Review: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art (The Perfect Zoom for Sony FE?)

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is one of the perfect zoom lenses made for the Sony FE camera lineup.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is the reason. I’ve known that Sigma’s quality has been top-notch: there’s no denying that. But for the first time, I genuinely believe they’ve achieved top-notch quality in a small lens. The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is really not that large. It’s also pretty lightweight. These two things have eluded Sigma’s designers for a long time. And while this lens is very capable and fantastic in many ways, there’s one thing that annoys me just a bit. But for newer photographers who haven’t yet learned how to properly hold a camera or a lens, they’re bound to clamor for image stabilization in a lens like this. That’s when the cult of Sony will come out and scream at Sigma loyalists about Sony’s built-in image stabilization. But with my own two eyes, I’ve seen this isn’t enough for some people.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Sharp
  • Focuses pretty quick on the Sony a7r III
  • Nice image quality
  • Very affordable
  • Weather sealed
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • An odd soft locking mechanism
  • We’re wondering why they didn’t include image stabilization
  • The soft lock should have been hard. It would have drastically improved the usefulness.
  • Autofocus with the Sony a7r III in low light isn’t always spot on.
  • Quite a bit of vignetting wide open, but it can be fixed
  • 24mm is quite distorted

Gear Used

We tested the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens with the Sony a7r III and a Godox TT685S Flash along with the new Rogue Flashbenders V3.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from the LensRentals listing.

“F” Low-Dispersion Elements 6
Angle of View 84.1° to 34.3°
Aperture Blades 11, Rounded
Aspherical Elements 3
Autofocus Autofocus
Brand Sigma
Compatibility Full Frame and Crop
Diameter 3.5″
Filter Size 82.0mm
Focal Length 24.0-70.0
Groups/Elements 15/19
Hood Included Yes
Image Stabilization No
Item Type Lens
Length 4.8″
Lens Type Wide Angle
Max Aperture 2.8
Maximum Magnification 0.34x
Minimum Aperture 22.0
Minimum Focusing Distance 0.6feet
Mount Sony E
Special Low-Dispersion Elements 2
Weight 1.84 lbs.

Ergonomics

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art isn’t a massive behemoth of a lens–and that’s very welcome if you shoot mirrorless. Instead, it’s pretty modest. Here you can see that the lens hood only makes it look larger than it really is. It’s characterized by two rings: one for zooming and the other for focusing. There are also specific focal length markers that come in handy when shooting.

The front of the lens has an 82mm filter thread. Yes, that’s big. But the rest of the lens is pretty manageable.

On the side of the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art, you’ll find three controls. One is the AF/MF focus switch. Then, there is a button for AF-Locking. And below that is the most useless soft-lock mechanism I’ve ever seen.

Here’s what the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art looks like without the lens hood and when zoomed all the way in. It doesn’t get much more extensive.

Build Quality

Well, take a look at this product shoot. It continued to hold up and function even after I splashed water on the lens. It’s built well and weather-sealed quite well. I can’t find a single fault with the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art’s build quality. In the hand, it’s very comfortable to hold. More importantly, it’s a very light lens. You won’t feel worn down after a while of using it. If you’re carrying this lens on a camera and another lens on another camera, though, you’re going to feel it after a few hours. Be sure to get your yoga stretches in, and maybe you’ll be alright.

Ease of Use

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens is a pretty straightforward lens to use for both a novice and a professional. There is a big zoom ring, a manual focus ring that you will probably never use, and an AF/MF switch. It’s a lens designed primarily for autofocus, and it works well in that respect. There is also a programmable button on the side, which I never set to do anything (and which I believe anyone I know sets to do anything either). By and large, there’s nothing bad to say about the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens’s ease of use if you’re an experienced photographer who understands that gear comes second to your talents and abilities as a photographer. There is, however, the super annoying and pretty pointless Soft locking system. Sigma put a lock switch on the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens that can be easily undone by just turning the lens. It means that the lens stays compact in your camera bag, but it’s otherwise useless. When shooting events, it would be wonderful to lock the lens solidly at 50mm or 35mm, but that’s not the case. Why? I’m not sure. I’ve mostly found the soft locking system useless as the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens doesn’t exhibit lens creep anyway.

Then there is the thing I’m dreading talking about: image stabilization. There are photographers out there who want image stabilization in a lens like this. When we spoke to Sigma about why it wasn’t included, they said the following:

Adding OS would add cost, size, weight and also make the optical design more complex in order to achieve the same level of performance. Since most popular mirrorless cameras (like Sony) have IBIS and this is fairly a short range and relatively small lens, IBIS is able to address stabilization.”

I can’t say I blame them. At every Kando trip, I see new photographers who don’t know the first thing about how to hold their cameras. And I’m not talking about where to place your hands, I’m talking about tucking in your elbows and controlling your breathing to ensure you’re still. Personally, I’m okay with a lack of image stabilization, but I’d prefer a better focal length lock. But, at this price point, you really can’t complain.

Autofocus

In most lighting situations, the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is pretty good at autofocusing. We purposely didn’t test this on the Sony a7r IV. There are photographers I know who own the Sony a7r IV and dislike the way the autofocus works in low light. Our own Reviews Editor, Paul Ip, expressed that he almost threw his across a room during a shoot once. Sigma has told me before that it’s the fault of the camera manufacturer. I’m of the belief that it’s both Sigma’s and Sony’s problem in this case. Sigma’s lenses are typically pretty quick, but they’re not as fast or as accurate as Tamron’s. Sony cameras have some of the best autofocus on the market, but when it comes to the low light shooting situations of parties, I find myself reaching for the Canon EOS R more and more. With each firmware update, that camera just becomes more and more of a beast.

Image Quality

Editor’s Note: Images at parties were subjected to a bit of color editing. But none of the images have otherwise been edited.

As far as image quality goes, I can’t find a single fault of the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art except at the wider end. At 24mm, there is a lot of distortion, more than I’d expect from Sigma. There is also a very noticeable vignetting effect. Those can be fixed quickly in Capture One 20. But when shooting a session of images shot at a party or an assignment, I don’t like having to individually correct for distortion or vignetting. Perhaps this is part of the price point, which I’m sure Sigma would point to again. And in this case, I’d say that they’re absolutely correct. But, on the other hand, Tamron also does a great job at an affordable price point.

Bokeh

Well, the bokeh from the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is quite lovely. But it’s at its best at 70mm, f2.8, and when focusing closely on a subject. For what it’s worth, Sigma has significantly better lenses when it comes to bokeh. Besides, this won’t compare to a prime lens in any way.

When it comes to shooting events, don’t even bother with wondering if the bokeh will be great or not. It’s going to be nothing compared to a prime lens, again.

Chromatic Aberration

So the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art has two big problems: vignetting and distortion on the wider end. Both of these can be fixed in post-production: I’m just making you aware of them.

Color Rendition

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art is in this beautiful place between being pretty standard and pretty saturated in regard to colors. It’s beneficial as a photographer. I like it, and when combined with the right sensor, it will mean your colors are just that much better.

Sharpness

We found the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art to be pleasantly sharp. In fact, we’re astonished at it once again. For the cost, you’re getting a great lens. I find this lens to be ever so slightly sharper than the Tamron, but to be truthful, I’m not sure I want it that sharp. In the image above, I can see a lot of skin imperfections and details I wouldn’t get from Canon lenses as much. Canon has always had a secret sauce to making skin look fantastic. Below is a portrait I shot with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, and even that is sharp yet makes skin look beautiful.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Price
  • Build quality
  • Size
  • Image quality for the price

Dislikes

  • Sony and Panasonic’s autofocus. Sony is excellent overall, except in low light.
  • The soft lock
  • Some folks will hate that it doesn’t have image stabilization.

The photographers who will go for the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art are the ones who want something better than the G Master. In all honesty, I’d gladly buy the Sigma over Sony’s G Master. With Sony’s G Master lens aging at this point, the only reason to go Sony is for better autofocus. But if you want image quality, then Sigma will be the option for you. You’re getting a whole lot with the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art in terms of build quality, image quality, and overall performance. If I were to go for any of the options out there, I’d probably personally choose the Tamron. It’s lighter, still has excellent image quality, does an excellent job with autofocus performance, and it’s even more affordable. Plus, on the longer end, I get better performance for portraits. But if I wanted pure image quality, then I’d reach for the Sigma. I can put aside my own personal quibbles and forgive Sigma at this low price point.

The Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art receives five out of five stars. Want one? They’re $1,099.