Photographers love getting new kit so I know I’m not alone with the feeling of excitement with opening a box for the first time. We all love receiving something new that will inspire a new level of creativity. As a SIGMA UK ambassador, I’ve been fortunate to have these experiences frequently by testing their Foveon X3 systems. However this time I’ve received something different; the new SIGMA 45mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary lens in L-Mount along with a Panasonic S1 camera to test.
So why is a SIGMA UK ambassador, the AKA Foveon wizard receiving this new system to test? Because all future interchangeable-lens camera systems to be developed by SIGMA will feature the L-mount so why not get started using the new lenses.
The first thing to notice about this lens is its compact size. It is different than the current DN lens in the Sigma Global Vision in the Contemporary series. It features a full metal body including the lens hood with the return of the aperture ring and the SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lens in this picture appears like a mini Art lens in comparison.
The new premium look for the DG DN lens also makes a retro impression while the modest aperture of F2.8 helps keep the size and weight down making it a great walk-around lens.
Comparing it in size to the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art E-Mount lens there is a sharp contrast and there is also an apparent difference in the styling. The lack of focus scale is consistent with being a Contemporary lens but the new lens has focus and aperture rings which are both fully electronic and require power from the camera to work.
The focus ring feels nice and moving it slowly allows for fine adjustments while a quick turn will shift focus a lot more even with the same amount of physical movement.
The aperture ring feels just like any other and clicks every third of a stop to give you some physical feedback. It will overwrite the cameras setting you unless in the A position.
A common misconception is that slower aperture lenses are inferior offering less image quality at a value price over fast lenses. However, aperture values have never been a real measure of image quality but instead should only be considered for the light gathering ability. This lens is a great example of this misconception as it renders wonderfully.
It’s sharp with smooth out of focus transitions producing nice bokeh particularly at the minimum focus distance of 0.24 meters as you can in the daisy image.
At normal focus distance, it has a very clean look even with all the reflective chrome on the cars which some lenses often reproduce with purple fringing.
Autofocus is very fast from minimum to infinity; it almost seems instant which helps with tracking subjects when using continuous auto-focus as done with this image of the dancers at the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival.
Even in lower light like this Karate demonstration inside the Library the lens was quick to grab the subject on the Panasonic S1. The strong backlight on the window is clean, showing off the nice optical quality of the lens.
While I love my ultra-fast lens like the bokeh master SIGMA 105mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, all that speed with a demand for high image quality comes at a cost mostly in weight and size. So it’s refreshing to see SIGMA start a new line of high-quality full-frame prime lens for mirrorless cameras particularly with image quality this nice.
This lens to me feels like a modern take on classic lens designs and I can’t wait to see it on the new SIGMA fp but until then please enjoy this lovely corvette I seen at the Kirkintilloch canal festival.