Sigma 30mm F1.4 – Never too late

First of all, allow me to thank Mr Lawson from Sigma Marketing (Singapore) for loaning me the Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN lens for a review. I appreciate his support in making this review a reality.

Intro
The Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN (I will just call it Sigma 30mm in short for the rest of the review) was announced back in February 2016. It was introduced with various mounts (i.e. EF-M, M43, E-mount and Leica L). 6 years later, X-mount is the latest mount in the Sigma family.

35mm (50mm in full-frame equivalent) is a very popular focal length among all others. And then, Sigma comes with this 30mm, and this is an interesting focal length to compete with many 35mm lenses in the Fuji market. It also sits right between the 27mm and 33mm of what Fujifilm has offered.

At an equivalent of 45mm in full-frame, let’s dive in and see how this lens can actually perform.

Design & Build Quality
According to the official data, the build of this lens is made out of a type of polycarbonate called “Thermally Stable Composite” (TSC). This material has a thermal expansion rate similar to that of aluminium, and it also has a high affinity to metal parts which contributes to high-quality product manufacturing.

And according to my hands-on, it feels great to hold. Although it is polycarbonate built, it does not feel cheap at all. The lens is very well built and solid. But one thing to point out is that it is a fingerprint magnet, and it can leave some fingerprint marks on the lens. Luckily, it can be easily wiped off.

This lens comes with a filter size of 52mm, and it is more than welcome for photographers to buy filters at a more affordable price.

At 275 grams, the weight of this compact lens is decently light to mount on any Fujifilm camera body without feeling adding much weight to the camera.

One fact to note is that this lens is equipped with dust and splash resistant sealing that helps to protect the lens from certain conditions.

Image Quality
Before I share my opinion about the optical quality, my understanding from Sigma Marketing is that the lens optical is exactly the same as other mounts, which also means that the glass elements and design are the same as 6 years ago.

So how does it perform in real-world situations? Well, the image quality is exceptionally good. The results at wide-open actually surprised me. The details, sharpness and contrast are well preserved.

As for the chromatic aberration, I hardly notice it. I think the lens did a good job of controlling it. It does help us to reduce one task in our post-processing.

As for the sun stars results, the shot taken at f8 produces much softer and less rounded results. On the other hand, it looks sharper at f16 and more detailed than f8.

Focusing
Two words to describe it. Silent sniper. The focusing speed is surprisingly fast, accurate and completely silent. The word “completely” may sound too strong, but it is really silent, and the only sound I can hear is coming from my shutter. All thanks to the stepping motor that is equipped with the lens, this also means that this lens can be a wise choice for videographers to consider.

As for accuracy, I can say it has a very high accuracy rate, probably around 95%. Why not 100%? Because I do encounter a few off-focused results when the little green box has lit up. For under low light situations, this lens still performs well most of the time.

Something to highlight, when I am trying to do some close up shots under broad daylight, I encountered this phenomenon where the subject is not in focus but the little green box has lit up. What I do is focus on another nearby object and then it works as per normal.

But rest assured, Sigma is constantly updating their lenses to improve the focus quality and accuracy. In fact, there was an update for this lens last Friday. Unfortunately, I do not have the chance to give it a try.

Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
The MFD is at 30cm, which is considered quite close but not extremely close. One thing to note is that shooting at MFD produces a very special character to the photo. Shooting under sunlight, the focused object looks sharp, but anything around it is kind of soft, and the softness will slowly blend into the background as the distance is further from the object. Somehow, I quite like how it renders.

Also, if you are shooting wide-open at the MFD, it produces a very shallow depth of field.

Price Point
I rarely open up discussions about price points. But this lens is really positioned itself very well. At *SGD488 (or USD339), it is above the XC35mm F2 at SGD299 (or USD 199) and slightly below the XF35mm F2 at SGD699 (or USD 399). Yet it offers one full stop more light.

With this price point, it does attract a lot of potential buyers who are about to start their photography journey.

*The price quoted is based on Recommended Retail Price.

Conclusion
Coming from a guy who likes to shoot streets with 23mm and 35mm focal lengths, I am able to adapt the Sigma 30mm f1.4 very well. In these 2 weeks of loan, I do not find much of a challenge using this lens except for the above-mentioned issue.

For a slightly over a demi-decade old glass design, the photos taken with this lens are considered impressive and pretty usable, especially for the wide-open shots.

However, this lens does come with some downsides. First, it does not has an aperture ring. Something that I do miss sometimes. Second, it is not a full weather resistant lens. It does not matter to me, but I think it is good to let the readers know.

Overall, I think this piece of glass does strike a good balance between price, image quality and the tradeoffs. Plus, it is made in Japan.

Who is this for?
This focal length covers well in most genres such as street, journalism, portraits and landscape. Hence I will highly recommend it to an amateur who is just picking up photography and trying to explore the world with prime lenses, someone who does not has a 35mm focal length, and someone who is on a tight budget.

Alwin is a 37 years old engineer, husband and Fujifilm fanboy from Singapore. His first encounter with Fujifilm was the launch of the X10 in 2012. It was love at first sight. It was a joyful compact camera and it also introduced film simulations to him. But what brought him deep into Fujifilm was the X-T2 and the love grows further. He loves to experience and discover many genres.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for doing this review. If I was using another brand camera then this might be on my list. However the main reason that I chose to go with Fujifilm is the old-school layout of dials and knobs, so the lack of a tactile and marked aperture ring is a deal breaker regardless of the optical performance.

    I’ll keep using my 35mm f/1.4 or f/2 for this range.

    1. Hi Albert,

      Thank you for your time. You’re right, for photographers who already own the XF lenses, this is probably not the choice that worth upgrading. Rather, this could be a good option for newcomers on a tight budget.

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