The world’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera (no caveats required) is now… space’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera? Sigma UK teamed up with Sent Into Space to send a pair of Sigma fp cameras (each attached to a Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art) into the upper atmosphere – one shooting stills and the other shooting video – to capture the view from around 100,000 feet.
The video begins with the launch of two balloons, each setting off at a slightly different time. First up was the one shooting video. The team talk about the process to come and the challenges faced to keep the SSD cool and the camera (and its battery) warm throughout the flight. The SSD used has a 2TB capacity to store the footage, but when shooting CinemaDNG RAW video, that only equates to about an hour and forty minutes of footage. So, there is a level of urgency required once that record button is hit.
The second balloon with the other camera shooting stills was released a couple of hours later. This one was using an intervalometer to shoot 24-megapixel raw stills every 5 seconds throughout the entire journey. The storage requirements for this one aren’t quite as demanding as they are for video, but that’s still 720 24-megapixel RAW files per hour. Between the time it takes for the balloon to get up to altitude, pop, come back down and be discovered, that could be several hours of shooting.
When each balloon does pop and the journey ends, the descent begins at over 200mph due to lack of air and air resistance to slow it down. After a short time, the parachute opens and by the time it hits the earth, it’s slowed down to what they described as “a walking pace” for a nice soft gentle landing – which is important when you’ve got delicate camera gear attached to it.
The stills look absolutely incredible and hold an amazing amount of detail. The video, while offering fantastic options in post due to being 12-Bit CinemaDNG RAW did suffer from some ice crystals forming on the lens, but it’s still a pretty amazing feat. And, well, a few ice crystals gives them an excuse to try again at some point in the future.