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Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review - John Riley reviews the new 16mm f/1.4 Sigma lens for Sony E mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Sigma Af 16mm F1,4 Front Oblique View

Sigma now have a new offering in their expanding range of CSC lenses for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and Sony E APS-C format cameras. This new 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary lens has a 35mm-format equivalent of 32mm in MFT and around 24mm in APS-C. This makes it a wide standard lens on the Panasonic Lumix G6 body used for this review, and more of an ultra-wide on Sony E CSCs. In either case, with its bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, potentially we have here a very useful lens. It will be very interesting to see how it performs.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C Handling and Features

Sigma Af 16mm F1,4 On Lumix G6

Weighing in at a modest 380g, without hood or caps, the lens is by no means a burden. It is supplied with a solid petal lens hood that bayonets cleanly into place. This surrounds a filter thread of 67mm.The only other adornment is the wide, electronically operating, manual focusing ring. This is very smooth and probably best switched off in camera if MF is not being used. Otherwise, the natural grip on the lens barrel also grips the ring, which could be accidentally moved. As the MF function works with the AF system this could be an issue for some. However, as the AF is so fast and silent, thanks to the excellent stepping motor used, there is little motivation for manual focus in general use. One exception could be macro photography, where small manual adjustments to the point of focus can be useful. As this use would probably involve mounting the camera on a tripod, there would be no issue with accidental shifting of the focus point.

Focusing is down to 0.25m, or 0.82 feet. This gives a maximum magnification of 1:9.9, which is about what would be expected of a traditional 35mm or so wide standard lens.

Sigma state that the lens is dust and splashproof, but the instruction leaflet advises that it isn't waterproof and should be kept dry in the rain. This does seem to be a contradiction, but as the website is very clear over the issue then perhaps a modest amount of rain would be acceptable, but certainly not immersion in water.

Coverage of the lens is suitable for APS-C and MFT formats, being identified as such by the DC designation. DN refers to a mirrorless design with a short back focus, made possible as there is no SLR mirror in the way.

Sigma Af 16mm F1,4 With Hood On Lumix G6

Optical construction is 16 elements in 13 groups, and interestingly the instruction leaflet makes a point of informing that all the glass used is both Lead and Arsenic free. This is relevant to environmental issues if and when the lens is finally disposed of. There are various special lens elements, including 2 moulded glass aspheric, 2 SLD (Super Low Dispersion) and 3 FLD (Fluorite-like Low Dispersion). The FLD glass performs in a way very similar to a fluorite element, helping to reduce chromatic aberration even further. Fluorite elements are both expensive and quite brittle, so the FLD glass can be used with a very similar end result. There are 9 rounded diaphragm blades, aimed at making the aperture as circular as possible for improved bokeh.

Looking at the lens in terms of its 35mm-format equivalent field of view, in MFT format a 32mm lens is unusual, the closest being the SMC Pentax 31mm f/1.8 Limited SLR optic. In use it has its advantages though, offering a very fast wide-standard lens that has a multitude of possible applications, from street photography to group portraits, architecture and landscape as well as general subjects. The lens is obviously well made, it focuses very quickly and silently and really has no operational glitches at all. Excellent ergonomics.

If the lens is Sony E fit, then the APS-C format gives an equivalent of 24mm, a classic ultra-wide focal length. This would also be an excellent lens for street photography, landscapes and architecture, although it is always possible to use lenses outside their normal, accepted applications, sometimes to very good effect.

Sigma Af 16mm F1,4 Rear Oblique View
 

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C Performance

Looking first at sharpness, a fast, bright f/1.4 optic might be expected to start off slightly soft at open aperture, but in fact the new Sigma has very good central sharpness from f/1.4 through to f/2, rising to excellent from f/2.8 through to f/8. Diffraction starts to take hold, as would be expected with the small MFT format, but performance remains very good even at f/11 and f/16.

Edge sharpness is also creditable, being very good from f/1.4 to f/2.8, excellent at f/4 and f/5.6 and then very good at f/8 and f/11. Results are softer at the edges at f/16, but can still be described as good.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very low centrally throughout the aperture range. It is a little higher at the edges, but unlikely to be an issue except in the most demanding circumstances. Correction can be switched on in cameras or tackled in software if desired.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix G6 using Imatest.

 

Barrel distortion measures -0.08%, virtually perfect drawing. Whether this is because of the high level of correction of the lens or because of basic processing in camera that is integral to the system and cannot be switched off is impossible to say, but the result is in any event excellent.

It is quite difficult to induce any flare at all, even when shooting directly into the sun.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is helped by the circular bladed diaphragm. The overall effect is very smooth and backgrounds avoid any of the “busy” or “ragged” look that can happen with high resolution lenses.

In summary, an excellent overall performance and a very fine lens, living up to its claim to be almost on a par with the Sigma Art range.


Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art Sample Photos

 

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Sigma AF 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens costs £449. There are no other f/1.4 lenses in direct competition for these mounts, and Fujifilm users have a Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens, but the following may offer some alternatives that we can make a comparison to:

Olympus 17mm f/1.8 M. Zuiko, £369
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, £459
Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II ASPH, £299
Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton, £799
Samyang 16mm f/2 ED AS UMC CS, £357

The new lens seems to be very good value against these, particularly taking into account the ultra-bright maximum aperture. For more options have a look at the Top 21 Best Sigma lenses, or the Top 28 Wide-angle Landscape Lenses.

 

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C Verdict

The Sigma AF 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens gives excellent performance, a reasonable price and a very bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, which all add up to a very desirable package, that will be apealling for both Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-Mount photographers.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Very low CA
  • Negligible distortion
  • Well priced
  • Fast, bright f/1.4 aperture
  • Silent AF useful for video
  • Dust and splash resistant

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C Cons

  • No distance scale
  • No depth of field scale

Features4/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Art Specifications

ManufacturerSigma
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length16mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size67mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus25cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements16
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight380g
Height92.3mm

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Comments


dpphotos777 New Member
1 Dec 2017 8:51PM
Exciting lens for sure! Which level is excellent, 2000 or 2500?

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Yes, I have question, because already have Sigma C 30 mm and looking at review of this lens and 30 mm and at pure numbers it looks WAY WORSe, or i have to consider some other aspect in regard of sharpness(LW/PH)?
3 Dec 2017 4:39PM
It has to be related to the theoretical maximum possible for a given sensor.

So, for example, the figures for a 16MP sensor will be far lower than those for a 36MP or 50MP sensor. However, in relation to the sensor limit we can still evaluate the performance in terms of a description such as "very good" as well as the actual numbers. Two 16MP sensors could of course be directly compared.
11 Dec 2017 6:03PM
yes, but there is an
Quote:It has to be related to the theoretical maximum possible for a given sensor.

So, for example, the figures for a 16MP sensor will be far lower than those for a 36MP or 50MP sensor. However, in relation to the sensor limit we can still evaluate the performance in terms of a description such as "very good" as well as the actual numbers. Two 16MP sensors could of course be directly compared.



Yes but there is some kind of multiplier or way to calculate how it would look on 24 MP sensor? Because on that one's was Sigma 30 mm tested.
11 Dec 2017 7:21PM
It isn't that simple to do a straight comparison, but if we describe a lens aperture as "excellent" then that is the same for all lenses. Take the text as a whole as well as the graphs and it makes up a picture of a lens. There are other factors as well, such as the "look" that a lens produces and some of the best lenses have a character that can't be directly measured in numbers. Finally, the overall rating sums up the various factors and gives an indication of how good a lens is. Of course even "good" can be open to interpretation, depending on what the photographer wants. So an ultra-sharp macro lens, for example, won't be much use if we want a softer open aperture look for portraits.

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