As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been very excited about Sigma’s new line of DN lenses since I first posted about them back in early January. And now that I’ve spent a few weeks with the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN paired with my trusty Olympus E-PL2, I can report that this has quickly become one of my favorite lenses for my Micro Four Thirds cameras for making both stills and videos.
In the hands, this camera and lens combination feels like a classic analog rangefinder from years gone by. Except, of course, that the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN is a fully modern lens designed for the rigors of today: it autofocuses with a linear drive motor that is optimized for both still images and HD video capture without intrusive motor noise, and the telecentric optics are designed for edge to edge sharpness with digital image sensors.
As you look at the images in the this article, you will, of course note how sharp and crisp the in-focus elements are in the frames. But also pay special attention to the lovely quality of the bokeh in the highlights in shot of the tulips, the pizza store mascot, and behind the skateboarder. That’s the feeling the seven rounded aperture blades lend to the images.
This is a lens that is designed for discerning photographers who pay attention to all the details. When the shoot requires switching to manual focus, the focus ring is nicely ridged and wide enough for a confident grip with a thumb and index finger, and the rotational resistance is well damped–not too loose, not too stiff. And of course, it is internal focusing, so when a 46mm filter, such as a polarizer, is threaded on, it won’t rotate its angle during any focusing operations.
The linear drive autofocus motor in the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN is exceptionally quiet. Of course, this is great for still shooting without disturbing skittish or sleeping subjects. But it is even more so for capturing HD video with autofocus engaged to keep moving subjects in focus as camera position or your subject move about. In my experiments, in all but the most extremely silent situations, the linear drive autofocus should be imperceptible and indistinguishable from the existing ambient and environmental background noise during video capture. (We’ll be posting some video samples on our YouTube channel in the near future.)
The Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN is a “standard” lens on both the Micro Four Thirds and the Sony E-Mount systems. When focal length and sensor sizes are taken into account, it is just a touch wider than 50mm on the Sony NEX cameras, and just a touch longer than 50mm on mirrorless interchangable lens cameras from Panasonic and Olympus.
This means that the relationship between objects anywhere within the frame, and anywhere in the fore-, middle-, and background will be very similar to the natural perception of our eyes. There’s neither much in the way of telephoto compression (significantly minimizing the apparent distance between objects) or wide angle forced perspectives (expanding the apparent distance between foreground and background subjects.) The naturally pleasing look of this standard field of view never feels out of style.
For discerning photographers shooting with Sony E-Mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras the Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN is a great new standard lens for both stills and videos. It combines a rock-solid build, a telecentric “designed-for-digital” optics system for edge-to-edge sharpness, a state-of-the-art linear drive autofocus system for seriously unobtrusive AF adjustments, and seven rounded aperture blades for simply lovely bokeh.
This lens has a classic feel, classic looks, and a very nice price. Some things simply never go out of style.