Being the first 1.4 from Sigma for the E-mount Sony system, this lens was long expected. APS-C mirrorless users must have a big smile on their faces, now that the new Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary hit the shelves at a price more than accessible (check price and availability here).
The 30-35mm focal range is very crowded on the E mount, no less than 10 fixed focal lens being available, without taking into consideration the zooms that cover this focal range, or the countless possibilities offered by using lens adapters.
Considering only autofocus lenses, the list narrows to:
- Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary
- Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN Art
- Carl Zeiss Touit 32mm F1.8
- Sony SEL 35mm F1.8 OSS
- Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
- Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
- Sony 30mm f/3.5 macro
As you can see, we have plenty to chose from. Except the macro lens from Sony, I’ve used all of the previous mentioned lenses and I own couple of them. This test is not a comparative one because in some cases it would be similar to comparing apples to oranges. I will resume my story below only to the experience of using this newly launched Sigma.
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary
Build around 9 elements in 7 groups, the lens comes with 9 rounded aperture blades. It’s an enginering marvel how Sigma managed to get all of these in a small lens barrel, perfect for the mirrorless system.
I’ve mounted it on the Sony a6300 (review coming soon) because I knew if any focusing problem arrises, it won’t be the camera’s fault, but the lenses.
Focus. I will start with the only minus of this lens, because it was the first that hit me after mounting it on the camera. Don’t get me wrong, almost all of the shots were in perfect focus, but the way to get there is a long one :). I mean, this lens is slow focusing, with some hunt in front, behind and only on it’s 3rd step on the subject. The same happened to me while testing the first version of the Touit series from Zeiss. The problem was fixed with a firmware update, and this is what I expect in this case too.
The problem becomes more noticeable while shooting bursts, where the lens cannot hold its pace with the camera’s fast focusing engine. This doesn’t mean you won’t get any in-focus frames, but the number of these crisp frames is lower compared to a native mount lens from Sony.
Enough with the negative points of this lens. The rest is a pleasure 🙂
Using the new Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens was a pleasure. It’s grip is fantastic due to the huge rubber on the focusing ring. It’s minimal weight (only 265 grams) makes it an excellent contender for the title of “most used lens” on my camera, for street and travel.
The photos you’ll get have a pleasant look, soft and creamy, with a superb bokeh and incredible sharpness even when wide open. I took a series of shots of the same subject at various apertures just to see how the lens performs in each case.
Since this lens hit the marker, plenty of reports came around the chromatic aberrations. Me personally I haven’t found any situations during my shooting to tell that I got an un-usable photo, not even at F1.4. I went to the point of forcing a situation where you get plenty of chromatic aberrations, but I didn’t notice any thing unacceptable for a 1.4 lens.
You get some purple fringing at F1.4 (easily correctable in post-process), it goes diminished at F2.0 and completely disappear at F2.8.
To check for other issues, I’ve activated and deactivated all corrections the camera applies to JPEGs and I shot a frame in both situations. A noticeable barrel distortion is to be seen while corrections are OFF, but why would I do that?
With this lens you get maximum of sharpness even from F1.7, so I consider this to be the camera’s sweet spot for maximum clarity and superb bokeh.
The level of details at F8 is breathtaking, the lens being able to resolve the smallest details even far away. Below is a demonstration of that.
I’m no longer used to shoot on APS-C and it took a while to get to know and feel this lens, because 30mm on crop is similar to 45mm on full-frame, so the Sigma 30mm f1.4 feels more like a “normal” lens. This makes it an ideal portrait lens, one very capable in low light too. I can see this lens being used by event/wedding photographers too, especially for portrait sessions and during ceremony. I’m not sure though how will it behave at the party, since the focusing problem can get you annoyed.
I will end this with a series of photos I took during my time with this Contemporary Sigma 30mm f1.4.