The Sony A6000 was used for this review.
The Sigma 30mm F/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens (B&H Photo) is for Sony mirrorless ‘e’ APS-C sensor cameras, or Micro Four thirds, it will not cover full frame sensors. Additionally, the ‘Contemporary’ name Sigma says is the perfect blend of image quality and compact size; however, the Sony FE 55/1.8 (full frame)and Sony 35/1.8 (APS-C) are actually smaller than this lens. The ‘DC’ means it completely covers APS-C, and more than micro four thirds sensors. The letters ‘DN’ (digital neo) means it has a ‘short flange back distance for mirrorless cameras.
This lens does not incorporate any type of image stabilization, (Optical Steady Shot), so you’ll need a camera body with sensor based image stabilization to help you out if you’re shaky like me and wind up with blurry pictures at slow shutter speeds. The optics appear to be quite good, which is the most important quality in my opinion, and what we really want, right?
Funny side note section; Sigma says on their website, first paragraph, here, “This version, which is optimized for mirrorless cameras, cannot be bad because it is the latest lens”. There you have it folks, this lens is not bad, and cannot be bad!!! I guess the positive part of the statement somehow has been lost in translation.
Full frame use. This lens mechanically vignettes to a big black circle when used on a full frame camera with APS-C size capture turned off. You will not gain any image area when used in this way.
Fit and finish. The lens appears to be made up of mostly plastic, or what Sigma calls Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, along with a metal mount. Sigma claims the use of two aspherical elements, plus one ‘high refractive index, high dispersion element.” The lens is made in Aizu Japan.
Filter size is 52mm, which is common among Zeiss wide to mid focal length lenses, but so far no Sony ‘e’ mount lenses use this size. Be careful when mounting filters as the filter threads appear to be plastic. I’ve had great luck with Tiffen and Hoya; they’re priced appropriately, and are the only brands I use now.
Focusing. This lens auto-focuses quickly and mostly accurately, (your results may vary depending on camera model and lens quality control), and has a very quiet ‘linear focusing motor. The front filter ring doesn’t turn when focusing, so your polarizers and grads will work well. The focusing ring is easy to turn with one finger, and is damped about right. Amount of focus ring travel depends on how fast you turn the focus ring.
In the box is the lens, front and rear caps, and a plastic solid type hood.
|Official lens name and code||Sigma 30mm F/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Sony MFR# 302965, MFT MFR# 302963 B&H Photo.|
|Box contents||Front cap, rear cap, solid type hood, and user’s manual in multiple languages.|
|Cost||$340 as of 6/17.|
|Build Quality||plastic, but nice fit and finish.|
|Additional information||This model is made for Sony ‘E’ mount cameras, and won’t work on ‘A’ mount cameras as of this review.|
|Optical configuration||9 elements in 7 groups.|
|Angle of view||51° diagonally.|
|Aperture||9 blades, curved|
|Coverage for||Sony ‘E’ APS-C sensor; the focal length (or capture area in 135 format) is equivalent to about 45mm, and about 60mm for MFT cameras.
|Depth of field and focus scales||Nothing.
|Minimum focus, image plane to subject||About 10.75″ (274mm) using manual focus.
|Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject||About 7″ (178mm) from front of lens barrel, no hood, manual focus.|
|Infinity focus hard stop||No.|
|Length changes when focusing||No.
|Focus ring turn in AF||No.
|Filter ring rotates||No.
|Maximum reproduction ratio||1.7x or 0.14x MF.|
|Sony Teleconverter compatible||No.
|Length changes when zooming||N/A
|Dimensions WxL||2.6″ x 2.9″ 65mm x 73mm.
|Maximum extended length||Lens does not extend.
|Weight||9.3oz, (265g) bare.|
Optical qualities summary.
|Lens flare/ghosting||overall, good control.|
|Light fall-off||heavy wide open, low at F/2.|
|Color fringing||poor to moderate control of lateral type, very small amount of axial type at wide open to F/2, both mostly correctable in Lightroom 5+.|
|Bokeh||Poor wide open at all focusing background distances, but smooths out some as you stop down the aperture.|
|Color||seems about the same as Sony lenses.|
|Close-up filter||not tested.|
|Regular filters||not tested, but may cause some additional vignetting.|
|Filter size||52mm. Not used by Sony as of this review for the E system.|
|Distortion||Moderate to strong barrel type, but correctable in-camera or with simple distortions sliders such as in lightroom or ACDSee.
Close focus Shot.
The image below is the usual stamp shot from the old site. The subject is a standard US stamp, 0.87″x 1.0″ or 22mm x 25mm. It’s very sharp stopped down a bit, the one below at F/5.6. The reproduction size is pretty small, so no link to a larger version. As a side note; the ‘1996’ text in the lower left corner of the stamp is a mere 1mm wide in real life!
The first image shows moderate to strong barrel distortion without any in camera corrections. The second image looks very straight with in-camera corrections, or using distortion sliders in lightroom etc. The next sideways shot shows how the lens handles the full sun, which is pretty good overall, just watch out when the sun is situated near the edge of the lens/hood. The last four show the character of the background highlight blur, or ‘bokeh,’ which looks very harsh wide open, and only softens a bit by stopping down the aperture; reminiscent of a kit lens.
Vignetting sample below.
Vignetting or light fall-off is strong wide open, but extends deep into the center, so it really doesn’t seem very noticeable unless displayed like this. One stop down to F/2 and the whole frame gets quite a bit brighter, but that’s about it; there’s not much more to gain from a smaller aperture. The extreme corners look like they’re almost clipped, check out the F/2 shot. I don’t have a 52mm filter handy to check for any additional light fall off, but it looks like a thick filter could possibly cause some mechanical vignetting. These test shots have not been distortion corrected, and by doing that you may not have a problem.
Our sample set for this lens shows part of Catalina State Park in Tucson AZ. The set was hand-held, so the images don’t line up perfectly if you download and flip through them. Also, the bottom right foliage is not within the depth of field at wide apertures. The resolution is very impressive at F/1.4; with the sides a little soft, but perfectly acceptable; I see a little axial color fringing (reddish tinge) but this is almost gone at F/2. Stopping down to F/2 gets rid of the somewhat heavy light fall-off, and makes the picture brighter with the same light value. F/2.8-5.6 show about the same, the sides don’t look any sharper until F/8. Resolution at the sides (and corners especially) is maxed out at F/8, but you get about 95% of the whole frame maximum resolution at F/2-2.8. Going to F/11 shows softening due to diffraction. Check out the full size samples below, and download them for your personal inspection. All images taken from RAW capture and converted to Jpeg. Please note: mobile devices most likely will not show the full quality of the images.
Click buttons above for full size versions, 6000×4000.
The Sigma 30mm F/1.4 DC DN is a fast ‘normal’ lens for your APS-C and micro four thirds cameras. It’s slightly on the wide side of ‘normal’ for APS-C users, about 45mm in 135 film format, and on the long side for MFT users, with an ‘equivalent’ focal length 60mm in 135 (full frame) format.
The technical image quality is very high; F/1.4 is totally usable even for landscape photography in low light, and there is no noticeable coma in the far corners! Other positives include low axial color fringing (but not lateral), and a simple distortion pattern which is easy to correct in post processing when shooting RAW. I should also mention the very reasonable price, especially for this kind of performance.
There are a couple of negatives for pixel peepers; the background blur is harsh at F/1.4, but softens a little as you stop down; and that goes for all focusing lengths. Color fringing is not well controlled at all along the sides, (lateral type) but it’s easy to fix in post; however, it did not auto correct on my A6000.
Focusing was not all that accurate on the A6000, but you may get different results depending on varying camera/lens calibrations.
The Sigma 30/1.4 DC DN is very inexpensive, about $340, so how does it compare to more expensive similar Sony lenses? The Sony 35/1.8 is noticeably smaller and lighter, and it also has OSS or optical stabilization; the focal length is a little longer, and the lens is about a half stop slower. Resolution wise, I don’t think it’s as good at wider apertures as the Sigma is, although I don’t have that lens on hand to compare it directly. Not really a competitor to this Sigma, the full frame 55/1.8 is better all the way around, but almost triple the price.
Bottom line; the Sigma 30/1.4 DC DN performs very well as a fast ‘normal’ lens; and would make a great addition to your APS-C or MFT camera bag, it’s really worth more than the street price!!
That’s it for this review. Please check out the Sigma 30/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens at B&H Photo and help support the site!