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

reviewer#8488 date: Jan-7-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.4
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:Sony 35mm f1.4G
Sony 35mm f1.8
Sony 30mm f2.8 Macro
Sigma 50mm f1.4
price paid:
missing
positive:Very good to excellent bokeh
Excellent low light results with fast f1.4
30mm on APS-C is perfect for intimate photos
Much cheaper than the deeply flawed 35G lens
negative:Not good for landscapes
Soft edges
AF can struggle on low contrast
Missing HSM for Sony mount
Geometry should be better for a prime
High sample variability
comment:Sony users are in dire need of a no-compromise fast "normal" prime for APS-C. For those crop sensors, a lens in the range of 30-35mm is considered normal (equivalent to the field of view of the human eye). Every option currently in production has significant shortcomings.

The Sigma 30mm is a great lens for the amateur user but there are serious drawbacks for the professional user. It is sharp wide open in the center, fine in the mid, with significant softening in the edges. Bokeh is much better than the 35G and somewhat better than the Easy Choice 35mm. There is slight distortion and vignetting, but not bad. Price is reasonable. There is sample variation so be prepared to check the lens thoroughly and/or be willing to send to Sigma for adjustment.

It is most suited for intimate photos in low light environments where the fast f1.4 aperture shines, the soft edges are not missed, and the bokeh can stand out. Highly recommended for family photos. The worst use would be landscapes where edge to edge sharpness is critical, for that use the 30mm Macro or 35mm f1.8 and just stop down or better yet, a wider lens (CZ 24mm f2 would be optimal).

The 35G is what makes the Sigma look like a real bargain. At 1/3 the price, you get f1.4 and very good bokeh (the 35G's achilles heel among other optical issues). The 30mm Macro is almost complimentary to the Sigma as it does everything the Sigma doesn't and is weak everywhere the Sigma is strong.

The only real contender is the 35mm f1.8. It is sharp wide open, mostly fast enough, and cheap. Build quality is a concern though, and it's still not f1.4 so doesn't quite match up in terms of low light use and quality of bokeh. Plus the price difference isn't so far apart in absolute dollars.

One other lens to directly consider is the big brother Sigma 50mm f1.4 which is an amazing design and a joy to use, it even includes HSM this time! Obviously it isn't 30mm but it's usable in many of the same situations, it is a bit more expensive (it's also full frame compatible so keep that in mind), and it's HEAVY for a prime.

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
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