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Theory behind Sigma FP cameras

Hulyss Bowman

Active member
Hey folks !

I'm reading all informations about SIGMA products since the last 3 years and today I came to a theory about what is going on, camera wise, at SIGMA.

You know I love this brand since the first DP back in 2009, and I love it because of the foveon.

With years passing, foveon went in different directions, first with the Merrill sensor (not the best in my opinion ... I was more fond on the original design from 2009) and then with the faux-veon aka quattro sensor. Now ? no news and here is why in my humble opinion about it, just a reminder before speaking about the FP :

When the community started to bloom back in the day with Carl Rytterfalk, some DPreview users, we were using the same cameras. Same foveon technology in the form of DP cameras. SD9 and 10 cameras was on the market since some time but not that much known. Trust me, it was a great time to be a foveon user. Then the Merrill sensors came out with new photographers paraising it such as Quentin Bargate, Michael Reichmann and many more. The Merrill tech didn't divided the community (not too much at least). It was a very interesting and spectacular leap forward, something so exotic that it focused passions, again.
Then came the Quattro technology but... yea... not everybody in the community was passionated anymore and it somehow blown. I was pretty salty about it to say the least. This is normal. Many new Sigma camera users never used the first good foveon cameras, OG DP1 and DP2.
Bear in mind that the communication behind the OG DP1 and DP2 (s) was handled by Shinzo Fukui, and his work on marketing and advertizing at SIGMA was absolutely epic. For example the SIGMA DP2 micro site (down today) was an invitation to photography, a very sensitive view of what was foveon and nothing more.

Now that not anymore foveon cameras are made, because they are discontinued like the Quattro H and because they just end the stocks, Sigma as focused on the FP bayer cameras. A bayer camera in an already very potent bayer world. Today reviews on an international level are somehow bad about the FPL, preproduction or not, and the major visible part of the OG sigma community just float in limbo because Foveon just vanished from the landscape even from rumors sites.

The PDG of Sigma told the world that a real 1:1:1 full frame foveon camera will be annouced in 2019 2020. But no, nothing was annouced. And then the FP camera came out of nowhere. A very limited 1:1:1 real foveon would have been a savior for the community spirit all around the world.

That said, when you look at the SIGMA FP and when you know the limitations of the foveon sensors, something jump to the eyes :

The heatsink.

Most of the problems (without speaking about iso range) of the foveon was induced by heat. The heat comming from the battery to be exact and some from the screen as well. The more the foveon has to process, the more heat build up and noise in every possible forms start to show. This is a reason of the form factor of the DPQuattros. The battery is far away from the sensor.

In my opinion this one of the reason of the heatsink on the FP body. My wild theory is that the FP body was made for a foveon before all.

You need to remember that the form factor of the DP Quattro was praised by some but hated by most. In a way, Sigma really listen the the base but need to deal with physics... they need to transform a real physic problem into a feature and drive it into the design.

The huge chance for SIGMA was the timing and I guess they made the biggest lucky Uturn ever with the FP. TSI semiconductor called and told that the foveon can't be fixed for the moment... bodywork, molds and Co. was already in the pipeline but there is other applications where heat is a problem : Video !

And then came the FP.

All of this is a wild guess but there is some strange signals in this story.


Well-known member
Interesting theory, and I had not realized that heat was a larger issue with the Quattro/Foveon designs than other cameras. It could make sense for why dpQs were shaped as such.

But there are things that make me doubt that the FP was ever considered with a Foveon 1:1:1 sensor. It's pretty clear that video was a huge challenge for all prior Foveon sensors, I'm assuming due to the data processing requirements, and all of the prior DP cameras had laughable video modes. The FP however is clearly designed for video, with its multitude of video output formats, modular design to allow for cine cages, and control layout to facilitate video settings, not to mention the heat sink. The lack of a mechanical shutter also signals that this camera is meant for video users. While still photography is possible, there are many situations where an e-shutter is not usable. Rolling shutter caused by slow sensor readout is one such issue, and I would guess a 1:1:1 would be even slower that what we see with Bayer sensors. Even if a Foveon sensor were ready today, I highly doubt that Sigma would put it into an FP body, even one where the cine controls were modified to be relevant for a stills-focused camera.

I'm pretty encouraged by the fact that there's been a lot of interest in the small body size of the FP, however. This makes me think that Sigma will realize the demand for a compact/light camera when they do create their next Foveon. Now also, we have some great compact lenses for the L-mount as well with the 28-70/2.8 and lineup of small C lenses. I hope that they'll make an even smaller DP camera, especially a full frame one with their 45/2.8 lens and its awesome bokeh rendering.


Well-known member
The fp is a complicated camera for me. I want to love it but the lack of a mechanical shutter leaves it in the “quirky” category at most for me. I think I could forgive it if it was exceptional on the video side but it’s not really exceptional there either.


Well-known member
I wish that Sigma would stop fooling around with oddball, quirky cameras and focus sharply on developing a new Foveon camera. It doesn't have to be full frame or even have more than 20-30 MP. The new ai technology demonstrated by Adobe ACR Enhance works beautifully with the old foveon cameras and could be optimized for the foveon sensor in a new camera.


IMO the problem is the idea that every photocam has to be a video cam also nowadays and they struggle to bring high resolution video out of the Merrill chip.
Sigma, bring the 20mp fullframe Merrill and forget about video or your last fans will get lost.