Hands-on with the Sigma fp L and its new viewfinder

Hands-on with the Sigma fp L Sigma has just announced the fp L, a high-resolution sister model to the original fp, released in 2019. With a 61MP full-frame sensor, it's intended to be more stills-oriented than the original camera, with which it shares its design and control philosophy. That makes both of these cameras tied for the title of 'smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera'. At least, without the new optional electronic viewfinder, dubbed EVF-11, attached. So, if you're familiar with the fp, there's not much new here, though we will take a more in-depth look at the electronic viewfinder later on. The fp L will be sold either body-only or with the EVF-11 included (at $2499 and $2999 USD respectively), and users of the original fp will soon receive a firmware update to allow them to use the new viewfinder should they choose to purchase it separately for $699 USD. That new 61MP sensor Let's start with the heart of the fp L, its 61MP sensor. Although we don't officially know its origins, there will be some natural comparisons drawn to Sony's a7R IV, which has a 61MP sensor of its own. In the fp L, the sensor comes with on-sensor phase detection autofocus pixels which makes this the first Sigma camera to have moved beyond solely contrast-detection AF. We haven't been able to test final production models yet, but our initial impressions are that the AF system is, as we'd expect, a bit more swift and sure than the original fp. Something you'll not see in this picture is a mechanical shutter of any kind, because, well, there isn't any. Just like the original, the fp L makes do with a silent electronic shutter only. While this keeps the camera as small as possible (and discreet in operation), we've found that the scan rate of the sensor is on the slow side, so shooting moving subjects or panning aren't recommended. We'll go into more depth on this when we get a final production model to thoroughly test. Top plate controls For such a small camera, Sigma has made the fp L surprisingly usable with a good amount of control points. Starting with the top plate, we can see prominent power and 'Cine | Still' switches, as well as a shutter button, dedicated record button, and a control dial that is wonderfully clicky. You can also get a nice view of the heat dissipation fins here, and remember that these don't compromise the fp L's claimed weather-sealing in any way. Rear controls Dominating the rear of the camera is a large 3.2" touchscreen display with great resolution at 2.1M dots. It's a fixed unit though, so tripod work can be a bit of a pain as you can't tilt it to work at low or high angles (though the tilting viewfinder helps with this somewhat). There's also a second control dial back here, which is a bit easier to bump than the one on the top, unfortunately. It also does double-duty as a four-way controller, allowing you to navigate the menus, place your AF point or navigate the customizable Quick Settings screen that you access by pressing the QS button. Unfortunately, you can't navigate the Quick Settings by using the touchscreen, but you can use the touchscreen to move your AF point if you so desire. Rounding out the bottom of the camera are playback and display buttons as well as dedicated Tone and Color buttons. The Tone button basically freezes the live-view display and lets you adjust the tone curve in real time to suit your subject matter, while the Color button lets you access 15 different color modes. Finally, the Mode button allows you to choose between the standard PASM and additional shooting modes. Ports The fp L has the same array of ports offered by the original fp, so you get a USB-C 3.1 port that supports power delivery as well as the attachment of an SSD to record stills or up to 12-bit CinemaDNG video to. There's a micro-HDMI port which lets you output Raw or gamma-encoded video to an external recorder, and there's also a 3.5mm microphone input that supports remote control and timecode syncing. Incidentally, this is also where you attach... The EVF-11 electronic viewfinder ...this, the new EVF-11 electronic viewfinder. As you can see, it plugs into the camera's micro-HDMI and USB-C ports, and is secured using the 1/4" threaded mount on the camera. It's perhaps not the most petite or elegant solution we've seen, as it does take some fiddling to get it to attach. The EVF-11 electronic viewfinder In this view, you can see that the viewfinder comes with an additional 1/4" threaded mount (occupied in this image by one of the included neck-strap lugs), as well as a USB-C pass-through. We should note that while this allows for the attachment of SSD's to provide storage, but it does not allow you to charge the camera; you'll have to remove the EVF to top up the fp L when you're on the go, which is a bummer. The viewfinder panel itself is 3.69M dots, which represents good performance for the price, and it comes in with an impressive 0.83x ma

Hands-on with the Sigma fp L and its new viewfinder

Hands-on with the Sigma fp L

Sigma has just announced the fp L, a high-resolution sister model to the original fp, released in 2019. With a 61MP full-frame sensor, it's intended to be more stills-oriented than the original camera, with which it shares its design and control philosophy. That makes both of these cameras tied for the title of 'smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera'. At least, without the new optional electronic viewfinder, dubbed EVF-11, attached.

So, if you're familiar with the fp, there's not much new here, though we will take a more in-depth look at the electronic viewfinder later on. The fp L will be sold either body-only or with the EVF-11 included (at $2499 and $2999 USD respectively), and users of the original fp will soon receive a firmware update to allow them to use the new viewfinder should they choose to purchase it separately for $699 USD.

That new 61MP sensor

Let's start with the heart of the fp L, its 61MP sensor. Although we don't officially know its origins, there will be some natural comparisons drawn to Sony's a7R IV, which has a 61MP sensor of its own.

In the fp L, the sensor comes with on-sensor phase detection autofocus pixels which makes this the first Sigma camera to have moved beyond solely contrast-detection AF. We haven't been able to test final production models yet, but our initial impressions are that the AF system is, as we'd expect, a bit more swift and sure than the original fp.

Something you'll not see in this picture is a mechanical shutter of any kind, because, well, there isn't any. Just like the original, the fp L makes do with a silent electronic shutter only. While this keeps the camera as small as possible (and discreet in operation), we've found that the scan rate of the sensor is on the slow side, so shooting moving subjects or panning aren't recommended. We'll go into more depth on this when we get a final production model to thoroughly test.

Top plate controls

For such a small camera, Sigma has made the fp L surprisingly usable with a good amount of control points. Starting with the top plate, we can see prominent power and 'Cine | Still' switches, as well as a shutter button, dedicated record button, and a control dial that is wonderfully clicky. You can also get a nice view of the heat dissipation fins here, and remember that these don't compromise the fp L's claimed weather-sealing in any way.

Rear controls

Dominating the rear of the camera is a large 3.2" touchscreen display with great resolution at 2.1M dots. It's a fixed unit though, so tripod work can be a bit of a pain as you can't tilt it to work at low or high angles (though the tilting viewfinder helps with this somewhat).

There's also a second control dial back here, which is a bit easier to bump than the one on the top, unfortunately. It also does double-duty as a four-way controller, allowing you to navigate the menus, place your AF point or navigate the customizable Quick Settings screen that you access by pressing the QS button. Unfortunately, you can't navigate the Quick Settings by using the touchscreen, but you can use the touchscreen to move your AF point if you so desire.

Rounding out the bottom of the camera are playback and display buttons as well as dedicated Tone and Color buttons. The Tone button basically freezes the live-view display and lets you adjust the tone curve in real time to suit your subject matter, while the Color button lets you access 15 different color modes. Finally, the Mode button allows you to choose between the standard PASM and additional shooting modes.

Ports

The fp L has the same array of ports offered by the original fp, so you get a USB-C 3.1 port that supports power delivery as well as the attachment of an SSD to record stills or up to 12-bit CinemaDNG video to. There's a micro-HDMI port which lets you output Raw or gamma-encoded video to an external recorder, and there's also a 3.5mm microphone input that supports remote control and timecode syncing.

Incidentally, this is also where you attach...

The EVF-11 electronic viewfinder

...this, the new EVF-11 electronic viewfinder. As you can see, it plugs into the camera's micro-HDMI and USB-C ports, and is secured using the 1/4" threaded mount on the camera. It's perhaps not the most petite or elegant solution we've seen, as it does take some fiddling to get it to attach.

The EVF-11 electronic viewfinder

In this view, you can see that the viewfinder comes with an additional 1/4" threaded mount (occupied in this image by one of the included neck-strap lugs), as well as a USB-C pass-through. We should note that while this allows for the attachment of SSD's to provide storage, but it does not allow you to charge the camera; you'll have to remove the EVF to top up the fp L when you're on the go, which is a bummer.

The viewfinder panel itself is 3.69M dots, which represents good performance for the price, and it comes in with an impressive 0.83x magnification. The large rubberized eyecup makes for comfortable viewing, and as you can see, it tilts upward to 90 degrees.

The EVF-11 electronic viewfinder

If you'll forgive one more slide about the EVF, there remain two important additions; first, you gain a headphone jack for monitoring audio, seen here to the left of the USB-C jack (and thankfully, the EVF doesn't block the microphone jack on the camera).

Lastly, you've no doubt noticed the prominent switch for going between viewing on the LCD on the rear of the camera and the EVF. You'll be using this a lot, as there is no automatic sensor to make this switch for you. Trust us, you may find you've taken those little sensors for granted before too long.

Battery and storage

Rounding out our tour of the Sigma fp L, we move to the bottom of the camera where you'll find a BP-51 battery (same as was used in the original fp) and a slot for a UHS-II SD memory card. The former gives you a rated battery life of 240 shots, which we find to be on the short side; we'd recommend bringing a spare to get you through even a single day's worth of dedicated photography. That said, you can power the camera via the USB socket on the body, but as mentioned earlier, you'll have to remove the viewfinder to do so.

Usefully, you can record all 4K video modes up to and including 8-bit CinemaDNG to the SD card slot; attach an SSD to the USB-C port and you'll get 10- or 12-bit CinemaDNG.

Hands-on with the Sigma fp L

And that wraps up our tour of the new Sigma fp L. For backpackers and landscape shooters wanting to travel light, we can certainly see the appeal of a high-resolution sensor in as small a package as possible. We've also found, preliminarily, that it outputs impressively detailed video. Is this the camera you've been waiting for that would benefit your style of photography? Let us know in the comments.