and PL-mount cine lenses
• Native DNG 12-bit and 14-bit raw format option
• Low X-sync
• Flash use requires mounting an accessory
(included with the camera)
• No EVF option
• Monitor does not tilt or pivot
• Battery life not as long as desired