Image Quality: Sharpness
For the budget price, I really wasn’t expecting all that much from this lens in terms of image quality. I definitely didn’t expect it to come anywhere close to its much more expensive competitor in the Pansonic 20mm f/1.7. I am happy to report that my preconceptions were, for the most part, quite incorrect. The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is quite a sharp little lens. It is sharp over about 85% of the frame right from f/2.8, with just a hint of corner softness. Stopping down to f/4 brings the center into outstanding territory, and the corners improve. While the corners never really become super sharp, the overall frame is quite good, especially given the price. There does seem to be a bit of field curvature, especially at infinity focus, where distant subjects will be somewhat soft at the edges, while near subjects remain sharp at the edge.
The Sigma 19’s wheelhouse is really from about 2-3 feet and further. At very close focusing distances and wide apertures, high contrast edges show the signature “Sigma Glow” that many of their other high end lenses tend to display. Still, overall, the lens performed surprisingly well here.
Image Quality: Bokeh
Being a wider angle lens, and having a relatively slow aperture for a prime of f/2.8, you’re not going to get huge amounts of background blur with this lens. However, for closer subjects, you certainly can separate the subject from the background. Just don’t expect ultra-shallow depth of field with unrecognizable backgrounds.
Bokeh from the Sigma 19mm is relatively neutral with generally evenly illuminated specular highlights. In some situations, longitudinal chromatic aberration can show up, though it presents a little differently than the typical lens, as high contrast edges behind the focus point can sometimes take on a blue fringe. Overall, it generally isn’t obtrusive, but in the right circumstances, it can be noticeable.
Image Quality: Color, Distortion, Chromatic Aberration and Flare
As mentioned above, the Sigma 19mm does display some level of magenta/blue longitudinal chromatic aberration. The lens also displays a small amount of lateral chromatic aberration, though this would rarely show in prints and can easily be completely eliminated by postprocessing tools such as Lightroom’s CA correction. The SIgma 19mm can display a little bit of purple fringing in the right circumstances, but it’s pretty uncommon and relatively minor.
Color from the Sigma is well saturated and even, and the lens has a good bit of contrast to it. I really like the rendering I get from this lens.
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 displays a minor amount of barrel distortion that is unobjectionable to my eye. If you look for it, you can see it, but in regular field use I found it to be a non-issue. The lens is also quite flare resistant. There are some effects from the sun in the frame, and it will display a sort of very light purple blooming around ultra-bright sources, but overall image contrast is only minorly affected, and it is difficult for the lens to display complex flare lines.
12 thoughts on “Review: Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN”
Wow. Love those black & whites from Columbus, and also “Looking”. The lens doesn’t seem to be “biting” sharp – which is good for portraits. Reminds me a bit of older lenses for film cameras, like my OM Zuikos. A job very well done from Sigma, and your images are great. Thanks for the report and review.
Nice report, but you said nothing about video capabilities. I have the lens and agree with your comparisons with the Pany 20mm (which I dumped over a year ago), but the latter focuses slowly and is almost useless for video. Many of us shoot both stills and video; I use a couple of OM-Ds for stills and have a couple of GH2s for video. I usually carry at least one of each. Regardless of the price, I think that this is a good lens, but one of the major reasons is its almost silent and fast focusing, advantageous for stills, essential for video. Even if it were the same price as the 20mm, I’d get this one.
You are correct! I am not a videographer, I’m a stills photographer, so I almost never use the video features of my camera. I will likely do a few quick test videos over the next day or so and put in a little blurb.
to be frank AF in video is irrelevant for most serious users . there are no lenses that give seamless AF for video hence why for most MF is their choice
I’m thinking to buy this lens to fit on a GX1.
With my Sony NEX 7 , I do have the 30mm .. great lens !
thank you Sigma
Thanks for your review
I bought this lens about 20 hours before your review came out and it is a relief to me that you like it. I read other reviews and decided that it was worth the risk to buy it, especially as it was on sale on Amazon for less than $150. I always enjoyed the 35mm focal length on my Nikon back in the film days, it was my normal lens. I’m hoping that this lens will take a similar place on my OM-D.
Eric – the guys from Pen & Tell also like it pretty much. It’s in German, but maybe you could use a translator for this: http://pen-and-tell.blogspot.com/2012/12/winterimpressionen-sigma-19-mm-f28-ex-dn.html
Thanks for this review … I have been searching for a review that is conclusive about the lens quality, and I believe yours is the one. Nicely complemented with photos that show the capabilities of the 19mm. Up to now I have been disappointed since reviews pointed out how good the lens was, only for the horrible pictures accompanying the reviews to make things confusing. So many thanks again for your work. Now I am considering it for my shooting since it is mainly urban landscape (and a little portrait)
The only question now is how much of the image quality is the sigma 19mm and how much the OMD? I wonder how steep the IQ deterioration will be on my G2…
Great review ! I was afraid that the lens may display awful flare and ghosting, like the 60mm (Kurt Munger’s review), but my fears are now allayed. It seems to be excellent value for money apart from being a good performer in its own right. I am now going to see where I can buy this lens; India isn’t all that sold on Sigma lenses I don’t think.
Thanks for a very cogent and useful review, Mr Steele.
You should check out the Sigma 60mm/2.8 DN A for m43. It is an exceptionally good lens.
I reviewed it on Sony this summer. You are correct that it’s exceptional: https://admiringlight.com/blog/review-sigma-60mm-f2-8-dn-art-sony-e-mount/