Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC A-mount lens review by N_Raged

reviewer#6768 date: Jan-17-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5
Minolta 50 f/1.7 (O)
price paid:$437 CAD total (new)
positive:+Very sharp where it matters
+Wonderful contrast
+Decently smooth bokeh*
+Solid build, a nice piece of glass
+Fills a hole in Sony’s lens lineup (sort of)
negative:-Loud & rough autofocus gearing, no HSM, large focus ring rotates with AF
-Required focus calibration
-Some barrel distortion
-*No circular aperture (come on!)
comment:I’ve longed for an affordable large-aperture normal prime on APS-C and this Sigma 30/1.4 is still the only option available. The Sony 35/1.4G is too expensive and the Minolta 35/2 is nowhere to be found.

I took advantage the awesome Canadian warranty since my copy was notoriously backfocusing. Once calibrated this lens is bloody sharp in the center. Corner sharpness catches up nicely at f/8 when I need it for landscapes. Chromatic aberrations are minimal and are easy to correct. I absolutely love how this lens renders colours and contrast with the exception of skins tones being a bit reddish.

However this lens has plenty of quirks. Most serious is the omission of HSM on the Sony/Pentax mounts. Sigma’s 50/1.4 has HSM on all mounts, so how hard can it be?! What we’re left with is Sigma’s typical screwdrive gearing which is incredibly noisy. I’m used to my other screwdrive primes which are close to silent. I was also surprised to see that a lens of this class lacked a circular aperture which would’ve improved bokeh even more.

But if you like taking pictures then you’ll easily overlook these quirks. I even tried it out on a film body with amusing results.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 50
  • sharpness: 4.61
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 4.52
  • distortion: 4.56
  • flare control: 4.52
  • overall: 4.58 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania