Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Canon and Nikon mount lens reviews: good all-round performer


Introduction

Sigma is reorganizing its lens range in to three product categories; Contemporary, Sports and Art, the latter of which this new model is a part of is reserved for its highest performing lenses.  With its angle of view equivalent to a 45mm on a full-frame 35mm camera, the 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM A has been substantially revised with a new optical construction of 9 elements in 8 groups (over the previous 7 elements in 7 groups), closer minimum focus distance of 30cm (down from 40cm) and 9 diaphragm blades as opposed to the earlier iteration’s 8 blades. New algorithms are said to improve the AF performance of the built-in ultrasonic type motor, while compatibility with the firm’s innovative USB Dock allows focus adjustment and updating of firmware. Lastly, a high quality outer shell and finish has been adopted in accordance with others in the Art line, but despite the improvements, the price remains the same as the older model at $499.

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A DxOMark Score of 19 indicates that this is a high-watermark for a fast aperture lens like this. Distortion, lateral Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting (or lens shading as it’s sometimes referred to as these days) are all very controlled.

Best primes for Canon EOS 7D:

 

For instance, the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens can be bought for under $1000 new nowadays, which will be half the cost of the contemporary Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens. The 80-200mm remains a professional lens, however, despite its lesser price. Manufacturers typically combine enthusiast and professional lenses to one category, which simplifies things. But in that case how would one differentiate between lenses like 70-200mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/2.8, if both are considered professional? Instead of breaking up the”professional” class into other sub-categories, I thought it would be a lot easier to just introduce another one for”enthusiast” level lenses. For the below explanation, however, I’ll combine enthusiast and professional lenses into one class as well, for simplicity sake.Production expenses and Quality of Components — one of the principal reasons for its high cost of professional lenses, is production prices and higher quality standards determined by the manufacturer. Consumer-grade lenses are manufactured in batches at a mostly automated fashion with very little human involvement. While each individual glass/fluorite lens element goes through a very high quality manufacturing process, it is acceptable to utilize lower-grade acrylic glass or elements using naturally-formed bubbles in customer lenses. In comparison, glass components used in professional lenses undergo rigorous testing and inspection, with only the highest grade optics making their way into pro-grade lenses.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon 969 22
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Canon 899 22
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM 850 22
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZE Canon 1843 21
Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM 440 21
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM 1869 20
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 50mm f/2 ZE Canon 1280 20
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZE Canon 1840 20
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZE Canon 1030 20
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM 6599 20
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM 1420 20
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II 99 19
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM 385 19
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon 499 19
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZE Canon 1280 19
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Canon 599 19
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Canon 285 19
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM 1550 19
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Canon 499 19
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM 1070 19

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Despite attaining the same scores on the individual metrics as the Canon version, the Nikon mount achieves a slightly higher benchmark score on the Nikon D7000. In reality, the lens performs similarly but the DxOMark Score is higher slightly due to the Nikon sensor’s wider dynamic range.

Best primes for Nikon D7000:

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon 899 26
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G 2199 25
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G 690 25
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon 1840 22
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G 195 22
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon 969 22
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon 1005 21
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon 1280 21
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon 599 21
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Nikon 328 21
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon 1843 21
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 25mm f/2 ZF.2 Nikon 1700 21
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Nikon 499 21
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 28mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon 1283 20
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D 329 20
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G 448 20
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon 499 20
Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF 1230 20
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G 1797 20
Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D 460 20

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is one the better performing lenses currently available.

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Comparing the Canon mount model to the full-frame $249 Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM (the firm doesn’t have a comparable APS-C format model in its range) the Sigma is a better performer but the tiny Canon ‘pancake’ is no slouch. Sharpness is close although the Sigma is a somewhat disappointing at full aperture whereas the Canon has consistent edge to edge sharpness through the aperture range Needless to say the Sigma is (1.33 stops) ‘faster’ than the Canon, and so overall it’s an impressive result.

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Although Nikon has few APS-C format prime lenses in its range it does have a modern, ultrasonic type AF motor equipped 35mm f/1.8 model that’s sensitively priced at $195. In spite of the faster maximum (f//1.4) aperture, the Sigma compares very well indeed.  There’s nothing between them in Transmission, Distortion and Vignetting but the Sigma has lower levels of Chromatic Aberration and has slightly improved Sharpness (although, like the Canon mount version, the Sigma has inconsistent field sharpness at full-aperture).

Several years on from the introduction of the original 30mm f/1.4 and Sigma has still yet to see a comparable high-speed model from either Nikon or Canon. That said, both firms offer smaller, lighter and cheaper models that perform very well indeed. For all that, the new Sigma is still accessibly priced, remains relatively compact and offers very good optical performance.

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