Sigma continues to amaze with their lineup of lenses ,and at the end of the year, I finally got to try out one for the Micro Four Thirds (M43) and Sony E mount system, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC Contemporary lens for APS-C cameras. I used this on my Olympus OM-D EM5 II for a week in Florida while art-directing a shoot, and overall, I was pleasantly surprised and might pick it up. The build quality, sharpness, and speed mean it might be worth picking up if you shoot either of these systems.
Call me a Sigma fanboy, but they simply make great products. I have shot Canon for years, dabbled in Sony, and now added Olympus to the mix for all-around shooting that isn't commercial work. I've been able to shoot with a myriad of lenses over the years but rarely own too many at a time. I'm simple; I like what I like. I've been lucky to shoot and play with many Canon L series lenses borrowed from friends, but I officially started out by buying the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art for APS-C sensors. When I upgraded to full frame in the Canon 6D and 5D Mark IV I grabbed their 35mm f/1.4 Art. It was an obvious choice for the all-around shooting I do and product-based shoots I'm usually bidding on.
Right off the bat, the build quality is great. As soon as I opened the box, I was searching for the Art "A" labeling, because it feels just as good as the high-end glass that Sigma makes and excels at, though this is in the "C" (Contemporary) class. Size is a little long for a prime, but I understand they love to boast incredible sharpness and quality with the layering of glass they provide, so I get the length. Compared to my super-compact Olympus OM-D EM5 II it seems a little funny. I never really looked at price until starting to write this review. It's not bad; it's a little high but right where I would expect it to be for this quality.
Who Is It For?
This specific lens is for those with Sony E mount (APS-C) and Micro Four Thirds (M43). I personally have the Olympus system and love it. The focal length on this sensor size is a 32mm full-frame equivalent. For Sony, it would be right around 24mm. For those with the smaller sensor sizes, this could be a great high-quality lens to get you started on your path to professional shooting. You will get great images and find a beautiful build for everyday use without worrying about it falling apart.
Build quality is just incredible. You pay for that in the $450 price tag, but I welcome it. I want something that will last and I want it to perform when pushed in and out of my camera bag with other gear. Not that I throw my lenses around, but it's a good feeling to know the investment is worth it. The entire body is not metal like the Art lens series, but it's pretty close. The base near the metal lens mount is a very hard plastic as is the filter ring.
Here are a handful of those test shots while out on a scout day.
Yea, but how well does it shoot wide open? This was my biggest mystery when getting a wide prime for Micro Four Thirds (M43). Is the depth of field you would get with a APS-C or full frame sensor there? To quickly answer that, yes. The bokeh was great, far better than what I had read by other photographers and more than enough to separate my subject from the background at f/1.4 through f/2.8.
What I Liked
- Build quality
What I Didn't Like
- No external focus switch, only digital in camera
- Price (though very high quality for this range, I could see it being a greater value at $350-400)
As I mentioned, I think this is an outstanding lens, one I will look to buy for the Olympus system I have to supplement the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens I already own. The price might be a little high, but it's still a great buy for anyone looking to expand upon their photography with a more quality lens with fast optics. I've never been disappointed with Sigma and could argue that they make just as good of glass as the high-end Canon and Nikon lenses if not better in some cases.