When testing the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens, I realized that in many ways it’s a perfect lens for photographers who use Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras. It’s around a 24mm f1.8 field of view when shooting wide open, and can suit the needs of many photographers due to its versatility. Of course I’m talking about the focal length and how good it can be as a walkabout lens, but I’m also speaking to the autofocusing abilities, pure image quality, and the little bit of weather sealing the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary boasts. The f1.4 aperture gives it the ability to shoot in very low light and also get beautiful bokeh when photographing people or things. As I found out with the Sony a6000, it’s also pretty solid for video.
Pros and Cons
- Fast aperture
- Weather sealing to a point
- Fast autofocus performance for the most part
- Nice bokeh
- Sharp, surprisingly sharp
- To be honest, nothing
We tested the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary with the Sony a6000.
|Lens Construction||16 Elements in 13 Groups|
|Angle of View (DC)||83.4º|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9 (Rounded)|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||9.8 in|
|Filter Size (mm)||67mm|
|Maximum Magnifications||1: 9.9|
(Diameter x Length)
|φ72.2mm×92.3mm / 2.8in. ×3.6in|
Taken from our first impressions post
In terms of ergonomics, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 C DN fits really well in the hand and is the perfect size to be a companion lens to your A6000 series body (including the A6300 and A6500). When holding the lens with a Sony A6300 at the Sigma booth we found the lens to balance well with that camera body. It is maybe a little on the long side, but in terms of weight and comfort, holding the Sigma 16mm felt great in our hands.
We did not get to try the lens on a Micro Four Thirds camera, but given the size, we imagine that on all but the larger Micro Four Thirds cameras this lens will be uncomfortably large. However, on a GH5 or E-M1 this lens should still be a good option and not be much of a hassle.
The build of the Sigma lens is about what we have come to expect from Sigma out of their contemporary lenses in the last several years. That is to say, it is not quite the level of construction we see in the Art series, but still built well and should hold up in a photographer’s bag. The focusing ring on the lens was smooth to turn and had a good amount of resistance.
The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary has a bit of a weather sealed rubber ring at the mount. As our testing continued, we took it out in the snow. The camera and lens both survived NYC’s recent downpour of four inches of snow. At one point, snow had really accumulated on the front of the lens hood. Eventually I was able to bring it inside where it was subjected to condensation. However, the lens and camera both continued to work. A few days there, and they still show no signs of problems. The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary is built very well, and it must be acknowledged for this.
Ease of Use
This is an autofocus lens, so slapping the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary onto a camera, pointing, autofocusing and shooting is all you need to do. It’s not all that large, and when attached to a camera I was still able to easily drop it into a camera bag. Gripping and focusing the lens is simple to do. Though I’d probably recommend adding image stabilization at least for video.
The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary autofocuses very quickly in good lighting and when it comes to low lighting, it can tend to hunt a bit more. Part of this is also due to the Sony a6000 we were testing it on. Here’s a sample video we shot. At times I was hammering the focus to ensure it would stay in focus. However Sony’s AF-C system is usually pretty good about nailing focus. When you’re this close to your subject, you should know that it will be slow but it will surely work.
When you’re shooting stills, the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary will be capable of grabbing the focus for sure. For the best results, I’d probably still use the center focusing point and stop down a bit. As a result, be sure to raise your ISO – which is something you may not want to necessarily do with an APS-C camera.
The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary’s absolute strongest point is the image quality. Photographers who use APS-C cameras will really fall for the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary. Not only is it one of the sharpest lenses we’ve seen for APS-C cameras, but it also has really nice bokeh, great colors, and keeps fringing to a minimum. Those who use cameras like the a6000 series as backups (I’ve totally seen this happen) should consider this lens for documentary style shooting, candid shooting, and street shooting.
Bokeh from the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary is really nice. It isn’t distracting but at the same time time it doesn’t feel as if it’s designed to make the subject pop as much as we see with Sigma’s full frame lenses. Sigma’s full frame Art series lenses seem to have Micro Contrast in many situations but this one doesn’t. To Sigma’s credit, it isn’t necessarily designed to.
While I don’t think I would use it for portraiture, I do indeed think that the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary has nice bokeh. And I also highly doubt anyone would be able to tell the difference unless perhaps they were pixel peeping between this and a full frame rendition.
The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary suffers from purple fringing in the most extreme areas, but it isn’t anywhere as much as something like Sigma’s 30mm f1.4 Contemporary lens. With that said, you don’t need to sit there, slam your cup of coffee on the desk and complain about it. Instead, you can push a slider just a bit in Lightroom or Capture One and then sync that edit to all the images in that session.
Relax. Breathe. Good!
Color rendition with the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary really comes from the camera in many ways. I feel like this lens gives us a less contrasty and less saturated rendition than Sony’s own lenses do. With that said, I still like the look here. When you combine it with good white balance techniques, you can capture photos that have a really nice effect to them. For what it’s worth, there also really isn’t anything like this on the market. Some Sigma lenses tend to have this super saturated look when shot wide open due to vignetting. That also enhances the contrast. But this lens doesn’t have any of that.
The above image was shot with the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary and using the bounce flash on the Sony a6000. That’s a super, stupidly sharp photo. With an APS-C sensor I expect this though. But to be fair, I haven’t seen anything this sharp from Sony.
Here’s another photo; again it’s really, really sharp. Even at higher ISO settings the sharpness is so strong you’re not going to see or really care about any effects that high ISO detail loss may cause. It’s fantastic.
Extra Image Samples
- Sharp image quality
- Reliable autofocus in most situations
- Bokeh is nice
- A bit of weather sealing
- Not an outrageous price
- If Sigma has made this lens a full frame option for Sony E mount it would’ve been a no brainer Editor’s Choice Award
I like the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary. But I think it’s time for Sigma to really start making FE lenses. This one is so good it could easily seem like one. It’s sharp, has nice bokeh, contrast, manageable fringing, and autofocuses at a fair speed. Plus it has weather sealing. There isn’t a whole lot to hate with the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary. If you’re the type of photographer who shoots wide, does documentary style work, and needs a reliable lens in their bag, this is one of the best options you’ve got if you’re a Sony shooter.
The Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest prices.
Also published on Medium.