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Tuesday, 29 January 2013


No aperture ring or manual focus capability? No thanks.

They made a new version of the 30mm/1.4? Oh no! Now the one that's been my go-to digital lens for more than 5 years will suddenly become worthless and stop taking excellent pictures!

Well, this is very cool. Now I am back to the set of primes I used with my Contax G2 in 35 mm FOV equivalent all from Sigma for my Sony NEX 6-- 28, 45, and 90, and pretty close to the 28, 40, 90 combo that came with my Minolta CLE. Nice compact kit that weighs at most 2 pounds, fits in a small bag and the camera/lens combo fits in a coat pocket. It's only taken a couple of decades, but, I am finally a happy digital shooter. Thank you mirrorless!

I don't doubt that Sigma is filling a valuable niche by offering moderately specified, affordable, and by all accounts technically quite good prime lenses for mirrorless systems. As a long-side-of-normal fan, I'm also grateful that they gave us μ4/3 users a 30mm (60mm equivalent).

But it's still disappointing that they aren't doing anything more exciting. Sigma has a well-established and well-regarded line of macro lenses SLRs, has recently made a major push in the world of high-speed (f/1.4) lenses, some of which have attracted a lot of attention, and has done some impressive-on-paper things with extreme designs (like their 12mm-at-the-wide-end full-frame zoom, or their 200-500mm f/2.8 zoom). I keep wishing they'd bring some of their flare for radical and specialized designs to the mirrorless market.

...or maybe I'm just a little bitter that there's no normal macro for μ4/3.

That 30mm f/1.4 was one of my favorite 4/3s lenses. I still miss it. I have the 30 f/2.8 for my OM-D (and the OM-D easily gets two stops more usable ISO over my E30), but I really liked having the shallower DOF on the 1.4. Plus it weighed more than the OM-D and the 2.8 combined. It was a tank.

I'll be very curious to see the SRP on the 60. At any rate, it's a good to see this steady stream of primes.

None on native lenses for these mounts have aperture ring.

Manual focus is there, this broad ring has different surface finish, compared to bottom metal part with letters. Probably rubber like on some Sony-Minolta lenses:

Hmm. Not quite it for me yet. They've announced the 20mm (30mm eq.) pancake for Sony NEX. I'm hoping they'll produce a 70mm (105mm eq.) pancake.
Because I travelled with a Pentax K5 with the aforementioned two pancakes (allright, the Pentax was a 21mm) and I found it to be the perfect combination.
Back when I used film, the 105mm Nikkor was the sweetest focal length - 70mm on APS is exactly what the doctor ordered ...

Who needs a portrait lens with a 5.6 equivalent aperture (for the m4/3 at least)?. Why don't they go faster with fixed focal-length lenses?

well for that price.... I would say sigma has stirred up a price war and will be excited to see what the Name brands Nikon and Canon will have to say....

@ Mark: "No aperture ring or manual focus capability? No thanks."

They've gone where the depth of field scale, the usable distance scale (if you get one at all) and the viewfinder that's usable on sunny days have gone. Don't you understand, the camera is in charge of creative control now!

Of course, the more you pay for your camera the better* the pictures it makes for you!

*More professional

Er, oh yeh- satire alert......

And all of them use the same filter size - 46mm - which is also used by my beloved Panasonic 20mm 1.7. Thanks, Sigma.


two lenses for $199 + a used/refurb Micro Four-Thirds body for around $150 = a great kit for a young starving artist!

Ben, there's a ‘glass is half full’ take on this too: some of us think quirky focal length primes can be a lot of fun. Normally, they're hard to come by, but the ‘designed for a larger format’ effect has the potential to get us some interesting options in this area.

Very convenient portrait focal lenght but why oh why is it so slow?

the Sigma 30mm is a great lens - it has become my go to lens for about everything - that 19 is next. It probably does not have everything for everyone, but I really like shooting with it.

This lens is exactly what I've been asking for to use with my Sony Nex cameras. I'll take a really good and sharp slow lens over an expensive and dodgy ultra speed lens every day of the week. The pendulum has swung too far toward the stratospheric fast lenses (and prices). It's about time we had good, solid focal lengths that are affordable.

Dear Slobodan,

There is no such thing as "equivalent aperture." An f/2.8 lens is an f/2.8 lens regardless of focal length or film/sensor format. Anyone who says otherwise in matters of conventional photography doesn't know what they're talking about.

(And, no that doesn't include telescopy or microscopy, for any nitpickers out there.)

If you're trying to say that it has the wide-open depth of field equivalent to a full-frame f/5.6 lens, that's what you should be saying.

Who would want that in a longish portrait lens? Lots of folks. If you're a devotee of razor-thin depth of field in portraits, I'm glad that works for you, but far more portraitists have problem with getting enough depth of field.

Just because it's not for you doesn't make it a bad idea.

pax / Ctein

Any estimate/swag price for the new lens?

And, yes, it does have a manual focus ring.

pax / Ctein

[No announced price yet, as far as I can see. --Mike]

Regarding the oddness of the focal lengths for m43 users - it does depend a bit on your preferred format. If you prefer to shoot square then a 19mm lens on a 13x13mm m43 sensor is equivalent to an 82mm lens on 56x56mm film, which is pretty much what is considered normal for 6x6 cameras (and the 30mm is equivalent to 129mm). Although as others have pointed out, at f2.8 on your 19mm lens you will get four times as much depth of field as a 6x6 shooter at f2.8 on their 80mm lens, for better or worse. Personally I often struggled with not enough dof and sometimes had trouble getting things in focus when I shot 6x6.


Even DPreview (wrongly) uses the term "Equivalent Aperture", which has actually lead a lot of people into thinking that an m43 sensor needs two more stops of light (i.e., four times longer shutter speeds) for the same aperture number. Some people are even talking about "total light gathered" as an argument to support this.

Obviously, handheld light meters don't have any settings for sensor (or negative) size, and an 8x10 inch camera will need the exact same shutter speed in the same light as a cell phone, given that Aperture number and ISO are the same.

I prefer to use the term "visually equivalent aperture", when doing such a comparison - which does make sense, just as we usually compare FOV "eqivalence" to 35 mm film.

There's been a lot of grumbling about these lenses being 'only f/2.8'. I know shallow depth of field is fashionable these days but these lenses have potential to be quite special.

From what I understand, the original 19mm and 30mm lenses were based on the DP1 (28mm-e) and DP2 (40mm-e) cameras. Now, I used to own a DP1s and everything about that camera was slow, but boy was that one amazing lens. Ironically it was traded for a PEN, so perhaps I should get the 19mm to see if it has some of the same magic.

Yes, f/2.8 could be troublesome in low light but if it's the price to pay for such sharpness and rendering, so be it.

Ben said: "Still, I guess Sony users need these more :-) ."

Burn! :-)


Cameta is currently running some amazing deals on Olympus refurbished cameras, too. I'm really glad to see micro four thirds doing well, and it's not just because I bought one.

Ditto what Ctein sez...

Dear Ctein,

I am assuming that readers of this site are photographically literate enough to understand quite well what I meant without me elaborating every step of the way.

On the other point, those who need more DOF can simply stop down.

Dear Slobodan,

Oh, no, I can assure you, with 30 years of professional writing experience, that if you write something incorrect, plenty of readers will NOT understand what you meant. In any venue. That's a lesson I've learned the hard way.

As for the lens itself, don't get me wrong, I'd be perfectly happy with an f/1.8 version... if it didn't cost an arm and a leg ... (vis the Olympus 75mm puppy), and stopped down to f/2.8 it would likely be better. I'm only noting that the majority of photographers don't need nor want super-shallow depth of field, in contrast to your pronouncement. Which is why you guys get constantly shortchanged by the lens makers (I do feel your pain, even if it isn't mine).

pax / Ctein

This "equivalent aperture" thing really ticks me off. I should write a rant on this. f/2.8 (or whatever) is f/2.8.

Though they are not very fast lenses compared to what they could have been, they are cheap. I guess that's the trade off!

They might have been faster, but I love the design.

I don't mind 38mm and 60mm equivalent for m4/3. 38 ~ 42 is closer to "normal" for me. The lovely little Konica C35 (and its kin) sports a superb 38mm lens, and it always felt a bit liberating -- not too wide, not too long.

Sometimes 50mm "normal" is a touch wide for a head and shoulders shot, while 90-100 is too tight. Sixty is often Goldilocks territory.

How ridiculously brilliant would that metal body be if it were a slide out lens hood.


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