Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN A E-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#44321 date: Jun-17-2019
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 2
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:SELP-1650
A mount DT lenses (on LA-EA1/2 or A58)
Lots of wide and standard A-mount lenses & macros, Sony/Minolta/Sigma, on APS-C & FF.
price paid:£75 (CEx)
positive:Amazingly sharp wide open, corner to corner
Small, though not quite as short as I'd like
Nice looking
Usable and reversible bayonet hood
All distortions very low
negative:Rattle when off
Battery drain when on
Very slow to start up on my camera.
A petal lens hood would have been nice
Focus ring too smooth to be sure you're turning it
comment:An amazingly sharp lens, sharp corner to corner wide open, rather like the Sony DT 35mm f1.8. Seems sharp at all apertures, and fairly sharp near MFD, so aperture hardly matters.
The quoted magnification is 1:8 which sounds poor but tests closer to 1:7, and is actually quite usable for close-ups with a little cropping (example - I can image part of my hand without digital zoom). There's just about enough background isolation for that, and bokeh is reasonable (not the best, not the worst).
MF is okay, though the shiny focus ring on the 'A' version makes it difficult to be sure you are focusing it, and if you squeeze harder the metal ring distorts and sticks on whatever is inside. DMF on the Nex 6 is nice, though.
I'm not convinced about the fast hybrid AF it's supposed to support; whenever you refocus it always goes away form the right focus first and then goes back, so it's a bit slower than (for example) the Sony DT35mm on the A58 or LA-EA2.

For a long time I've been looking for a digital equivalent to the old Rollei 35 pocket film camera (with 40mm Zeiss Tessar) I took around most of Europe for over two decades, and this combo is looking closer to that than most for IQ and convenience, though nothing quite matches the original. :-( But it's the right FL and more or less the right size (I can't quite fasten the poppers on the neoprene case like I can with the SELP1650), so I expect to be using this a lot.

But it does have one major annoying fault - slow start up. On the Nex-6 I get a dark screen (EVF or LCD) for two seconds, then a white one for two seconds, and between 5-6 seconds after switching on it is usable. I can leave it on as a workaround, but it makes the SELP1650 power-zoom seem quick!

Edit: I've returned the lens and downgraded the build to 2 for what I consider to be unacceptable design flaws. I have no idea why they removed the rubber focus grip from the earlier model, unless they wanted to make it pretty, but now it is difficult to focus manually because my fingers slip on the shiny metal. I can put some rubber bands around it, but I shouldn't have to. When carrying the camera around the neck, the lens rattles continually when off which is very annoying (even though I'm a little deaf). It stops rattling when on, presumably because the electromagnets in the focussing mechanism are powered, but then it drains the battery very quickly. Coupled with the extremely slow startup (slower than the 16-50 power zoom!) the lens is a pain to use whether you leave it on or off. Which is a pity since the optics are great.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 6
  • sharpness: 4.83
  • color: 4.67
  • build: 4.00
  • distortion: 4.67
  • flare control: 4.33
  • overall: 4.50 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania