Mark Cornick on why he loves the latest fp L Color Modes

Introduced in 2019, the SIGMA fp series of cameras are the smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless bodies ever built. The latest model, the fp L, boasts a powerful 61MP full-frame sensor but weighs only 427g including battery and card. This revolutionises the way photographers can work as the weight they have to carry is dramatically reduced.

The fp and fp L have a number of Color Modes built in, which can be applied to stills (JPEG only) or video in camera to give unique and creative effects. With the release of the fp L, two new Color Modes were added to the existing 15: Duotone and Powder Blue.

Abstract photographer and SIGMA Ambassador Mark Cornick has been experimenting with these two new Color Modes and gives us his thoughts.

 

Exploring the new Color Modes

Hi, I’m Mark Cornick, a UK-based abstract photographer and a SIGMA Ambassador. I’ve been shooting with the new fp L body for a little while now, and have spent much of that time experimenting with the two new and exciting Color Modes that have been introduced with this model – DuoTone and Powder Blue. These modes allow me to apply a particular look to my images and video in real time, which really speeds up my workflow. The modes will also be available to fp users via a firmware update.

I find shooting with Color Modes re-energising, allowing me to approach a subject with new eyes and produce some atmospheric and visually striking results as I shoot. They are proving to be particularly useful when working on a long term project, or even a mini-series of images, enabling me to create a coherent and balanced set of images with the same aesthetic.

I love how easily accessible the Color Modes are, with a dedicated button on the back of the camera, so I can jump in and out of them quickly without searching through the menu.

It’s great that I can press up and down on the scroll wheel to adjust the strength of the effect, and I can change contrast, sharpness and saturation as well. And a really great feature is the ability to pause the live view by pressing the AEL button, which essentially freezes whatever is on the screen so that I can flick through the various Color Modes to see how they would look on the same image before I take it.

 

DuoTone

As a colour photographer, working with DuoTone has been a real treat. It is more than a single Color Mode, but a whole series of modes in one, with a selection of different tones to experiment with. When you find the right subject matter, this mode really comes into it’s own, and it can create some impressive and highly original results.

I have had the idea for this mini-series of images in my head ever since I first discovered Shepperton Design Studios. They are the creative team behind the production of the original Stormtrooper helmets for the Star Wars movie in 1976. Now their shopfront is a homage to the Star Wars franchise and the perfect subject matter for delving deeper into DuoTone. 

I shot this series of images using the I series 35mm f2 lens, which at 325g is a perfect lightweight companion for the fp L when shooting out on the street.

Experimentation is key when working with DuoTone, and I was sure to take my time and shoot images with each variation of tones to see how the colours interacted differently with the lighting conditions and subject matter. I’ve marked on each image which Duotone setting I used to get the effect.

 

With ‘R1’ Duotone Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 

 

With ‘B2’ Duotone Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 

 

With ‘R1’ Duotone Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 


As you can see from a RAW file comparisons, there is a huge difference in the impact the images have. The DNG files look flat and lack interest. As this is not a documentary project, the creative licence to use DuoTone has injected life, colour and further abstraction into the images.

 

Powder Blue

Shooting in Powder Blue has almost become a default setting for me lately. I really love the effect it has on the images I make, injecting them with a gentle sense of ethereal, cinematic atmosphere.

What is so great about Powder Blue is that it can be successfully applied to almost any subject matter, and I would strongly encourage SIGMA fp and fp L owners to spend some time experimenting with this Color Mode.

On a technical note, I always shoot in DNG + JPEG mode. This ensures that I have the flexibility to return to the original DNG RAW file should it be required, or if I decide to take an edit in a different direction.

I’m currently shooting almost exclusively with the SIGMA 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro | Art lens, which has a 1:1 magnification ratio. As an abstract photographer it really is one of the most versatile lenses in my collection, allowing me to create images from often mundane objects that might otherwise be overlooked.

One day my eyes locked onto two glass bottles on my kitchen windowsill that I had previously not given a second thought about until I put my ‘macro’ head on, and two hours later I was absorbed and excited to be working on a new portfolio of images!

 

With Powder Blue Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 

 

With Powder Blue Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 

 

With Powder Blue Color Mode applied

RAW file without Color Mode 

 

As we can see from these RAW file comparisons, the differences between the images may seem relatively subtle at first glance, especially compared with the very obvious differences in the Duotone images. But when you’re working on a series of images, or a long-term project, maintaining the aesthetic and feel between the photographs becomes vitally important and ensures that they sit together harmoniously.

One of the great things about shooting with the fp L and its huge 61MP output is that working with JPEG files isn’t a concern, and large format prints can still be easily produced, even when cropping into the files. Working with Color Modes has also had the added advantage of speeding up my post-production workflow, with the out-of-camera JPEGs needing very little further enhancement or adjustment. This allows for more time out in the field making photographs, and looking for subjects and objects that will look amazing when shot with this fantastic camera.

 

To see more of Mark’s work and to buy prints, visit markcornickphotography.co.uk, or check out his Instagram account @markcornick