Lens Guides

First Look: Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art

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.

The shallow depth of field at F1.8 draws your eyes right to the hands and starfish. The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens is a super-sharp standard prime for APS-C cameras. 1/3200 F1.8 ISO 100 on the Canon Rebel T3i.

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.  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.

Don't Touch My Coffee!
The 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is a standard lens on APS-C DSLRs, so the field of view and sense of perspective is very similar to human vision. Here I am enjoying a cup of coffee on Division Street in Somerville, NJ, a Pedestrian Mall lined with shops on both sides. 1/640 F5.0 ISO 100 on the Canon Rebel T3i.

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.

As a Sigma Art lens, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A is designed for fantastic image quality edge-to-edge, even at widest apertures. I had no worries about framing this image with the focus point on my leaping feet hard up against the top of the frame. 1/2000 F2.2 ISO 100 Canon EOS Rebel T3i.

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.

I bounced a strobe off the ceiling to get diffuse light on this spring bouquet of flowers shot at F2.8 for a touch more depth of field than wide open, but still with nice focus fall-off. 1/80 F2.8 ISO 100.

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).

Same settings as the previous bouquet: 1/80 F2.8 ISO 100. Notice the sharpness of the petals and the lovely focus fall-off.

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!

Waving Flag
The angle of the sunlight really made the colors in this wind-whipped flag pop and the super-fast shutter speed froze it perfectly! 1/3200 F2.5 ISO 100. Rebel T3i.

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.

Midday Juggler
A few weeks back, I needed to capture some video through the new DN lenses for a different project, so, while I was working on that, I set up a still camera on interval timer with the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens to test out it’s performance in midday conditions. This park is across the street from a daycare center at the Y, and while I was making these test shots, about 30 kids walked outside the Y and started screaming about how there was a “juggler man” at the park. It really made my day. And as you can see, the image really pops even in harsh conditions. 1/3200 F2.2 ISO 100 Canon Rebel T3i.

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.

Infrared Shoots
A Spring scene as seen through the new Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A lens in infrared on the Sigma SD1, processed through Sigma Photo Pro monochrome. This new, fast standard prime lens for APS-C cameras is super-sharp! (1/250 F9 ISO 100. IR cut filter removed. 720nm passing filter in front of lens. Custom IR white balance. SPPMono processing.

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.

Turn in the road
Infrared Spring Scene shot with the Sigma SD1 and the new 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens processed through Sigma Photo Pro Monochrome mode. The Sigma SD1 Merrill is the only DSLR in market that can quickly and easily convert from visible spectrum to Infrared capture–it takes about five seconds in the field! 1/200 F8.0 ISO 100

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).

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art Lens
The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art Lens

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.

Learn more about the Sigma Global Vision and the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens here.

Learn more about the Sigma SD1 for Infrared Photography here.

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