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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Lens Review

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Lens Review - John Riley reviews the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for mirrorless cameras, available in E-mount and Micro Four Thirds.

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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sigma 30mm F1,4 Dc Dn Contemporary Front Oblique View

This new Sigma lens is part of the Contemporary range. It offers a bright f/1.4 aperture and on Sony E mount APS-C format cameras offers a “35mm equivalent” of a short standard lens of 45mm. The MFT fit version offers the equivalent of a long standard lens of 60mm. The lens is an unassuming optic, in a relatively plain box and with little information in the provided instruction leaflet. However, is it also a lesson in the principle of not judging a book by its cover? Let's find out what's hidden within and what surprises there might be.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Handling and Features

Sigma 30mm F1,4 Dc Dn Contemporary Top View With Hood

The lens was tested with the Sony Alpha A7R II body and it matches it perfectly, giving a compact and well balanced overall package. The E mount is smooth and positive and there is no play when fitted. Being an APS-C format optic, the camera recognises this and switches to an 18MP APS-C mode automatically, assuming that feature is switched on. One advantage of the electronic viewfinder/monitor is that the cropped sensor format is shown full size of the screen with no cropping such as would be seen with an optical system.

Starting at the front of the lens, the bayonet fitting for the provided circular lens hood encloses a 52mm filter thread. The 9 rounded diaphragm blades can be clearly seen, providing an almost perfectly circular aperture. This is always closed down to taking aperture for viewing but briefly opens for focusing before closing down again as the shutter releases. The focusing is very snappy and shows no sign of hunting.

The focus-by-wire manual focusing ring is generously wide and apart from that there is nothing else to disturb the clean lines of the lens. Sadly, there is no weather resistance, so suitable care should be taken in damp weather.

Sigma 30mm F1,4 Dc Dn Contemporary On Sony 7r Ii

The lens specification is 9 elements in 7 groups, focusing via internal focus down to a nicely close 0.3m (11.8”), giving a maximum magnification of 0.14x or 1:7. This is not a macro lens, but it still focuses usefully close. The lens weighs in at a modest 140g.

The whole package gives an overall impression of being very under-stated and there is little to comment upon. The standard of finish is excellent and the few markings there are crisp and easy to read. The plastics are of good quality and the ergonomics absolutely satisfactory. It simply does what it says on the box, without fuss, and the unobtrusive appearance could well be a benefit in street photography for photographers also wishing to be unobtrusive.

Sigma 30mm F1,4 Dc Dn Contemporary Rear Oblique View
 

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Performance

Once we start to look at the performance, things become rather more exciting.

Sharpness is of a very high order indeed and is probably the crowning glory of the lens. Centrally, the results are excellent wide open at f/1.4 and outstanding between f/2 and f/5.6. This excellence continues all the way through to f/16. Obviously the figures do drop as diffraction takes its toll, but they still remain well within the band that we describe as excellent.

The edges are excellent at all apertures, peaking at f/2.8 where the figures nudge upwards to being described as outstanding. f/2.8 is the peak of the lens performance right across the frame. The outcome of this is some lovely crisp images, full of detail. The gradation is also excellent, giving us that indefinable “look” to the images that lifts it out of just being a technical exercise in resolution. The overall performance is extremely well balanced.

MTF Detail
MTF Detail

MTF
MTF Chart

How to read our 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 Sony Alpha A7R II using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very much under control, especially at the centre. At high contrast boundaries some CA can be seen at the frame edges, but it really is not much of a problem in most circumstances. In any event, this can be corrected in software, if felt necessary.

CA Chart
CA Chart

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration 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 Sony Alpha A7R II using Imatest.

 

Flare is not a problem either and clearly the lens design and coatings are well thought out and highly effective. Shots against the light retain their saturation and contrast, an impressive result.

The bokeh likewise is lovely, the almost circular aperture contributing to a wonderful smooth look to the out of focus areas.  

Distortion is the biggest lens defect and we are presented with -2.95% barrel. This can clearly be seen where straight lines are at the frame edges, although here too this can be corrected in software. Some correction in architectural shots might well be routinely necessary.


Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Sample Photos

Value For Money

There is not much in way of a direct competitor for this lens, perhaps the Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS (£349) or the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 (£419) being the closest.

There is also a Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC at £389, but this is manual focus only. Likewise the Samyang 35mm T1.5 AS UMC II at £419.

With such a splendid performance from the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens, who could argue with the modest £249 price tag?  

For more options have a look at the Top 10 Best Sigma lenses.

 

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Verdict

Perhaps now we should describe the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens as a wolf in sheep's clothing, as its unassuming exterior houses a superb compact lens that really delivers the goods. Even without considering the price, the lens is an absolute gem. The modest price tag is a wonderful bonus.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Pros

  • Outstanding sharpness
  • Well controlled CA
  • No flare
  • Close focusing
  • Fast and accurate AF
  • Excellent price

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Cons

  • No weather resistance
  • Some barrel distortion

Features4/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value5/5
Overall Verdict

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C Specifications

ManufacturerSigma
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length30mm
Angle of View50.7
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size52mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.14x
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements9
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight140g
Height73.3mm

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
11 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
7 Sep 2016 12:48PM
Seems a bit strange to test the lens on a sensor larger than the optics imaging circle. Although in many ways it would indicate the performance you might expect from an 18mp APSc size sensor it does raise questions about the edge performance on a 'real' APSc - would it be as sharp as the remarkable figures indicated here?

Not a lens I'm likely to add to my MFT arsenal, but only because I've got the PanaLeica 25 f1.4. If that wasn't so similar for practical purposes [I think it's my favourite for the format], I'd probably have the credit card out now...

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lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
8 Sep 2016 12:57PM
The Sony automatically switches to APS-C format when such a lens is fitted, Chris so it actually reflects it properly. I'd like to see it tried on Micro Four Thirds sensor but given the performance here, it's be pretty good. I'd like a 19mm f/1.4 version!
ChrisV Plus
11 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
9 Sep 2016 3:46PM
I know that Dave, I just question what effect that will have on edge performance when it's not actually hitting the edge of the sensor. Will there be the same fall-off for angle diffraction? I don't know - I'm just asking the question - possibly the angles are the same so it would measure the same. I suppose the imaging circle of MFT, being that much smaller, edge definition and vignetting when wide open may perform even better...
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
10 Sep 2016 12:29PM
Sorry, Chris. It never occurred to me it would be different, since, as you say, the angles are the same so I didn't follow your train of thought. I suppose the bevelled mount at the sensor edges might alter something but I wouldn't have thought so. The extreme edges of the sensor aren't used for imaging anyway from what I read.

The situation would be the same therefore if this lens was fitted to an Micro Four Thirds body, same lens, same image quality but since you are using a smaller centre section of the image circle it would eliminate the worst of any edge fall off. I'm pretty poor with theory but no different to shooting a raw image on an APS-C sensor and cropping proportionally to Micro Four Thirds. Or am I missing something?
2 Mar 2018 10:11PM
A new firmware for that 30mm Sigma is available,
Now yo can download version #2 and #3
● Improved AF performance when the "Eye AF" function is selected.
● Improved AF performance in the peripheral areas in the image, when the "Lock on AF" function is selected.
● Improved feeling of the MF operation of the lens.
SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary for Sony E-mount firmware Ver.02 is available for update at the following site....

https://www.sigma-global.com/en/download/lenses/firmware/

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