With up to 6K performance, a new firmware update for the Sigma fp and fp L now offers Camera to Cloud and Open Gate Options.
When you think about getting a new cinema camera, the company that rarely comes to mind is SIGMA. Known chiefly for their high performance yet affordable optics, the Japanese company also has two cinema cameras that are still receiving support and new video features to make the cameras more alluring to content creators.
These cameras are the Sigma fp and Sigma fp L, which robust little tools. And we mean little. Coined as the true "pocket cinema camera" by every filmmaker with a YouTube channel, the fp line offers impressive features that some say even rival the Sony Venice. Say what, now?
The Sigma fp Line
The Sigma fp and its 6K big sibling the Sigma fp L can be deceiving due to their pocket size. However, using Cinema DNG as their lossless codec, the cameras can deliver a decent cinematic punch.
With a 24.6MP Full-Frame BSI Bayer CMOS Sensor on the fp and a 61MP Full-Frame BSI Bayer CMOS Sensor on the fp L, these cameras can capture 14-bit images in 4K and 12-bit images 6K, respectively. Not too shabby for a shoestring budget looking to deliver big-budget results.
But what did we mean that the Sigma fp can rival the Sony Venice? Well, cinematographer Pawel Achtel, who developed the 3D Beam Splitter camera rig for Avatar: The Way of Water, conducted his own tests for the little camera.
What Achtel did was project monochromatic light directly onto the sensor, which according to him, a lot of camera manufacturers do themselves. This is said to provide an extremely accurate reading of how a camera can reproduce each color. He discovered that the Sigma fp does a better job of reproducing the Rec. 2020 colorspace than the Sony Venice.
Having said that, this is a very clinical scientific test, and frankly, a bit above our pay grade. So, here's an interview with Achtel talking about his findings:
New Features for 2023
Though it doesn’t grab much in the way of headlines from techno-savvy film geeks, Sigma continues to quietly refine the camera’s capabilities through firmware updates. This week, the company released firmware versions 5.0 and 3.0 for each model, which brings with it a new color mode, support for larger external recording SSDs, and support for Camera to Cloud using Atomos Cloud hardware.
The new color mode, which Sigma calls “Warm Gold,” will “create a mellow atmosphere with subdued tones and warm colors,” the company says. The color tone is designed for fast turnaround projects that have a limited post-production cycle, and as such, would be “baked in” over the fp LOG codec, which offers greater latitude for dynamic range and color in post-production.
There are also new settings in the Director’s Viewfinder mode, which opens up the fp and fp L to use Open Gate mode with anamorphic de-squeeze. The camera is capable of widescreen aspect ratios of 1.25, 1.3, 1.5, 1.65, 1.8, and 2.0. And since the mode is similar to that used by the ARRI Alexa LF and Mini LF, the fp can be used as a secondary camera for projects using that hardware.
The updates also have a new False Color tool from a previous update, which has been expanded with the addition of the EL Zone system. This system, which is also available in fellow L Mount Alliance maker Panasonic, provides for 15 Stops in color correction, and can precisely match exposure and lighting at a later date for pickup shots or reshoots.
Support for larger, 4TB external SSDs enables the fp and fp L cameras to record for longer times before swapping out storage. A LaCie Rugged 4TB SSD, which Sigma recommends as the best option for external video on the fp, is capable of capturing up to 150 minutes of RAW movie data before swapping out.
Sigma has also added a Focus Frame-only option. The new feature appears in the menu only when the shooting style in STILL mode or CINE mode is set to STILL-like.
What is perhaps the most exciting update is support for Camera to Cloud (C2C) connectivity through either Frame.io or ATOMOS Cloud using the ATOMOS Ninja V+ with ATOMOS Connect. This will enable users to wirelessly upload ProRes RAW video, recorded on the Atomos recorder, along with a lower resolution H.265 proxy file. This update, however, will require a firmware update to existing Atomos monitor/recorders and will be announced by Atomos at a later date.
Lastly, Sigma has added a feature that enables shooters to turn off the camera while in long exposure mode to save on battery power.
The version 5 and version 3 firmware updates are available as free downloads from SIGMA’s support website. Users are reminded to fully charge their camera batteries beforehand to ensure a smooth and safe update. If you need some help, here's a handy video to get you through the process.
A True Pocket Camera
Both the Sigma fp and fp L seem like anomalies within the camera market. They offer a full-frame sensor with respectable resolutions and professional codecs in a somewhat scalable form factor.
So, why hasn't the camera taken off? From what we can tell, it was a mix of a buggy release and a marketing campaign that lacked the sex appeal of bigger camera brands.
Having said that, filmmakers on our writing staff have long been fans of the Sigma fp and its higher-resolution sibling. It's one of those tools that calmly sits in your kit until it's time to perform. What impresses us is that Sigma isn't leaving this camera to the annals of history. The company remains confident in its product and continues updating it with useful tools for creatives to take advantage of. However, the questions remain, will they?
If Sigma could make a larger model with internal NDs and internal RAW recording, this model would be a blast!
February 15, 2023 at 3:46AM
Sigma do deserve love. For how they offer good products at a reasonable cost, for how they support their customers, and for how openly they communicate.
February 18, 2023 at 4:27PM