Tips & How-Tos

SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary: Hands-On First Look Review

The SIGMA 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lens is the second in the series of fast-aperture prime lenses designed specifically for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. This bright F1.4 prime equates to a 24mm F1.4 lens on the Sony E-mount system thanks to the 1.5x APS-C crop factor, and is the first wide angle lens for this system to offer this focal length and aperture. On Micro Four Thirds cameras with a 2x crop factor, it equates to a 32mm F1.4 lens. And it is just a flat-out great optic for these systems!

I’ve had the Micro Four Thirds sample for a few days now, and offer up this first look, hands-on mini-review with a variety of image samples of the lens paired with an Olympus OMD-E5. In a nutshell: this is a great, economical, fast-aperture prime wide angle lens for mirrorless cameras. The lens is super-sharp, the stepping motor provides swift, quiet autofocus, and it feels great in the hands and is right-sized for the systems it pairs with.

I’m impressed with this lens wide open at F1.4 for subject isolation shallow depth of field, and stopped down, it is edge-to-edge sharp from here to infinity. The focus ring offers great grip to balance the lens and is very responsive when switching over the manual focus.

For the most part, I shoot with the OMD-E5 through the eye-finder, but I did use the LCD for a couple of high- and low-angle shots. Single-shot Focus locks very swiftly in most lighting conditions with decent contrast and tracking focus was dead-on in both my still and video experiments, and most importantly, the AF motor is unobtrusive, and does its job to keep focus moving well below the ambient noise levels in all but the most sterile of audio environments. This isn’t meant to be the end-all set of images with the lens, but is a sampling of my first week in a variety of situations to give the lens a performance run-through. I’ll be adding some holiday lights bokeh shots early next week.

The nine rounded aperture blades make the images from this sharp, fast, wide prime shine and create great background blur when wide open, and create pleasant starbursts when stopped down. The lens just feels good in the hands, and with the 32mm field of view on the Olympus OMD-E5, the overall experience is very similar to pairing the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art with a full-frame camera; but in a much more compact package for top-quality imaging with a smaller footprint than a big full-frame kit.

All in all, the 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary packs a lot of performance into an economical, compact package for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds photographers.

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