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Hands on: Sigma fp L review

The Sigma fp L continues with the same tiny camera body, but now packs a huge punch with a 61MP full-frame sensor.

Sigma fp L
(Image: © Usman Dawood)

Our Verdict

The Sigma fp L offers a huge upgrade in resolution for photographers. The 61MP sensor produces highly detailed results that may prove to be quite enticing. If image quality is a priority, then the Sigma fp L can rival flagship cameras from competing manufacturers. However, the design of this camera may divide opinions. The Sigma fp L continues with the tiny form factor of its predecessor – it is quite literally pocketable. The compact size may offer some big advantages for photographers that wish to shoot with an incredibly portable camera. The ergonomics of the Sigma fp L could be an issue for some, though accessories such as the screw-on grip may improve the experience. Overall, the compact design and high-resolution sensor makes this quite a unique product. It may even allow photographers to shoot in new and creative ways. For videographers, it doesn’t offer a great deal over the original Sigma fp – other than the ability to shoot higher resolution time lapses.

For

  • High resolution sensor
  • Size and weight
  • Great image quality

Against

  • Single SD card slot
  • Uncomfortable in the hand
  • Autofocus is unreliable

The Sigma fp L is probably one of the most unique high-resolution cameras on the market. It is a tiny camera that packs a mighty punch. Its 61 MP sensor makes it one of the highest resolution full-frame cameras you can get. The only other camera to match this is the Sony A7R IV, but with a price tag of almost $3,000, the Sony is considerably more expensive. 

The Sigma fp L continues with the same body and design as the original Sigma fp. The majority of features in the new model remain identical with just a slight downgrade to the video features. The Sigma fp L now has a 1.67x crop factor when filming in 1080p at 100 and 119.88 frames per second (FPS). 

The biggest talking point of the new model is bound to be the higher-resolution sensor. With this change, the Sigma fp L seems to be leaning more towards photographers as opposed to videographers. The handling and design however remain identical, which does put the new camera in somewhat of an awkward place – more on this below.

The main benefit of the 61 MP sensor is that this camera has the potential to produce incredible image quality. This is especially the case when you couple it with one of the high-end L-mount lenses such as the Leica Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4. The downside to these types of lenses is that the camera will become very front heavy due and potentially uncomfortable to handle. Fortunately, Sigma has also produced a number of compact prime lenses such as the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN. Because of this, the Sigma fp L offers a great deal of flexibility between image quality and portability. 

(Image credit: Usman Dawood)

Specifications

Sensor: 61 MP full-frame (35.9mm×23.9mm) back-illuminated CMOS
Color filter System: RGB Primary color filter
Lens mount: L-Mount
Storage media: SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card (UHS-Ⅱ supported) / Portable SSD (USB 3.0 connection, USB bus power supported
Still image file formats: Lossless compressed RAW (DNG) (12 or 14 bit), JPEG, RAW+JPEG
Image aspect ratios: 21:9, 16:9, 3:2, 2:1, 4:3, 7:6, 1:1
Color space: sRGB / Adobe RGB 
Movie Recording Format (internal): CinemaDNG (8bit / 10bit / 12bit) / MOV:H.264 (ALL-I / GOP)
Audio format: Linear PCM (2ch 48kHz /16bit)
Recording pixels / Frame rate: 3,840×2,160 (UHD 4K) /23.98p, 25p,29.97p, FHD(1,920x1,080) /23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 59.94p, 100p*, 119.88p*
HDMI External Output Movie Format: HDMI Loop out External recorder: ATOMOS Ninja Inferno, Blackmagic Video Assist 4K supported
Audio format: Linear PCM(2ch 48kHz /16bit)
Recording Pixels / Frame Rate: 3,840×2,160 (UHD 4K) / 4:2:2 8bit 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p FHD (1,920x1,080) / 4:2:2 8bit 119.88p / 100p / 59.94p / 50p / 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p
Focus: Hybrid AF system (contrast and phase detection), Single AF, Continuous AF (with moving object prediction function), Manual Focus 
AF modes: Auto, 49-points selection mode, Free Movement mode, Face / Eye Detection AF mode, Tracking AF mode 
Metering System: Evaluative, Spot, Center Weighted Average Control
Still Image Shooting modes: (P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible), (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE, (A) Aperture Priority AE, (M) Manual
Movie shooting modes: (P) Program AE, (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE, (A) Aperture Priority AE, (M) Manual
ISO range: 100-25600 (expandable options:. ISO6,12, 25, 50, 51200, and 102400)
Image stabilization: Electronic system
Shutter type: Electronic shutter, 30 to 1/8,000 sec, Bulb
Drive modes: Single shooting, Continuous shooting, Self-timer, Interval shooting 
Continuous shooting speed: Hi: 18 fps (up to 12 shots), Med:5 fps (12 shots), Low: 3 fps (24 shots)
Monitor: TFT color LCD monitor Aspect Ratio 3:2, 3.15", Approx. 2,100,000 dots
Color mode: 12 types (Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Cinema, Teal & Orange, Sunset Red, Forest Green, FOV Classic Blue, FOV Classic Yellow, Powder Blue, Monochrome)
Interface: USB3.1 GEN1 Type C, HDMI Type D (Ver.1.4), Release Terminal – also used as an external microphone terminal, Headphone output
Li-ion battery:  BP-51, USB power supply available (when the power is turned off)
Dimensions: 112.6×69.9×45.3mm,
Weight:  422g (including battery and SD card), 370g (body only) 

Build and handling

(Image credit: Usman Dawood)

As mentioned above, the handling and design of the Sigma fp L is identical to the previous model. The Sigma fp was intended to be more of a core to a camera system. This works well for videographers that build custom systems that are specific to certain requirements. The Sigma fp L however, leans more towards photographers and in general, photographers don’t build camera rigs. 

On that basis, the ergonomics and handling of this camera are uncomfortable to say the least. The rectangular design is completely without a front grip and the bottom corner of the camera will dig into your palm. The grip attachment accessory from Sigma helps for finger placement on the front of the camera, but the overall experience is still uncomfortable. 

(Image credit: Usman Dawood)

Having said that, the camera does manage to offer a plethora of buttons on its tiny body. For instance, you can quickly access color profiles at the press of a button, or you can access frequent settings such as ISO, white balance, and shutter speed using the “QS” button on the back of the camera. Despite the camera being so incredibly small, it still manages to offer a sufficient number of buttons and dials. 

Performance

Sigma fp L sample image. (Image credit: Usman Dawood)

Sigma fp L sample image. (Image credit: Usman Dawood)

Sigma fp L sample image. (Image credit: Usman Dawood)

The full-frame sensor in the Sigma fp L produces 61MP files. This is remarkable because the only other camera on the market with that kind of resolution is the Sony A7R IV. To have that kind of quality in such a tiny camera is incredible. Not to mention the fact that this is an L-mount, interchangeable lens camera, which grants a great deal of flexibility when it comes to lens choice. 

Images from the Sigma fp L are highly detailed and offer lots of flexibility. Color profiles in the camera such as the new Power Blue filter help to produce interesting and creative results. These profiles are only baked into the JPEGs meaning you still have full control over your raw files. 

The biggest performance issue with this camera is autofocus. In many instances, the camera would get confused with what to focus on. Even when a subject would completely fill the frame, the Sigma fp L would occasionally fail to focus. This can be frustrating at times and meant that a fixed focus point was almost a requirement. 

Other than issues relating to autofocus this camera performs admirably and it’s mostly through the brute force of resolution. 

These are early conclusions and we will add more detail and samples in our full review, to follow.

Early verdict

(Image credit: Usman Dawood)

The Sigma fp L is possibly one of the most interesting new cameras to hit the market. It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable and the camera body is seemingly designed for videographers, whereas key features such as the 61 MP sensor are more beneficial for photographers. Due to this, there is somewhat of a disconnect. However, if you can get past some of the quirks and ergonomic issues, this camera could offer something incredible. 

The tiny form factor potentially makes it the most portable full-frame camera for photographers. What is even more incredible is that Sigma has managed to combine this portability with the highest resolution full-frame sensor currently on the market. It is almost mind blowing to see something so small produce such large files. In general, compact cameras offer the convenience of portability at the cost of image quality. The Sigma fp L however, seems to offer the best of both worlds.  

Pre-order the Sigma fp L at Adorama (US)
Pre-order the Sigma fp L at B&H (US)
Pre-order the Sigma fp L at Park Cameras (UK)
Pre-order the Sigma fp L at Wex (UK)

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