Important Video Features of the Sigma fp

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Camera sensor

What is it? The Sigma fp is the tiniest full frame camera that can shoot stills and video. It’s the size of an SSD, but thicker.

It is splash and dust proof, and has a heatsink behind the LCD so there’s no issue of overheating. It can record 4K RAW and also acts like a director’s viewfinder!

Design

The Sigma fp is a neat and compact package that only weighs 370 grams:

Top view

The sides have a pin each for the neck strap but that can be removed to reveal 1/4″ threads to mount the camera or accessories.

“Port” side
The “bare” side
The bottom

As you can see from the above images, the three 1/4″ threads are not aligned. Second, the record button is right on top, and the battery compartment is right at the bottom next to the 1/4″ tripod thread.

This means designing a cage for this camera is going to be tricky.

On the back is a touchscreen LCD – it’s fixed, so it might not be very practical for cinema use. But we have access to lots of controls through the buttons and dials.

The QS button allows us to access important video settings quickly, and it can be customized.

Here’s a cool video about the build quality and the heat sink:

The sensor

The sensor is a full frame Bayer sensor (not Foveon). Size – 35.9 mm x 23.10 mm. It’s not the same as a7III or Nikon Z6, unless someone is lying. The sizes and ISO ranges are different.

There is no anti-aliasing (AA, low pass) filter, so moire is something that definitely needs to be tested. It doesn’t have a mechanical shutter either, though Sigma claims rolling shutter artifacts are reduced to a minimum due to the high readout speed of the sensor.

Recording options

You get these options:

  • 3,840×2,160 (UHD 4K) in 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p; and
  • FHD (1,920 x 1,080) in 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 59.94p, 100p, 119.88p,

As of now it is not clear whether it’s 8-bit or 10-bit, or if it’s 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 internally. Sigma does stress the camera records CinemaDNG RAW externally, in 8/10/12-bit. It’s 12-bit in 23.976 fps and 10-bit in 25 and 29.97 fps.

It is also not clear if we can record RAW in 1080p mode.

The Sigma fp Writes to UHS II SD cards and USB 3.1 drives. Again, Sigma hasn’t clarified whether we can write RAW to SSD via USB 3.1. The UHS II cards are limited to 260 MB/s, and 12-bit 4K Cinema DNG RAW is about 285 MB/s in 23.976p. So definitely no RAW on SD Cards.

For your reference:

  • 11.9 MB/frame in 12-bit, 9.9 MB/frame in 10-bit.
  • 237 MB/s in 10-bit – will push the limits of UHS-II cards
  • 285 MB/s in 12-bit – not possible with UHS-II cards

Important caveat: You can’t playback Cinema DNG yet, but a firmware update is coming (Sigma is talking about firmware updates even before the camera has shipped). As far as I know, the Atomos Ninja Inferno can’t playback Cinema DNG either.

So the question is: Can we see what we’ve shot in the field?

The internal codec is H.264 in a .MOV wrapper. We can select ALL-I (intraframe) or GOP (interframe), probably 8-bit. The data rate hasn’t been published, though I would expect it to be greater than 400 Mbps for 4K.

For video output, the Sigma fp uses USB3.1 (GEN1), which allows a smooth data transmission to an external recording unit.

The Atomos Ninja Inferno is supported for Cinema DNG RAW. However, Atomos hasn’t tested or approved any SSD for 12-bit Cinema DNG work! The Sigma fp also supports the Atomos protocol so you can control recording from the Ninja Inferno.

The HDMI port is type D, version 1.4, so don’t get your hopes up about 4K 6p fps. It won’t come on this version.

Watch Sigma’s official video:

Color information

The Sigma fp has a maximum dynamic range of 12.5 stops in 12-bit cDNG mode.

There is no Log option. There is a “Cinema” setting but it is not Log mode. I don’t know about you, but I hate the “Teal and Orange” look.

Thankfully, you can customize these settings to find a preferable option for your work. There is no support for LUTs, so using an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja Inferno gives you those options.

Lastly, the camera has a mic port and audio levels, but no headphone jack. I’m mentioning it here because it seems predestined that the Sigma fp will really shine with an external recorder.

Battery life

1 hr 29 minutes as per the image on their page, though that could be wrong. It’s decent, and I hope it’s correct. That’s about 1000 photos in RAW plus JPG mode as well.

In order to use AC to power the camera you need to purchase an AC adapter. It includes a DC adapter that interfaces with the camera. The same adapter can be purchased separately to use V-mount battery solutions for longer run times.

If you’re using a Nijna Inferno then you will need a brick battery.

The battery can be charged via USB but not while the camera is on. That’s a shame, because you can’t use power banks to power the camera while in operation.

One battery is included in the kit, but no charger! I find that strange. You need to purchase additional batteries and a charger separately, as far as I could make out.

Video tools

Sigma hasn’t cut corners on important cinematography tools:

  • Focus peaking
  • Frame lines
  • Waveform
  • Audio levels
  • QS quick set you can customize buttons on the camera
  • Timecode
  • T-stop readings with Sigma cine lenses
  • Shutter angle display
  • Zebras
  • Electronic IS in both still and video mode
  • You can click stills while video is recording

Get the full Sigma fp specifications here.

Director’s viewfinder option

One of the cool features of the Sigma fp is its ability to be used as a director’s viewfinder.

For now, it only supports major cameras like the Arri Alexa series, Red DSMC2 cameras, Sony Venice, etc. There is one catch:

The Alexa LF and Red Monstro have sensors larger than the Sigma fp:

  • Red Monstro sensor : 40.96×21.60mm.
  • Arri LF sensor : 36.70 mm x 25.54 mm

This means if you’re shooting full frame you probably won’t be getting the correct image, but every other setting (and camera) should be fine. All you need is a PL to L adapter and you can use the PL lens of your choice as a viewfinder. Impressive.

I believe you can even record video in the Sigma fp in this mode, though details have yet to be confirmed by Sigma. I’ll probably buy this camera for this feature alone!

As far as I understand it, the Sigma fp is the future of cinema cameras. Small, with internal RAW recording and fully customizable. What do you think? Is the Sigma fp your next camera?

Exclusive Bonus: Click here to stay updated about new information, workflows and tips about the Sigma fp.

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