Exploring Black and White Photography with SIGMA I series Lenses

For my entire professional career, I have been known for vibrant, colorful, “fairy” pictures. Or if you’re familiar with my macro work, you will see that I stick to vivid, flowing close-ups. Not black-and-white, not city photography, not architecture.

But recently, I took my first-ever trip to New York City to teach a few classes, and I decided it was the perfect chance to challenge myself with some black and white city street photography with the smallest SIGMA I series lenses available. I feel like as an artist it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try something that you wouldn’t normally do. I admit that I don’t challenge myself in this respect enough. It’s so easy to stick with what you’re familiar with. So I was determined to do this when I had the opportunity.

Getting familiar with new surroundings

I don’t live in a big city (Atlanta is the closest at about two hours away from me), my house is surrounded by farms, and I am certainly not a city person. My photography style is heavily inspired by nature, and this is where I feel most at home. So when I first arrived in NYC, whew, was I ever out of my element!

I took a walk with the SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary, 45mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary, and 90mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary. I use a Spider Holster, so I took that and a medium lens bag and my Sony A7R IV out on the town on an icky, overcast day. I put one lens on the camera and stacked the other two on top of each other in the lens bag to carry on my belt (which SIGMA does not recommend but I did it anyway). I felt like a country bumpkin out seeing the big city, gawking at all the buildings and being a photo-tourist. But I knew that with the SIGMA I series lenses, I could easily explore unfamiliar surroundings and use a variety of focal lengths to capture details from different perspectives, with great results, even when the lighting wasn’t ideal.

At first, I admit that I struggled. How was I supposed to know what to take pictures of, what would look good in black and white, and what lens to use for each image? I know that “seeing” things for black and white is certainly not the same as seeing things for color photography, so I actually changed my camera to monochrome in the menu settings and viewed my surroundings through the rear screen. I also turned my ISO up pretty high for most situations, giving me that grainy “film” vibe and flexibility in low light. These steps helped a lot, and allowed me to focus on what the light was doing and what I thought made great photos.

But what makes for great photos? I ran into the same problem lots of people have in my macro photography classes… what is my subject? I think you’ll see from these photos that I didn’t go for the usual “street photography” with street musicians, tourist traps and graffiti. I couldn’t find any, actually. I did get quite a shock from a man on a corner in Cleveland who was sans apparel, but I opted not to take a picture of that.

I’m also a 6-foot redhead and so I tend to be a bit… noticeable. I didn’t want to draw attention and possible confrontation to myself by doing city people street portraits, so my images ended up more about shapes and composition instead. I had to put on my “everyday things can be beautiful” hat to see past the mundane. In fact, a lot of my images came from an empty shopping mall that had been shut down due to Covid. Everything was bare and it was a ghost town in there. It was a sobering feeling and the experience lent itself to black and white very well.

As I began shooting, the lens selection sorted itself out quickly because each lens is made to do different things:

24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary

For me, the 24mm F3.5 DG DN | C was the most surprising lens I used. Of course it provides a wide view of the scene, wider than your own eye can see. So I found myself just putting it on to look around and see ALL of a scene, then putting on another lens to get a similar shot of some smaller part of what I had seen in that image.

There was a really neat hanging wire art piece in one of the buildings I went into, and with the 24mm, I was able to stand directly under it and shoot upwards without having to lay on the nasty floors. I feel like this lens would be the most typical “city lens” that most people would consider when shooting architecture or interiors.

I was also surprised that it focuses so close. I ended up doing a few plant portraits with it, too. There I was, surrounded by majestic skyscrapers and cool architecture, and I’m crouched down in front of a streetside planter. I guess you can take the girl out of the macro, but you can’t take the macro out of the girl.

45mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary

The 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens was, I think, the easiest to work with. The angle of view is closest to what the human eye sees, so it was easy to think about shots in my mind’s eye, then hold up the camera and click a photo. So for this reason, it has a lot of versatility.

The 45mm is also my go-to lens for a few of my regular portrait poses, so I am pretty familiar with it. It was the most helpful when allowing me to “see” the shapes for black and whites. It is a simple lens, very straightforward, but that’s what makes it amazing. I also tend not to crop in post if I can help it, and this is certainly a “what you see is what you get” type of lens.

90mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary

The 90mm F2.8 DG DN | C was also a surprise, actually. I never really thought I’d use a 90mm much for city scenes, but that wasn’t the case at all. It’s a portrait length lens, but that’s what makes it magic in the city. It’s not too long, so it doesn’t eliminate too much of the frame, but it’s not too wide either, so you can focus on what you really want to emphasize in the frame.

Of the three lenses I carried, the 90mm also has the most prominent bokeh, which can help separate your chosen subject from the rest of the image. That’s harder to do with a wider lens. I found myself intentionally looking for things that would highlight the bokeh this lens was capable of, which added a nice variety to my final photo set.

My perspective on the SIGMA I series’ smallest lenses

Even though I didn’t use these for “people” street photography this time, I think these lenses would have been amazing for that purpose because they’re just so small on the camera! Instead of a giant zoom lens, these lenses on the SIGMA fp L would almost pass for a point-and-shoot camera to the casual observer, so they wouldn’t draw much attention if you did want to shoot discreetly.

I also think these lenses in particular are about the best possible travel lenses out there. They are tiny individually, but even together they take up almost no space in a bag or purse. They would all three fit easily into a pocket of my husband’s favorite cargo shorts. They’re light too. I carried all three around for about 5 hours without issue.

All of the SIGMA I series lenses are fully metal construction, which is my favorite thing about them. Not only does that mean they’re durable (I am pretty rough on my photo gear), but they just feel nicer in your hands, too. It’s hard to understand until you use one. They don’t feel like a cheapy plastic sad thing that’ll break as soon as you look at it, they feel like they can take a beating for decades and still make glorious images. As an added bonus, they have this retro sharp look to them that makes me feel snazzy when I have one out.

All the tiny size and cute looks won’t get you anywhere if the images suffer, but that’s so not the case here! Each of the I series lenses is quick to focus, super sharp, and have amazing image quality. Each of them works beautifully with the eye autofocus in my Sony camera as well. The clicky f-stop ring on the lenses is a joy to use, and the magnetic lens caps (available on all but the 45mm) are so wonderful.

Overall thoughts

Even though I am not a black and white city photographer, the SIGMA I series lenses, especially this trio of ultra-compact primes, make it super easy to get good pictures even when you don’t know what you’re doing. I loved carrying them around the city, and they would be perfect lenses for just about any aspect of city life. The lightweight, easy-to-toss-in-a-bag size is a must for any travel photographer.

Have you used them on the city streets? What did you think?

SIGMA I series Lens Road Trip – Reflections in Verse

Alright, another blog post…
Scratch that let’s keep this fun
How about a long-ass poem
After all, it is two thousand twenty-one.

We set off on an adventure
To get a break from time traveling on the west
From San Diego to Denver
A few stops along the way and back — after all, we need to rest.

I had to bring my camera
My girlfriend would prob be mad if I didn’t
But that’s okay, I am one with it
Photography is the best — innit?

My glass of choice must qualify in a few places
Look nice
Be compact
And not be heavy as RHYME.

So I got some new SIGMAs
The 24, 35, and 65
They are beautiful lenses
At least from the outside.

So how do they look from within?
We must put them to the test!
In the bag, they go
I’ll stop shooting when I’m dead.

We traveled across the states
With one rule for the trip
Pick a city, use Airbnb
and book the cheapest place we can in it.

The first stop was right outside the Grand Canyon
Man, it’s beautiful there — and dry
The sun-kissed skin of Nai’s face is my favorite
She looks so beautiful in the light.

Grand Canyon for a day
We went on a hike
I didn’t bring my camera down in it
So here’s a shot from up high.

I love the DOF on these bad boys
What a wonderful sight
And being able to adjust it manually
Super useful and it feels right.

I’ve never had a lens with manual aperture
It’s a new one to me
I think the thing that stood out the most
Was how it didn’t even feel clunky.

I actually liked it better than electronic
Who would have thought?
I could change it quicker, more reliably
Even when it was very hot.

Next, we hit Arches
It was so busy they let us in for free
Apparently, the line was so long it blocked traffic
Thanks for letting us keep our money!

After that, we stayed at this guy’s family farm
It was beautiful outside
He had dogs, horses, cows
We even went for a ride.

Lastly, we went to the Rocky Mountain National Park
We met up with my best friend and his wife
They were expecting a baby soon
I am so excited for new life.

We camped out of a trailer
I had never done this before
I am a pretty good roommate, though
I was trained by being on tour.

The area was beautiful
We went on hikes and cooked over the fire
Covid really made me miss traveling
Nothing good to rhyme with fire.

I liked the 24 for wide shots
Which makes sense, cause it was wide.
I need to get better at macro
But here is one, I tried.

The 35 was great for walking around
Landscapes, portraits — whatever works
I think it’s my favorite of the three
I like how natural it looked.

The 65 was great — a bit more restrictive and that’s fine
Perfect for portraits with an OOF background
Even my inexperienced friend’s skills shined.

SIGMA always has a slick look
The lenses handmade in Japan
They really went next level
With the magnetic lens cap, man.

I didn’t even know it was a feature
Until I opened the box
Usually i just throw the lens cap away
But this one is fashionable — and rocks!

Next we headed back to Cali
Back to our lives and time to enjoy the sun
Thanks SIGMA for capturing my trip with me
I can’t wait to do another one.

Alright thanks for letting me write a poem. Blog posts, I have done so many — it’s nice to break it up a bit. On a serious note, these lenses are great. I am always a big fan of how lenses look / how they feel / how small they are. I am not the most technical person, if you couldn’t tell. But a big part of my job is blending in, and that starts with how I dress and present myself, as well as what my camera looks like. There is nothing worse than having a big 70-200 white lens and sticking out in a crowd. I love having a lens that matches my aesthetic. When I travel it just feels so much more… natural. I don’t want some big clunky heavy stuff. I just want it to feel nice.

These lenses feel kinda hipster. But not in a negative way. They just take the digital camera and make it feel a little more old-school without taking away from any of its functionality. So thank you SIGMA for always crushing it with design. I think it’s such an important aspect of lenses for me.

Do I have to send these back!?

Tour the Gorgeous Pacific Northwest with the SIGMA fp L Camera & I series Prime Lenses

Well, that was fun!

I just returned home from a trip through the Pacific Northwest with SIGMA’s newest full frame and ultralight camera, the SIGMA fp L. I am not really sure what L stands for, but after shooting with this camera and lens combo I think it stands for “Limitless”. I was thinking about all the ways the camera could be used, and I think just about every photographer out there could benefit from the amazing image quality and the portability of this camera.

Overleaf Magic
SIGMA fp L + 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary – 5s, F14, ISO 100

Why the SIGMA fp L Makes Sense for a Landscape Photographer

I currently shoot with a full size DSLR and all the lenses that go along with it. When my bag is packed, it weighs in at roughly 45 pounds. While I’m not getting any younger, my drive for adventure is not easing up, and I find myself traveling now more than ever. As I get older, I really need to think about the wear and tear on my body from carrying such a heavy bag.

I have recently been looking for a smaller camera that won’t sacrifice image quality that I can take on day hikes or short overnight backpacking trips. Up until recently, most full-frame mirrorless camera systems offered the same sort of bulky lenses used with DSLRs. Often, having a smaller camera wasn’t that much of a weight advantage, but now, with smaller lenses like these and their amazing quality, the decision to downsize is a justifiable one.

Bridge of Blues
SIGMA fp L + 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary – 5s, F6.3, ISO 16

Before setting out on this trip, I also packed SIGMA’s latest I series lenses to complete this ultralight package. This is going to blow your mind. I had the SIGMA fp L 61-megapixel mirrorless camera, 24mm, 35mm and 65mm I series prime lenses, plus an extra battery, and the total weight was only 3.2 pounds (1.45kg). That’s insane! It’s easy for me to say that the difference in weight was a huge relief to my body.

Exploring the Pacific Northwest with the fp L

The first hike I did in the Columbia River Gorge was to Spirit Falls, near Carson, Washington. The hike is a short but brutally steep one, starting out high and heading down to the waterfall, roughly a mile down… which means a mile back up. The hike is so steep (read the Alltrails reviews) that I honestly don’t know If I could have made it back up with a 45-pound pack on. Having the fp L and three compact lenses was a blessing in that there was literally no stress on my back from carrying extra weight.

This waterfall is the only one in the Columbia River Gorge that has this gorgeous blue color to it from mineral runoff. One of the nice things about this camera is that the ISO will go down to 6. Yes, 6. This makes shooting in daylight without a filter a breeze when your subject isn’t being affected by the wind, leading to long-exposure effects like this.

Sapphire Drops
SIGMA fp L + 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary – 3/10s, F16, ISO 32

After making the climb back to my car and still pinching myself, telling myself I am not dreaming, yes the water really is that color, I decided to explore the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Being from the northwest, rain was no issue for me, and my photo gear held up well, too. The entire camera and lens mounts are weather sealed, and a light rain was no problem for the lenses, either. With the soft light of the grey clouds, I put on the 65mm F2 DG DN | C lens and got down close to this beautiful Trillium flower growing on the forest floor. The moisture from the rain really helped to bring out the colors.

Wet Trillium
SIGMA fp L + 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/250s, F4, ISO 100

Once I saw the image quality and details captured by this amazing 61MP sensor, I kept finding myself trying to get closer to the subject. With a 20-inch minimum focusing distance, I was pushing the limits here. I just wanted to get as close as I could to make sure all the details were visible.

After hiking around the forest all day, it was time to pack up (super easy with this setup) and head west toward the coast. I had a couple shots in mind, and the weather worked beautifully in my favor after a night of pouring rain. In the midst of the light drizzle, I found the location to view the Astoria bridge that connects Oregon and Washington. Morning traffic made this shot fairly easy. I was able to get the car lights trailing by using a long exposure along with the 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary. If you look close you can even see boat lights going under the bridge.

Astoria Bridge
SIGMA fp L + 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 30s, F7.1, ISO 100

My next stop was the Peter Iredale shipwreck along the north Oregon coast. This ship ran ashore on Oct 25, 1906, and has been sitting here rusting away ever since. This was a location where I wanted to really showcase how small the SIGMA fp L and 24mm lens are. I had the whole beach to myself and I was able to work this scene from a few different angles. I was happy the clouds hung around this morning so I could capture this unique scene with the lines in the sand.

While the fp L is extremely small, it does have optional accessories if you want to bulk it up a bit. During this shoot, I used the HG-21 handgrip accessory — which also works with the original fp — and it felt good when holding and using the camera. As you can see below, it’s large enough to get a secure grip but still small enough that it won’t hinder portability. It made the camera feel more like a DSLR, and the added security of the grip made it super easy to use when just walking around without a tripod.

On the road once again, headed south to the central Oregon coast, searching for unique things to photograph along the beach at low tide. I loved the fact that I could just toss my bag over my shoulder and walk all day without feeling tired due to the weight of the gear. Walking in sand and on rocky surfaces was not an issue. I never felt like the weight of the gear was a hinderance of any kind. I did get some odd looks from people on the beach when I would shoot scenes like this, however. I think they were trying to figure out if I was using a cell phone to shoot the bubbles in the grass, because the camera is actually not as wide as my phone.

With the 65mm F2 DG DN | C positioned about 20 inches away, I was able to get almost 1:1 sizing on the image. I used an aperture of F16 to make sure the whole scene was sharp.
SIGMA fp L + 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/8s, F16, ISO 100

Because the lenses are so small and so easy to swap out quickly, I found myself changing lenses often to get the image framed just right. Here are a couple images I shot with the 35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary. This first one was shot at the same beach as the above bubbles image, just a few feet down the beach. I loved how the sea grass looked like it was swirling around in the shallow water. The early morning light created nice depth to the image as it was up high enough to light the scene but still low enough to create light and dark areas around the grasses.

Sea Grass in a Tide Pool
SIGMA fp L + 35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/125s, F5.6, ISO 400

The wooden bridge over the East Fork of the Lewis River in Washington is very close to my old home. As I was driving through the area, I felt the need to stop and enjoy a moment of calm. It’s hard for me to go places and not take pictures, and so once again I just tossed the bag over my shoulder and headed toward the water’s edge. I love how the little bubbles in the water create streaks when you use a long exposure.

Emerald River
SIGMA fp L + 35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 8s, F13, ISO 100

As I reviewed my photos, I was just blown away that a camera and lens combo so small and portable could provide such amazing images. Each night, I would review the day’s images and get more excited about the next day. Knowing that I was not sacrificing any image quality by using a smaller, much lighter camera setup was sure a weight lifted off me.

With only a couple days left on my trip, I crossed my fingers for ideal weather so I could photograph the moon setting over the ocean. As someone who grew up on the Oregon coast, this, to me, is one of the most amazing things you can witness. Every chance I get I will go watch the moon set. Because full moons set and rise near sunrise and sunset hours, it makes the experience that much better in true, living color.

For this image, I used the 65mm F2 DG DN | C lens, which framed the scene perfectly. I loved how the moon was right between the clouds. Having a camera so small makes working with it that much easier so I don’t miss shots by fumbling around.

Perpetua’s Moon
SIGMA fp L + 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/40s, F13, ISO 100

With only two days of shooting left before I set the camera down to spend a few days with my dad, I knew I needed some luck with the weather. Fortunately, I was granted my wish with a gorgeous sunset in Pacific City at Haystack Rock. It was low tide, so the starfish were out. I wanted to capture a scene which included the water, starfish, sunset and some nice leading lines. I spent about an hour walking around looking for a nice location so I would be ready when the sun dipped and lit up the sky.

Kiwanda Super Cream Ale
SIGMA fp L + 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1.7s, F16, ISO 6

The next morning I got up and arrived at the “Ghost Forest” to shoot the sunrise. It was foggy. I rarely get discouraged when I am out shooting, because just being outside is what landscape photography is all about. Personally, I love a good foggy morning. I walked down the beach with my gear over my shoulder and found this fun composition that allowed me to capture Proposal Rock, the ghost forest trees and the ripples in the sand, all with a nice, foggy morning mood. This was a great way to end my little adventure with an even smaller camera and lens setup.

Fog at the Ghost Forest
SIGMA fp L + 35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/160s, F14, ISO 400

Overall Impressions of the SIGMA fp L & I series Lenses

After shooting with this camera and combination of lenses for several hours a day over the last 10 days, I can honestly say it’s fun to use, the image quality is great and all three lenses were super sharp. The SIGMA fp L is very easy to use thanks to its Quick Select button. This button brings up all the important things a landscape photographer needs without having to hunt through menu options. The main menu is pretty easy to figure out as well.

I just can’t say enough good things about the size and portability of the camera and lenses in relation to image quality. It’s a beautifully designed camera that packs a punch. The reality is that you really don’t even need a camera bag for this camera. If you are doing a day hike, you could put it in your backpack, strap it over your neck/shoulders and not even notice it’s there. When you get home, you will find quite a bit of joy in the image quality knowing you didn’t stress your body to the limits with the size and weight of full-size camera and lenses. Remember, the total weight for the SIGMA fp L and three I series lenses is only 3.2 pounds. That’s quite a significant difference in weight if you plan on hiking or simply walking around a city all day.

Sleepy Starfish
SIGMA fp L + 35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary – 1/160s, F14, ISO 400

Last but not least, here are a few images in real world situations so you can see the camera with both the optional HG-21 hand grip (there’s also a smaller HG-11 grip) and the optional EVF. If you’re looking for an upgrade that will lessen the weight of your gear without sacrificing image quality, this may be the solution. If you are looking for a good camera for a younger person, this will sure give them an advantage not only in image quality, but also in ease of use. And now that I have all my images processed, I am looking forward to making some large prints!

Bonus Gallery from Darren’s PNW Trip!

First Look: SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary Lens

As an outdoor photographer, most of my lenses are larger zoom lenses with a diverse focal range, perfect for a variety of subjects from downhill skiers to distant mountain goats. But every now and then, a nice, compact prime lens finds its way into my kit. This time, it was the SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary lens, one of the compact, all-metal, full-frame primes in SIGMA’s new I series.

I really enjoy shooting with wide-angle lenses, as they are great at telling the story by showing the “big picture”. In fact, I use the 24mm focal length in particular quite often for travel, landscape, action sports, or any time I want to include a lot of the scene in my shot.

Wide-angle lenses are great for capturing a big piece of the landscape which can help tell a visual story.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/500s, F16, ISO 200.

As I was loading up my backcountry pack for a day on the mountain recently, I pulled the new 24mm F3.5 DG DN | C out of the box, just in time for some wide-angle action on the slopes. My immediate thought was “Wow, it’s so small and light!” So tiny, in fact, that it almost disappeared when I dropped in into my cavernous MindShift Backlight Elite 45L pack.

It’s so small and light you’ll never hesitate to bring it with you!

As it rolled easily in the palm of my hand, I noticed a few other features. All-metal construction… nice, this is built to last. Rubber gasket on the mount to keep out moisture… excellent for us outdoor photographers. And of course, a manual aperture ring with its positive “click” that harkens back to the days of slow films and handheld light meters. All in all, small, light, durable and packable. Now let’s see how it performs in the field.

Wide-angle lenses are great “scene setters” that land the viewer in a time and place in a single frame.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 0.6s, F16, ISO 160.

A Very Compact, Solidly-Built, Wide-Angle Lens

I don’t think I can really emphasize enough just how small I found this lens to be. My regular kit includes numerous F2.8 zooms, and in comparison the 24mm F3.5 DG DN | C is absolutely tiny! It feels more like a micro four-thirds lens than a full-frame prime! But as light as it is, SIGMA did not skimp on build quality, and it shows. It just feels absolutely solid in the hand. Same for the lens hood, which is also all-metal and built to last.

Going back to build quality… I was glad to see that the lens also has a rubber gasket to help keep out moisture. The all-metal body and metal hood are also hallmarks of a high-quality lens. One that will withstand the elements and the rigors of heavy shooting and last you a very long time.

A high-quality lens with all-metal construction is sure to last you for many years of photography adventures.

As I mentioned earlier, the lens features a manual aperture ring. The ring has a nice feel and solid click at every 1/3 stop. This gave the lens a fun “throwback” feel and I enjoyed the tactile experience. There is also an AF/MF switch for those times when you want to focus manually. And that leads me to the manual focus ring itself. It’s built in as a single piece (no rubber ring ) and is extremely smooth. And while all these manual options are fantastic, you can always put the 24mm F3.5 DG DN | C in A (automatic) mode when you want to control the aperture from the camera.

The manual aperture ring is a beautiful touch!

The lens also has a unique feature that will really come in handy for street and travel shooters… the magnetic lens cap and its corresponding optional magnetic holder that clips right to your photo pack. No more searching for that lens cap in every pocket when an impromptu shot materializes in front of your lens!

Travel and street photographers should love the magnetic lens cap and optional CH-11 holder, seen here clipped to a MindShift Backlight Elite 45L pack from our friends at Think Tank.

Excellent Optical and Technical Performance with Mirrorless Cameras

The autofocus of the SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | C was quick and accurate. It worked very well in both servo and single shot modes. In servo mode, I was able to track my athlete (in this case, a downhill skier) as he moved quickly down the mountain. And in single shot mode, the lens was able to focus accurately right on the ultra-bright snow without hunting… which is something of a challenge for some lenses.

Autofocus was quick to lock on even in challenging scenes like this. Here I used single shot AF.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/1000s, F13, ISO 400.
In continuous AF mode the lens performed very well as it picked up and tracked the skier perfectly.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/1600s, F8, ISO 400.

Optically, the lens is nice and sharp as you would expect, with multiple aspherical elements and SLD glass. This gave images crisp contrast and essentially perfect color rendition. Lens flare is well controlled, and I had no issues shooting into the sun at any aperture. The seven rounded aperture blades and small F22 minimum aperture means that you can create beautiful starbursts at any time.

Flare is well controlled.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/80s, F22, ISO 160

Close focus distance is also really impressive! In fact you can get an impressive 1:2 magnification with the subject just 4+ inches away from the lens! This is really handy and can make for some great shots either isolating the subject or for near/far perspective shots.

Close focus distance is really impressive. I was just a few inches from this old leaf blowing in the wind.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/800s, F8, ISO 1250
Near/far shots like this are fun and easy with a wide-angle prime.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/60s, F5.6, ISO 1250

Conclusion: A Full-Frame, Wide-Angle Lens That Fits Everywhere

The SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary is an ultra-compact lens with premium optics and useful features. And the price is also pretty light on the wallet. So who is this lens for? I think travel photographers will love the small size, light weight and durability, for sure. Backcountry landscape photogs will love it for the same reasons. I also think street shooters will dig it for its low-profile nature.

This lens captures loads of detail on textured surfaces like the side of this old barn.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/200s, F7.1, ISO 400

Really, I think anyone looking for a full-frame, high-quality prime that’s small and light and don’t mind skipping the extreme speed of a huge-aperture lens will really love the SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary.

This lens is so light and small, you’ll never second guess bringing it with you.
SIGMA 24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary on Sony A7 III. 1/1600s, F8, ISO 400.

DISCLOSURE: In addition to his role as a SIGMA Ambassador, Liam also has a partnership with Think Tank.

Pairing SIGMA I series Lenses with Compact Mirrorless Cameras

Today’s mirrorless cameras offer many technological benefits — blazing fast sensor-based autofocus, live exposure preview, seamless video capability — but perhaps the most obvious advantage is often the most overlooked.  Mirrorless cameras, even some full-frame models, pack incredible performance into truly compact, lightweight frames that are just begging for some equally compact, high-quality optics to go along with them.  Enter the SIGMA I series.

The SIGMA I series — that’s just an official nickname, by the way, not a separate lens line — was developed to offer photographers something more than a typical compact prime.  With refined details like an all-metal body, a manual aperture ring, and a precision-cut metal lens hood, I series lenses make good on the “smaller and better” promise that mirrorless converts have been looking forward to for years.

Exceptional Portability with E-Mount and L-Mount Cameras

The SIGMA I series — which currently includes the 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary, 35mm F2 DG DN Contemporary, 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary, and 65mm F2 DG DN Contemporary — incorporates a noticeably different design philosophy.  SIGMA is often recognized for brilliant but rather large optics like the 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (The Bokeh Master, for the uninitiated) or the mighty 60-600mm DG OS HSM Sports. But for the I series, SIGMA has made portability a specific priority.

With any one of the I series lenses attached, almost any compatible mirrorless camera (E-mount or L-mount) can be easily carried on a strap, in a small shoulder bag, a purse, even a jacket pocket.  Full-frame models like the SIGMA fp, Sony A7C and Leica SL2 are remarkably svelte, and crop-sensor bodies like Sony’s A6000 series make the overall package even more compact.

This one-camera, one-lens method lends itself to the sort of everyday photography that often ends up captured on a (gasp!) smartphone.  Whether on the street, at a party, traveling along a scenic coastline, or just hanging around the house, a mirrorless camera with a single I series lens mounted to it makes it easier to capture memories as they happen in much more detail.

Of course, where there’s one lens, there’s usually (always) more, and with the I series, you really don’t have to worry about finding extra space for your gear.  Compact lenses and camera bodies like those mentioned above can be packed neatly into almost any small camera bag, like these sleek models from our friends at Think Tank.

And even if you don’t have a fancy, padded camera bag, part of the I series’ portability is its durability.  Those all-metal barrels and hoods aren’t just for show!  Whether attached to a camera or sitting in a backpack next to a set of keys and some loose change, these lenses are designed to be with you for the long haul.

Enhance Your Sony, Leica, Panasonic or SIGMA fp Camera with Stunning Looks

One of the unintentional bonuses of mirrorless technology is that you can adapt almost any old manual lens from nearly any camera system, and it will actually work.  Now while many photographers will tell you they appreciate the character of an old piece of glass, or that they actually like the hazy quality of 50-year-old fungus, let’s get real here… we like old, metal lenses because they look cool!

In designing the I series lenses, SIGMA sought to strike a balance between the heavy-duty, mechanical lenses of yore with the sleek, technologically-advanced gear of today.  Inspired in part by our own Cine lenses, the matte black, all-metal outer surface and rugged-yet-simple design complements any modern camera, lending it a bit of retro charm that helps it stand out from the crowd.

But these lenses have been engineered to provide more than just aesthetic appeal.  The I series aims to give users a more “connected” feeling with a number of physical design touches.  For example, the lenses’ manual aperture ring, focus ring and even the lens hood all feature precision cut grooves for a unique tactile experience.  The 35mm F2 and 65mm F2 also feature “arc” style focus mode switches, making them even more pleasant to use.

And then there’s the magnetic lens caps.  They’re just so… nice.  Granted, a magnetic thing that sticks to a metal thing is not groundbreaking technology, but man, does it feel great to pop them on and off the lens for hours on end.  Seriously, if you need to relieve stress, there’s something positively zen about these caps, which are included with all I series lenses except the older 45mm F2.8.  And if the thought of losing your nice magnetic lens cap further stresses you out, never fear… there’s even an optional clip-on cap holder, perfect for the photographer on the go!

Outstanding Optical Performance, Fully Compatible with Eye AF

Compact size and stylish looks are all well and good, but if the performance doesn’t make the grade, then what is a lens but an expensive paperweight with a bunch of mysterious little numbers on it?  Not to worry!  SIGMA I series lenses are built to rigorous standards in the imaging department as well, with brilliant optics all around for impressive results with any mirrorless camera.

Every I series lens is 100% compatible with advanced autofocus functions like real-time tracking and eye AF, with a stepping motor for smooth, instant response.  The aperture ring provides the flexibility to choose “auto” or a specific f-stop, which is especially handy for smaller cameras that don’t have two easily-accessible control dials.  And the focus ring provides smooth operation and exceptionally fine control when focusing manually.

Optical performance is impressive as well throughout the series.  In particular, the 35mm F2 DG DN Contemporary and 65mm F2 DG DN Contemporary have been shown to exhibit sharpness on par with our 35mm F1.4 Art and 50mm F1.4 Art lenses respectively (at equal apertures), a pretty remarkable feat for such small lenses. The 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary, meanwhile, is designed to give you a wide, distortion-free angle of view that fits virtually anywhere, and yep, it’s pretty darn sharp as well.

24mm F3.5 DG DN | Contemporary

35mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary

65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary

The 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary — which is essentially the I series forerunner — was designed to offer different optical characteristics for a more classic look, reminiscent of the 50mm primes that have been the standard of excellence for decades.  It’s no wonder this little gem has become a favorite everyday lens for so many mirrorless shooters!

45mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary

An Excellent Choice for Sony, Leica, Lumix & SIGMA Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have certainly come a long way since the late-2000s, with megapixel counts, displays, autofocus, wireless connectivity and video capability all progressing by leaps and bounds.  But while cameras seem to evolve on a daily basis, the allure of a compact, sharp, well-designed, durable prime lens… well, that’s pretty timeless.

Available for E-mount (Sony) and L-mount (SIGMA, Panasonic and Leica) cameras, SIGMA’s I series lenses are ideal companions for street photography, portrait shoots, weddings, urban exploring, backpacking, lifestyle photography and so much more.  With a combination of great performance, practical dimensions and innovative design, these lenses will certainly be a fixture on many mirrorless camera bodies in the years to come.

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