Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is an interesting character.  It is the only lens of its kind for any of the common mounts.  For APS-C sensors it is very close to a standard lens with a focal length about the same as the sensor diagonal (28mm), and the f/1.4 max aperture is handy for those low light situations. How does this large aperture prime perform?

Construction quality is good.  On the Pentax mount it uses the screw drive focus instead of HSM used for other mounts.  It has a nice heft to it and everything works smoothly.

Size wise, it is a fairly large prime, but smaller than most zooms.  It has about the same physical dimensions as the kit 18-55mm zoom lens, but weighs significantly more.  However, given the f/1.4 aperture it is reasonably sized, and is noticeably smaller and lighter than most mid-level standard zooms like the Pentax DA 16-45m 17-70, or Sigma 17-70.  It is more compact than many of Sigma’s other primes (like the 28mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4) or zooms, as it doesn’t use their standard 77mm filter thread body, and instead uses a 62mm thread size.

Handling

The lens is a joy to use.  Focus is quick and accurate with my K-7 with no focus adjustment.  It locks quickly and accurately in all lighting situations.  Occasionally it will focus confirm on an object completely out of focus, but this behavior can happen with any lens, and it is easily visible in the viewfinder.  Usually this only happens with a strong back light or low contrast object.  I usually just point the focus indicator to higher contrast edge or reduce the back light in the image and it focuses immediately.

My only complaint with the handling is the focus ring turns during auto focus operation.  The lens doesn’t have manual override and it lacks a switch on the lens to disengage the focus ring.  The user needs to be aware of this and never grip the focus ring tightly during operation.  Manual focus is well damped, but a tad light.  However, it is above average for an AF lens.

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4 Comments

  1. […] Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC « ERPhotoReview […]

  2. Zhou Yu says:

    Agreed. Sigma 30mm is quite special and requires skilled hands. The design philosophy is quite similar to the other Sigma wide angle large aperture lenses such as 20mm f1.8. However, the center performance in Sigma 30mm seems much better than the 20mm. The 20mm was a great disappointment to me. On the other hand, SMCP FA* 24mm f/2 is also unique. While the resolution may not be a top priority, it creates extremely high contrast even at f2. This feature makes photos look sharper than they really are, which is extremely useful in available light condition.

  3. Tom says:

    Just discovered this site and I like it a lot. But “…wasted space in the lens body like Sigma’s other lenses.”? How much do you know about lens design to say authoritatively that the space is “wasted”?

    Regarding the Sigma 30/1.4: It is a great lens. It wasn’t build to perform well in the corners. Just like the FA 77/1.8 wasn’t build to perform on the test bench.

  4. admin says:

    By wasted space, I mean the barrel is larger than it needs to be. The objective lens is usually the largest in the lens and some have a lot of plastic around the edges. On some of the wide angles this is likely to reduce vignetting caused by a filter, but on some of the lenses they seem to carry that extra width down the lens. I am used to lenses like the FA 77mm, that the glass goes right up to the edge of the lens on the front and there isn’t a lot of body surrounding it.

    The Sigma lenses in general seem bulkier to me. Not in all cases, and it is just how I feel about them. Not that it is bad or anything. It might be in part due to fitting multiple camera mounts and some mounts require in lens motors that take up extra room (like Canon).

    Eric