Okay, be patient with me, I’ve never done this before and no idea if I even did it right. Comments will be much appreciated.
Today I finally found the E mount Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN lens. I’ve read some good stuff about this lens and it’s so cheap that I figured it’s worth a try. I thought I’d run some tests on it and share those with you.
First, the set-up:
As I work during the day, it’s impossible for me to do this using natural light (unless I wait for the weekend). I didn’t want to use the on-camera flash and I don’t have professional lighting equipment so I used an identical pair of lamps to cast some light on my subject – in this case a portion of my CD collection. I chose “center” for the auto-focus.
I used a tripod but since I don’t have the Sony Remote Commander (buy it from Amazon or B&H Photo, something I should do myself one of these days) I simply set the timer on the camera to its minimum (2 seconds). After shooting several shots, I remembered to remove the protective UV filter on the front of the lens and start over. I decided not to shoot at every possible F stop but to pick the “most popular”.
The shots below were processed in Lightroom 4 using just two steps – correcting the white balance (by using the grey on the No Doubt CD cover) and adjusting the tone via Auto. I did not touch the sliders for sharpening, noise reduction or anything else for that matter. The photos were exported from Lightroom with setting of 1024 X 1024 and 100 pixels per inch. (I mention all this because if someone wants to suggest some way to do things better I’m open to suggestions.)
And now, the test photos, starting with the full images:
So what are you seeing in the above photos? My eyes frankly are old and it’s kind of late. I’m seeing a bit of a drop in sharpness at f16 and f22 but across the board they all seem pretty close to me.
Now, let’s take a crop from the center, where sharpness would still be expected across the entire range.
What do you see? Me, again, I’m seeing a bit of a drop-off around F16 and F22 but all of the other shots are darned close.
Finally, the difficult stuff, a crop from the lower right-hand corner.
Hmmm …. look at the Beth Orton CD on the right. To my eyes, F5.6 is pretty sharp there, F8 is okay-ish, and then it starts to drop off till it’s seriously fuzzy at F22.
But all in all, for a lens that costs around US$200, I’d say the overall results are quite impressive.
What do you think about this test and its results? What would you have done differently to test the lens? Please let me know in comments.
One thing I didn’t mention in the above review is that Sony also has their own 30mm lens for E mount cameras. It’s the Sony 30mm F3.5 macro SEL30F35. Sigma’s lens doesn’t have macro capabilities but I’m not sure I’d want a macro lens at this focal length anyway. So I opted for the minor difference of F2.8 vs. F3.5. Photozone has an in-depth review of the Sony lens on an NEX-7 here and the review is pretty negative, rating it just 1-1/2 stars out of 5 on image quality. ”The Sony E 30mm f/3.5 macro lens delivered a rather disappointing performance on the Sony NEX 7. The center image quality is absolutely great but the border- and especially corner-quality is sub-standard. ” To date they have not reviewed the Sigma 30mm lens.
My buddy Photohead posted a link to my review and some commentary basically wondering why one would need this 30mm lens if one already has the 18-55mm, which I do indeed have. In response to that, I’d go back to Photozone’s review of the 18-55mm on an NEX-7, which I’ve linked to before. Their review of this lens is extremely negative, stating in part, “However, its capabilities are clearly overstrained on Sony’s 24 megapixel sensor. In so far it is very surprising that Sony is also offering it bundled with the NEX 7. The quality is rather miserable at 18mm …”
So I think I will get better results overall from this 30mm lens than from the 18-55mm zoom. Also, after a few days of walking around with the Sony 50mm lens, I realize that its 75mm equivalent focal length is just too tele for a walk-around lens. This one, I guess it’s a 45mm equivalent length, should suit me better. More walk-around photos to come, if it ever stops raining.
Personally I think the only realistic alternative right now to the Sigma 30mm would be the Zeiss 24mm, which every review has said is fantastic. That lens costs 4 times more than the Sigma and is just out of my price range for this sort of thing!