Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Art
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Lab Test Results
March 24, 2016
by Andrew Alexander
Sigma released the 60mm ƒ/2.8 DN "Art" lens in 2013, as part of their "Art" line of lenses. With this lens, the mirrorless subset of Art line (at the time of writing) offers a 19mm lens, 30mm lens, and now the 60mm lens. The 60mm lens is available for mirrorless cameras only (as indicated by the "DN" specification) in either Micro Four-Thirds mount or Sony E-mount.
The lens provides a 120mm equivalent field of view on Micro Four-Thirds, or 90mm on the Sony E-mount: we were provided with the MFT lens to test on our Panasonic GX1 body. The Sigma 60mm ƒ/2.8 DN "Art" lens ships with a hood, accepts 46mm filters, and is available now for just over $200.
In a word: sharp. The lens isn't complicated, with just 8 elements in 6 groups, and the product is sharp images pretty much straight out of the gate at ƒ/2.8. According to our test results, it actually does get fractionally better at ƒ/4, but I can't imagine you'd see the difference unless you looked very closely indeed. It's sharp all the way through to the point where diffraction limiting starts to become present, at ƒ/11, but even then it's barely an issue. More noteworthy is the generalized softness that occurs at ƒ/16 and ƒ/22, which are best avoided if you can help it.
Chromatic aberration is extremely well-controlled on this lens. The only place you'll notice it is wide open at ƒ/2.8, and where CA is visible, it shows up in the extreme corners only in areas of high contrast, as magenta fringing.
There is little to worry about for corner shading with this lens: at ƒ/2.8, the extreme corners are a quarter-stop darker than the center. At any other focal length, however, it is negligible.
There's almost no distortion to speak of when using the Sigma 60mm ƒ/2.8 DN. There is some very slight pincushion distortion visible, but it's barely noticeable, and if you truly need your straight lines to be straight, it's uncomplicated distortion which is easily correctable in post-processing.
The Sigma 60mm ƒ/2.8 DN "Art" lens isn't particularly fast to focus, taking about a second to slew from close-focus to infinity; it's not particularly slow, either. Attached 46mm filters won't rotate, making life that little bit easier for polarizer users. It uses a linear AF motor, which is quiet in operation.
With a maximum magnification of just 0.14x, and a minimum close-focusing distance of 55cm (around nineteen inches), this isn't the lens you want to go to for your macro needs.
Build Quality and Handling
Sigma's taken an interesting approach with this lens: its design is about as basic as it comes, featuring a glossy finish (in black or silver) with absolutely no external controls: there is no distance scale, no depth of field indicator, no switches or buttons. The only control feature is the focusing ring, which is essentially the main body of the lens.
The texture of the focusing ring will be an acquired taste: rather than having a segmented texture for extra grip, the ring is smooth metal, cold to the touch, but otherwise fine for manually focusing. As with most mirrorless lenses the focusing action is not mechanical, so the ring will turn forever in either direction without letting you know you have reached closest-focus or infinity.
The lens ships with the LH520-03 hood, a bayonet-mounted round hood that can be reversed for storage on the lens. The hood is 7/8" long.
Olympus 60mm ƒ/2.8 M.Zuiko Digital ED ~$550
Olympus' 60mm is built for macro use, and is substantially more expensive, but you get a lot of features for the premium price. Macro shooters will enjoy a four-point focus limiter, a magnification scale, and an excellent manual focus ring. Optically, the lenses are very similar. The Olympus version also offers a dust- and splash-proof construction.
Sony E 50mm ƒ/1.8 OSS ~$300
It's not exactly the same focal length, but the Sony 50mm offers a significantly faster maximum aperture, for not a whole lot more money. Optically, the Sigma is slightly better than the Sony, but stopped down to ƒ/4, either lens is fantastic.
Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH POWER OIS LUMIX G ~$350
Not quite the same focal length, but it's the longest lens Panasonic offers in a prime. It's small, light, and affordable, as well as sharp. The aperture is quite a bit brighter on this lens, but you don't get as much reach.
Sigma has rounded out its Art lineup with an excellent telephoto lens in the 60mm ƒ/2.8. For the money, you really can't beat the performance, and given that there aren't a lot of options in this category, Sigma has once again forged ahead into new territory and produced a winner.
The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.
As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.
Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN Art User Reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommended by David_Ruether (2 reviews)-High image sharpness to the corners at most stops; Lack of CA problems in both in and out of focus areas; Low price; Versatility (excellent for macro with added achromats, and also excellent for infrared photography)- The slippery focus ring (solvable)
From http://www.david-ruether-photography.com/MFT-Lenses.htm#N (photo samples are also there) --reviewed March 24th, 2016 (purchased for $229)
I had seen a couple of positive reviews of the Sigma 60mm f2.8 lens (which is offered in both Sony NEX and Panasonic/Olympus MFT mounts, with electrical contacts for AF, AE, and EXIF) and also the sample photos that were included, but they did not prepare me for what this relatively inexpensive lens can do! I have many Panasonic (and also some Olympus, Voightlander, Tamron, Nikon, and Rokinon) lenses that work well on my Panasonic MFT bodies, but this lens beats almost all of them for optical quality. It is sharp to the corners wide-open at f2.8 (and it's also good even when well stopped down); it does not flare; there are (so far) few observable ghosts from strong light sources being either within or outside of the frame edge; there are essentially no CA problems, even under very difficult conditions, which normally result in noticeable CA problems with most other lenses (and which do show prominently with the two shorter FL Sigma f2.8 lenses in the same line-up, the 19mm and 30mm lenses); there is very low linear distortion; this lens remains sharp over a wide range of focus distances (which is not true for all lenses); this first sample I tried appears to be well-aligned optically and mechanically, something that is all too rare (lens samples often do vary, sometimes considerably, regardless of brand or cost); AND, this is also one of the sharpest lenses I have yet found for shooting infrared photos (about half of my lenses are not very good for infrared photography). I - am - impressed! Its minor irritations: a slippery-smooth focus ring makes the lens somewhat awkward to focus manually and also to hang onto securely; there is no internal stabilizer; it doesn't mount onto the camera as smoothly as other lenses and adapters that I have; it doesn't focus very closely (but I have some good achromatic close-up lenses that fit on its front to cure that shortcoming); the included shade is at best just OK (so I use a different shade); the internal focusing section rattles fairly loudly unless the power is on (but this is normal for this lens); and the plastic front doesn't even pretend to speak "quality-construction") - but all of this becomes meaningless when one sees what its image-quality is like, even from wide open, even to the corners (on MFT). I use a wide rubber band on the focus ring to "cure" the most important deficiency/quirk in the design, and this works well enough. I LIKE THIS LENS!
10 out of 10 points and recommended by theelderkeynes (3 reviews)Very sharpBit slow to focus on an OLympus E-P2 in low light but that is the Oly I think.
Great lens, pin sharp on portraiture, excellent value and they include a hood and pouch which is a nice touch. Is very good at showing fine detail in the face. Get one!reviewed December 7th, 2013 (purchased for $211)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Marriott (4 reviews)EverythingNothing
I echo the sentiments of the two posters below. Sharp and contrasty corner to corner with fast focus and excellent color wide open on an m4/3 size sensor. Even at the 120mm length, it makes an outstanding "across the street" walk-around lens if you like to see the world this way. The bokeh is a bit less creamy than my Pentax DA 70mm 2.4 with adapter, but is still quite good. If Sigma keeps this up, they could put a bit of a bite into the other lens makers' prices. Competition is good for us consumers.reviewed September 22nd, 2013
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Prime Minister (40 reviews)Size, weight, excellent image quality, fast silent autofocus, metal barrel, outrageously low priceNone
Updated: 2014/10/22reviewed September 13th, 2013 (purchased for $120)
Excellent lens for the price! It's super sharp with great contrast, the bokeh is good, CA is low, it doesn't flare easily, it focuses fast and accurate, the build quality is great and the price is outrageous. Sigma even included a lens hood and a sturdy pouch.
With the camera turned off, a lens element moves freely inside the barrel. This makes a soft clunking sound. That's normal and part of the design. It's not broken. As soon as you turn on your camera, the element stays in place.
There are some things that I don't like about this lens and that's the smooth shiny metal barrel. It attracts fingerprints, it looks stupid and it provides almost no grip. Also, the aperture rattles on my camera like the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and the AF system is slightly nervous and constantly (but softly) audible.
If you don't need the special Olympus 75mm f/1.8 or the 60mm f/2.8 macro, this is the lens to get. It really is as sharp and contrasty, you won't miss out on anything. It's also sharper than the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Again, this is amazing at this low price point. You should be able to find a like new second hand 60mm for about 120 dollars. That's a steal!
I never liked the Sigma 19mm and 30mm (the new and old versions are optically identical). This 60mm definitely is something else! A gem and highly recommended.
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Perry Rhodan (28 reviews)OMG. Really for EU 169 it is rediculous what Sigma has done.You are kidding
BUY THIS LENS FOR YOUR NEX! The greatest bang for the buck for NEX. Sharp as it gets.reviewed May 15th, 2013 (purchased for $199)