Lens Guides

First Look: SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN Contemporary Lens

As mirrorless technology continues to take over the digital camera market, the shift to smaller, lighter, and more nimble lenses has grown right along with it. This is evident in SIGMA’s continuing development of DG DN (for full-frame mirrorless) and DC DN (for crop sensor mirrorless) lenses. But while more compact gear and better technology is great, part of the “experience” of photography can get lost. The control. The feel. The sense of connection to your gear. And that’s why SIGMA introduced the I series (learn all about it here!).

Now, with the new SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary lens, the SIGMA I series includes a total of 7 beautifully-crafted, all-metal lenses from ultra-wide to short telephoto, each with their own unique characteristics, but also part of a cohesive set that practically begs to be collected.

That said, the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary might be all the lens you ever need! Its premium build, outstanding optical quality and exceptional versatility make it particularly useful in so many situations.

Benefits and features

Having at least one wide-angle lens is a must for most photographers. Whether the subjects are landscapes, starry skies, street performers, or big groups of partygoers, it usually doesn’t take long to find out that a “standard” lens just won’t cut it in many situations. With a wider angle of view – something we are all now very used to thanks to ultra-wide smartphone cameras – it’s easier to fit more into the frame without having to back up. For any situation where space is limited, or an epic viewpoint is desired, there’s no substitute for a wide-angle lens.

Thanks to the SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary, and ultra-wide viewing angle is now possible on full frame mirrorless cameras, including Sony E mount and L-Mount systems, in a truly gorgeous, compact piece of equipment, able to render detail far beyond the capabilities of any smartphone.

Naturally, there are quite a few 20mm lenses out there. So what sets this one apart? Sure, it’s a very good value. The optical quality is outstanding. And it’s fast, with a maximum aperture of F2. But it’s the build quality and physical features found in other I series lenses that really makes this 20mm lens a work of art.

The I series difference

Made entirely at SIGMA’s factory in Aizu, Japan, the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary features all-metal construction, including the barrel, controls, hood, even inner mechanical components that could be made from cheaper materials. The use of metal components throughout gives this lens (and all I series lenses) a premium feel, sense of weight, and a retro-inspired appearance that harkens back to manual lenses from decades past.

Speaking of “manual”, the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary features manual aperture control, allowing the photographer to set the F-stop with the twist of the perfectly-damped ring, complete with click stops and an Auto setting (for camera-based control). Manual focus control is also available, and a sliding metal AF/MF switch makes the simple act of switching focus modes a pleasure. The smooth focusing ring also provides a more connected experience, and on L-Mount models, it can even be changed from non-linear to more traditional linear control through the UD-11 USB Dock (sold separately).

Oh, and did we mention the magnetic lens cap? Available on all I series lenses released since 2020, it’s part lens cap, part fidget toy, and easily one of the lens’ most unique and fun features.

So there’s certainly plenty to like about the SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary lens, but what do the professionals think? SIGMA Ambassadors Jack Fusco and Jim Koepnick tested the lens in a variety of scenarios, and the results not only show the image quality of the lens, but also demonstrate its versatility as a go-everywhere, do-everything wide-angle prime.

Astrophotography with the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary

Astro / night sky photographers have long gravitated toward extreme wide angle lenses, but in many cases, going really wide can lead to very bulky optics. The SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary provides a wide enough field of view for capturing vast areas of sky and the surrounding landscape, but without the size and weight associated with wider lenses. This lens is a mere 2.9 inches (approx. 94mm) long and weighs just 13.1 ounces (370g), and that’s WITH an all-metal body.

The ideas of saving space or traveling light when it comes to astrophotography are concepts that have never gone together. That changes completely with the SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary, a lens that comes in at an incredibly compact size without sacrificing quality. Pair that with that fast F2 aperture and you have the world’s best travel-sized astrophotography lens.

– Jack Fusco, SIGMA America Ambassador

Ultra-wide lenses are also often associated with heavy distortion or a lack of sharpness, particularly in the corners at wide open apertures. This is something that astrophotographers especially want to avoid. The 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary, however, manages to capture sharp, pinpoint stars all across the frame, even at maximum aperture.

While the size and build quality were the first things that surprised me about this lens, the quality was what really won me over. The images were bright across the entire frame and the stars in the corners were sharp while shooting wide open. This is a super versatile lens that excels under the stars, but is capable well beyond.

– Jack Fusco, SIGMA America Ambassador

This lens also has the advantage of being both accessible to the budding astro enthusiast and a smart choice for the pro looking to downsize their pack. In short, it’s sharp, fast, small, and once the sun comes up, it’s a wonderfully versatile lens for countless other scenarios.

Whether you’re looking to get your foot in the world of astrophotography, or add a lens to your hiking bag to capture detailed photos of landscapes or the night sky, this is the lens you’ve dreamed of. Its wide focal length and small size makes it the perfect choice to capture huge views without weighing down your bag or sacrificing quality.

– Jack Fusco, SIGMA America Ambassador

Everyday shooting with the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary

Crystal clear skies are a beautiful thing, but back here on Earth, there’s a lot going on, too! The 20mm focal length is a favorite among street photographers, photojournalists, architecture and landscape shooters, and more. Clearly, the wide angle of view offers a lot of versatility – especially if you’re shooting with a very high-resolution camera, which allows for lots of cropping – but the lens’ low-light performance and smooth bokeh quality makes this a fantastic option for unexpected uses like portraits and food photography, too!

The beauty of the new SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary I series lens is that it produces a very sharp wide-angle view of my subject when I want to encompass an entire scene… but then by moving closer and closer, I can create an entirely different perspective of the same subject. That sharp “in your face” perspective that jumps out at you as the background drops into a beautiful blur.

– Jim Koepnick, SIGMA America Ambassador

Whether used as a walkabout lens for daily captures, or specifically for street photography, the compact dimensions of the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary really come into play. Being able to fit such a useful, incredibly sharp, super wide lens into such a small package comes in handy no matter the scenario. Another benefit that might go under the radar is that this ultra-wide prime offers a standard 62mm front filter thread, whereas many similar lenses have bulbous front elements that make attaching filters tedious and expensive.

This lens is so small and light that even when mounted on my camera, it fits easily inside my coat pocket. Not only does this lens travel well when I’m on the street in a big city, but with a filter size of 62mm, it is perfect for adding an affordable neutral density filter when I’m shooting waterfalls or landscapes, or a circular polarizer for glass buildings and pools of water.

– Jim Koepnick, SIGMA America Ambassador

Also, while this is a full frame lens, it can be used on both full frame and APS-C sensor bodies for Sony E and L-Mount systems. On a crop sensor camera like the Sony A6000 series or Leica CL/TL, the effective focal length is approximately 30mm, ideal for a slightly-wider-than-normal angle of view that gives you a little more depth, but still offers plenty of room to tell virtually any story.

I love the versatility of using this compact 20mm F2 lens for L-Mount. It is a great fit for my Leica CL when I travel, giving me the opportunity to be able to travel with a wide, fast and sharp lens.

– Jim Koepnick, SIGMA America Ambassador

Great for video, too!

While I series lenses with their unique aesthetic are typically seen as photography tools, they certainly have a place in the video world as well. In fact, the 20mm focal length, on a full-frame camera, is the perfect angle of view for handheld vlogging, wide-angle B-roll, live streaming, and much more.

The compact size and light weight also make it a great choice for shooting with a gimbal. Autofocus is swift and smooth, low-light performance is excellent, and especially with the linear focusing option available on L-Mount, manual control is firmly in the operator’s hands.

From astro to interiors, majestic landscapes to big city streets, the SIGMA 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary lens is a single focal length lens that can practically do it all! It offers all the modern technological amenities like pin-sharp optics, in-camera aberration corrections, and fast, precise autofocus, but it looks and feels like – as Obi Wan Kenobi might put it – “An elegant lens, for a more civilized age.”

If you haven’t experienced the SIGMA I series yet, the 20mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary is a great place to start. See one. Hold one. Try one. We think you’ll feel the same way we do.

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