Today we have a chance to be one of the first websites in the world to test the new Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens for mirrorless cameras. This is a part of Sigma’s DN line and it comes in either an E-mount (APS-C) or a micro 4/3 mount.
This is our 3’rd DN lens and we were pretty impressed by the first two which were a great bang for the buck especially the tiny and inexpensive 19mm f/2.8 lens (review here) and we are excited to see how this somewhat more ambitious 16mm f/1.4 lens will perform.
Build and design
- Build quality – The build quality of the Sigma 16mm is very good with a large part made from metal and actually kind of surprising when you consider this is a contemporary and not and ART series lens. The design is super simple – it has no switches and only a single ring (which we shall discuss in a second).
- Size and weight – The lens isn’t as compact as some of the other DN lenses that we tested and at just over 10cm or 4″ it definitely feels a bit longer than some other E-mount APS-C lenses and it’s weight of ~430 grams or just over 15 oz also isn’t on the super light side.
- Ring – As we have mentioned, the Sigma 16mm has a single ring for focusing. Just like the 19mm and 30mm Sigma lenses we tested for E-mount – this lens has a fly-by-wire style mechanism which means that it has no hard lock when you turn it and you can basically turn it endlessly – we would actually prefer a more traditional mechanism but we guess that it is simpler and less expensive to make this type of mechanism 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 front element.
- AF – The lens seems to focus quickly and we didn’t have any perceived problems with focus speed or accuracy in stills mode. In video mode the lens seems to function better than the two other Sigma E-mount lenses that we tried and can even be considered a potential lens for vlogging – if you are O.K. with the wide angle and can carry it with the body a monitor and possibly an external mic as well which can easily get to over 1.5kg or 3.3lbs (this is more relevant for Sony cameras which require an external monitor for vlogging than to most Micro 4/3 bodies which tend to have articulated screens).
- sharpness – The lens is extremely sharp. Impressively, the lens is super sharp in the center even wide open and you can see very minimal gains when closing down up to f/4. In the corners, the image also seems fairly sharp even down to f/1.4, with some improvement closing down to f/2.8 and f/4 but you do see a pretty significant boost in brightness when you close down (when we turned off the vignette auto-correction in the camera at least).
Center sharpness (top left – f/1.4. top right = f/1.7, low left f/2.8, low right – f/4)
Corner sharpness (top left – f/1.4. top right = f/1.7, low left f/2.8, low right – f/4)
- CA – We encountered no significant chromatic aberration with this lens (and yes we did turn off the chromatic aberration compensation in the A6500 menu). The only exception was in a video wherein a very extreme lighting condition you can see a little purple fringing on a fur – but this is a very extreme state).
- Flare – As with a lot of wide angle lenses you do get some flaring against bright light sources even with the hood as you can see but it isn’t extremely strong from our testing.
- Vignette – With our A6500 vignette auto correction off there seems to be very minimal darkening of the corners wide open which completely disappear when you close down to around f/2.8.
The lens at f/1.4 – clear Vignette
The lens at f/1.7 – some vignette
The lens at f/2.8 – almost no vignette
- Barrel – This lens does have some barrel distortion, which is quite typical to a wide angle lens of this sort.
- Bokeh – despite the wide angle this lens can create some very nice out of focus images especially when shooting close objects with a more distant background – as for the quality of the Bokeh – you can judge for yourself (see some examples in the gallery below).
It seems like Sigma has another E-mount winner on their hands with the 16mm f/1.4. However this time around the original formula of a high quality, a compact inexpensive lens has changed somewhat. Although we are still getting great bang for the buck in terms of image quality, the lens is a bit larger and heavier and the pricing, while definitely not expensive for such a fast, wide-angle lens, is the most expensive of any DN lens Sigma has made to date.
We discovered that this lens can be ideal for some specific types of food photography and basically any type of photo or video work which requires a fast wide lens (24mm equivalent angle on a FF), including velogging to some degree as we have mentioned can be a good option for a good use of this lens.
Finally, pricing. As stated above this is currently the most expensive DN lens by Sigma, selling for $450. The only similar lens that we know of is the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 which cost exactly twice as much so there is no way that you can truly call this lens expensive relatively speaking.
Gallery – all shot with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN and the Sony A6500 (no retouch only crop/resize)
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