A great camera that flew under the radar is the Sigma fp. It’s tiny, full-frame, and has some impressive specs—including DCI 4K raw video output. It looks like a point-and-shoot yet fits a 24MP full-frame sensor and L mount. That design and somewhat boxy exterior make it great for building up a cinema rig that is just right for you.
I say underrated because I’ve only met one person who has ever bought one and they loved it. If you are curious about the camera there is at least one person on YouTube who picked one up – Anson & Co. – and they have a nice video detailing which settings result in the most cinematic footage.
Getting a “cinematic” look is a balance of many different settings—along with good technique. It also sets things up for a good post workflow with proper color grading to maximize the effect. Here is how Anson sets up his fp.
Resolution, Codec and Frame Rates
If you aren’t going for slow motion it should be obvious that you should be shooting in UHD 4K. If you are using an external recorder, like the Blackmagic Video Assist, you can bump up to DCI 4K.
This does also allow you to record in Blackmagic RAW. On the Video Assist he usually uses the 12:1 compression option. If you are recording from the camera (likely to an external SSD), you can use full 12-bit CinemaDNG raw video.
While there are other bit depth options for the raw video it is still advised to go with 12-bit. He has been experimenting with 8-bit, and while it does look good the 12-bit will be better for editing. This may be necessary if you don’t have any external recording options and are relying on SD cards.
As for frame rates it is easiest to stick with 24 fps. Using the 180-degree shutter rule you will be around 1/50 second or simply set the camera to 180º shutter angle to get the motion blur most similar to traditional film.
Exposure and White Balance
When you are exposing your image you should stick to one of the fp’s native ISO settings: 100 or 3200. This should give you the best dynamic range and noise performance. You’ll need to rely on NDs in brighter conditions or the aperture if you can.
Anson using the quick menu to access a lot of these settings easily. There are also a ton of video monitoring tools, like false color, that can help you nail exposure.
While you are generally going to be shooting in raw and can fix the white balance in post you should still aim to get it close during the shoot. Most days he sticks with the cloudy setting and that gets the job done. Obviously if there is a set that uses more tungsten he will change the white balance in those cases. He does not recommend using auto white balance.
During shooting you should be making use of the many tools built-in to the camera. Focus assist is a big one. Focus peaking is helpful, but more often he relies on focus magnification.
He set this to the full display setting to make sure to get the best look at your subject. He also keeps the touch operation on so that he can quickly move the magnification area.
Other composition tools he leaves on are a grid for simple rule of thirds work and the electronic level. Frame guides are another helpful setting and you can create custom options. Anson has a 2:1 and a 5:9 in his custom spots.
The 2:1 is fairly common since it works better on modern smartphone screens, but the 5:9 in interesting. This actually is the closest approximation he could get to a vertical 9:16 frame.
Those are the basic settings and tips for shooting with the fp. Most of this can also apply to a lot of other cameras. If you do have an fp you can use the QR code in the video to copy his settings exactly.
What do you think about the fp?
[source: Anson & Co.]
- Sigma fp Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5” Recorder/Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
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