When I made the move to mirror less interchangeable lens cameras (MILC) a few years ago, my first camera was the much maligned Canon EOS M, which despite the awful reviews, I actually loved (once the firmware 2 version was released). The image quality was excellent, built like a tank, ultra compact and full touch screen but the lens choice was to be fair, ‘limited’ being kind or just plain awful being truthful.
While looking around for lens options, I checked Sigma, having used their lenses on my DSLR in the past, but they had nothing for the Canon EF-M mount, but they did have a range of lenses which caught my eye. The Sigma DN ‘Art’ available for Micro Four Thirds (M4/3) or Sony E-Mount camera bodies.
The Sigma DN Art lenses are a pretty straight forward, a minimalist and modern design, all being prime fixed focal length glass, there’s not really much more manufacturer’s can do to spice up a focus ring, so all the DN Art lenses have a smooth metal lens barrel and a smooth metal focus ring. They are very sleek to look at. They all feature proper brass metal lens mounts. No cheap and nasty plastic lens mounts here. They are all pretty light but feel well made. Each lens takes a 46mm filter thread so if you have all three in your collection, one set of filters will fit any of the lenses you have in front of your camera.
The Sigma DN ‘Art’ Series comes in three variants. A 19mm, a 30mm and a 60mm each with a pretty fast aperture of f2.8. The following review is based on the M4/3 variants, so each lens has a 2 x crop factor (in 35mm equivalent terms) making them have the equivalent field of view as a 38mm, a 60mm and a 120mm respectively. These are pretty much the mainstay prime lenses for multiple uses from street (or Urban) photography through to portraiture. Prime lenses usually carry a pretty hefty price for quality glass with a fast(ish) aperture, but at the time of writing this, these Sigma DN ‘Art’ lenses can be purchased brand new for £129.00 each. You read that correctly, the usual R.R.P is £189.00 but retailers have knocked the prices down as time has gone on. So, you could buy all three lenses new for £387.00. Now that’s the sort of money you would pay for one quality prime lens, so the question is are they worth your money or is your money better spent on that ONE quality prime lens?
Read on to find out. . .
Each Sigma DN ‘Art’ Lens, comes boxed with dedicated lens caps, a dedicated lens hood and a custom soft lens case to keep your lens safe when not in use. A quality soft case and a lens hood as standard for under £130.00 each? There’s more . . .
Each DN ‘Art’ Lens is made in Japan. Each DN ‘Art’ Lens is hand tested for quality. Each DN ‘Art’ Lens is under £130.00!
The 30mm Sigma DN ‘Art Lens is the smallest physically from front to rear, but is the ‘mid range’ focal distance of the trio.
Each lens has a really good sized focus ring for manual adjustments (the large ring between the writing on the lens and the lens hood). It is a smooth metal ring which despite some reviewers saying ‘it may be hard to adjust’, I have had absolutely no problem obtaining focus using the focus ring. The resistance on all three lenses is almost identical in feel and for a focus by wire system, delivers a good positive feedback. There’s just right amount of resistance when rotating the focus ring to feel like a proper mechanical focus ring.
The smallest focal length of the trio is the 19mm f2.8, which despite being a smaller focal length, is actually physically bigger from front to rear over the 30mm lens, but for all intents and purposes, looks identical with the large manual focus ring and smooth modern appearance.
The last of the trio is the physically largest (from front to rear) 60mm f2.8. Again, just like it’s siblings in this series, the modern minimalist design makes it a very understated option.
All three lenses on my all black Lumix GX8 look fantastic. Check out my Lumix GX8 first look piece, to see the 60mm f2.8 on the Lumix GX8. This review is about how the lenses perform on the GX8’s new 20.3MP Sensor and whether these ‘cheap’ lenses are optically up to the quality that resolution of sensor demands.
Rather than writing loads about each lens, it’s probably easier to just show some images and you can make your own minds up.
The Panasonic Lumix GX was tripod mounted in a non studio environment, set to Aperture Priority, ISO 400, AWB (Auto White Balance). Natural light only. Custom Picture Setting, with Sharpness +2, Contrast +1, Noise Reduction 0 and Saturation +2. The most common Aperture Values of f2.8, f4.0, f5.6. f8.0, f11, f16 and f22 were chosen for testing purposes.
The set up was static, with a choice of different colourful items to determine colour accuracy. All images are out of camera JPEGS with absolutely no post processing.
So, without further ado. . .
Sigma DN Art 19mm f2.8 Lens:
Sigma DN Art 30mm f2.8 Lens:
Sigma DN Art 60mm f2.8 Lens:
Rather than giving you a multitude of different objects, I thought it might be more useful to show the same set up with each lens at various aperture settings, so that you can see everything as equally as possible (allowing for natural light variations).
Of the three lenses, the 19mm is probably the ever so slightly weaker performer (as would be expected for a wider angle lens) compared directly with the 30mm and the 60mm, however as I hope the image examples above show, all three lenses are stellar performers. Bare in mind the 20.3MP sensor on the Panasonic Lumix GX8 because of the higher resolution, is more demanding on lenses, the results these lenses produce are top quality, showing all three of the Sigma DN Art Series lenses shoot well above their budget price tags. There is nothing cheap about the optical quality of these lenses. I absolutely love the results that each one gives me on my GX8.
The 19mm, 30mm and 60mm focal lengths (35mm equivalent: 38mm, 60mm & 120mm) as I hope the image examples above show, cover a fantastic range of coverage for general purpose shooting, with the clear sharpness advantages that Prime lenses provide.
So, are the Sigma DN Art Series ‘cheap’ Lens or inexpensive gems? I think the results speak for themselves with these fantastic inexpensive gems.