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LensVid Exclusive: Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN Lens Review


We recently tested the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 E mount lens and today we are going to look at its longer and faster sister – the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for E-mount.

Although this lens is not as small as the 19mm it is still pretty compact and offers a much faster aperture and a focal length which can be used for portraits (on APS-C we are looking at about 45mm equivalent focal length).

So after our raving review of the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 lens, the question here is the same – can this lens perform to the same high standard- especially given it’s somewhat more challenging basic design – let’s take a look.

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 in the hand

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  • Build quality – The build quality of the Sigma 30mm is pretty good. Note that this is not an ART lens (like the 19mm) but belongs to the contemporary series. To be honest the only difference we see externally is in the general design of the focus ring. Also – unlike the 19mm this lens makes no sound when you shake it.
  • Size and weight – The lens is pretty compact with a length of under 9 cm or 3.5 inches and a laughable weight of about 285 grams or 10 oz.
  • Ring – Just like the Sigma 19mm, the 30mm f/1.4 has a single ring for focusing. However unlike the 19mm the ring here has more conventional rubber groves, unlike the smooth metallic feel of the 19mm. Both lenses use a fly-by-wire style mechanism which means that they have no hard lock when you turn them and you can basically turn them endlessly. We would actually prefer a more traditional mechanism but we guess that it is simpler and less expensive to make and it seems to work fine.
  • Hood – The lens comes with a small short plastic hood but it seems to do the job or at the very least gives some extra protection to the rather small front element (by the way the lens has a 52mm filter thread although the front element itself is even smaller).
  • AF – The lens seems to focus fairly fast and we didn’t have any perceived problems with focus speed or accuracy although it is possible that native Sony lenses are still better than Sigma’s in this respect. Also note that this lens, just like the 19mm, has no optical stabilization (although at least with the new Sony A6500 – this is less of a problem as the camera has its own – on sensor 5 axis stabilizer).
  • sharpness – Not surprisingly wide open this lens is not as sharp as the 19mm f/2.8 but still gives some very nice results and from f/2 its very sharp indeed. The drawback is in the corners – results are not good until f/5.6 and you really get sharp results only at f/8 – far behind the 19mm.

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  • CA – we encountered fairly minimal CA with the lens.
  • Flare – We didn’t encounter and significant flare with the lens which is nice.
  • Vignette – With our A6300 vignette auto correction off you can see that wide open there is some darkening in the corners, however just like with the 19mm – the auto correction on the Sony typically works pretty well, but with a bit higher ISO in the corners.

Vignette at f/1.4 and f/2 – it practically disappears at f/4

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  • Barrel – Again – like with the 19mm lens – we didn’t see barrel distortion in our test results – either the lens is distortion free or Sony has some auto correct that we didn’t find (in a second look at the test image you might see a bit or distortion but this is not too bad at all).

You can actually see a bit of barrel distortion with the line on the top of the frame

barrel-distoration

  • Bokeh – Like with all lenses that we have tested – light circles get round only at around f/2.8 – wide open you will get the common oval shape. You can see below how the background blurring looks at f/1.4.

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Conclusion

So let’s try and sum up this quick look at the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens for E-mount cameras. Just like the 19mm f/2.8, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is well built, compact and rather affordable at $340 (although this is still almost 1.5 times the price of the 19mm lens).

We want to mention that we shot quite a lot of video with the lens in Photokina and you can see some of the results on the video above (mind you this is mostly 1080p and not 4K with the A6300).

As for the performance of the lens –  it seems to be very sharp in the center especially if you stop it down a bit but the corners are far less impressive than what you get with the 19mm and you need to stop the lens down all the way to f/8 to get truly sharp corners.

Very good sharpness in the center – click to enlarge

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Unlike the 19mm f/2.8 which is really a steal at its sub $200 price with very little competition at all – the 30mm f/1.4 does have some competition – for example the Sony 35mm f/1.8 cost just $50 and although it is a bit slower it does have built-in image stabilization which is important especially for video (unless you are using the A6500). At any rate the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is still an attractive option if you want a fast “normal” lens for your Sony APS-C e-mount camera.

Some sample images shot with the Sony A6300 and the 30mm f/1.4 DN lens from Sigma

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