Reviewers have reached a rough consensus on the new Sony FP-L introduced last week:

  • They appreciate some of the new elements of the FP form factor.
  • They hate the impracticalities of the FP form factor.
  • They have no earthly idea who would use the camera, as it combines some of the best features of a high-end landscape shooter with some of the best features of a video “box camera,” but also combines some of the most egregious disadvantages of both types, making it impractical for either.
  • They enjoyed trying it out.

That last element is interesting, as it goes to what is likely Sigma’s brief when they started designing the camera. The management wants Sigma camera shooting to be joyful.

We can probably expect more minimalist Sigma body designs to come out, and that they may – especially if they specialize by purpose – become both joyful and practical.

Speaking of practical, the main question we needed answered was well documented by the end of the weekend of YouTube hands-on reviews: the autofocus does use phase detection, but it’s a very immature system, and it’s not very good. Probably better than the Panasonic pulsations the L-Mount Alliance members have been using, but it has a long way to go.

A couple reviews that well express the general trend are the ones from DPReview and Gerald Undone.