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Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary E-mount Review


Today we are proud to release our own review of the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 lens which we received about a month ago (we were one of the first websites in the world to get this lens and we were also one of the first to handle it in Photokina in September). This is the newest lens of Sigma’s DN line and it comes in either an E-mount (APS-C) or a micro 4/3 mount.

This is also our 4’th DN lens review and we were pretty impressed by the rest of the line especially the 16mm f/1.4 which we tested here earlier this year which performed exceptionally well.

9 Aperture blades – Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DN

Build and design

  • Build quality – The build quality of the Sigma 56mm is very good and has a similar feel to the 16mm f/1.4 with a large part made from metal. Like the 16mm, the design is super simple – it has no switches and only a single ring.
  • Size and weight – The lens is super compact significantly smaller than the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 which isn’t huge all of its own. In terms of weight, this lens is just over 300 grams (just above 10 ounces) and just under 70mm or 2.7 inches long.
  • Ring – As we have mentioned the lens has a single ring for focusing. Just like the DN line this lens has a fly-by-wire style mechanism which means that it has no hard stop when you turn it and you can basically turn it endlessly – we would actually prefer a more traditional mechanism but this design is quite common on mirrorless lenses.
  • Hood – The lens comes with a small short plastic hood which we highly suggest that you use due to flaring which is more common possibly due to the rather larger front element.
  • Aperture – the lens has 9 rounded aperture blades and a rather large front element but the filter thread itself isn’t too big at 55mm.
  • Min focus distance and macro – this isn’t a macro lens (we are actually really hoping for a DN macro lens and we talked about it more than once with the CEO of Sigma in Photokina). The minimum focus distance is 50 cm and the maximum magnification is only 1:7.4 so you will have to look elsewhere for that high magnification close-ups.

Significantly smaller than the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DN

Performance

  • AF – on our A6500 the lens demonstrated fairly fast AF in stills mode with good lighting conditions. In low light, it struggled sometimes but this could just as well be the camera AF system. Sony native lenses might fare just a bit better. Shooting fast moving targets was more of a hit and miss type of thing and you should try using the tracking system on your camera otherwise your focus will be all over the place.
  • sharpness – The lens is hands down one of the sharpest APS-C E-mount lenses that we have ever tested and it might even be sharper than Sigma’s own 16mm f/1.4 lens which is a fantastic performer all on its own. As you can see from our test shots this lens is phenomenally sharp even wide open and you gain only a bit of contrast closing down somewhat.

Sharpness @f/1.4 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

Sharpness @f/2 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

Sharpness @f/2.8 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

Sharpness @f/4 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

Sharpness @f/5.6 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

Sharpness @f/8 (center of the frame – right cube; corner – left cube) 100%

  • CA – we didn’t notice any significant chromatic aberration with this lens.
  • Flare – seems to be very well controlled and as always we suggest that you use the included hood whenever you can to reduce flaring even more.
  • Vignette – With our A6500 vignette auto correction off we minor Vignette wide open which is to be expected from this type of lens in an APS-C format. You gain a little by closing the aperture down.

Some vignette wide open (with no auto correct) – @f/1.4

vignette – f/2

vignette f/2.8

vignette – f/4

vignette – f/5.6

  • Barrel – this lens seems to have a little bit of a pincushion distortion but nothing too severe that you can’t easily fix in post.

Some pincushion distortion – check out the center of the door compared to the dark line

  • Bokeh You can judge the Bokeh for yourself – this is definitely a great portrait lens in our opinion with fantastic separation from the background.

Bokeh and background separation – shot at f/1.4 on an A6300

Conclusion

So lets some things up. We are very impressed by what Sigma has been doing with their DN lens line. The 16mm f/1.4 which we tested several months ago is a fantastic lens and it seems that the new 56mm f/1.4 is at least as good both in terms of build quality and image quality.

The only area where we feel that we still need to do some longer range testing with the lens is AF. While our initial testing suggests that AF is very decent both in stills and in video – we did learn from using our own copy of the 16mm f/1.4 that on rare occasions the AF on our A6500 can lose focus completely for no apparent reason. This was very rare and it did not happen to us with the 56mm f/1.4 so far but if there is one area that you should be careful about with 3’rd party lenses it is AF so we promise to keep you posted.

Finally, pricing, this is currently the most expensive DN lens by Sigma, selling for $480, just a little bit over the 16mm f/1.4. In our view, this is still a very good bargain for what you are getting and if you need a fast portrait lens for your Sony E-mount camera – the new Sigma 56mm should be very high up your list.

Some test images we shot with the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 and our Sony A6500

You can check out more LensVid exclusive articles and reviews on the following link.

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