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Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Review

John Riley reviews the new Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens for E-mount and L-mount mirrorless cameras.


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Sigma 65mm F2 Front Oblique View

Hot on the heels of the 35mm f/2 lens just reviewed, we have a second I series optic from Sigma. This is the Sigma 65mm f/2 DN DG Contemporary and it matches point for point the aspirations and the design ethos of the 35mm.

It is firmly aimed at the top end of the market, with metal construction and the highest aspirations for performance. Used on a full-frame mirrorless camera, this is perhaps somewhere between a “long standard” and “short telephoto” lens, which can have benefits for those of us who always end up cropping our images slightly. It is also usable on APS-C bodies, where it has a “35mm equivalent” of 97.5mm, almost a 100mm lens, which is a very useful length indeed.

The lens has been provided in Sony FE fit, but is also available in L mount. So, having been very impressed with the performance of the 35mm lens, let's take the Sony Alpha A7R III body and see how this second offering fares.

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Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Handling and Features

Sigma 65mm F2 On Sony A7RIII

The design ethos of the lens is identical to that of the 35mm, and the same design quirks and comments equally well apply.

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 plastic 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. A simple solution to this is to use the standard lens cap, and leave the magnetic one in the box. As soon as filters are attached the magnetic lens cap cannot be used anymore. The standard filter thread is provided and this lens takes 62mm filters. Unfortunately, the filter size is not consistent across the I-range of small primes, for example, the 35mm took 58mm filters.

Sigma 65mm F2 Alternative Lenscaps

Moving along towards the camera body, we find the electronic manual focusing ring, as smooth as silk, as we might expect. Focusing is down to 0.55m, or 1.8 feet. This is a maximum magnification of 1:6.8, not macro distances but usefully close. 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 this 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 65mm F2 Vertical View
Optical construction is 12 elements in 9 groups. There are 1 SLD (Super Low Dispersion) and 2 Glass Moulded Aspheric elements. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades and provides an impressively round aperture even at small settings.

Rounding this off, the lens is dust and splash-proof and its quality metal construction still only results in a reasonably light 405g 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.

The L mount version of the lens is compatible with the Sigma USB Dock UD-11 for updates. The Sony version will receive its updates via the camera body.

Much of what has been said about the 35mm equally applies to the 65mm, after which it depends on the individual and how we relate to the slightly unusual focal length. On APS-C it becomes my personal favourite focal length for a short telephoto (nominally 100mm), which is ideal for landscapes, portraits and close-range sports and wildlife. On full-frame, it is a very long standard lens, which would nominally be 50mm but which can be 58mm. Stretching this to 65mm is actually very effective and the lens retains the versatility of the concept of a “standard lens”.

Sigma 65mm F2 Rear Oblique View


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