Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN
Lab Test Results
March 26, 2012
by Andrew Alexander
Sigma announced the availability of its made-for-mirrorless DN (''Digital Neo'') lenses earlier in 2012, with the 30mm f/2.8 DN and the 19mm f/2.8 DN. Both lenses are made for the micro four-thirds mount and the Sony NEX E-mount. For micro four-thirds cameras such as the Panasonic G3, on which we tested the 30mm ƒ/2.8 DN, the lens provides an equivalent field of view of 60mm; on the Sony NEX camera the lens provides an equivalent field of view of 45mm.
The lens takes 46mm filters, but from our limited research there does not appear to be a matching lens hood. The lens is available now for approximately $200.
The Sigma 30mm ƒ/2.8 is very sharp indeed, even when used wide open at ƒ/2.8. It's not tack-sharp corner-to-corner at that aperture, but it offers a large area of central sharpness with only light corner softness. There are marginal improvements to both corner and central sharpness at ƒ/4 and ƒ/5.6, where it achieves maximal sharpness. Sharpness actually drops off slightly at ƒ/8 and smaller, but there's no noticeable impact until ƒ/11. The lens can stop down as small as ƒ/22, where overall image sharpness is somewhat degraded.
There is some fairly significant chromatic aberration present in images shot with the 30mm ƒ/2.8. It's visible as fringing in areas of high contrast, showing up as magenta-blue fringing. It's more or less consistent regardless of the aperture selected.
Light falloff really isn't in an issue with this lens, with the worst effect showing corners that are just over 1/4 EV darker than the center, at ƒ/2.8.
There's fairly little distortion to speak of with this lens - just a slight amount of barrel distortion in the corners (+0.25%).
The 30mm ƒ/2.8 uses an in-lens motor for autofocus, which is quick and quiet, taking just under a second to go from infinity to close-focus. The front element does not rotate during focusing operations, making life that little bit easier for polarizer users.
Offering 0.12x magnification, the 30mm ƒ/2.8 offers poor macro performance, with a minimum focusing distance of just 30cm (around a foot).
Build Quality and Handling
The Sigma 30mm ƒ/2.8 EX DN is a fairly pedestrian lens, small and light with a matte black finish. The lens is made of primarily plastic components, weighing only 128 grams (4.8oz), with plastic 46mm filter threads and a metal lens mount. The lens has only one control on it, the manual focus ring. There is no depth-of-field scale, distance scale or infrared index.
The focusing ring is about 3/4'' wide, with deep, easy-to-grip plastic ribs. There are no stops, hard or otherwise, at the close-focusing and infinity end of the lens. It's worth noting that the focusing lens elements that move are loose inside the lens when not attached to the camera so they make a rattling noise: Once attached to the camera the linear focusing motor is engaged and there is no more noise.
Sony E 24mm ƒ/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* ~$1,000
As an E-mount alternative, the price differential is justified: in addition to being as-sharp as the Sigma 30mm ƒ/2.8, the Sony E 24mm deals better with chromatic aberration and offers a much wider maximum aperture of ƒ/1.8.
Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro ~$300
Also for the E-mount, Sony's 30mm ƒ/3.5 doesn't offer quite as sharp an image in the corners, but then, we're not looking at an apples-to-apples comparison: our test of the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 was done on the micro four-thirds Panasonic G3, so the true corner performance of the Sigma may indeed be poorer than presented. Obviously the macro performance of the Sony is much greater than the Sigma, as well as slightly better performance for CA and distortion, at the cost of a slightly smaller maximum aperture (ƒ/3.5 instead of ƒ/2.8).
Olympus 25mm f/2.8 Zuiko Digital ~$250
For the micro four-thirds mount, the tiny Olympus 25mm pancake is certainly the winner when it comes to lightness, also providing excellently sharp images. CA is treated well, except when the lens is stopped down significantly, and distortion is slightly higher than the Sigma.
Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 ASPH Leica DG SUMMILUX ~$600
Panasonic's option for the micro four-thirds mount in a similar focal length range is a bit more expensive, but offers the fastest aperture setting of them all, a full two stops faster at ƒ/1.4. Even wide open at this aperture the lens is exceptionally sharp (sharper than the Sigma, except in the corners), and distortion is surprisingly non-existent. CA is somewhat prominent in the corners but overall, well-controlled.
You have to hand it to Sigma, they recognize the opportunity in creating lenses for multiple brands, and have found yet another niche to supply lens alternatives in the micro four-thirds and NEX camps. The Sigma 30mm ƒ/2.8 EX DN provides an excellent alternative for not a lot of money: optically, it's very good, at least as good as the alternatives in its price range.
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 30mm f/2.8 EX DN
Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN User Reviews
6 out of 10 points and recommended by bananitax (24 reviews)reviewed June 18th, 2023
9 out of 10 points and recommended by Beachrider (22 reviews)Nearly a pancake. Small, sharp, contrasty and light. Now it is inexpensive, too.No MF button or depth scale.
I like this as a 'normal' lens. It is so good and so inexpensive that I leave it on my NEX when young relatives want to use the camera, too. I got it on a two-for-$200 deal because Sigma has 'replaced' it with a metal-side lens.reviewed January 29th, 2013 (purchased for $100)
9 out of 10 points and recommended by dugong5pm (52 reviews)Sharp, tone, metal mount, nice pouch includedslow AF, f/2.8
at its first launch.. I underestimated this lens.. I thought this lens wouldn't be much used since it's limited by the "slow" f/2.8reviewed October 9th, 2012 (purchased for $189)
I've got this lens for a bargain, $189 including an UV filter (multicoated).. I just thought nothing can go wrong for the price.. and I was quite astonished!!
First thing that'll blow you is the sharpness.. it's nothing but sharp images wide open and even sharper if you stopped down a bit (f/4 - f/5.6 has amazing sharpness). On My NEX, IQ simply stands out. I don't shoot walls or test pages, I shoot people mostly and the results are gorgeous. Set the color to "portrait" (in my NEX), and voila.. I never switch it back to another setting
Another good thing from Sigma is the lens also comes with a nice pouch (yes, it is nice indeed). That's something you won't expect from a lens at this price. Build quality is also on the positive side. It's mostly plastic, with a metal mount, but it feels like a good quality plastics rather than a toy. It feels solid in your hand and weighs just right for my NEX, makes it a perfect couple (at least for me).
Now, the downside is.. it focuses slower than your Sony lenses. Works ok if you don't shoot actions/sports. I also wish it has a f/2 but hey for the price, I may be wishing too much.
I'm happy with this tiny beauty. The lens now glued to my NEX body most of the time. The focal range (45mm equiv) is just right for almost everything I need. It replaces my Samyang 35/1.4 (manual focus). It's sharp, small & light.. all that I need in photography :)
10 out of 10 points and recommended by Photografer (4 reviews)Sharp2.8
Super sharpreviewed October 4th, 2012 (purchased for $199)
8 out of 10 points and recommended by iffo (7 reviews)High resolution in the center Solidly built and beautifully finished Free pouch Low pricedNo built-in image stabilization Reasonable performance in terms of distortion and chromatic aberration Resolution in the corners is less than in the center
I agree with Andrew. The Sigma 30 mm EX DN is a lens that is comfortable in the hand, finished solidly and which focuses quickly and quietly. For a micro-43 lens, the Sigma 30 mm EX DN is not very compact, but that is precisely an advantage for those who wish to focus manually. The resolution of this lens is very highreviewed May 29th, 2012
10 out of 10 points and recommended by dennishh (2 reviews)Small, Light, inexpensive and very sharpNo lens shade
Overall sharpness of this lens was a completely welcome surprise, even at f2.8. At f5.6 the Sigma is phenomenal. Because of it's size I have a tendency to leave this lens on my NEX 7 more than any other lens. I would recommend to any serious photographer.reviewed April 2nd, 2012 (purchased for $199)