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Sigma fp L preliminary evaluate: Digital Pictures Assessment


Product photographs by Dan Bracaglia

Up to date July 15, 2021 with video quality analysis

The Sigma fp L is a high-resolution growth of the corporate’s compact full-frame interchangeable lens digicam. It beneficial properties a 61MP BSI CMOS sensor, offering a extra stills-focused platform than the unique fp 24MP L-mount mirrorless digicam.

Reasonably than current classes of cameras, Sigma says it is aimed to make a user-oriented digicam that is designed to be versatile, adaptable and enjoyable to make use of. The fp L definitely is not readily akin to different current fashions, however it’s the smallest and lightest full-frame interchangeable lens digicam available on the market.



Alongside the fp L (actually and figuratively) Sigma has crafted an add-on viewfinder. The EVF-11 connects to the digicam’s USB and HDMI ports and supplies a big, tilting 3.69M dot show. Extra on this, later.

Key Specs:

  • 61MP BSI-CMOS full-frame sensor
  • On-sensor section detection
  • Eye-detect autofocus
  • Compact physique with twin management dials
  • Devoted Stills/Cine swap
  • Full-time silent digital shutter
  • 8-bit UHD 4K/30p video in MOV or CinemaDNG
  • 4K output as as much as 12-bit CinemaDNG to SSD, or Uncooked to exterior recorder

The Sigma fp L shall be out there in mid-April with an inventory value of $2499. A equipment together with the EVF-11 viewfinder will retail for round $2999.


What’s new

Part detection autofocus

The fp L additionally beneficial properties on-sensor section detection autofocus, which the fp lacked. As with all section detection methods, this permits the digicam to calculate how out-of-focus it’s, and therefore how far it must drive the main focus. This know-how underpins among the quickest and most dependable AF methods we have encountered from different producers, however is not a assure of both of this stuff. The Sigma fp L we’re utilizing just isn’t but ultimate, however focus definitely appears improved over the unique fp mannequin, displaying barely sooner and extra decisive focusing, particularly with smaller AF factors (although there’s nonetheless a little bit wobble/looking at occasions).

The fp L is the primary Sigma digicam to supply eye-detection AF
Panasonic Lumix 85mm F1.8 | F2.2 | 1/100 sec | ISO 800
Processed in ACR: WB warmed, publicity, highlights and blacks diminished
Photograph: Erin Carey

The fp L additionally provides eye-detection autofocus, to assist obtain good focus when taking pictures portraits and social photographs. Our preliminary impressions are constructive, with the Sigma detecting eyes even after they’re small within the body.

The fp L additionally has a topic monitoring AF system, which works inside a 7×7 rectangular grid of focus factors. We have not tried it for something critical but, however from our restricted use to date, it appears to work.

Crop zoom

One of many primary methods the fp L makes use of its excessive pixel depend sensor is with its crop zoom mode. This supplies a sequence of crops from the sensor to offer a tighter angle of view (successfully digital zoom, in the event you then view on the similar dimension).

You possibly can set the utmost and minimal area of the sensor the digicam will use, from full-frame all the way in which right down to a ‘Full HD’ (1920 horizontal pixel) crop. These are indicated as 1.0 to five.0x crops, which take you (for instance) from a 24mm discipline of view as much as round a 153mm equal, if in case you have a 24mm lens hooked up.

Naturally, as you crop in, you employ progressively smaller elements of the sensor and, if blown as much as the identical dimension, you may pay an rising value when it comes to noise for doing so, in addition to decreased decision. Our calculations recommend that the utmost 5.0x zoom shall be utilizing a sensor area across the dimension of a conventional compact digicam with 2.4MP decision, so it is price contemplating the place to set your limits, and whether or not you’d desire to crop in publish.

New coloration modes

Sigma has added two additional coloration modes to the fp L: Duotone and Energy Blue. Duotone imposes certainly one of ten contrasting coloration gradients on the picture, whereas Energy Blue provides a cool, pale tint to the pictures.

These further modes imply there are actually 15 coloration profiles. And, as long as you are taking pictures DNG information, there’s an in-camera conversion choice to allow you to experiment with different coloration profiles, after the very fact.

Composite Low ISO Enlargement

Maybe fittingly for a digicam that is prone to lend itself nicely to panorama taking pictures, the fp L has a sequence of composite Low ISO settings. These take a sequence of exposures and mix them to present the impact of longer, decrease ISO taking pictures. There isn’t any movement correction between frames, so you may want a gradual tripod, but it surely opens up the choice of utilizing exposures all the way in which right down to the equal of ISO 6.

Film seize

On the film facet of issues, the fp L is well-equipped. It might seize 8-bit MOV or 8-bit CinemaDNG information internally, with resolutions extending as much as UHD 4K at as much as 30p. It is one of many few cameras to shoot true 24p video, in addition to having a 23.97p choice.

The quantity of care and a spotlight that Sigma has given to video within the fp L is spectacular. Alongside focus peaking and zebras, which have turn out to be fairly customary, the fp L additionally has a waveform show, to assist assess publicity. Moreover, it provides the flexibility to regulate publicity when it comes to shutter angle, somewhat than simply shutter pace.

The fp L additionally provides its Crop Zoom perform in video mode, letting you shoot 4K in any of 19 crops from the total width of the sensor all the way in which right down to a local 3840 x 2160 area (round a 2.5x crop).

Just like the fp, the place the fp L actually comes into its personal when it comes to video is once you connect exterior gadgets to it. If you happen to join an exterior SSD you possibly can output 10 or 12-bit CinemaDNG Uncooked video. Alternatively, you possibly can output a Uncooked video stream over HDMI that may be encoded as both ProRes RAW or Blackmagic Uncooked, relying on the exterior recorder you join (although this seems to be much less detailed than the CinemaDNG footage). Even in the event you do not need to go down the Uncooked video taking pictures route, HDMI output additionally unlocks the choice to output DCI 4K video (the broader, 4096 x 2160 format).

The fp L additionally expands the variety of side ratios out there within the ‘Director’s Viewfinder’ mode, used to simulate the protection that numerous digicam methods and their modes will give, have been you to make use of the identical lens on these cameras. This enables using the fp L as a way of previewing framing for administrators utilizing the Sigma alongside professional cinema cameras from Arri, Purple or Sony.

Elective EVF-11 viewfinder

The EVF-11 (to not be confused with the LVF-11 loupe-style magnifier for the LCD display screen) is an digital viewfinder that screws into the facet of the fp L’s physique. It requires you to take away the HDMI port cowl and maintain the USB port door open, then plugs into each ports as you screw it on.

It supplies a 3.69M-dot OLED finder with a big, comfy eyepiece cushion, and it tilts upward at as much as 90 levels. On the facet of the finder is a big LCD/EVF swap, which does precisely what you may count on (there isn’t any sensor to auto-switch as you deliver the digicam to your eye).

Just under this swap is a 1/4-20 (tripod-style) mounting level, which can be utilized to connect a digicam strap and beneath this are a headphone socket and USB-C passthrough which means you possibly can proceed to output knowledge to an exterior SSD. Nevertheless, there isn’t any HDMI pass-through. The microphone enter stays out there for the reason that EVF doesn’t block it.

The rear display screen of the digicam continues to function as an AF touchpad once you’re utilizing the finder. It makes use of absolute, somewhat than relative, positioning so you may must faucet within the high left nook of the display screen to place the AF level on the high left (somewhat than swiping, relative to the purpose’s present place).

The viewfinder will value $699 if bought by itself, however solely provides $500 to the price of the digicam when purchased as a equipment.

Battery

The fp L makes use of the identical BP-51 battery as the unique fp. It is a 8.7Wh unit that Sigma charges as being good for 240 photographs per cost. This is not lots, particularly in the event you’re taking pictures video, however fortunately, the fp L could be operated and charged utilizing energy over its USB-C connector. This enables use for prolonged intervals in the event you use an exterior energy supply, whether or not that is for taking pictures video or utilizing it as a webcam.

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The way it compares…

The fp L is a little bit troublesome to match to the rest. With no mechanical shutter its excessive decision however sluggish readout sensor finally ends up being a little bit limiting when it comes to what you possibly can shoot with it (synthetic lighting dangers banding and any important motion shall be distorted by the rolling shutter impact). These similar elements additionally depend towards it when it comes to its video, even relative to its 24MP sibling.

That mentioned, it is comfortably the smallest, lightest full-frame digicam available on the market, and priced decrease than different cameras with such excessive decision output. In conditions the place that is priceless, there’s nothing prefer it.

Sigma fp L Sony a7R IV Sigma fp Sony a7C
MSRP at launch $2499
($2999 w/ EVF)
$3499 $1899 $1799
Pixel depend 61MP 61MP 24MP 24MP
Auto focus Hybrid Hybrid Distinction-detection Hybrid
Shutter sort
  • Mechanical
  • Elec 1st Curtain
  • E-shutter
  • Elec 1st Curtain
  • E-shutter
Picture Stabilization Lens solely Sure Lens solely Sure
Viewfinder Elective
3.69M-dot OLED, tilting
0.83x magazine.
5.76M-dot OLED fastened
0.78x magazine.
Elective
3.69M-dot OLED, tilting
0.83x magazine.
2.36M-dot OLED fastened
0.59x
3.2″ 2.1M dot fastened 3″ 1.44M-dot tilting 3.2″ 2.1M dot fastened 3″ 1.44M-dot tilting
Video inside UHD 4K/30p
FF to 1:1 in 19 steps. 8-bit gamma encoded or Cinema DNG
UHD 4K/30p
FF or S35
8-bit gamma encoded
UHD 4K/30p
FF or S35.
8-bit gamma encoded or Cinema DNG
UHD 4K/24p
FF, 30p with 1.2x crop
8-bit gamma encoded
Video exterior DCI 4K/24p
As much as 12-bit CinemaDNG
or Uncooked out to ext. recorder
UHD 4K/30p
4:2:2 8-bit gamma encoded
DCI 4K/24p
As much as 12-bit CinemaDNG
or Uncooked out to ext. recorder
UHD 4K/24p
4:2:2 8-bit gamma encoded
Battery score
LCD/EVF
240/- photographs 670/530 photographs 280/- photographs 740 / 680 photographs
Dimensions

113 x 70 x 45 mm

129 x 96 x 78 mm 113 x 70 x 45 mm 124 x 71 x 59 mm
(with finder) 157 x 92 x 56 mm 157 x 92 x 56 mm
Weight 427g (15.1oz) 665g (23.5oz) 422g (14.9oz) 509g (18.0oz)

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Physique and dealing with

The fp L has the identical diminutive physique as its sister mannequin. It is a pretty easy box-shaped design onto which you’ll connect totally different equipment, relying on what you are attempting to realize. The brand new viewfinder module considerably will increase the out there choices.

The design makes numerous use of a big command dial that encircles the shutter button, a second dial on the rear of the digicam and the QS, AEL and Menu buttons above and beneath it.

The QS menu is a user-customizable fast menu that is navigated by urgent the cardinal factors of the rear dial/four-way controller, with settings being modified by turning both dial.

The menus are a somewhat Canon-style affair with pages organized in horizontal tabs. Navigating them additionally makes use of Canon logic: primary dial jumps between tabs and the rear dial scrolls up and down. This begins to interrupt down a little bit as a number of menu choice have their very own sub-menus which can be very visually much like the top-level menu (they nonetheless present your place in the primary menu construction though you are off in a sub-menu that it’s essential hit ‘Menu’ to again out of).

However, as soon as you have overcome the sometimes fiddly button/dial interactions (when unsure, strive hitting AEL to see if there are extra choices), the fp L is stuffed with well-thought-out little touches. For example, video mode not solely provides a (tiny) waveform show, it additionally helps you to specify publicity when it comes to shutter angle. Equally there is a good Auto ISO implementation with an ‘auto’ shutter pace threshold that takes focal size into consideration and could be adjusted to make use of sooner or slower multiples of focal size.

No producer that allows you to pause stay view to regulate the spotlight and shadow response of the tone curve in certainly one of its cameras could be accused of missing consideration to element. However a little bit extra considered tips on how to get to all these choices would assist. For example, you possibly can’t assign Auto ISO shutter pace threshold to a button, with the outcome that it takes between six and eleven button presses to entry that perform.

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Preliminary impressions

The Sigma fp L definitely does not match into any apparent product class. It is not a wannabe DSLR for panorama shooters however, with its 61MP sensor, neither is it clearly the video/nonetheless module that the 24MP fp could be.

You possibly can’t fault the fp L for its stage of element seize.
Panasonic Lumix 85mm F1.8 | F8 | 1/160 sec | ISO 100
Picture processed in ACR: straightened and cropped, highlights lifted, shadows diminished.
Photograph: Richard Butler

That the 61MP sensor is not as nicely suited to video as the present 24MP chip simply attracts consideration to the digicam’s lack of mechanical shutter. The sensor reads out very slowly (round 1/tenth of a second in stills mode), which suggests the outcomes are very vulnerable to rolling shutter. This finally ends up having an impression on numerous what you may need to do with the digicam and is prone to find yourself limiting the methods wherein the fp L can be utilized (you may see a LOT of banding at quick shutter speeds below any synthetic mild).

The viewfinder module provides lots to the fp L’s utility, making it far more useable in vivid mild, particularly given the fastened rear display screen. The addition of a headphone socket makes it much more usable, and it is good to see the USB pass-through port which means you possibly can nonetheless document CinemaDNG video to an exterior SSD.

Including the EVF-11 viewfinder provides the digicam a headphone socket, however takes up the HDMI port and stops you charging the digicam over USB.

Nevertheless, this USB passthrough does not work for charging or powering the digicam, because the one on the digicam’s physique does. Given the digicam’s somewhat restricted battery life, this could possibly be an issue. Additionally irritating, the EVF-11 fills the HDMI port, which suggests you possibly can’t use an exterior recorder in the event you desire ProRes RAW or Blackmagic Uncooked output however nonetheless need to monitor audio utilizing the headphone socket the EVF-11 supplies.

It is good to see that the digicam’s rear display screen nonetheless works as a touchpad once you’re trying via the viewfinder, but it surely was an actual shock to acknowledge how a lot I’ve turn out to be accustomed to eye sensors to activate the viewfinder. Taking pictures with the fp L left me feeling like I used to be spending half of my time manually switching backwards and forwards between EVF and LCD. Just like the menu system, I am hoping that is one thing I am going to adapt to as soon as I’ve spent extra time with the digicam.

Do not get your hopes up about that ‘HDMI’ port door. It is simply the storage recess for the port door from the digicam physique: there’s nothing behind it.

General, the Sigma fp L is an interesting digicam, stuffed with intelligent concepts, however I can not truthfully say I do know who or what it is for, but. I am hoping this can turn out to be clearer as we spend extra time taking pictures with it, however for now, I am unsure such a sluggish sensor is smart on this digicam.

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Picture high quality

Our test scene is designed to simulate quite a lot of textures, colours and element varieties you may encounter in the actual world. It additionally has two illumination modes to see the impact of various lighting circumstances.

Uncooked

We have put the Sigma fp L up subsequent to the Sony a7R IV in the beginning, since they share an identical sensor design and backbone of 61MP. At first look, the Sigma seems to be simply barely softer than the Sony, although trying intently reveals related ranges of wonderful element. MTF analyses of slanted edges in our scene revealed that this distinction is probably going because of a reasonably robust anti-aliasing filter Sigma has chosen to incorporate on the fp L (Sony has left it off in its a7R IV). For reference, an anti-aliasing filter helps suppress moiré, whereas leaving one out ends in a rise in perceived sharpness, on the potential value of artifacts. (It is price noting that the Canon EOS R5 has an anti-aliasing filter whereas the Nikon Z7 II foregoes one.)

Certainly, after we take a look at areas the place moiré could be problematic, we will see the Sigma controls it a little bit higher than the Sony does. General, the Sigma fp L provides you loads of element and the information ought to reply nicely to a bit of additional sharpening do you have to so want.

At greater ISO values, the Sigma continues to carry out nicely, and really exhibits much less noise than the Sony and related noise ranges to the Nikon by ISO 51200. The very highest setting ought to actually be reserved for emergencies, as with all the opposite cameras right here. Nevertheless, the Sigma does present some banding (seen alongside the correct fringe of the total check chart), as a result of interplay of its full-time digital shutter and the tungsten mild we use for this check.

JPEG

Switching over to JPEG, we will see that the default sharpening is not terribly robust or significantly wonderful, although the best traces of textual content are nonetheless simply readable. The sharpening additionally seems to be to be pretty large-radius, which obscures among the most interesting element upon shut inspection however could give pictures a bit extra ‘punch’ at extra customary viewing sizes.

JPEG coloration is a bit combined. We just like the deep yellows and heat greens, however the crimson patch is a bit too magenta-shifted for our tastes, and the caucasian-skin coloured patch at high left skews a bit purple.

Crank up the ISO in JPEG and the Sigma places up an ideal displaying; color-bleed is nicely managed, and a really spectacular quantity of wonderful element and texture is retained. Even low-contrast element seems to be good, although among the noise discount artifacts could look a little bit synthetic. On the draw back, the common auto white steadiness below tungsten mild turns the whole lot a bit sickly, so take into account attempting Auto (Lighting Supply Precedence), or selecting an acceptable customized white steadiness as mild ranges drop.

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Video

The Sigma fp L’s greater pixel depend makes it a much less apparent video digicam than the 24MP fp sister mannequin, however each fashions share the identical ergonomics and outstanding Stills/Film swap on their high plates.

And, regardless of its 61MP chip not being a pure match for quick video readout, the digicam’s specs are attention-grabbing and spectacular: inside (8-bit) Cinema DNG seize or output of 10 or 12-bit CinemaDNG to an SSD over USB. On high of this there’s the choice to output a Uncooked stream over HDMI that may be encoded as ProRes RAW in the event you join an Atomos recorder, or BRaw in the event you use a Blackmagic Video Help. Add to this the digicam’s compact modular design and its video credentials look surprisingly robust.

The very first thing to notice is that the Sigma seems to have much less refined moire-suppressing processing than Sony’s a7R IV, which makes use of a sensor with the identical pixel depend. The Sony footage seems to reduce aliasing by blurring excessive frequency patterns.

Taking pictures a goal as detailed as our studio scene instantly reveals the digicam makes use of two totally different readout modes: a excessive decision one for its internally-processed (MOV) footage and its 10-bit CinemaDNG seize, and a line-skipped one for its 12-bit Uncooked modes, each inside and exterior. The rolling shutter figures trace at why that is the case: the MOV and 10-bit video takes round 37ms to learn out, which ends up in pretty extreme rolling shutter. A shift to a slower 12-bit readout mode would make this even worse, so as a substitute the digicam goes to a line-skipping mode, which provides much less element however reduces rolling shutter to round 21ms.

Be aware that the CinemaDNG information embody metadata describing a default processing technique, which means that the outcomes look extra ‘completed’ than the ProRes RAW model, which begins with minimal noise discount, sharpening or coloration grading.

Attempting to regulate the information helps the concept the 10-bit Uncooked footage (and really in all probability the MOV footage) is taken from 10-bit sensor readout: there’s a lot much less usable dynamic vary within the shadows than within the 12-bit information, which means that you’ve a lot much less scope for making tonal changes.

Crop displaying 1/3EV steps, six, seven and eight stops beneath clipping. Even on this vary, which you will nicely need to use in your video, the noise from lack of bit-depth is changing into seen within the 10-bit CinemaDNG file (high)

Finally, then, you’ve got the selection of upper element however much less DR and important rolling shutter within the digicam’s 10-bit mode or low element footage with first rate DR and well-controlled rolling shutter from the line-skipped 12-bit mode. Each signify important compromises, which level to the 24MP fp being the higher general selection for video shooters.

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Pattern galleries

Please don’t reproduce any of those pictures with out prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals out there for personal customers to obtain to their very own machines for private examination or printing (together with this evaluate).

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