Quick impressions on Sigma fp and its autofocus and MC21 adapter

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Miki Nemeth
Miki Nemeth Senior Member • Posts: 1,543
Quick impressions on Sigma fp and its autofocus and MC21 adapter
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I spent several hours in a Sigma showroom and I had a chance to experiment with the Sigma fp with the help of the Sigma specialist who was quite an experienced and smart guy. I came to the showroom to pick some Sigma lenses for my and my daughter's Sony cameras, but I took the chance to have fun with the fp, which I loved immediately.

I am pretty brand agnostic, I started with Nikon V1, J5, then Sony A7, A5100, A9, Nikon Df, Fujifilm X-A1, Canon EOS R, Panasonic FZ2500. During the past couple of days I visited a Panasonic showroom to experiment with S1, S1R, S1H, too. I love learning camera systems, to learn to use them as efficiently as it was designed by the engineers.

The fp body looked a premium camera with a nice heft, not big at all but not minuscule either, just a perfect size.

Later I removed the fake grip gizmo, I love cameras as gripless as possible even with gigantic lenses like the Canon 100400L.

Here is my A5100 with the brilliantly small Sony 24f1.4G as comparison.

The MC21 adapter is definitely in its very early stage of development, I would call its firmware as an early BETA product, so I guess in a year or so it is going to be more or less complete. I have a Metabones IV for Sony, which is brutally awesome adapter, it drives EF lenses as if they were native FE lenses. Anyhow, the MC21 still has long road to go, but actually it is usable for stills photography with Sigma lenses. The MC21 didn't work with my Canon 100400L push-pull, but worked quite OK and accurate with Sigma's own lenses like the 100400 and 70200f2.8. Here are two examples:

Sigma 70200f2.8 autofocus on Sigma fp with MC21 adapter, a brutally sharp lens, I was amazed

Sigma 70200f2.8 autofocus on Sigma fp with MC21 adapter, AF was not fast but OK

The next two photos were taken with the L-mount 45mmf2.8.

Autofocus was a bit faster than with the MC21 adapted Sigma lenses.

Sigma fp

I used to be a manual focus fan for a a couple of years, but then especially when I had the A9 for a year, I wouldn't be very happy to go back to manual focusing.

Anyhow the fp is a lovely camera, image quality and handling is perfect. Since I wear glasses I cannot really use the regular EVF/OVF, instead I loved the crisp gigantic viewfinder of the fp, so I wasn't missing the EVF at all. On the other hand mounting and unmounting the loupe on the screen is not fun at all. I used to have a similar loupe for my Nikon Df and A5100, too, so I know what am I talking about, but the fp's screen and the viewfinder is of very high quality.

The screen is not tiilting, which is definitely could be a huge showstopper. My absolute favorite position is to hold the camera at the stomach/chest level with the screen tilted 60 degree up, just like I did with my Mamiya RZ67. This is not doable with fp.

Continuous AF for photos is OK-ish, eye detection worked great.

Continuous video AF is totally unusable, forget it. It's not only slow, but it is so erratic and errant, that I cannot imagine anyone would think about using it. On the other hand push AF (AF-S) works ok. Here is the sequence for videography: set focus (manually or AF-S) - roll - stop recording - reset focus - roll - stop recording and so on and forth. Practically the same sequence as on all Panasonic cameras, too. Today I spent a couple of hours with S1H and its video AF with its native Panasonic lenses is a lot more consistent, but it was not fast enough to track the face or find the focus.

I can safely say that the only camera systems today that has reliable video AF is Sony A7III, A7RIV, A9, A9II, A6400, A6600. Older Sony cameras, like my A5100 has decent video AF but only with some lenses and when DOF is wide enough, typically f4 and up.

If I had money to keep multiple camera systems for fun, definitely I'd buy a Sigme fp, it's a lovely camera even with its severe limitations: OKish-only stills AF, unusable video AF, no IBIS, no tilting screen. On the other hand, to me lack of EVF wasn't an issue, neither the one-SD-card-slot-only, neither one-dial-only, neither no-exposure-compensation-dial; I could live without these.

As for the Sigma lenses, I spent quite a lot of time with them and they are terrific lenses for Sony A7III, A7RIV, A9, A9II, A6400, A6600. These Sony cameras have unbelievably great autofocus, they can autofocus anything even an empty beer-can. I tested EF mount Sigma prime and zoom lenses with my Metabones IV adapter, FE mount Sigma lenses, and the recent mirrorless optimized lenses like the awesome 35mmf1.2 on these Sony cameras, and "oh, man", all worked flawlessly, and the image quality was superb. I didn't find Sony/Zeiss/Canon lenses any better than Sigma's.

So, in this context, the fp is an absolutely cutie nice camera to have fun and to be loved, but it's not even remotely in the same league as the Sony's recent arsenal, if autofocus is important in your photography and videography.

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 Miki Nemeth's gear list:Miki Nemeth's gear list
Nikon Df Sony a5100 Sony a9 Sony a7 III Canon EOS R +4 more
Comment & critique:
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FinePix S1 Nikon 1 J5 Nikon Df Panasonic FZ2500 Sony a7 Sony a9
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