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Showcase Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary

Hawkman

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Well, I broke down and placed an order on the new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary with B&H earlier this week and it arrived yesterday evening. What can I say, the allure of an f/1.4 native, full-mode autofocusing, APS-C E-mount lens was too much to resist... and getting a refund on taxes helped. ;)

So here's some of my first few photos, including a bunch from my first ever semi-serious attempt at testing using a chart (I need to amp up my lighting though).

DSC07848 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
(The little guy tries to move the big iPhone.)

And now, the boring test chart shots:

DSC07841 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Test Chart at f/1.4.

DSC07842 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Test Chart at f/2

DSC07843 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Test Chart at 2.8.

DSC07844 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Test Chart at 4.

DSC07845 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Test Chart at 5.6.

DSC07847 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
And, finally, Test Chart at f/8.

Note: These are not the full-size versions here. But you can click through to Flickr to see those if you'd like.

I need to work on my test setup and procedure, particularly getting more lighting into my living room "studio". But I did try my best to ensure the chart on the wall was level to the vertical and horizontal and line up the camera with all four corners of the 3:2 area of the chart as best as possible. There could be some slight misalignment. And I began to think last night (and have been wondering about it since I got the a6000) that either my a6000 itself or the lens(es) need some AF micro adjustment... I suspect some front focusing.
 
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The full-size pic at f/1.4 doesn't look half bad if you ask me, focussing looks accurate enough. There's some CA in the corners that I would never have noticed because Lightroom would correct that. I don't think you can do AF adjustment with native lenses, only when using an LA-EA2 or LA-EA4 which brings you back to the DSLR world with all its focussing problems. Unbelievably good image quality wide-open, looks fully useable. At f/2 it's crisper and extreme corner sharpness gets better; as far as I can see here it could be a winner.

I must say I never use charts for testing lenses, I photograph trees in the corners to evaluate performance there, tree branches against the sky are a brutal test for any lens and coincidentally a relevant kind of subject for me. I often know within 15 minutes if a lens is a dud; when the first test shows the lens does OK, I take it out for a test drive, shooting like I always do.
 

Hawkman

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Thanks Ad. Good pointers.

I've never really tested a lens at all until now. I'll try the trees against sky and the brick wall tricks as well. But I wanted to start with a chart as a "control".

As for the AF micro adjustment, I'm pretty sure the a6000 has the feature. I thought I saw it in the menus. I've actually been thinking about it since shortly after I got the a6000. As advanced and fast as its focus system is, I've noticed that precise focus on a spot is sometimes off a little. Not sure why or if it's something I'm doing wrong.


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Hawkman

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I'm sure it's there like it's on my A7 as well, but it's disabled and greyed out unless you attach an LA-EA2 or LA-EA4.
Well, you're right, as usual, Ad. [emoji846]

Checked the menus and AF micro adjustment is indeed there, BUT... the correction entry is greyed out. Looked in Gary Friedman's book on the a6000 and read why. No mirror and separate AF sensor. So all E-mount lenses should have no such front or back focus errors. So whatever issue I was seeing was in my own, sometimes rampant, imagination.

I'll never doubt you again. [emoji481]



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Hawkman

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Today started out rainy, just as yesterday had also been overcast most all day. But the rain and clouds broke and the sun came out this afternoon as we were out and about on weekend errands. We got the car detailed and as we were waiting for them to finish it up at the end, I remembered I had brought my a6000 with Sigma 30/1.4 attached. So I took it out and walked around the car care area taking some shots...

DSC07864 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800. I think the sharpness in the center is pretty darn good.

DSC07861 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000. Yep, nicely sharp in the center.

DSC07869 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
f/2.0, ISO 100, 1/400. The requisite candid portrait of Katie.

DSC07889 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
f/11, ISO 400, 1/60. Back at home, a shot into the sun and trees for a little bit of solar flaring into the frame.

DSC07886 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Dogwood at f/1.4.
Smooth bokeh.

DSC07887 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Dogwood at f/2.
Bokeh still looks smooth.

DSC07888 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Another Dogwood at f/2.

At the car detailing place I noticed the buildings were nice all-brick construction, so I decided to try my first "brick-wall tests" and also some "trees-against-sky" test shots (just for you Ad ;)). I'll post those a bit later, as I might try to recreate them under more controlled conditions tomorrow and bring the Sigma 30/2.8 along for comparison. I will say that I noticed a fair bit of softening out at the edges at apertures up to f/8, but don't know if my casual alignment and focusing created that.

(EDIT: By the way, if I haven't mentioned it, all these shots are SOOC JPEGs. I shoot RAW+JPEG, but for quick posting and comparison purposes on this thread, I'm leaving them unedited/unprocessed as JPEGs.)
 
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JonathanF2

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I recently picked up this lens for my M43 cameras, but on the E mount it definitely has a different look. The wide open performance is actually better on the Sony, whereas on the M43 mount there is quite a bit of CA wide open. So will anyone test removing the baffle and see how it will perform on an A7 body? ;)
 
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These test shots seem to confirm my earlier impression: this is a darn good lens, at least in the central area. Ideal for family pics, street photography in low light, that sort of thing. Not sure how it would act as a landscape lens, from what I see here corner performance might not be optimal.

I like the first three BTW. :thumbup:
 

Hawkman

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These test shots seem to confirm my earlier impression: this is a darn good lens, at least in the central area. Ideal for family pics, street photography in low light, that sort of thing. Not sure how it would act as a landscape lens, from what I see here corner performance might not be optimal.

I like the first three BTW. :thumbup:
I agree Ad, I think this lens will do quite well indeed for family shots, indoor shots, street photography in low light (and not so low light as well)... in other words, general photography of the sort a "normal" focal length lens is perfect for... a "nifty fifty equivalent" so to speak. It is indeed sharp in the center, even wide open. The sharpness improves as you stop it down through 2.8 and 5.6. The edges and corners are soft and show noticeable CA wide open and even down to 5.6 to some degree, but the CA mostly goes away (or is correctable) and the edge sharpness clearly improves as you stop it down.

I did some "brick wall" tests Sunday, but as I didn't use a tripod, I didn't think they were all that useful, even though I also tested the Sigma 30/2.8 Art as well. Monday morning, I ran a bunch of new resolution chart tests with added lighting and better alignment procedures. And I also tested my copy of the Sigma 30/2.8 Art and my Sony 18-105G at 30mm for comparison. The 30/2.8 Art was indeed a bit sharper at the edges than the new 1.4, even with both at 2.8. But the new 30/1.4 was close enough to be useful for all but the most demanding landscape and architectural uses (and perhaps astrophotography... too much light pollution in our area to really test that). And both easily beat the 18-105, particularly in the corners, though the 18-105 did well for a zoom, I felt.

I may post the new charts later, but first....
 

Hawkman

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While it was a bit cloudy this afternoon, it was nice and warm - in the upper 70s (Fahrenheit) - so I decided to take a late-lunchtime walk from work into the outskirts of Old Town Alexandria and see what I could see. Here are some of my results with the a6000 and new Sigma 30/1.4 DC DN...

DSC07962 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Old Amidst The New

DSC07957 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
The (Not-So) Old Lion

DSC07965 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Hard Times

DSC07966 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Artbot Reflected

DSC07968 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Sidewalk Afternoon

DSC07971 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Grand Union Flag (you don't see this one around much anymore)

DSC07973 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Sidewalk Flowers

DSC07974 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Window Pots

DSC07978 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
Brick Wall Divide. To satisfy the interest in brick wall shots (this was not one of my "brick wall tests" but the differently painted old townhouses looked interesting enough to me to warrant a shot or two).

Thoughts?
 

WNG

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The lens looks excellent from your sample shots. Sigma has a winner on their hands.
Close ups are very good, and so are the around town captures. Interesting to see how it does after sundown/night time in an urban setting.
 
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Some observations. First picture at f/5.6 is sharp in the center, left and right slightly less so. From what I see in the other pics it might be curvature of field: at the edges optimum sharpness lies a little bit up-front. That's why it's good to shoot something else besides charts and brick walls to evaluate a lens. I guess that stopping down to f/8 or f/11 would yield good sharpness across the frame for landscape shots, but if I were on APS-C I'd keep my Sigma 30/2.8 for that and buy this 30/1.4 as a standard lens for almost everything else. This lens must be a pleasure to use, I'd almost consider getting one for my A7R2 but I guess I'll end up with the Sony FE 50/1.8.

Thanks for sharing the shots!
 

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Looks like Sigma has rolled out yet another very attractive lens - hats off. Even though I wish it were a little wider, somewhere between 18 and 28mm (28-42mm FOV), I hope that Sigma sells enough copies to keep them motivated to design some more glass for e-mount, FF and APS-C. Just imagine them coming up with a fast(er) standard zoom for the NEX/A.... series, something in the lines of the relatively compact 18-55/f2.8-4 Fujinon or their own bestselling 16 or 17-50/f2.8 designs. I have no idea what has kept them from trying so far but my guessing is that they could easily sell a copy or two.
 

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As an APS-C owner, I'd love an alternative to the pricey SEL24F18. I am sure it is a great lens, and the used price is getting reasonable, but I am willing to bet Sigma could come up with a cost-effective quality alternative. I love the focal length and would likely buy one, and I think they could sell quite a few.

I enjoy my manual MD 24mm and it does pretty well, but it is difficult to hand it off at say a family gathering to someone who probably doesn't know the meaning of manual focus.
 

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As an APS-C owner, I'd love an alternative to the pricey SEL24F18. I am sure it is a great lens, and the used price is getting reasonable, but I am willing to bet Sigma could come up with a cost-effective quality alternative. I love the focal length and would likely buy one, and I think they could sell quite a few.

I enjoy my manual MD 24mm and it does pretty well, but it is difficult to hand it off at say a family gathering to someone who probably doesn't know the meaning of manual focus.
I've had different copies of the 24mm SonyZeiss and while it's certainly a 'nice' lens, it's huge for what it is, especially with the lens shade but optically not '....er' (fill in the blanks) than the more compact and OIS equipped SEL35f18 which sells for about half the price. I have no idea if Sony has any influence whatsoever on Sigmas (or anyone else's) decisions but I could tell you what I would do to spice up this lame party :biggrin:.
 

Hawkman

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From what I see in the other pics it might be curvature of field: at the edges optimum sharpness lies a little bit up-front. That's why it's good to shoot something else besides charts and brick walls to evaluate a lens.
I had thought too that curvature of field might be playing a role in the edge/corner softness. Good point about charts and walls.

I guess that stopping down to f/8 or f/11 would yield good sharpness across the frame for landscape shots, but if I were on APS-C I'd keep my Sigma 30/2.8 for that and buy this 30/1.4 as a standard lens for almost everything else. This lens must be a pleasure to use, I'd almost consider getting one for my A7R2 but I guess I'll end up with the Sony FE 50/1.8.
I agree, and that is one reason I plan to keep my Sigma 30/2.8 for the time being. The other is the compactness. It is the smallest native lens I have (I don't have the Sony 16/2.8 or 20/2.8 nor did I ever get the 16-50 kit power zoom), and so it's the only one I have that really makes the a6000 anywhere near "pocketable." The new Sigma 30/1.4 is easily twice as big as the Sigma 30/2.8 Art, eclipsing even the SEL50F18 in size.

As an APS-C owner, I'd love an alternative to the pricey SEL24F18. I am sure it is a great lens, and the used price is getting reasonable, but I am willing to bet Sigma could come up with a cost-effective quality alternative. I love the focal length and would likely buy one, and I think they could sell quite a few.
I too would love a more economical 24 or 25mm alternative to the Sony/Zeiss 24/1.8. But I'm not sure when or if Sigma (or Sony) will get around to that. And so rather than hold out, I went ahead and got this 30/1.4 as a nice, fast, normal lens. It's really what I was actually looking for when I picked up the 30/2.8.

I've had different copies of the 24mm SonyZeiss and while it's certainly a 'nice' lens, it's huge for what it is, especially with the lens shade but optically not '....er' (fill in the blanks) than the more compact and OIS equipped SEL35f18 which sells for about half the price.
Well, the new Sigma 30/1.4 is, I believe, even bigger than the Sony/Zeiss 24/1.8. There's been a lot of debate on the subject, but I think increased size is a somewhat inevitable consequence of larger apertures.
 

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I've had different copies of the 24mm SonyZeiss and while it's certainly a 'nice' lens, it's huge for what it is, especially with the lens shade but optically not '....er' (fill in the blanks) than the more compact and OIS equipped SEL35f18 which sells for about half the price. I have no idea if Sony has any influence whatsoever on Sigmas (or anyone else's) decisions but I could tell you what I would do to spice up this lame party :biggrin:.
I do have the 35mm, and it is decent but can be a bit tight for indoor shots. I think on APS-C 24mm (~36mm equiv) would be a great focal length for indoor gatherings, and for me would be nice outside, too.

Well, the new Sigma 30/1.4 is, I believe, even bigger than the Sony/Zeiss 24/1.8. There's been a lot of debate on the subject, but I think increased size is a somewhat inevitable consequence of larger apertures.
I agree it will probably mean a larger lens. I like small lenses as much as anyone, but I think I would be willing to live with size to get the focal length. Well, I think so, I have not had my hands on the Sony 24mm or the Sigma 30s. Going by camerasize.com the Sony 24mm does not appear too much larger than the 10-18mm which I do have and find acceptable.

It is a guessing game as to if/when a Sony 24mm ever comes out, but I will wait a bit longer. Besides, my financial advisor says I need to take more pictures, not buy more lenses. And I think she's right. :cool:
 

Nexnut

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Well, the new Sigma 30/1.4 is, I believe, even bigger than the Sony/Zeiss 24/1.8. There's been a lot of debate on the subject, but I think increased size is a somewhat inevitable consequence of larger apertures.
I don't know any f1.4 APS-C lens in that focal length range to compare it to other than my 23/1.4 Fujinon which isn't exactly compact either but one my most favorite lenses ever and right next to the 1855/2.8-4 and the 56/1.2 one of the main reasons to stick with those bl..dy X-Wax machines for so long. If Sony had a comparable 35mm/f2 FE with AF, I'd ditch my Fujis in an instant.

I do have the 35mm, and it is decent but can be a bit tight for indoor shots. I think on APS-C 24mm (~36mm equiv) would be a great focal length for indoor gatherings, and for me would be nice outside, too.
Yep, see above. I've never been too much of a nifty-fifty fan but pretty picky about my 35mm FOV glass. I just mentioned the SEL35f18 (53mm FOV) because of the price difference between it and the 24mm. Anyway, even though there's no 35mm/f2 FE anywhere in sight I'm at a point where the SEL28f20 could make me pull the trigger on an A7II.
 

Hawkman

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Ok, we're back with more...

Interesting to see how it does after sundown/night time in an urban setting.
Well, no urban setting available just yet, but here's a slightly contrived low light shot in my kitchen late tonight. Just two lights, one recessed overhead and another off to the side - neither aimed at the focus point (the bourbon bottle). And, BTW, I made a quite nice concoction from these ingredients (minus the Corona) the other night. ;)

DSC07991 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
1/60, ISO 800, f/1.4.

And another point worth noting. DPReview posted a bunch of sample photos last week for this lens and made note of an odd focusing behavior.
Prime time: Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN | C full-production sample gallery

They said, in part:
"On Sony E-mount cameras, this lens focuses stopped down at your shooting aperture (we're not certain if it's Sony camera bodies, or the lens, that dictates this behavior). This leads to increased chances of hunting as you stop down your shooting aperture: for example, if you're shooting at F5.6, you may notice the lens rack back and forth more than if were you shooting at F1.4, especially if you're in a continuous AF mode. Unfortunately, this behavior is becoming more commonplace as newer Sony cameras tend to be reluctant to open the iris for AF acquisition, but we've also noticed this 'stop-down focusing' to adversely affect some lenses more than others. This lens, along with Sony's own FE 50mm, in particular, can be problematic."

I know this behavior of focusing stopped down has been discussed recently on another thread. I did encounter a couple of times that this sort of thing came up for me on my walk around Old Town the other day. Once I opened up a bit, it went away. Here's one shot on which I had to open up a bit to get the shot to focus. I think I started at f/5.6 and "stopped up" to f/4 to achieve focus lock (on the tower up in the corner I believe).
DSC07980 by SRHawk64, on Flickr
1/1250, ISO 100, f/4.0.

I have had occasional focus hunting with my a3000 and a6000 (and more so the a6000, now that I think of it - a PDAF thing?) before on various lenses, but never as noticeable as this. I don't think it is a deal-breaker for me, but it is worth noting.
 
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