First of all, allow me to thank Mr Lawson from Sigma Marketing (Singapore) for loaning me the Sigma 30mm f1.4 Contemporary DC DN lens for a review. I appreciate his support to make this review a reality.
Sigma 30mm f1.4 Contemporary DC DN (I will just call it Sigma 30mm in short for the rest of the review) was announced back in February 2016. It was introduced with various mounts (i.e. EF-M, M43, E-mount and Leica L). 6 years later, X-mount is the latest mount in the Sigma family.
35mm (50mm in full-frame equivalent) is a very popular focal length among all others. And then, Sigma comes with this 30mm focal length and this is an interesting focal length to compete with many 35mm lenses in the Fuji market. It also sits right between the 27mm and 33mm of what Fujifilm has offered.
At an equivalent to 45mm in full-frame, let’s dive in and see how this lens can actually perform.
Design & Build Quality
According to the official, the build of this lens is made out of a type of polycarbonate called “Thermally Stable Composite” (TSC). This material has a thermal expansion rate similar to that of aluminium and it also has a high affinity to metal parts which contributes to high-quality product manufacturing.
And according to my hands-on, it feels great to hold. Although it is polycarbonate built, it does not feel cheap at all. The lens is very well built and solid. But one thing to point out is that it is a fingerprint magnet and it can leave some fingerprint marks on the lens. Luckily, it can be easily wiped off.
This lens comes with a filter size of 52mm and it is more than welcome for photographers to buy filters at a more affordable price.
At 275 grams, the weight of this compact lens is decently light to mount on any Fujifilm camera body without feeling adding much weight to the camera.
One fact to note is that this lens is equipped with dust and splash resistant sealing that helps to protect the lens from certain conditions.
Before I share my opinion about the optical quality. My understanding from Sigma Marketing is that the lens optical is exactly the same as other mounts, which also means that the glass elements and design are the same as 6 years ago.
So how does it perform in real-world situations? Well, the image quality is exceptionally good. The results at wide-open actually surprised me. The details, sharpness and contrast are well preserved.
As for the chromatic aberration, I hardly notice it. I think the lens did a good job of controlling it. It does help us to reduce one task in our post-processing.
For the sunny star result, the shot taken at f8 produces much softer and less rounded results. On the other hand, it looks sharper at f16 and more detailed than that of f8.
Two words to describe it. Silent sniper. The focusing speed is surprisingly fast, accurate and completely silent. The word “completely” may sound too strong but it is really silent and the only sound I can hear is coming from my shutter. All thanks to the stepping motor that is equipped with the lens, this also means that this lens can be a wise choice for videographers to consider.
As for accuracy, I can say it has a very high accuracy rate, probably around 95%. Why not 100%? Because I do encounter a few off-focused results when the little green box has lit up. For under low light situations, this lens still performs well most of the time.
Something to highlight, when I am trying to do some closed up shots under broad daylight, I encountered this phenomenon where the subject is not in focus but the little green box has lit up. What I do is focus on another nearby object and then it works as per normal.
But rest assure, Sigma is constantly updating their lenses to improve the focus quality and accuracy. In fact, there is an update for this lens last Friday. Unfortunately, I do not have the chance to give it a try.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
The MFD is at 30cm which is considered quite close but not extremely close. One thing to note is that shooting at MFD produces a very special character to the photo. Shooting under sunlight, the focused object looks sharp but anything around it is kind of soft and the softness will slowly blend into the background as the distance is further from the object. Somehow, I quite like how it renders.
Also, if you are shooting wide-open at the MFD, it produces a very shallow depth of field.
I rarely open up discussions about price points. But this lens is really positioned itself very well. At *SGD488 (or USD339), it is slightly above as XC35mm f2 at SGD299 (or USD 199) and way below XF35mm f2 at SGD699 (or USD 399). Yet it offers one full stop more light.
With this price point, it does attract a lot of potential buyers who are about to start their photography journey.
*The price quoted is based on Recommended Retail Price.
Coming from a guy who likes to shoot streets with 23mm and 35mm focal lengths, I am able to adapt the Sigma 30mm f1.4 very well. In these 2 weeks of loan, I do not find much of a challenge using this lens except for the above-mentioned issue.
For a slightly over a demi-decade old glass design, the photos taken with this lens are considered impressive and pretty usable, especially for the wide-open shots.
However, this lens does come with some downsides. First, it does not has an aperture ring. Something that I do miss sometimes. Second, it is not a full weather resistant lens. It does not matter to me but I think it is good to let the readers know.
Overall, I think this piece of glass does strike a good balance between price, image quality and the tradeoffs. Plus, it is made in Japan.
Who is this for?
This focal length covers well in most genres such as street, journalism, portraits and landscape. Hence I will highly recommend it to an amateur who just picking up photography and trying to explore the world with prime lenses; someone who does not has a 35mm focal length; and someone who is on a tight budget.
Thank you for reading.
1. The lens is a loan unit from Mr. Lawson from Sigma Marketing (Singapore). By the time this review is online, the lens had returned back to Sigma Marketing (Singapore).
2. The lens firmware that I am using is version 0.63.
3. Some of the shots are straight out of the camera while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing and Adobe Lightroom Classic.
4. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
5. All the shots taken here are shot by me. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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7 thoughts on “Sigma 30mm f1.4 – Never Too Late”
Hey! Thanks for the great review, I’m torn between getting this or the Fuji 35mm f2, just wondering if you’ve any thoughts on which is best?
Thank you for your kind words. In my opinion, XF35mm f2 is just slightly sharper than Sigma 30mm f1.4 if you are concerned about the image quality. It is hard to tell the difference if you do not pixel peep. Apart from that, XF35mm f2 comes with metal build. (Both lenses have weather resistant of sort)
But after saying all these, I still prefer the Sigma 30mm f1.4 because it is 1/2 stop brighter and I will never know when I will need it.
Hi! I like your review here and I would like to use this lens mainly on older Fuji bodies (X-E1, X-M1). On the Sigma website is a list with compatible cameras, but the first generation Fuji’s are not listed (even the X-Pro 1 is missing). Do you have maybe some experience with these bodies? Do you think it’s just a short list and I don’t need to worry? Thank you in advance for your answer and keep it up! Viktor
Hi Viktor, I think it is just a short list. It should work with older camera bodies but AF wise might be slower. If you are able to visit any camera store, bring your camera along and try it out in the store.
Thank you for your kind words and support.