The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens replaces the very popular 30mm EX DC HSM lens as the fast, standard prime designed exclusively for DLSRs with APS-C sensors including the Sigma SD1 Merrill, the Canon EOS Rebels, 60D and 7D and a number of Nikon models including the D7100, D90, and D5100. And based on the updates and upgrades, the 30mm F1.4 Art lens is going to make a lot of photographers very happy.
As an Art lens the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A is built to the same design and performance standards introduced with the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens, the first lens in this line to be announced. In fact, this lens feels like a scaled-down version of that fast, full-frame prime lens. And it’s not simply a cosmetic change. The new 30mm F1.4 has a completely new optical design, with more lens elements, including a double-aspheric lens which minimizes spherical distortion. (You can read the full tech specs of the lens on the special Sigma Global Vision site.) As far as focusing goes, there’s been a lot of advancements since the original 30mm F1.4 was released in 2005. The autofocus is much faster, and much more quiet. And the full-time manual focus ring is very responsive for complete creative control. And as a Global Vision lens, each and every 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is individually tested on the A1 MTF device at the Aizu, Japan factory.
As an Art lens, the new 30mm F1.4 is designed for outstanding edge-to-edge image quality, even at the widest apertures. And with a very flat field, it’s easy to focus on a detail and recompose the scene and keep the selected subject sharp anywhere within the frame.
On APS-C DSLRs with a 1.5x sensor, such as the Sigma SD1 Merrill and the Nikon DX cameras, the lens is equivalent to a 45mm lens–the standard field of view for the 35mm format–so perspective and field of view is very similar to human stereoscopic vision.
Combine this with the shallow depth of field at widest apertures captured through nine rounded diaphragm blades, and it makes for images with beautiful background blur and focus fall-off. (On cameras with a 1.6x APS-C, like the Canon models, the lens is equivalent to a 48mm).
The included circular lens hood pairs firmly with the rubberized connector ring on the front of the lens. And as a photographer who is always mis-matching lens hoods, I personally really appreciate the design detail of all new Global Vision lens hoods that includes both the part number of the lens hood, and the name of the lens it is designed for!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve made photos with the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens indoors and out, with both the Canon EF-mount version paired to a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, and the Sigma SA-mount version paired with the Sigma SD1 and universally the results have been very pleasing.
Images pop right from the camera, even in the harshest lighting conditions. Super Multi-Layer Coatings on the lens elements, combined with the overall optical design–rear internal focusing, the double aspheric element, and so on–all work to deliver outstanding image quality.
It makes some sense to compare this lens to the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens for APS-C exclusive photographers, as the equivalent field of view is pretty much right in the same vicinity when either of these are mounted. Overall, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM is smaller and lighter than its full-frame stablemate, and is also available for a lower price. The biggest reasons to look instead to the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art are these: slightly greater maximum magnification size at close-focus distance (1:5.2 vs 1:6.8) and immediate future plans to upgrade your kit from an APS-C camera to a full-frame model.
And as with all new DC and DG lenses in the Art, Sports, and Contemporary lines, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is compatible with the USB Dock and Sigma Optimization Pro software for multi-zone microfocus adjustments and firmware updates. Click here to see this innovative lens management tool in action. (Link will be active at 5PM EDT 5/1/2013).
All in all, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is a great, fast, standard prime, perfect for demanding photographers working with APS-C DSLRs.