Why I’ve bought the SIGMA FP L + Voigtländer Heliar 40mm over other cameras

By MESAGI, the



The Ricoh GR III is a great camera for street photography but I have been feeling the need for an Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) since last year. Finally, I got my first ILC + lens setup ready this month. In this blog post, I’ll explain why I chose the SIGMA FP L and the Voigtländer Heliar over other cameras and lenses. Read on.

The cameras I first considered buying

When I started to look for a compact ILC camera a few retained my attention: the Sony Alpha 7C and 7CR, and the Fujifilm X-Pro 3. I discarded the Alpha 7C because it was too expensive for a 24MP sensor, the Alpha 7CR has a 61MP full-frame sensor but is no way at 3,699€ (naked, without a lens)! I should also add that I wasn’t convinced by the Alpha cameras software (looking at it via their manuals). Fujifilm seems to have great software with many creative possibilities with their film simulations. Alas, the X-Pro 3 was no longer available and its APS-C sensor wasn’t what I wanted. After waiting for an X-Pro 4 announcement, I gave up. This is when my intention turned to the SIGMA FP L.

Why I opted for the SIGMA FP L

There’s a lot of negativity about the FP L online: in reviews, on forums, on Reddit… It has rolling shutter, it doesn’t have a mechanical shutter, the sensor’s readout time is slow, it’s not ergonomic to handle and use, it’s geared more toward video than photo… It was discouraging at first but seeing that the SIGMA wasn’t the hype person loved by everyone and invited to all the parties made me love it even more. Maybe the SIGMA FP L has some limitations but so do I and I thought we may overcome them together.

So, the first thing that attracted me to the FP L was its compact size and full-frame sensor. It’s not as tiny as the GR III but it’s quite compact although the SIGMA is much more hefty. (I’ll compare the size of the two cameras in a future post.) It’s surprising to have a full-frame sensor in such a small body and I absolutely wanted one, hoping to have more dynamic range for my black-and-white shots.

The FP L’s sensor resolution is one of the reasons the SIGMA won me over. Its resolution of 61MP is huge and I’m planning to use its crop zoom functions to zoom with my prime lens. A 40mm lens like my Heliar becomes a 60mm lens with a 1.5x crop zoom. And it still gives the same resolution photos as my GR III. Great to have more versatility in the streets with just a tiny prime lens.

The lack of a mechanical shutter means that the SIGMA FP L is completely silent (after turning off the gimmick shutter noise). I don’t mind the electronic shutter but I don’t have spent enough time with it yet to see if there’s a rolling shutter problem or not. But I think for street photography, it going to be ok. 

Another point in favor of the FP L: SIGMA kept on improving the firmware after the release. It’s appreciable that the company kept on improving its camera through software updates. I checked the menu map and manual before buying my FP L and I was convinced the software would be good. All that for 2,299€ that’s quite reasonable I think.

The reasons I chose the Voigtländer Heliar 40mm f/2.8

I wanted a small lens both for discretion and for easily carrying it with me inside my small shoulder bag. This Heliar lens is really small with a beautiful, vintage design that makes me want to touch it! The second reason is the focal length: I wanted something less wide than my GR III’s 28mm. 40mm will be a nice change. 

The price (549€ here in France) was also an important deciding factor. It’s a relatively affordable lens: not cheap but not very expensive either. I think the price is acceptable for a lens made in Japan by Cosina. I was lucky though, I got it on sale for a hundred Euros less. So, look around for sales before paying the full price. Please keep in mind that to use the M mount Heliar on the L mount FP L, you need an adapter, which means more spending…

One of the major points that decided me to get this lens is the brand name. Voigtländer is a reliable brand and some of its lenses are said to have characters: the Nokton classic, the Heliar… I didn’t want a picture-perfect lens, I wanted one with its own soul. It’ll take me some time testing it to confirm or infirm that the Heliar has its own character.

Stay tuned for more

I’ll write about my initial impressions, the size comparison with the GR III, and much more in upcoming blog posts. Follow me to not miss them!

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