Given the excellent performance of Sigma’s earlier mirrorless lenses, and the good reputation of the 30mm f/1.4 for SLRs, I had pretty high expectations for this lens, despite the low price point. It mostly met those expectations, but there are also a few shortcomings.
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is somewhat of a mixed bag with regards to sharpness, as the performance is rather variable depending on focus distance. At close to moderate focus distances (say, from 2 feet to 15 feet), the 30mm f/1.4 produces very good sharpness from wide open across the image frame. It’s not blisteringly sharp at this aperture, but there is good resolution throughout, that will produce very detailed images. Stopping down to f/2.8 or beyond brings the resolution up to excellent levels, with great detail and a bit of pop.
Unfortunately, when focusing closer to infinity, the lens displays very strong field curvature, making it almost impossible to get sharp edges at a distance. When focused at infinity in the center, at say, f/5.6, the center will be sharp, while the edges will be focused much closer, at around 5-10 feet away. These edges are sharp, but when shooting for landscape work, you’ll often have edges in the distance that will be notably soft. You can mitigate this somewhat by stopping down to around f/11 or so, which compensates enough for the field curvature to provide decent resolution on the edges, but the overall sharpness of the image will drop somewhat due to diffraction. Still, for landscape work at a distance, f/11 or smaller is where you’ll want to be to counteract the field curvature.
As of this writing, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is the fastest lens specifically designed for APS-C E-mount, with autofocus, and as such, shooting at f/1.4 is going to be one of the key reasons to get this lens over something like the Sony 35mm f/1.8 or the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8. In most situations, the bokeh is quite pleasing, producing relatively creamy backgrounds at closer focusing distances. However, the further you focus out, and the higher contrast the background, the more the bokeh suffers. The lens has notable bokeh fringing (which I’ll discuss further in a bit), which can show up as green accents in the background, or around specular highlights. It can also get a bit nervous in some situations. However, the overall impression is positive.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 has a lower contrast profile than the f/2.8 Art primes Sigma released a few years back, but for this type of lens, which may often be used for portraiture, the lower contrast at wider apertures will work to its advantage. At smaller apertures, the contrast picks up a bit, yielding nice pleasing images with a bit of pop. Color tends a bit to the warm side, but not by much. Color response is natural, with decent saturation that reacts well to postprocessing, but lacks native richness to the files.
One downside to the lens is chromatic aberration. The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 shows both visible lateral chromatic aberration towards the edges, as well as the magenta and green fringing of spherochromatism in out of focus areas. While both of these can usually be corrected with modern postprocessing tools, it’s definitely a weak point of the lens.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 also cuts a few corners when it comes to these other optical aberrations. The lens suffers from rather high native barrel distortion, with straight lines showing a noticeable bow towards the edges of the frame. When shooting JPEG or when using most RAW converters, the built-in distortion profile will correct this before you see it (or if you turn on the profile in Lightroom). I didn’t notice too much of a hit at the edges from the distortion correction, but there is a small impact.
The lens is a bit of a mixed bag with regards to flare performance. At wider apertures (f/4 and wider), the lens loses a bit of contrast with a bright source like the sun in the frame, but doesn’t show ghosting too badly. When stopping down, however, the lens produces nice sunstars from the 9 bladed aperture, but unfortunately also shows very visible ghosting, as can be seen in the shot above.
Like most fast prime lenses, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 shows visible light fall off at wide apertures, which disappears at smaller apertures. This behavior doesn’t bother me in a lens of this type.
28 thoughts on “Review: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN (Sony E-Mount)”
Nice review that you wrote here. However as a newbie to photography, i am struggling to find my first prime lens for Sony a6000. Personally would you recommend the Sony 35mm f1.8 or the sigma 30mm f1.4 since their price doesnt differ that much?
It’s in his last paragraph. Do you like landscapes and shoot a lot at infinity? The Sony. Do you value image stabilization or have you gotten used to M since the camera will stay at 1/60 otherwise? I use M with every unstabilized lens and A with the stabilized ones.
Thanks for the nice review Jordan.
It doesn’t have the “planar” bokeh of the Touit 32 for whole-body portraits I think?
Sorry what i forgot to ask is the difference between the bokeh pictures for both lenses. Would the f1.4 be significantly better than f1.8 to compensate for the lack of OSS?
Will you review mft version? Thamks
A few more f1.4 samples would have been nice, but great review as always.
“High native distortion that must be digitally corrected”
Why is this a con and not for the several Fujfilm lenses that need optical correction? You DO know that Fujifilm’s f/2.8 zoom has THE highest measured distortion out of any of its peers, right?
I do tend to mention it in more recent Fuji reviews, but also, Fuji bakes the corrections directly into the RAW file, so most shooters will never see it. With Sony you need to manually apply a profile in RAW. Still, the effect is the same, and in my recent Fuji reviews, I do disable the profile to examine the native optical distortion. See my Fuji 35/2 review for an example.
So, do we get full pdaf support with this lens or only center support?
Did you by any chance try it on A7 class camera to see how much of a full frame circle would it cover?
I did. It covers around a 1.2x crop area. (APS-H) It’s a bit weak on the edges of the circle, though, and the distortion becomes more evident. I did cover this in the review, BTW.
I am a little confused about your review.
Not sure you are reviewing the lens in your title.
You mentioned the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN has 7 blades.
It actually has 9 blades and very smooth Bo-Keh.
lenstip.com gave this lens its editor’s choice award and measured it as the highest resolution lens they have every tested.
So this makes me think you are testing a different Sigma lens.
The blades were a typo, and has been corrected. As to the rest, what you’re seeing is the difference between lens charts and actually using the lens. The 30/1.4 is outstanding at close and moderate distances: something I note in my review. However, what sites that use lens charts miss is how it performs in other circumstances. This lens is great for environmental portraiture, but it’s not quite as good when focused near infinity. Bokeh is great up close, but suffers a bit at further distances.
It’s always a good idea to read multiple reviews to get a more well rounded view of the capabilities of a lens.
Can You give me some hint, wchich lens should I choose from three that You reveiwed: sony 35mm f/1.8, sigma 30mm f/1.4 sony zeiss 28mm f/2.
Main purpose is to take still of fast kids in indoor conditions, than I think occasionally some landscapes or kids in landscapes / forrest / playground 🙂 Of course I would like to spend money the best as it’s possible and buy the best performing (bokeh, fast and accurate) and the best optically lens.
oh, and if it have a meaning, I will use it with A6000
It seems that hey are making progress with the path. I haven’t been to columbus in a while but seeing your photos makes me feel quite nostalgic. Thank you for the in depth reviews and beautiful pictures I will continue reading
This review totally contradicts Lenstip’s raves for this Sigma 30 f/1.4 DC DN. They tested the m43 version, which broke resolutions records in the center and showed excellent performance in the borders and corners. Distortion is moderate distortion and CA well controlled.
Don’t know how this reviewer missed the mark so badly but the Sigma 30 f/1.4 DC DN totally crushes the Sony E 35 f/1.8. How he’s recommending a slower, weaker lens is puzzling indeed.
I am torn between this Sigma 30mm 1.4, the Sony 28mm 2.0 and the Sony Zeiss 24mm 1.8 to purchase for my Sony a6300. I know you have reviewed the Sigma 30 and the Sony 28, but not sure if you have reviewed the 24mm. I have found many glowing testimonials about the 24mm as an outstanding truly special lens. It is expensive but if it is really as good as I have heard I would be willing to pay for it. Especially since it is about the only lens that will provide a classic 35mm (full frame equivalent) on the Sony a6300. Any thoughts to help me with this decision? Thanks for your great reviews!!
have u ever used this lens with sony’s clear image zoom? I wonder how s the result with ciz.
I was in a shop and about to buy this lens. But while testing I figured it wont focus anymore by an f-stop greater than 11. Talking to a Sigma representative who happen to be in that shop he confirmed that with my setting being on AF-C for continuous auto focus is not guaranteed -on any Sony Camera, with every Sigma lens. This means not only the contemporary series but also the ART series won’t focus. I had some hit and miss with AF-C below f11. Face detection was working unreliable which the Rep confirmed, too.
(1) The lenstip resolution record you refer to is in regards to the four-thirds system. That is to say, it is the sharpest lens they have tested on the four-thirds system. So, without them also testing the lens on a larger APS-C sensor, we can not conclude that lenstip would have arrived at the same conclusion for APS-C.
(2) The distortion and CA you refer to is once again in regards to the four-thirds system. I know, definitively, that the distortion of this lens is greater on APS-C than it is on four-thirds.
The above comment was intended as a response to Markus A.
(1) How important is the hybrid AF and face detect features of the Sony AF system to you? If these are important to you, then you will definitely want a native Sony, or Zeiss, lens that utilizes 100% of the AF feautures. Conversely, if you shoot mostly static scenes and don’t value face detection highly, then Sigma for E-mount is certainly an option for you.
(2) How much do you care about distortion in uncorrected files? Both the Sony 28mm f2 and Sigma 30mm 1.4 are known for distortion. One caveat, though, is all the distortion figures I have seen were measured on the larger full-frame cameras, so I am not sure about its distortion on the smaller APS-C sensor.
(3) Do you intend on buying a full-frame camera in the future? If so, only one of the lenses you listed is a FE lens.
(4) How important is the wider focal length to you?
(5) How much do you value the benefits of the more expensive lens in relation to the additional cost?
As I can’t edit or delete a previous comment, I should clarify that the second sentence of my second point above was in reference to the Sony 28mm f2, not the Sigma 30mm 1.4.
(6) How much of a concern is the field curvature, which Jordan discusses, to you?
Great review! I will be getting this one today for my Sony a6000. Finally decided to go with this lens instead of the Sony 35mm and 50mm f1.8 because of the price and also I think this is a good all-around lens for street, some portrait, and city/landscape.