Is the Sigma fp a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K Killer?

This article is a comparison of the specifications of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) and the Sigma fp (Amazon, B&H).

If you’re interested in seeing a comparison between the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K, Panasonic GH5/GH5S and the Z CAM E2, click here.

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

Important: Some of the information is unverified. Some are just rumors. Don’t take this comparison seriously. Don’t take the prices or the specifications seriously either. For accurate information please consult manufacturers’ websites and data. Don’t take any decisions based on this comparison.

Why compare?

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) is supposed to be a “pocket” cinema camera, but it isn’t (unless you’re talking giant pockets). The Sigma fp is actually pocketable, and it has a full frame sensor.

At the time of writing the price of the Sigma fp hasn’t been announced, but I’d be surprised if it isn’t close to the BMPCC 4K. This would make it hard for filmmakers looking to purchase a low-budget cinema camera for their short film, feature film or web series.

Keep in mind, this is just a fun preliminary comparison based on available information. Let the comparisons begin!

The basics

Let’s start with the camera bodies:

CameraPrice of bodyWhat you getWarrantyNotes
BMPCC 4K$1,295DaVinci Resolve Studio ($299), AC Power supply, dust cap12Could have added a battery!
Sigma fp$??Battery BP-51, Strap and Holder, USB AC Adapter UAC-11, USB Cable, Hot Shoe Unit HU-11, Body Cap?One battery and only USB charger.

The Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) is definitely looking good here. Even if the Sigma fp has a few more accessories, you get the full version of Davinci Resolve ($299) with the BMPCC 4K.

But we’re just getting started.

Comparison of sensors

Here’s how the camera sensors compare:

CameraSensor Size (mm)Native Aspect RatioMaximum ResolutionISO RangeNotes
Pocket Camera 4K18.96 x 10 mm1.89:14096 x 2160Up to 25600 (Dual Native)UHD might be cropped to 17.7 x 10mm
Sigma fp35.9 x 23.10 mm1.55:13840 x 2160100-25600 

ISO-wise they are similar, though because the fp is a full frame camera it will be better in low light, just given the size of the photo sites. It’s too early to tell, though.

The Pocket Camera 4K has dual native ISO, though as I’ve shown in my tests it’s not worth much, so it doesn’t factor in this comparison.

There is also a rumor that the Sigma fp might crop in 4K mode. If this were true (not verified or confirmed by Sigma), the camera is still a Super35mm-sized sensor in 4K. For those looking to emulate the film look with cine lenses, this is still the better option.

What about frame rates? Here’s the data:

CameraMaximum frame rate at 4KMaximum frame rate at 1080pClaimed Dynamic RangeShutter
Pocket Camera 4K60 fps (12-bit)120 fps13 stopsRolling
Sigma fp23.976 fps (12-bit), 29.97 fps (10-bit)120 fps12.5 stopsRolling

The Blackmagic Pocket 4K has an advantage here, both in dynamic range as well as maximum frame rate in 4K. If high-speed shooting is important up to 60p, then this is your camera.

Comparison of video features

What kind of 4K do you get anyway?

CameraBest Recording Formats (4K)Max. Internal Data Rate (non-RAW)Max. RAW Data RateColor information
Pocket Camera 4KBlackmagic RAW Compressed 110 MB/s (Prores 422 HQ)**203/135 MB/s*RAW
Sigma fpH.264 (Internal)N/AN/AN/A
Cinema DNG (External)N/A**285 MB/s^RAW
  • *In Q0/3:1. For most people 3:1 should be great, and many shoot in 5:1 or even higher.
  • **Sigma hasn’t completely clarified if internal RAW will be an option in the future
  • ^In 12-bit 23.976 fps

The Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) definitely has the most versatile codecs – both RAW and Prores. Cinema DNG is an open standard, but is hard to deal with due to lack of support on many NLEs and file sizes.

Comparison of media

Next let’s talk about media:

CameraDual Card Slots?Media for 4KMarket price per GB (128 GB / 250 GB SSD)Price per hour of 4K 24p RAWNotes
Pocket Camera 4KOne of eachCFAST 2.0, SSD via USB-C$1.81 ($0.38 for SSD)$859 ($190)Cheap to shoot RAW, SSDs are cheaper, but unwieldy and not as reliable. USB-C isn’t a strong connector.
Sigma fpNoSD Card UHS-II, SSD via USB-C$0.31 ($0.38 for SSD)N/A ($382)You can’t record cinema DNG to SD cards, because the speeds are too high. Sigma hasn’t clarified what is possible with SSDs.

CFast 2.0 is a lot more expensive than SDXC UHS-II. But, because of compressed RAW, it works out to be a viable option for those who don’t want to rely on external SSDs like the Samsung T5. If you are willing to go to lower data rates, you should be able to record RAW on to SD Cards (UHS-II) as well.

Comparison of audio features

Here’s a look at the audio features:

Camera3.5mm TRS headphone jackMicrophone inputsChannelsAudio levelsNotes
Pocket Camera 4KYesMin XLR, TRS2chYesYou need an adapter for XLR
Sigma fpNoTRS2chYes 

The Pocket Camera 4K definitely looks good here, with its Mini XLR input with Phantom Power. You do need an adapter (B&H) to convert to XLR but it’s a small expense.

And of course, it has a headphone jack as well. Both cameras have timecode.

The little things

The little things make all the difference. In addition to the little things, there are the ‘littler’ things – the stuff you only learn about after having used a camera for a while. At this stage the littler things will have to wait, and we’ll focus on the little things, which are:

  • Ergonomics, toughness and usability
  • Video ports
  • Viewfinder and Monitor
  • Size and Weight
  • Focus and Exposure tools

Here’s how these cameras compare on ergonomics:

CameraVolume cubic inchesWeight (body only)Mounting PointsNotes
Pocket Camera 4K89.2722gOne 1/4-20Fan makes a sound
Sigma fp21.8370gTwo 1/4-20Fully silent

The Pocket Camera 4K is larger in volume, has a fan, isn’t dust or splash proof, and is heavier by a long mile. Its size is more high-end DSLR territory.

The Sigma fp (Amazon, B&H) is just a box. You need a cage or a grip attached to the 1/4-20″ threads to hold it.

That’s not all:

CameraSDIHDMIViewfinderMonitorFocus
Pocket Camera 4KNoHDMI Type ANo5″Peaking, Touch AF
Sigma fpNoHDMI Type DNo3″Peaking, AF unknown

Neither camera has a viewfinder. The Pocket camera has a bigger monitor.

Regarding exposure tools:

CameraWaveformHistogramZebraFalse Color3D LUTs
Pocket Camera 4KNoYesYesYesYes
Sigma fpYesYesYesNoNo

The Sigma fp has a waveform monitor, but the BMPCC 4K makes up for it with False color and 3D LUTs.

Battery life and Power

All the features in the world are useless if you have to hire a donkey to carry your batteries:

CameraBattery TypeBattery life^Cost of one batteryCost per 4 hours of battery lifeExternal connector
Pocket Camera 4KCanon LP-E660 minutes$64.00$256.0012V LEMO
Sigma fpSigma BP-5190 minutes?*$40.00$107.00*DC Connector CN-21

*This is based on the assumption the battery life is 90 minutes. It could be totally wrong. Either way, both cameras require external power sources for real-world cinema work. It’s not fun to carry around multiple batteries and worry about charging them every night.

Which is cheaper to own?

Since we don’t know the prices let’s skip this section. It’s just a placeholder for when the information is really available.

CameraPriceMedia per hourBattery for 8 hours?Side GripTotal (Rounded)
Pocket Camera 4K$1,295$??$??$??$0$??
Sigma fp$??$??$??$??$??$??

Conclusion

A recap:

FeatureWinner
Sensor and ISOTie until I test the Sigma fp in a real world situation
Video featuresBlackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K
Codecs and ColorBlackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K
LensesTie
MediaBlackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K
AudioBlackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K
ErgonomicsSigma fp
Ports and MonitoringBlackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K
PowerSigma fp
Most value for moneyCan’t say, but if I were to guess I’d say the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K

Before we take our final decision, we’ll let the cameras tell us what they offer that the others don’t:

CameraFinal PriceUSPsCons
Pocket Camera 4K$1,807Cheap, RAW recording, Prores, XLR input.Poor battery life, fan, not a pocket camera, unreliable camera based on my own personal review.
Sigma fp$??Modular, full frame and S35, Director’s Viewfinder mode.Uncompressed RAW, H.264 internal codec, low frame rates in 4K, No support for LUTs.

Check out some important features of the Sigma fp (Amazon, B&H):

And here’s my review of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H):

Bottom line

The Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) is a great option – if the camera works. The value is unmistakable and quite clear.

There are only two reasons one would consider the Sigma fp (Amazon, B&H):

  1. If you want full frame RAW (still not confirmed if there’s a crop in 4K) or Super 35mm RAW.
  2. The director’s viewfinder mode (which is what I find most attractive about this camera!)

For everything else, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera 4K (Amazon, B&H) is the clear winner of this comparison. One would be stupid not to at least give this camera a shot before the Sigma fp.

Exclusive Bonus: Download 4 cinematic LUTs for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and 4K, for free.