Digital Camera

Sigma "fp" is a hot line of sight, transforms into an ultra-high-quality webcam with a single cable

Due to the influence of the new coronavirus, many people will be doing remote meetings and doing web conferences using Zoom etc. every day. However, what is worrisome in web conferencing is the poor image quality of the webcam. We often see opinions such as "everyone looks irritated through a web camera on a computer" and "I want to turn off the image because I don't see myself".

Under such circumstances, SIGMA's full-size mirrorless "SIGMA fp" could be used as a webcam just by connecting it to a PC with a USB cable! That has become a hot topic among photography fans. The image brought by the full-size sensor and the large aperture lens with excellent expressiveness is an exceptional expressiveness, "It was a hot topic from the participants of the web conference, the conference was exciting" "Once you experience the fp webcam, "It can't be returned to an ordinary webcam."

  • SIGMA's full-size mirrorless "SIGMA fp" has become a hot topic as a "luxury webcam with a full-size sensor"

However, at the same time, there are many painful voices such as "I couldn't use my mirrorless even if I connected it to my computer … Why?" "It seems that a fairly high capture unit is needed, but it is out of stock and cannot be obtained." I gathered together the coverage to the development key man of fp, how much the image will be mistaken when using fp as a webcam, and why only fp can be used as a webcam if connected by USB.

Support for "UVC", which is rare even with the latest cameras, is the point

Sigma's fp is an L-mount mirrorless that has a full-size sensor and a compact and lightweight body similar to a compact digital camera. The unique box-like equipment and functions of the smartphone generation, such as the metal box-shaped body, the high expandability unthinkable from the palm-sized small and lightweight body, and the movie-inspired color mode “ Teal and Orange '' Resonating to the younger generation, it has become an exceptional smash hit for a Sigma camera.

  • Fp which appeared at the end of October 2019. The actual sales price at mass retailers is around 205,000 yen (+ 10% points) including tax for a single body model, and around 235,000 yen (same) including a lens kit with a 45mm F2.8 DG DN included tax.

It's a very unique fp, but it also had hidden unique features. That is support for "UVC" (USB Video Class) and UAC (USB Audio Class). It is a standard that is also used for general webcams, with the function that "it can be used as a webcam or microphone without installing drivers etc. just by connecting it to a computer with a USB cable". Since fp has functions such as UVC, it can be turned into a webcam with a single USB cable. Compatible with both Windows and Mac, but not available on iPad.

  • Since fp supports UVC, you can use it as a webcam by connecting it to a PC with a USB Type-C cable without using an external device such as an HDMI capture unit. It is lightweight even if it includes a lens, so a cheap small tripod is enough to fix the camera.

By the way, surprisingly, most digital cameras other than fp, even the latest models, do not support UVC. Most models are recognized as external storage when connected to a PC, and only "USB mass storage class" that can view recorded photos and videos is supported (fp is both UVC and USB mass storage class) Correspondence). I tried connecting Sony's latest full-size mirrorless "α7 IV" to a computer, but it could not be used as a webcam.

The angle can be changed freely and the reflection of the background can be suppressed.

I actually tried using MacBook Air and Web conference software "Zoom". Both fp and MacBook Air are equipped with a USB Type-C terminal, so connect them using the USB Type-C cable for charging that comes with MacBook Air, switch the shooting mode to "CINE" and turn on the power Just OK. Then, a screen for selecting the USB mode from "Mass Storage" and "Video Class (UVC)" is displayed. Select the latter. After that, if you switch the camera from "FaceTime HD camera (built-in)" to "SIGMA fp" with the Zoom application, the fp image will be displayed.

  • Connect to a computer with a USB Type-C cable. In case of MacBook series, the white power cable that comes as standard can be used for communication

  • Turn on the power and switch the shooting mode to "CINE"

  • A screen for selecting the USB mode appears. Select "Video Class (UVC)".

  • With Zoom software, you can select "SIGMA fp" for the camera selection.

The fp equipped with the standard lens "45mm F2.8 DG DN" which is familiar as a kit lens brought beautiful images with a three-dimensional effect like a scene in a movie. In particular, unlike the built-in webcam, which has a wide-angle lens that makes the room completely visible, using a lens closer to the telephoto side reduces the area in which the background is reflected, and the background is not annoying even in a messy room. Even in a room that isn't very bright, you can't overlook the fact that it doesn't look as noisy as the built-in webcam and is beautiful, and it captures beautiful images.

  • Image using fp with 45mm lens. It's a little out of focus, but I'm surprised at the one-scene finish of the movie, which is clearly different from a typical webcam. The room you can see in the back was also moderately blurred

In addition to the image quality, I felt that the big advantage of using fp is that you can freely change the angle with a tripod. With the built-in webcam, the composition is fixed from the front, but you can flexibly change the angle, tilt from the bottom, or from the side, so you can have a meeting with a composition like an interview cut of a magazine I think it's good.

  • Here is a video using the built-in webcam. You can see only the front, so it gives a flat impression, and you can see things behind it quite well.

What is different from ordinary webcams is the need for focusing. Although it also supports auto focus, it may be difficult to focus on the person depending on the background, so I feel that manual focus is generally better. Focusing is troublesome, but even if it is slightly out of focus, there is no problem for web conference use, so it may be roughly adjusted.

About the power supply, which is important for using fp in a web conference, the battery will run out in about two hours. If you have a one-hour or one-and-a-half-hour conference, you will have one battery, but in an important long-term conference, instead of a battery, the AC adapter "SAC-7P" (the actual selling price is around 6,600 yen including tax + 10% points) ) Seems good to use.

"Expansion of live distribution" is compatible with UVC

In this way, fp's Web camera has been turned into an exciting Web conferencing system that makes you less excited about video conferencing. Regarding the reason why fp was equipped with UVC prior to the competitor's full-size mirrorless, Mr. Hisashi Tatamiya, project leader of fp, says, "It was originally to cope with the spread of streaming distribution."

  • Mr. Hisashi Tatami of Sigma who is the project leader of fp

Fp was being developed to have high performance not only for photographs but also for movies. We investigated how the video function of digital cameras is used to not only improve functions and performance, but also to include functions that meet consumer usage and needs. As a result, it seems that the needs for live distribution and streaming distribution that distributes live images via the Internet are expanding.

With the widespread use of smartphones that allow easy shooting and distribution with just one device, the threshold for live distribution has dropped sharply. However, when trying to improve the quality of video and audio, an interchangeable lens camera was required, and it was necessary to prepare an HDMI capture unit and connect it to a computer.

With fp, we don't want to use expensive specialized equipment such as an HDMI capture unit, and we want to enable much higher quality streaming distribution with ease of use that is not much different from using a built-in webcam of a personal computer … It is said that we decided to support UVC and UAC as standard.

Considering that digital cameras of other companies do not support UVC as a whole, it is very difficult to install UVC function …? I also feel. According to Tatamiya, making a camera compatible with UVC is not that difficult. However, for live streaming and webcam applications, it is necessary to continue sending 4K image quality and Full HD image quality video to your PC for a much longer time than usual. It is said that fp has improved stability and reliability by devising circuit design and heat dissipation so that it can be used safely without trouble.

By the way, Sigma's Kazuto Yamaki's Twitter has made it a hot topic by announcing that some employees made their own fp brackets with a 3D printer that attach to the VESA mount on the back of the LCD.

An "ultimate webcam" that can be enjoyed even on off days

It has been reported that the declaration of emergency will be extended for another month … and even after the Golden Week, remote work at home may continue for some time. People who are not satisfied with the current Web camera, such as those who want to give a beautiful impression to the other party of the Web conference or those who have to have important business negotiations at the same time as face-to-face meetings, can be said to be the "ultimate Web camera" Why not try fp? Of course, don't forget that it's a full-size mirrorless finish that you can use without complaining even on off days.

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