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Vivitar 28mm Minolta 28mm & Sigma 30mm - roving lens test

Jefenator

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I'm trying out this new concept: the roving lens test. Instead of using my tripod in a tightly controlled environment like a good boy, I take a few similar lenses out on a walk and shoot various scenes much as I would normally. I use all 3 lenses each time to see how they compare in a real-life scenario. (All the while I'm getting my exercise and running some errands - how's that for multitasking?)

Up for bat are a Vivitar Close Focus 28mm, Minolta MD W Rokkor-X 28mm and the Sigma 30mm EX DN. All 1:2.8.

The differences for landscape use are largely subtle (mouse over to see which is which).

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Particularly in the center, the 3 are surprisingly close.

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Jefenator

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Landscape 2

Curiously, when stopped down the Vivitar kept exposing 1/3 stop brighter than the others.

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The 3 lenses fare somewhat differently in the corners. The Sigma is always rock solid, the Minolta is so-so and the Vivitar consistently comes in last (at least for extreme pixel peeping purposes).

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Jefenator

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Another Center Crop Comparison

Even when using a tripod, I find operator error can be a real big variable. (Even focusing for landscapes!) But when I run a test over an over, trends will emerge. Here's another instance where the 3 lenses all did pretty good in the center.

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Jefenator

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One More Landscape Comparison

This time, I bumped the exposure from the Vivitar down, so I could compare the 3 frames more directly in terms of color, contrast, etc...

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Many of the nuances are a bit beyond my ability to spot and describe. I'd say the Sigma is the most clinical and the Minolta has some good character.

Again, the Sigma easily leads the pack in the corners:

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Jefenator

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Full Body BOKEH

To simulate how each lens might isolate a human subject with most of his/her body in the frame, I shot a tree trunk wide open from a few yards back.

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I'd say I prefer the Minolta BOKEH, by just a hair. The Sigma definitely has the most sharpness and contrast, wide open.
 

Jefenator

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Portrait BOKEH

LOL - I'm not done quite yet! Another simulation, this time for isolation in a head-and-shoulders portrait. (Should really get a mannequin head for this... or even a real person!)

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Again, I prefer the Minolta just ever so slightly (could probably fool me in a blind test). Obviously this type of thing is not going to be the forte of any slow-ish wide angle lens.
 

Jefenator

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Still Life BOKEH

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Same take as the other BOKEH tests: none are that great - maybe the Minolta is just a tad better?
 

Jefenator

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Overall Pros/Cons

The Vivitar is very compact for a 35mm SLR lens and true to its name, it does indeed focus nice and close: up to 1:5. It was also very cheap! Corner performance lags behind the other test subjects, though not enough so to be a problem in many cases - can you spot the difference outside the 100% samples?

The Minolta is the bulkiest. (Still fits in the leather body case, though...) It focuses the least close, but 1' isn't too bad for a normal-range lens (just shy of 1:7). The field curvature makes it a pain in the butt sometimes, particularly with the subject placed near the edge (as I often do). It is capable of some very nice renderings, though. I'd say its greatest asset is a certain subtle character it has in common with my other old Minolta primes. "Smoky" is the best term I've come up with for it.

If clarity at f/2.8 and/or corner resolution is of major concern, the Sigma is the clear leader. It is also dramatically smaller and lighter - my NEX feels like a whole different camera with it on. Focusing by wire isn't my favorite way to go, but it does get the job done and having EXIF data is always handy. Oh, right, and it also supports AF, which I actually use from time to time.

Thanks for reading! :)
 
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Excellent real-life test, thanks! I've been wondering how the Sigma 30mm compares to the Minolta 28mm lenses. Especially the Minolta seems to suffer from CA in the corners, but even after correcting that the Sigma will be better. This 30mm Sigma shows very comparable performance to the Sigma 19mm I have: rock-solid performance across the frame. I already knew Sigma knows how to make lenses, but these are simply out-of-this-world value for money IMHO.
 
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