Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary

 
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16mm $442
average price
image of Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary

Updates:
: Field Test & Gallery posted

 

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Field Test

An affordable, fast and mostly good APS-C prime lens

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 04/18/2018

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/5.6, 1/3s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Sigma has been one of the busier lens manufacturers over the last few years. Their Art, Contemporary and Sport lens lineups have been growing very quickly and with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens, you can add another one to the "C" series.

The 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary is a crop-sensor lens, sold in both Sony APS-C E-mount and Micro Four Thirds varieties. I was sent the Sony E-mount version and tested it with the Sony A6500, a very capable APS-C mirrorless camera. Let's see how the Sigma handles a variety of shooting situations.

Key Features and Specifications

  • 24mm equivalent fast prime for APS-C
  • 3 FLD, 2 SLD and 2 aspherical elements
  • Super Multi-Layer coating
  • Stepping AF motor
  • 9-blade rounded diaphragm
  • Weather-sealed construction
  • $449 retail price
  • Available for Sony E and Micro Four Thirds camera systems
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review -- Product Image

Lens Design and Handling

Selling for only around $450, you might question the build quality of the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens, but don't let the low price point fool you, it's a solid lens. It is constructed using a sturdy Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, as Sigma describes it, and is also weather-sealed. The lens feels solid in the hands too, as it is fairly hefty for its size at 14.3 ounces (405 grams). It's 3.6 inches long (92 millimeters) and has a maximum diameter of 2.8 inches (72 millimeters). Adding the included petal-shaped lens hood adds about an inch and a half (40 millimeters) of length.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review -- Product Image

The lens looks very nice and has a sleek, smooth design and finish. It pairs quite well with a Sony camera and doesn't look dissimilar from some of Sony's own lenses. The large focus ring has a rubberized finish and feels very nice to use, plus it's wide at just under a couple inches (around 50 millimeters). The lens looks good and balances well with the A6500.

On the topic of the lens hood, it has a ridged surface to help take it on and off, as it uses twist-lock system rather than button-locking mechanism. I have to say, even with the ridges, which are certainly necessary, the lens hood can still be a little tricky to remove; it fits on there very snugly. It takes a considerable amount of force to remove, and I was a bit concerned about damaging it.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review -- Product Image

With that small nitpick aside, the build quality, design and handling of the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is top-notch. The "Made in Japan" lens looks great, feels great and seems to be quite rugged. Considering it's $449, its build quality is all the more impressive.

Optics and Image Quality

With 16 elements across 13 groups, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 has quite a few pieces of glass despite its compact form. For specialized elements, there are three FLD, two SLD and a pair of aspherical elements. On the back end, the aperture diaphragm is comprised of nine, rounded blades.

Let's take a closer look at the overall optical performance of this lens, starting with sharpness.

Sharpness

Across much of the frame, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens is sharp. Sharpness does fall off a bit when you look toward the extreme corners of the frame, but even then, if you are stopped down, sharpness and resolution remains good.

It is not a superbly sharp lens, but it is certainly impressively sharp and more than capable of capturing detailed images and making nice prints.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8, 1/200s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the central portion of the frame. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8, 1/200s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the bottom left corner of the frame. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Aberrations and Flare

While the lens proved impressive in terms of sharpness, when we consider chromatic aberrations, the situation is not quite as good. The lens produces some severe cyan/magenta chromatic aberration, as you can see in the crop below. When dealing with high-contrast objects or strongly lit fine edges, the lens produces quite a lot of CA. It's not impossible to deal with this during post-processing, but left unchecked, it can be very distracting in certain shooting situations. In most cases, the lens does well, however, and stopping down will help reduce apparent aberrations a bit.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Lens flare is very well-controlled when dealing with the sun. Even shooting straight into the sun, the Sigma lens handles it well. Artificial light when shooting at night is less well-controlled, however.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/11, 1/320s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/4, 5s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
In this shot, we can see that there is some rather heavy lens flare from the lamp. This would not be easy to handle during post-processing, so this is something to keep in mind. See the below crop for a better look.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/4, 5s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1.3s, ISO 640.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Another night shooting situation proved slightly challenging for the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens. You can see that the lens produces some comatic aberration when shooting the night sky. This was not restricted solely to the corners either and was prevalent across much of the frame.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1.3s, ISO 640.
100% crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Vignette

I am impressed by how the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 performs with respect to vignetting. Even when shooting wide open, there is not a lot of vignette and in many real-world situations, it would not be noticeable. What little vignette there is can be dealt with by stopping down a few stops, but exposure falloff is not a concern with this APS-C lens.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/1000s, ISO 100.
Vignette test image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/4, 1/125s, ISO 100.
Vignette test image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Distortion

The Sigma 16mm DC DN promises very little distortion and my experience with the lens backed up the claim. If you look at the test shot below, noting particularly the utility pole along the left edge, you'll notice that it remains essentially vertical. As a note, the road does slope slightly downward as you move from left to right, so I relied on the camera's built-in level on two axes for this shot rather than leveling along with the road. The trees, which aren't perfectly vertical in reality, also look true-to-life. Good performance here for the Sigma.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/4000s, ISO 100.
Distortion test image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Overall

It is difficult to be too hard on this lens because it has a great price and build quality. Further, it produces sharp images in many situations. However, its control -- or lack thereof -- with respect to chromatic aberrations is certainly a concern. Overall, the lens performs well, but not without caveats.

In the Field

Focus

The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary lens has impressive autofocus when paired with the Sony A6500. The lens focuses quickly and quietly, and the focus ring felt nice when manual focus was desired or necessary, such as when shooting at night. I have no complaints whatsoever with the focusing capabilities of this wide prime.

The lens can focus to just under 10 inches (25 centimeters), which provides a maximum magnification ratio of 1:9.9. This is clearly not a lens well-suited for macro photography. However, this close focus distance is sufficient if you want to utilize close foreground elements in landscape images or capture close-up portraits.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/800s, ISO 500.
Close focus test image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Bokeh

Despite not having macro capabilities nor being a long lens, the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture allows the lens to produce images with some nice bokeh. In the shot below, we can see that even a background that was quite close to the subject can be blurred a bit. This means that the lens could prove useful for environmental portraiture.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/125s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Real-world images

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 1/1250s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/5.6, 4s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8, 0.5s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size original image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.4, 2.5s, ISO 800.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/5.6, 20s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Field Test Summary

The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens is fast, well-built and a good value

What I liked:

  • Great build quality for the price
  • Good sharpness
  • Versatile with its fast maximum aperture
  • An impressive value
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8, 1/40s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

What I didn't like:

  • Lens hood is not easy to attach and remove
  • Some issues with aberrations and flare

The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens is a solid choice for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds shooters looking for a wide, fast prime lens that doesn't break the bank. The optics are mostly impressive, capturing sharp, detailed images in nearly all situations. With some small nitpicks aside, including a poorly-designed lens hood and some issues with aberrations and flare, the lens is very good.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/11, 1/60s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size original image. Click here for the RAW file.

Taking into consideration its price point, build quality and the pros and cons of its overall performance, I think that the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary is a good lens and could be a great choice depending on your particular needs.

 

• • •

 

Product Overview

(From Sigma lens literature) The SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the development of a new high-performance, large-diameter wide-angle lens, SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary.

This is the world's first interchangeable lens for mirrorless Sony E-mount cameras in the APS-C format to offer a 24mm focal length (35mm equivalent) and F1.4 brightness. This is the large-diameter wide-angle lens for which mirrorless camera users have been waiting.

With an optical system that rivals that of interchangeable lenses for full-size SLRs, the lens features a wide variety of high-tech optical elements. SIGMA has crafted a lens that leverages optical aberration minimization via the in-camera digital correction. This lens effectively minimizes optical aberrations and offers superb resolution at wide-open aperture and throughout the aperture range. The optical design and stepping motor deliver smooth autofocus during video shooting, while the mount features special sealing creating a dust- and splash-proof design.

The new SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary is the world's first interchangeable lens for mirrorless Sony E-mount cameras in the APS-C format to offer a 24mm focal length (35mm equivalent) and F1.4 brightness. The lens for Micro Four Thirds offers a 32mm focal length (35mm equivalent) with the same f-number of 1.4. This is the large-diameter wide-angle lens for which mirrorless camera users have been waiting.

Developed to feature a lightweight, compact package for everyday use, SIGMA DN lenses for mirrorless cameras deliver superior performance covering the key focal lengths. The new lens builds on the success of the 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, which SIGMA released in 2016 as the first in a new series of prime lenses for mirrorless cameras. The 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary also combines F1.4 brightness with top-level optical performance.

Sharing its development concept with the SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, the 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary features a lens structure with 16 elements in 13 groups and includes the finest materials. This lens effectively minimizes optical aberrations and offers superb resolution at wide-open aperture and throughout the aperture range. The optical design and stepping motor deliver smooth autofocus during video shooting, while the mount features a special sealing for a dust- and splash-proof design.

Following the 30mm F1.4, the next in the series: the 16mm F1.4

Over the years, SIGMA has built an extensive lineup of bright prime lenses ranging from wide-angle to telephoto. Now, for mirrorless cameras, SIGMA is developing a range of interchangeable lenses that feature a lightweight, compact package for convenient daily shooting while delivering superior performance and covering the key focal lengths.

Released in 2016 as the first of a new series of prime lenses for mirrorless cameras, the 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary combined F1.4 brightness with top-level optical performance. In order to achieve this low f-number in a large-diameter Contemporary lens, SIGMA took on a wide variety of challenges, leveraging its latest optical design technologies, incorporating updated video capabilities, and utilizing in-camera digital correction to further improve the lens's optical quality. While prioritizing optical performance, SIGMA developed a lightweight, compact package with steady AF that is truly easy to operate.

Like the 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, the 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary features SIGMA's latest design technologies to offer F1.4 brightness while minimizing optical aberrations.

The first in this SIGMA series of prime lenses for mirrorless cameras was the standard prime 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, now followed by the wide-angle prime 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary. Going forward, SIGMA will add a telephoto lens to the series, making it a new and complete system for mirrorless camera users.

In addition, the SIGMA Art line includes three lenses for mirrorless cameras that cover a range of photographic needs: 19mm F2.8 DN | Art, 30mm F2.8 DN | Art, and 60mm F2.8 DN | Art. These lenses require no digital processing to correct for optical aberrations, instead using the optical system to minimize them.

A member of the high-performance Contemporary line, featuring SIGMA's latest technologies
For optimal balance with light, compact camera bodies with a short flange back distance, SIGMA designed the new SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lens to be extremely compact. Moreover, the special design of the focus lens group allows fast and smooth AF performance for videography and more. This lens combines a compact design and comfortable operation while prioritizing outstanding image quality. Featuring SIGMA's latest technologies, this lens digitally corrects optical distortion.

The stepping motor delivers excellent autofocus with quiet performance.
The optical design and stepping motor deliver smooth autofocus during video shooting. The lens design fully accommodates the Fast Hybrid AF of Sony E-mount cameras for super-fast autofocus functionality. Using face recognition AF results in consistent autofocusing on faces, even as the subjects move.

Combining compactness with outstanding optical performance
The SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary features SIGMA's inner focus technologies, while lighter lens elements in the focus lens group make possible a more compact actuator. Moreover, this lens offers outstanding stability whether the photographer is shooting handheld or has the camera placed on a surface. Structurally, the lens features materials and parts that contribute to its compact, lightweight structure. In summary, this is an unprecedented lens that combines outstanding optical performance with exceptional portability and usability.

Large lens hood (supplied) to keep out harmful rays
The lens hood cuts harmful rays that can negatively affect photographs while also minimizing reflectivity within the hood itself. The hood also features a rubber construction and a non-slip groove to make it easy to hold in a variety of shooting situations.

High-precision, rugged brass bayonet mount
The brass mount combines high precision with rugged construction. Its treated surfaces and enhanced strength contribute to the exceptional durability of the lens.

Mount with dust- and splash-proof construction
The mount features a special sealing to make the lens an excellent choice in a wide variety of conditions.

Image quality rivaling that of our Art line lenses

Minimizing sagittal coma flare
With 16 elements in 13 groups, the optical system features a multitude of high-tech and high-end components, including three FLD glass elements, two SLD glass elements, and two molded glass aspherical elements. This optical system minimizes optical aberrations and ensures outstanding resolution at wide-open aperture and throughout the aperture range. In particular, the two aspherical lens elements have ultra-high-precision surfaces polished to tolerances under 10 nanometers, minimizing the onion ring bokeh effect that some aspherical elements produce and ensuring clear image quality throughout the frame. In addition, the structure of the optical system gently bends light to minimize sagittal coma flare and deliver optimal optical performance from the center of the frame to the edges. The result is a smooth, round bokeh effect with ample light volume throughout the frame.

Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
From an early stage in the lens design process, flare and ghosting have been measured to establish an optical design resistant to strong incident light sources such as backlighting. SIGMA's Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting to help photographers produce sharp and high contrast images even in backlit conditions. The included lens hood can be attached to block out extraneous light, which can have a negative effect on rendering performance.

Bright prime functionality to experience photography at its best
A bright prime lens is the ideal way to experience the essence of the art of photography. Simply select a focal length that matches the image and enjoy complete control of the depth of field.

The 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary is the world's first interchangeable lens for mirrorless Sony E-mount cameras in the APS-C format to offer a 24mm focal length (35mm equivalent) and F1.4 brightness. The lens for Micro Four Thirds offers a 32mm focal length (35mm equivalent) with the same bright F1.4 aperture. This is the large-diameter wide-angle lens for which mirrorless camera users have been waiting.

Rounded diaphragm
The 9-blade rounded diaphragm creates an attractive blur in the out-of-focus areas of the image.

Ultra-high precision and quality -- all made in Japan
With only a few minor exceptions, all of SIGMA's manufacturing, including molds and parts, takes place under a single integrated production system in Japan. We are now one of the very few manufacturers whose products are truly made in Japan. We like to think our products are somehow imbued with the essence of our homeland, blessed as it is with clean air and water, and focused, hard-working people. We pride ourselves on the authentic quality of SIGMA products, born of a marriage between highly attuned expertise and intelligent, advanced technology. Our sophisticated products have satisfied professionals and lovers of photography all over the world because our manufacturing is based on genuine craftsmanship, underpinned by the passion and pride of our experts.

The Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for APS-C mirrorless Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds camera systems will be available at the end of November for $449.00 USD through authorized US retailers.

The appearance and specifications are subject to change without notice.

About the lens name: SIGMA lenses with "DC" in the name are designed for optimal performance on cameras with APS-C image sensors. When a DC lens is used with a camera with a full-frame image sensor, vignetting will occur. Photographers are advised to adjust image area settings for optimal image results. SIGMA lenses with "DN" in the name are designed for optimal performance on cameras with a short flange back distance.

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