Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM 35mm Primes

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30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM

This Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lens, built for professional use, is a high quality prime lens suitable for professional use delievering outstanding optical performance for the discerning photographer. As a large aperture standard lens for digital cameras with a fast 1.4 aperture makes handheld shooting in dim light possible. 30mm corresponds to the diagonal of the imaging sensor found on most small ship cameras and as such, functions as a “normal” lens closely replicating the human eye’s field of vision.

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
PatBranch   Professional [May 04, 2011]
Strength:

- solid construction
- very wide aperture
- sharp

Weakness:

None in my case.

This is the lens I use most. It's a fast wide/mid lens. If I take only one lens with me, it's this lens. The wide aperture is really helpful for shooting sports at night and shows.

Similar Products Used: Tamron 17-35 f/2.8
Canon 24 f/1.4L
Canon 50 f/1.8
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
Atomic2   Intermediate [Sep 30, 2009]
Strength:

First and foremost, the headline feature of this lens is the exceptionally fast 1.4 aperture. Wide open you will be able to shoot with shutter speeds 4 times faster than even the quick zoom lenses with their 2.8 apertures.

The image quality is very good all things considered. Wide open you will see some softness, as to be expected with an aperture like this (and for the price) but it really sharpens up as you stop it down and will produce very crisp shots after F5 through about F11.

The 60mm equivalent is actually quite flexible. Wide enough for most social events, and makes for surprisingly good portraits when needed.

The HSM motor is indeed quick to focus when the lens has enough light and actually finds focus right away.
With the HSM comes the advantage of manual focus override at any time, although a switch for Manual or Autofocus is also provided if you want to quickly turn off the Autofocus.

The build quality I'd say is above average. It doesn't look/feel like a toy lens like kit lenses often do, or for instance Canon's 50mm F1.8.

Comes with a decent lens hood and carry case.

The price, one of these can be had for under $400 USD on eBay.

Weakness:

As expected, the lens is a bit soft wide open, the problem is really only apparent however towards the edges. It is however well within acceptable tolerances.

The focus on my example back focused by a few millimeters at a distance of about a foot and a half. If attempting some sort of macro work, this could prove problematic, however I've not seen any ill effects from this in any of my photography.

This lens has no macro function. The Sigma 24mm F1.8 however does, and is approximately the same cost as this lens.

Minimum aperture is F16. Again the Sigma 24mm F1.8 will be the alternative to turn to if you want a smaller aperture of F22.

The focus ring feels a bit cheap to use. Has a bit of a rough action, however I may be spoiled by the buttery smooth focus ring on the Olympus 12-60mm.

There is really no beating a prime lens for low light photography. Even the fastest zoom lenses are never faster than F2.8 (aside from the two very impressive and very expensive Pro level zooms from Olympus that are F2.0) and such, the best bet for dim rooms and night shots is a real quick prime lens.
Obviously when you go to a prime, you give up the luxury of having multiple focal lengths at your disposal, so you must really choose carefully which focal length will most suit your needs. A fast aperture on a telephoto makes for an awesome portrait lens, but for my needs I chose to go with a normal perspective prime.
With a four-thirds body, there are not really all that many options options to choose from if you want a normal prime. The Zuiko 50mm F2.0, highly acclaimed for its sharpness and overall phenomenal performance, is 100mm equivalent on the small sensor. The 35mm F3.5 macro and 25mm F2.8 pancake, although both have their positive qualities, are too slow in my opinion to be of significant advantage over fast aperture zoom lenses like those one would upgrade to after the entry level kit lens. This leaves an Olympus or Panasonic user with 3 options, the Panasonic 25mm F1.4, the Sigma 24mm F1.8, and the Sigma 30mm F1.4.
I chose to go with the 30mm F1.4 primarily because I wanted the 1.4 aperture and the Sigma was less than half the price of the Panasonic. Also this lens features HSM focusing which neither the the 24mm F1.8 nor the Panasonic lens feature.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
bhobg   Intermediate [Aug 17, 2009]
Strength:

Terrific sharpness, especially at f/4 down. Very good for parties in dark places with flash. Bright f/1.4 aperture allows you to shoot in some nasty light.

I've dropped this thing from a height of about 3 feet and it still works perfectly.

Weakness:

Backfocuses more often than I'd like, but when you nail the focus, it's brilliant. The thing is also heavy but I'm used to it.

There's also lost of barrel distortion, unlike the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 but that's to be expected.

It isn't cheap. I got mine for about US$400. But f/1.4 has never been affordable.

I bought this lens about 8 months ago and it is almost always on my camera. Perfect for shooting snapshots, parties, concerts, portraits, and even indoor sports. I use it to shoot basketball and you get great undergoal shots like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhobg/3804830340/

That bright f/1.4 is really fantastic.

I like this lens a lot but when I got it, Nikon had not yet released its 35mm f/1.8 AF-S. I might have sprung for that if it were available since its significantly cheaper.

Similar Products Used: Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Nikon 28mm f/2.8, Nikon 85mm f/1.8
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Available At:
jorgemonkey   Professional [May 19, 2009]
Strength:

1.4 aperture is handy in low light situations
Feels pretty solid

Weakness:

Lens hunts for focus in low light/backlit situations
Not as sharp at 1.8/1.4 as I'd wish.

I bought this lens after looking at the Nikon 35mm 1.8 & the Sigma 30mm 1.4. I went with the Sigma due to being able to shoot at the wider aperture. I heard a lot about sigmas QC issues and this lens was one of those. It wasn't sharp at all at 1.4 until it was acceptable at 2.8 or so. It also had back focus issues, especially in backlit/low light situations.

I sent the lens off for a warranty repair, and its better now. Shooting at 1.4/1.8 is acceptable when shooting portraits, since I find the little bit of softness the lens has works well for my style of portraits. The lens still hunts on my D300 in low light/backlit situations. When using anything other than the center focus point the focusing is worse.

When the lens gets the focus the images are fantastic. I am still somewhat debating on whether to sell the lens & pick up the Nikon, but as of now I'll keep it.

Customer Service

I've used Sigma's customer service a couple times, and have had mixed results with them. My TC that I sent in was fixed & returned quickly, while my 70-200 went missing for a few days.

Similar Products Used: Tokina 12-24
Nikon 35mm 2.8 (manual focus)
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
stevestevesteve   Intermediate [May 14, 2008]
Strength:

Buy it, you'll be amazed at teh shots you can take even by candlelight, especially on tthe higher iso settings of the D300

Weakness:

I don't know of any at all especially at this price.

I wantedt to comment on a couple of things that keep cropping up.
1) Focussing problems. I had a d80 and found this lens hard to focus, ended up always taking 3 shots and ususally ended up with one sharply in focus. But not always. I persisted because the results were superb. I then traded up to a D300 and the focussing problems ahve gone away, the D80 did tend to back focus which I could probably have gotten calibrated at nikon. The D300 focusses this lens very well. I never use manual focus, alwasy "spot" focussing and this lens is just fantastic.

2) Many people say this lens is a big soft wide open and best around f2 or even f3. I just don't agree with this - for the obvious reason that the DOF is so shallow, you only get one small plane of view in focus - focus on someone's eyes in a portrait, and its true to say a lot of the head will be out of focus. This is a possitive not a negative.
I find on the d300 and I almost always use it wide open, its extermely sharp.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
Cedric Wilhelm   Professional [Apr 25, 2008]
Strength:

Construction, quality of image, contrast, sharpness and bokeh

Weakness:

Due to great aperture, find correct focus is sometimes difficult. But this more a characteristic than a weakness.

I was looking for lens with approximately the field of view of the "normal" 50mm, so I decided to bet on Sigma. Since I´ve already have a 105 Macro EX, wich I love, I thought it´s worth a try.

Very nice! I loved! Sharp, fast, beautiful lens for use even in some professionall applications.

I´ve some samples, just resized, in my Flickr album (http://flickr.com/cwpaiva)

After all, a picture is worth 1000 words!

Customer Service

Didn´t use yet.

Similar Products Used: Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 50mm/1.8 and Nikon 35mm f/2.0
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Arjan_nl   Intermediate [Apr 14, 2008]
Strength:

-You have 1.4 when you need it
- It's a real allround prime lense
- It's very sharp
- It's well built
- It has good contrast
- You got a bit more depth of field than the 35mm
- You got manual override in AF-mode, which means that when you press the release button half way and keep it that way, you can turn the ring and do the final stage of sharpening
- It''s heavy, which means that you can hold you camera more still, which results in sharper pictures when compared to the light 35mm: you get an image stabiliser for free!
- A hood is included: not with the 35mm
- The HSM silent motor is really silent (though it makes a little mouse sound sometimes!). Can be important when making photo's of insects etc.
- It has internal focussing: so your lens won't get longer when you focus. Can be important if you are making photo's of insects etc.
- front focus ring doesn't turn around when using the AF-system: I think the 35mm does, which
- The focus ring is larger than with the 35mm

Weakness:

- More difficult with manual focussing, especially when you focus 2 meter or further
- Focussing on 1.4 requires lots of practice
- Don't always trust the auto focus: better use the manual focus with the Assist-Dot.
- The sigma has got an annoying problem with my Nikon D80. When my AF is in AF-C or AF-A position (which means that the camera follows moving objects during AF), you can't use manual override by turning the focus ring. When you turn the focus ring, the internal motor will function too, which can destroy the motor of your camera or lense!
- The big lense blocks the AF-assist light!
- When shooting in bright light or sunlight, watch out for purple fringing. I have quite some photo's with trees that seem to become purple around there edges.
- When it gets dark, it seems like the photo gets a small red glow in it. But I'm not for sure if this is a white balance problem or lense problem
- When using a large aperture, in combination with low light, the contrast is good, though not as excellent as all my other Nikon lenses.
- You cannot use this lense for 35mm photography

In the analog era the lens I mostly used was the 50mm 1.4 (Olympus OM series). I followed 1,5 years of photo art education and I was only allowed to use a 50mm prime. That was my best lesson to learn photography, because it will teach you to compose your picture with more attention than you would do with a zoom. You learn to walk back and forward until you get what you were looking for. You can concentrate yourself on the image and on the image alone. What is even more important is that you will find out that it's not that easy to make a good 50mm photo which draws attention to itself. But my practising over and over again I learned that skill. When I started with photography a long time ago I started with a zoom lens and I never had those pictures that I have now, purely by using only 1 prime lens for all your photography. After you've learned that skill, it's save to buy other primes and even zoom lenses. From my experience, by first buying 1 prime lense and later more prime lenses or zoom lenses, my photos have improved in time.

Only one month ago I decided to buy my first Digital SLR (I waited because of the price drop in years and the drawbacks of the first era of DSLR's. So I bought a Nikon D80 (I still can't find and drawback in it's design after a month of full testing everything!!) and a Sigma 30mm 1.4. Since two weeks I also bought a Nikon 60mm 2.8D micro for my macro-photography and the wonderful topzoom Nikon 35-70 2.8.
With this last lens I have, converted to digital format, a 50 mm, a portrait lens (75-100 mm) and a macro lens all in one, and with the quality that comes very close to prime lenses. Today I returned the Sigma 30mm 1.4. Why? I'll tell you:

First of all: it was a difficult decision to bring it back, because it is a great lense. I had no focus problems as mentioned in lots of articles. I'm convinced that a lot of the focus problems are not the fault of the lense but of the photographer behind it. Focussing with a 1.4 lens can be pretty difficult, especially on 1.4. The depth of field is so narrow, that even the slightest change in the focus ring is the difference between sharp and not sharp at all. To focus perfectly on 1.4 you need lots of time to practice. I have used the 50mm 1.4 Olympus for years and my eyesight is great, but even with this experience it was not that easy to produce sharp photos over and over again. First, using the autofocus doesn't guarantee a sharp photo. To get the sharpest photo, especially if your focus object is within 2 meter distance of the camera, you need to go to manual focussing. Most camera's have an electronic distance meter, that will show a dot in the viewfinder when it thinks it has focussed on the AF-area. It's best to use only the middle focus point in AF-mode. So when you are manual focussing and the dot pops op in your viewfinder, you should have a sharp focus on that middle AF-point. When taking pictures this way, you probably get sharper pictures than when using the AF-mode. But even in the manual mode with the dot in the viewfinder, the object is sometimes not sharp enough. I had regular moments that I had to take 3 pictures, review them in the play mode by zooming in maximum, before my object what tack sharp. But when I had that sharp picture, it was REALLY SHARP. And this trial and error not only happend on 1.4 but also on smaller apertures (till let's say 5.6). So bear this in mind when using a 1.4 lense: it really takes practice.

Second: one of the reasons to buy a 1.4 lens is the fact that my viewfinder is incredibly clear, and you really need this clear viewfinder if you want to manual focus on such large apertures. Well, the viewfinder was VERY CLEAR. It was a delight to have such a bright viewfinder, since most consumer and semi-professional DSLR's have a viewfinder which is darker than the viewfinders in de analog era.
But I made one mistake when I bought this lense: I thought that by buying a 30mm 1.4 lens that would be converted to 45 mm in digital format, I would get the same sort of view in the viewfinder that I had with my Olympus OM camera with 50mm 1.4 lens. How stupid I was. No, you get the view in your viewfinder of a 30 mm wide lens. The viewfinder of a DSLR is already much smaller than in the analog camera's and the 30mm effect created even a smaller effect. So imagine a analog camera with a 28mm on it and try to focus manually: that will be hard, since all objects appear notably smaller than what you see in real life. This made manual focussing further than 2 meters very difficult, especially if the ground glass you are focussing on is a bright and clear one: you think the object is sharp, but wait till you review your picture. With objects closer than 2 meter it is still possible to see what is sharp or not.
When I compare this focussing with the zoomlens Nikon 35-70 2.8 on the camera and ths zoom put on 35mm, focussing was much easier and much more accurate. I think that's because it's a 35 mm and not a 30mm. These small differences in mm with wide lenses can give a huge difference in view. 35mm has always been a wide lens which has most in common with the standard 50mm. The view is somewhat wider, but it doesn't give you the feeling as if you have glasses on that are not completed calibrated to your eyes. So if you also happen to be wear glassed, like me, this effect can increase.

I think that using a 50mm lens on a DSLR, gives the most natural eyesight in the viewfinder, followed by a 35mm and then by a 30mm. The disadvantage of a 50 mm is that it won't be a standard lense in digital photography, but more a small tele. To get a building inside your frame means that you have to take 100 steps back. So the 35 mm will be a better solution.

Today, when I returned the 30mm 1.4, I bought the 50mm 1.4, because I want a 1.4 lens and I already have a 35mm 2.8 on my zoom lens. This zoom lens is of professional quality and costs only 250-400 euro's second hand. Nothing compared to the 24-70 2.8, which is very expensieve and bulky. Paying 375 euro's for a 35mm with one extra stop was something I would not do right now. First I am going to use these two lenses and if I'm still in need of that extra stop in the future, I will decide then. With the 50mm 1.4 I now have a great portrait lens and a lense which I can use when the light dims and dims.

Do read the weaknesses, there may be one you didn't think about!
All in all: this is a great lense that Nikon hasn't made yet. So until Nikon comes with the equivalent, there is no real competition. But the Equivalent of Nikon will be far more expensive


Customer Service

Not needed

Similar Products Used: Nikon 35-70 2.8D
Nikon 50mm 1.4 (only 1 day used and I am thrilled with the results)
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Available At:
vespa55   Intermediate [Aug 08, 2007]
Strength:

VERY fast lens. At f/1.4 - indoor shots are a charm. Step down to f/1.8 to f/2 - indoor shots are sharper and better. Very sharp lens under normal light conditions too. Very sharp at f/4 - f/5.6 under normal lighting conditions. Bokeh effect is very beautiful.

Weakness:

A little pricey for a 3rd party lens, but then again, for a lens with a max aperture of f/1.4, you can't go wrong! Lens tends to hunt when in AF mode.

Of all the Nikkor prime lenses I've used, this 3rd party prime lens has been by far the sharpest (and fastest) lens I've used and still currently own. At 30mm on a 1.5x crop factor sensor of my D80, this becomes a 45mm lens equivalent making it perfect for street photography and general shots. I did the obvious thing when I received my lens, I shot it wide open at f/1.4. This lens puts a new spin to street photography at night WITHOUT a tripod. At f/1.4, image quality in very low light conditions with a minimum shutter speed of 1/30 and an ISO setting of 800 or higher - produced some pretty nice images. When you stop down to about f/1.8 to f/2 under low light conditions, the image quality just seems to improve and sharpness and detail improves. Under normal lighting conditions, this lens seems to be sharpest at f/4 - f/5.6 - I found those stops to be this lens' sweet stop for very very sharp images. The bokeh efffect for this lens is remarkable. I didn't get the same problems/complaints that most of the user reviewers have claimed on reviewing this lens. It works quite well, better than my 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor. I think the only gripe I would have about this lens is that it often at times struggles to focus on a subject or subjects properly. Other than that, this lens is a superb piece of glass and I find it very difficult to take it off my D80 since it's truly that darn good of a lens.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Frans   Casual [Apr 10, 2006]
Strength:

Good colour
High contrast
Sharp

Weakness:

Learning curve to get the focus always right.

This lens bought due to frustration when trying photography in low light. First of all I was using Sigma 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 and later a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L. Both these lenses are really too slow to use without a flash at night venues. The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 allowed the shutter speed to increase from 1/15 second to 1/60 of a second. Which meant that the camera could be hand held and the people that I was photographing didn’t need to be still. That’s why I didn’t consider an IS lens. The Sigma 30mm has beautiful colour, high contrast and is well made. But it does however have some weaknesses. It is difficult lens to learn to use, as it easily misses its focus. It also suffers from internal reflection when there are bright lights in its field. The manual focus, when used on a 350D is near impossible to get right. I have ordered a split screen focus for the camera hoping that will solve the problem. When taking photo’s of the stars, the stars around the edges of the lens suffer from astigmatism. This can be seen a boomerangs instead of bright pin pricks of light. I don’t know if this defect is magnified due to my inaccurate manual focusing. Overall I am very satisfied with its performance.
The first 30mm f/1.4 I brought couldn’t focus to infinity and was sent back to the Australian distributors of Sigma for repair. It was returned a week later in the same state as it was sent. The store inquired if I wanted my money back or get a another lens. I decided to get a replacement and was given all shorts promises for when it was going to arrive. It wasn’t until to store put pressure onto the distributors that things started happening. This took another two weeks.

Customer Service

Not very good service from Sigma Australian distributors (see above for details)

Similar Products Used: Canon 50mm F/1.4
Canon 85mm F/1.8
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
jo8   Intermediate [Oct 12, 2005]
Strength:

-FAST -Awesome value -Very good construction -Amazing in dark situations -Did i say that i like this lens ?

Weakness:

-For some reason, the autofocus is weird. Maybe it's the sound, the delay, i don't know... Anyway the AF work very well, even in dark.

So far i must say that i really like this lens! I own 7 lenses for my Canon's 20d/300d and this is my prefered with the EF-S 10-22mm. It's FAST and you can make unexpected good pictures in very (VERY) dark situations. Not all lenses are good wide open, but this one is impressive regarding the price tag... I hate to give perfect note, but it's a winner for the value.

Similar Products Used: None. Quite alone in this range.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  
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