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Sigma FP L First Impressions: A Big Step for the L Mount Alliance

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Disclaimer: We had very limited information at the time we reviewed the Sigma FP L. Any issues in the review will be addressed on the pinned comments in our video review’s comment section on YouTube.

The Sigma FP L is a better version of the Sigma FP in many ways. It has better autofocus, a better sensor, and most importantly, an electric viewfinder (EVF). However, it does have its own set of problems that you’ll have to take into consideration.

The Sigma FP and the Sigma FP L look the same in terms of body design. However, there are some small differences that we think are a welcome addition to the camera. One of the camera’s rear dials, which we complained about in our Sigma FP review, has been slightly tweaked and has a bit more click and tension. This means the rear dial won’t be so easily pressed or turned – a much-appreciated change. The same tension can also be found on the camera’s various buttons and switches. These small changes and adjustments prove that Sigma has indeed been listening to customer feedback.

The big difference between the Sigma FP and the Sigma FP L is what’s inside them: the Sigma FP L has a 60 megapixel full-frame BSI sensor. We believe that this sensor is made from Sony, should the specifications we saw online be correct. The fantastic image quality the sensor brings puts the Sigma FP L above the Sigma FP.

You will notice that the Sigma FP L is a photographer’s camera first and foremost, with great video functionality, while the Sigma FP is more of a cinematographer’s or videographer’s camera first, photographer’s camera second.

The Sigma FP L captures really beautiful images. We think that a lot of people out there that want that really beautiful Sigma colour but feel that 24 megapixels aren’t enough will be satisfied with this camera.

Sigma has added an electric viewfinder (EVF) to the Sigma FP L – a much-sought-after addition since the Sigma FP. The EVF can tilt up and down, has 3.69 million dots and 0.83x magnification. Sigma also included two different eyecup sizes for customers who want to replace the eyecup based on their preference. Overall, we believe that the camera’s EVF is really well made. To put an EVF on the camera itself is not the easiest thing in the world, yet Sigma managed to. Thanks to that, photographers and videographers will have a great EVF to use for either taking photos or shooting videos.

Users will notice that the camera has a switch that let you use either the LCD screen or the EVF. The camera has no automatic detection that helps it switch between the two on the fly. We do wish Sigma made it switch between displays automatically, but it is what it is. We also noticed that the Sigma FP L’s diopter is underneath the eyecup. This means that if you want to change the diopter, you’ll need to remove the eyecup first then put it back right after. We do wish the diopter was on the outside of the camera, but we do have an EVF. These are the small things we have to take into consideration with the Sigma FP L. We would have liked the camera to have a little bit more outside functionality.

The Sigma FP L has a headphone jack and a USB-C port which is only available for SSD. We tried charging the camera through its USB-C port but it didn’t work, and we don’t know if Sigma will fix this with a firmware update. So if you want to record videos with the camera, then you’ll be able to.

However, that leaves us with a question: how does the Sigma FP L work in terms of the bracket? There’s nowhere to put an SSD drive on the camera while the EVF is attached. The camera does have screw mounts which are good for your straps or use them to attach a bracket to the camera like a cold shoe mount. Doing so, however, puts the camera into a convoluted situation. We’d really appreciate it if SmallRig or Tilta could come up with a camera mount or cage for the Sigma FP L.

The Sigma FP L’s video functionality has some similarities with the Sigma FP. You can record in CinemaDNG, MOV, MOI and GOP with the camera. You can also record videos in 4K up to 30 fps or 1080p to 120 fps. Recording externally is also possible with this camera, so keep in mind that you can do 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW recordings.

There’s still a lot of functionality in the Sigma FP L. Just because the camera has a 60-megapixel full-frame BSI sensor doesn’t mean you’re losing out on video. In fact, you are getting a lot more than other 60-megapixel cameras currently in the market thanks to Sigma packing a lot in the FP L’s system.

The Sigma FP L’s autofocusing uses a phase-detect and a contrast-detect system. This is a first for the L Mount alliance cameras out there. But in day-to-day usage, we noticed that the Sigma FP L’s autofocusing is faster than the Sigma FP, but it’s not as goog as Sony’s, Nikon’s or Canon’s autofocusing. The camera’s autofocusing is still hunting quite a bit especially in AF-C mode. Its tracking works to an extent but if you’re planning on tracking any sort of fast action, the camera won’t be able to handle it. The Sigma FP L is much more suited to street, lifestyle or portraiture photography. The camera can handle tracking slow-moving subjects beautifully, but, as mentioned before, it cannot track fast-moving objects. However, Sigma could improve the FP L’s autofocus tracking with a firmware update over time, but as it is right now, it’s better than the FP but it’s just passable when compared to other phase detect systems out there on the market.

However, it’s the image quality of the Sigma FP L that counts in our opinion and that’s where this camera shines the most. We’ve noticed that the camera is best when taking portraiture photographs thanks to its 60 megapixel BSI sensor. The camera captures detail and tonality beautifully, granted we were using one of the Foveon colour profiles in the Sigma FP L. The amount of detail the BSI sensor captures with lenses like the 65mm f2 I series is phenomenal.

We’ve also noticed how sharp and detailed the images captured with the Sigma FP L are even on high ISO settings at f2 aperture. Even at 1250 ISO, you can’t see any noise. One thing you’re going to notice with the FP L is that green colours are really accentuated. This is something that we’ve seen in other Sigma cameras like the Sigma sd Quattro and even the Sigma FP. This is sort of part of Sigma’s colour science that you could always tone down or neutralise through editing.

We tried capturing some fast action with the Sigma FP L with the 65 f2 I series lens, but unfortunately, the tracking wasn’t working as well as it should be.

Shots taken with a 400 ISO setting yields impressive images due to their level of detail and sharpness. We noticed a bit of green fringing on the sample photo we took, but that can be easily corrected.

The level of detail the Sigma FP L gives to objects it focused on is astounding. We have not seen this level of detail out of a full-frame camera system since the Leica SL 2 – a very high-quality camera especially when paired with the Summicron lenses. The Sigma FP L matches the Leica SL 2’s image quality.

The Sigma FP L’s low light performance is satisfyingly great. We had to use manual focus for the sample shots as the camera’s autofocus wasn’t properly working for the shot we were thinking of. Additionally, we were using Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 I mount lens at 6400 ISO. We’ve observed that the image’s grain is still relatively well-controlled. You are going to sacrifice a little bit of low light performance for 60-megapixels on a full-frame camera system. But we have to hand it to Sigma and the FP L. The camera does a pretty good job of holding the image’s structure at 6400 ISO. We didn’t see any kind of banding with the sample shot, but we did notice how detailed and sharp the image came out. The sample shot does need some noise reduction to have a cleaner version of it. However, as it is, it’s still a good image to use for social media and websites.

We probably will be comparing the Sigma FP L with the Sony A7R IV when the former has production firmware so we can actually have a side-by-side comparison to see how 60 megapixels performs on both cameras, although we do believe that the Sigma FP L will be ahead in terms of noise reduction.

There have been some enhancements to the Sigma FP L’s menu when it comes to recording videos. You can customise the dials to your liking. Accidental adjustments to your camera’s exposure or shutter speed will be a thing of the past. Sigma has really been listening to customer feedback and they’ve been busy tweaking the camera to reflect the changes customers want to see.

We’re glad we have an EVF with the Sigma FP L, but putting it on the camera is not the easiest thing in the world. It’s like a three-prong system but you have to bend one of the rubber doors in a certain way so the EVF fits on the camera. If you’re unable to bend that rubber door in that way, then the EVF won’t screw on properly. It’s odd because you can’t remove that rubber door but you can with the HDMI door. We don’t know why you can’t remove the rubber door for the EVF. Additionally, when the EVF is on and you need to access the mic door, you have to bend the same rubber door again. We wish Sigma made the process of attaching the EVF easier.

We noticed that the Sigma FP L goes in and out of focus when we were using the Sigma FP L to record the last part of our review for it. We were shooting in MOV at 4K and GOP at 25fps in standard colour. It’s probably because we were using the 65mm f2 lens – not exactly the lens you want to use when recording video. You’ll probably get better performance from the camera in terms of autofocusing and tracking with another lens.

However, with these issues taken into consideration, the Sigma FP L is still a lot better than the Sigma FP. We were complaining a lot about the Sigma FP’s autofocusing to the point that we were forced to use manual focus instead.

Overall, we love what Sigma’s done with the FP L. especially the 60-megapixel images coming out of it. We believe that there will probably be future enhancements as of this review’s publication, but we’re glad to know that Sigma is listening to their customers. Not everything’s perfect with the FP L, and we’re guessing some of the camera’s issues will be addressed in future firmware updates. Still, we’re happy with the addition of the 60-megapixel sensor, the better autofocusing and the EVF, most of all.

The Sigma FP L has a price tag of US$2,499.


Content by Bobby Tonelli

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