Sigma has been showing DSLR photographers plenty of love lately, but mirrorless camera users less so. The 30mm f1/4 Contemporary lens—the company’s fastest mirrorless prime to date—goes some way toward redressing that cold shoulder.
The 30mm f/1.4 C is available for both Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and Sony E mounts. We tested a MFT lens in conjunction with New Jersey-based photographer and director David Patiño on both Blackmagic’s Micro Cinema camera for video and an Olympus E-M5 Mark II for both stills and video.
The 30mm C has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 60mm when mounted to a Micro Four Thirds body. It boasts a minimum aperture of f/16 and features nine aperture blades. It offers a minimum focusing distance of 11.8 inches and a magnification of 1:7. The lens is composed of nine elements in seven groups. It accepts 52mm filters.
At 9.3 ounces, this lens is twice as heavy as Olympus’ 25mm f/1.8 and heftier than Panasonic’s 25mm f/1.4, though it didn’t feel unbalanced on the E-M5 Mark II. It’s compact at 2.6 x 2.9 inches, though compared to the aforementioned Olympus, it’s longer.
The lens isn’t weather-sealed so you’ll need to be mindful if you plan on pairing it with the weatherproof bodies available on higher-end cameras bodies from Panasonic and Olympus. The body is dominated by a large focus ring that turns smoothly, giving you plenty of throw to fine tune your focus. Patiño says it was a nice lens to work with when shooting video in manual focus.
There are no exterior controls on the lens, so any switching back-and-forth between manual and AF will have to be done in camera. There are also no focus markings on the outside either, which we missed, even if most of the competitive offerings don’t sport them either.
Image Quality and Performance
Patiño says the lens performed well on the Micro Cinema Camera. There is some vignetting visible at f/2.2 but we didn’t spot any chromatic aberration or purple fringing when shooting backlit trees in near noonday sun. The 30mm did a fine job resolving the E-M5 Mark II’s 16-megapixel images though when shooting wide open, we didn’t always get perfectly circular bokeh. Images stayed fairly sharp out to the corners.
The E-M5 Mark II doesn’t boast the fastest AF system on the planet, but the Sigma 30mm was able to respond briskly in single point and kept pace with the camera in continuous AF mode fairly well. It hunted considerably during video recording, though.
Sigma’s has crafted a very compelling, if bare-bones, standard prime lens for Micro Four Thirds shooters that’s faster than most of its comparably priced competitors. Olympus’ slightly-more-expensive 25mm f/1.8 doesn’t have as wide an aperture, though it does stop down a bit further (to f/22). If you’re willing to part with an extra $60, you can pick up the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster—a 25mm lens with an f/0.95 and a de-clicked aperture. If you’re willing to live with a much slower lens, the Lumix G Macro lens offers optical image stabilization and macro focusing capabilities for $400.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C