Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM Lens
A very fast prime lens that covers a ‘normal’ angle of view and is designed for ‘APS-C’ format DSLR cameras.Designed exclusively for DSLR cameras with ‘APS-C’ sized image sensors, Sigma’s 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM lens is solidly constructed and available in mounts to suit all popular brands – including Olympus and Panasonic. On the Canon EOS 40D and 400D cameras we tested it on, this lens equates to a 48mm lens on a 35mm camera – which is close to a ‘standard’ viewing angle. It cannot be used on DSLRS with ‘full frame’ sensors because it vignettes at the corners of the frame. . . [more]
Designed exclusively for DSLR cameras with ‘APS-C’ sized image sensors, Sigma’s 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM lens is solidly constructed and available in mounts to suit all popular brands ““ including Olympus and Panasonic. On the Canon EOS 40D and 400D cameras we tested it on, this lens equates to a 48mm lens on a 35mm camera ““ which is close to a ‘standard’ viewing angle. It cannot be used on DSLRS with ‘full frame’ sensors because it vignettes at the corners of the frame.
Elegant looking, with a matte black finish and fine gold trim line, it consists of seven elements in seven groups, with two Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements and a hybrid aspherical lens to minimise chromatic aberrations. Built into the lens is a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) system, which moves the lens elements almost silently during autofocusing, which is fast and accurate. A focus scale window is provided.
Lens construction diagram
A ridged, rubberised focusing ring provides an excellent grip for manual focusing, although the focus ring on the test lens was a little stiff. The front element does not rotate, allowing easy use of angle-critical filters like polarisers and graduates. Users switch between auto and manual focus via a lever on the lens barrel. Fitting the lens to our Canon cameras was tricky as the connections were rather tight.
The large maximum aperture is the high point of this lens. At f/1.4 it is several stops wider than the widest zoom lens supplied with any DSLR camera. But, with a close focusing limit of 40 cm, this lens is unsuitable for close-up work. But it’s a good general-purpose prime lens that can be used for landscape and portrait photography and it’s inconspicuous enough for street photographers to use.
Overall performance was good ““ but not exceptional. We found a small degree of barrel distortion, although not enough to trouble most photographers for general picture-taking. Imatest showed distinct differences in resolution (MTF50 figures) between the centre and edges of the frame. Resolution near the centre was very good but edge softening could be seen in shots where subjects at the centre of the field of view and those at the edges were at the same distance from the camera.
Close-up performance was good ““ for the camera-to-subject distance at which the lens could focus. The large maximum aperture of the lens allows you to produce some excellent examples of differential focusing (shown in the sample images below) and out-of-focus ‘bokeh’ is attractive. Vignetting at wide apertures was negligible with the test lens.
Lateral chromatic aberration averaged 0.05% of the distance to the corner of the frame in our Imatest tests. This is classified as low. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in any of the shots we took during our tests. Backlighting was also handled competently, with little in the way of flare and ghosting.
Although not offering spectacular performance, Sigma’s 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM produces sharp enough images and has few enough inherent faults to suit most photographers. Compared with other prime lenses it is very good value for its price and its resolution at middle apertures is a match for many of the zoom lenses we’ve tested. The questions potential purchasers should ask are how often they will use the f/1.4 aperture, whether they can tolerate the lack of pin-sharpness shooting at f/1.4 with this lens involves and whether they can live with its limited close focusing distance.
Taken at f/11
Taken at f/1.4
Focal length range: 30mm
Angle of view: 45 degrees (SD format)
Aperture range: f/1.4 to f/16
Lens construction: 7 Elements in 7 Groups
Lens mount(s): Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony/Minolta, Pentax/Samsung, Four Thirds
Diaphragm Blades: 8
Minimum focus: 40 cm
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions (Diameter x L): 75.5 x 59 mm
Weight: 430 grams
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