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Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Review

John Riley reviews the new full-frame Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens for E-mount and L-mount mirrorless cameras.


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Sigma 35mm F2 Front Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

This is the first of the new I-series of lenses from Sigma, firmly aimed at the top end of the market, with metal construction and the highest aspirations for performance. This will be a range of small, high-quality prime lenses. 35mm has always been regarded as an excellent “wide standard” lens for full-frame and it can also be utilised as a standard lens for APS-C format. However, it is aimed at the full-frame user in particular and is available for L mount and Sony FE mount mirrorless cameras. Here we have a close look at the new lens, using the 42MP Sony Alpha A7R III body.

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Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Handling and Features

Sigma 35mm F2 On Sony A7RIII | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

As we shall see, there are a couple of quirky claims regarding the lens, and the first starts right at the front. The bayonet fit round lens hood is also metal and bayonets very nicely onto the lens. The standard clip-on lens cap is provided, but also a metal magnetic cap that just clips onto the front to provide “better integration”. Whatever that may mean, there is also a caveat in the instructions that warns that the cap should be kept well away from credit and debit cards lest their magnetic information should be corrupted. Many people don't read instructions, and some may do what I do and pop a lens cap into a trouser pocket during a shoot, so it is always on hand in the same place. Unfortunately, this is also where my wallet might be found, and if my credit and debit cards should become corrupted I would not be happy. As soon as filters are attached the magnetic lens cap cannot be used anymore. The standard filter thread is provided and this lens takes 58mm filters. Unfortunately, the filter size is not consistent across the I-range of small primes.

Moving along towards the camera body, next up is the electronic manual focusing ring, as smooth as silk as we might expect. Focusing is down to 0.27m, or 0.89 feet. This is a maximum magnification of 1:5.7, not macro distances but usefully close for general use. The usual settings for AF found on Sony bodies are supported – so AF, MF and DMF (Direct Manual Focus) are available as usual. This last setting enables tweaks to be made to the focus position manually whilst still in AF mode. Just behind this ring is a cut out in the mount design where there is some lettering (Made in Japan and minimum focus distance) but perhaps with a bit of redesign could be more useful for a depth of field scale, which is not provided.

The aperture ring offers an A setting, should we wish to use the camera to set the aperture, and a very well delineated aperture scale in one-third of a stop increments. Another quirky claim is the use of “sound deadening grease” to improve the experience for videographers. However, there is no lock on the A setting to prevent it being knocked accidentally, nor is there any way to switch off the clicks. It is beautifully damped, but the clicks are no more silent than most.
Sigma 35mm F2 On Sony A7RIII With Hood | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100

Optical construction is 10 elements in 9 groups. There are 1 SLD (Super Low Dispersion) and 3 Glass Moulded Aspheric elements. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades and provides a creditably round aperture even at small settings.

Rounding this off nicely, the lens is dust and splashproof and its quality metal construction still only results in a reasonably light 325g weight. Before we reach the camera body, the last control is the usual AF/MF switch. The actual bayonet mount is a very firm fit on the A7R III body, but is clearly of high quality and ensures there is absolutely no play in the fit.

It's a very pleasing lens in use, with a few strange quirks as mentioned and some design points that I feel could be improved. The performance will be the key to whether or not this lens makes the grade, so let's have a look at that next.
Sigma 35mm F2 Rear Oblique View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 115.0 mm | ISO 100


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