What do most pros and semi-pros want from a piece of glass? How about a fast, bright lens that can take care of most applications. I’ve been using the Sigma EX DN 30mm f/2.8 since October 2012 and it promises to be a no compromises prime lens that can open up wide enough to create beautiful bokeh without breaking the bank – something that most enthusiasts would be very happy to hear. Sigma’s 30mm (and their 19mm f/2.8) offers all of the above at a retail price of $200; so is this lens heavy on promises but light on results? Let’s find out.
The Sigma 30mm has a lot of great things going for it; it’s relatively fast, bright and sharp to boot – and that’s before getting into the price! If you’re like me, an enthusiast, there’s no denying that the Sigma 30mm (and to a lesser extent the 19mm) belong in your gear bag. It offers a great field of view at 60mm in 35mm-format without distortion at the edges or too severe of a drop in color the further out in the frame you get.
The Sigma 30mm does plenty of things right and at f/2.8 allows plenty of light in to produce a decent bokeh effect, or let you take better low-light images like the one below.
That being said there are some quirks that I’m not in love with; for starters, though you can chase down a toddler for a great shot, the lens is a little slow to start up. This means that your going to have to anticipate shooting and keep your camera on if you’re trying to catch those spontaneous moments (you probably should already be keeping your camera on and ready to begin with).
Another gripe I have is the plastic construction of the lens itself. I don’t advocate you intentionally drop any of your lenses but if you’re walking around you’re bound to bump into a few things. I get that this lens will only set you back a
couple of bills (UPDATE: Sigma’s latest version of this lens is now available for around $200. The one used in this test, last year’s model, can be found starting at $150) , but even my old Olympus kit lens (the 14-42 ED, not the newer ED II) feels far more substantial in the hand. After about half a year of use, the wear and tear is starting to show in the filter threads from the lens cap coming off and on.
If you’re new to the world of photography and looking for an inexpensive prime, look no further; the Sigma 30mm EX DN f/2.8 produces quality images that are the norm for much higher priced m4/3 lenses but there some caveats. All in all, this makes a great step up lens from the kit lens that came with your camera and a great prime to take your photography to the next level.
Ed. note: Tomorrow, our very own Steven Lynch will give you the scoop on how the Sigma 30mm performs as a tool in his professional lens kit.