First and foremost, I would like to thank and appreciate Mr Lawson from Sigma Marketing (Singapore) for loaning me the Sigma 16mm f1.4 Contemporary DC DN lens for making this review possible.
Similar to Sigma 30mm f1.4 Contemporary DC DN, I refer to Sigma 16mm f1.4 Contemporary DC DN as “Sigma 16mm f1.4” in short. Unlike the Sigma 30mm f1.4, it was announced back in October 2017 but was only available for EF-M, E-mount, L-mount and Micro Four Thirds back then. Now it is available in X-mount too.
Being a 24mm full-frame equivalent ultra-wide lens, the first thing that I can’t help noticing how huge the lens is. It is almost identical to the size of the Fuji XF16mm f1.4 and it is merely taller. Speaking of comparison, I will not compare both lenses directly as I believe every lens has its own reasons to be here and hence giving it a fair chance to shine.
I decided to shift this section to the front because Sigma 16mm f1.4 comes at a very interesting and competitive price point. In Singapore, it is priced at SGD648/USD449 (*SRP). It is just $50 more than the XF 16mm f2.8 (SGD599/USD399 SRP) and it is far cheaper than XF 16mm f1.4 (SGD1599/USD999 SRP). With such a competitive price, are you tempted to get Sigma instead of Fuji?
At this price point, lets me share with you what are the things you will be getting from this lens and what are the thing you will miss.
*SRP – Suggested Retail Price
Design & Build Quality
Sigma 16mm f1.4 has the same built element and design language as its brothers. It is a low profile lens that does not shout out loud, especially on the front glass. It is minimalistic on its own by labelling the wordings in black.
Although the body of the lens is made of “Thermally Stable Composite” (TSC) polycarbonate material, it feels well-constructed and comfortable to hold. But it does attract some fingerprints on the glossy material of the lens. Even so, it can be removed easily with a piece of cloth.
This huge lens weighs 405 grams and it is the heaviest one among the trio of Sigma lenses. I think there is quite a huge amount of heavy glass elements inside this lens, which explains the weighty weight. For readers who are looking to equip the lens with filters, it comes with a filter size of 67mm. It also comes with dust and splash resistant sealing that helps to protect the lens from certain conditions.
Similarly to the Sigma 30mm f1.4, it does not have an aperture ring too. So you have to control your aperture via the front dial of your camera. It’s a very similar approach to what Fujifilm has for XC lenses.
At f1.4, the image is usable. It retains the sharpness, contrast and details of the image very well. But for some shots especially shooting at infinity, the results tend to be soft at wide-open.
Although some vignetting can be observed, this can be easily resolved in post-processing or shot at a smaller aperture to reduce it. In my opinion, this can be forgiving and unavoidable because it is an ultra-wide lens after all.
There is also some slight chromatic aberration observed in some of my shots, but it is still within my acceptance level. Again, it can be removed easily with post-processing.
On the subject of the sunny star result, I prefer the shot taken at f16 as the “star” looks sharper than the one at f8. As for the lens flare, it did control very well too.
One thing to note, I never expect how good the control of the lens distortion for this ultra-wide lens. Probably thanks to the camera auto-correction? But nonetheless, the output is good.
This lens is silent and fast. This is something that I have expected after using Sigma 30mm f1.4 as I believe they are using the same stepping motor. The sound of the focusing experience that I have is close to complete silence. Please bear in mind that this lens has lots of heavy glass inside it and yet it can achieve something like this is totally remarkable.
Regarding the focusing accuracy, unfortunately, it also inherits the same issue as the Sigma 30mm f1.4 as well. Similar off-focused results when I shoot with the little green box lit up but it hardly happens. But not too worry about it, understand from Sigma that they are constantly improving their lenses’ focusing quality and accuracy via updates.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
The MFD of this lens is 25cm. By comparison, the XF16mm F1.4 is 15cm. Does it really matter? Not really matter as the general purpose of this lens is for landscape or similar genres.
But it does matter if the photographer could love to use the lens for other creative purposes. Because the closer the MFD you have, the more possibilities you can create with.
Sigma 16mm f1.4 does have its shortfall but it strikes a good balance between price and overall experience. For a lens optic design that has been around for 5 years, the image renders very remarkably sharp, especially at wide open. I have to appraise that Sigma did not compromise on the image quality and I think Sigma did the right thing here as I believe this is more important than anything else for every photographer.
Overall, I can accept what this lens has to offer. Likewise, how is it compared to XF16mm f1.4? All I can say is that both lenses are good at their price points and there are reasons to be at their price points. They supply different demands to different groups of photographers. In my opinion, there is no end to making comparisons between lenses.
Who is this for?
This lens is suitable for photographers who are just starting to learn photography or tipping their toes in the world of prime lenses but with a limited budget on hand or wish to have their money well spent. But who are these photographers?
Photographers who are landscape, environmental and architecture lovers, you may consider getting this lens in your arsenal. If you do not mind about its build quality, etc, the price of this lens can actually save you some money and maybe you can use that money to invest in other lenses or accessories.
For street photographers, this ultra-wide lens is harder to isolate your subject unless you get closer to it. If you know what you intend to do with this lens, otherwise I will not recommend you to use this lens.
To answer my question in the title, it is indeed a good alternative to XF16mm f1.4.
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 1.00.
3. Some of the shots are straight out of the camera while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing and Adobe Lightroom Classic & Capture One.
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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