Sigma 30/1.4 DC

kevistopheles

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I picked up my first e-mount AF lens in a while. My last one was an FE 28/2 that I liked but I found a Sigma 30 for $200 so I jumped on it. I should have it in a few days and I'm looking forward to it. First thing I plan to do will be to upgrade the firmware.
 
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kevistopheles

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Okay then...I've had some time to play with the Sigma 30/1.4 and I have a few impressions.

First off, I updated the firmaware to version 3 and both the feel of manual focus and the AF speed seem to be fine. It hunts a little in low light but no more so than my Sony 28/2 did. The build is very nice, it's reasonably light and ginormous rubber focusing ring is comfortable and easy to use.

The image quality is...better than I expected.
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For the kinds of things I like to do it seems to be a very good fit. In the close to medium range it's sharp, detailed, color is pleasing and it close-focuses reasonably well (although I wish it went a little bit closer) so there isn't much to complain about. I can't say I'm blown away by it but I'm not sure that's neccesary for a lens I paid all of $205 for. It's defintely a step up from my old Sigma 30/2.8 and given that those aren't a whole lot cheaper than what I paid for the 30/1.4, I think it was a good choice.

Now, I also find the look of the lens to be a bit nondescript. I don't mean that in a bad way either. The industrial design of the lens is basic black metal, plastic and rubber. It's not ugly but it's also not terribly attractive either. It has all the physical appeal of a trash can. It's functional, well made and the minute you look away you forget what it looks like. Overall I see this as a plus because it won't attract any attention and that's a nice thing.

If the 30/1.4 proves to be as useful as I think it will be, I can see the 16/1.4 as being something I might take a look at (down the road) instead of the Sigma 19/2.8. The Sigma 16/30 combo could make a decent 2 lens kit.
 
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kevistopheles

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The more I use the Sigma the more I like it. It's bigger and more expensive than the 30/2.8 but not significantly so on either count. At some point I can totally see opting for either the 16/1.4 of 56/1.4 to make a nice little 2 lens kit. If you're using an APS-C Sony body I think these Sigmas are very attractive option.
 

kevistopheles

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Okay, here is statement I may regret making...

I have shot Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony and while I tend to favor old manual focus lenses I have owned and shot with a number of native lenses over the years that would be considered "normal lenses" (35-50mm FF equivalent) including the Panasonic 20/1.7, Panasonic/Leica 25/1.4, Fuji 23/2, 35/1.4 and of course the Sony 28/2 and Sigma 30/2.8 and I liked all them in their own ways (well maybe not the Fuji 23/2) and each was capable of wonderful images.

Specifications and reviews aside I would put the Sigma 30/1.4 in the same neighborhood as the Fuji 35/1.4 and Panasonic/Leica 25/1.4. I'm not saying it's "better" or anything remotely like that but for the kind of images I like to make the Sigma reminds me a lot of those lenses.
 

kevistopheles

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It is relatively inexpensive and relatively small in comparison with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens...
Yep, $339 list and can be found for $200 - $300 used. Where the 30/2.8 has an enthusiastic following I think the 30/1.4 got a reputation for having high CA, high distortion, slow unreliable AF and terrible manual focus feel.

The latest firmware update fixed the manual focus feel, the AF is not terrible. It hunts sometimes in low contrast situations but overall feels similar to the Sony 28/2 I had (or my old Fuji 35/1.4). It’s not blazingly fast but it’s good. I’ve seen the distortion crop up in a few shots but it’s generally not a problem for me. I don’t think I would use it for architecture but I’d be perfectly fine using for travel shots. The CA isn’t something I have seen a lot of so far. Perhaps I don’t shoot a lot of images where you typically see CA.

No matter, I like the lens. If you're shooting an APS-C body it’s a terrific “normal” lens. It’s sharp, bokeh is smooth, tonal gradations and color rendering are nice and in some situations down right spectacular. Personally, I think it’s an easy lens to like.
 

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