If you’ve had even a passing acquaintance with Sigma’s Art lenses, then you will have probably got the message of lots of optical quality for the money. However, if the current prices are still a bit of a stretch, then there is the option of slightly older versions. This is the case with the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN, produced for the Micro Four Thirds format.
Depending on which camera body this lens is mounted, it comes in at a 38mm focal length on a Micro Four Thirds camera and 28.5mm on a Sony E-Mount. Still wide enough to be a general use, walkaround lens, with the added advantage of being super lightweight. A simple and straightforward lens, which moves us on to how this little offering operates in the real world.
Straight off the bat, this lens is reminiscent of something like the Canon 50mm f/1.8. Simple, lightweight, with straightforward workings. Inside the lens are eight elements arranged in six groups, three aspherical elements and seven rounded diaphragm blades.
There’s a Super Multi-Layer Coating on the front to cut down on flaring and ghosting. A linear AF motor performs the autofocus needs, with a minimum focusing distance of 20cm, a front filter size of 46mm and everything weighing in at a meager 160g.
The lens barrel itself is made from lightweight plastic, with an all-metal lens mount. No weatherproofing here, but the build of the lens is solid enough for general use. As for the external workings of the lens, it’s as simple as it comes with a relatively smooth turning focus ring and that’s about it.
There is no lens hood supplied, but at least you get a quality soft case, which makes you feel like you’re getting added value. Basically, a straightforward lens, which is plug and play. Which moves us on nicely to the general workings of the lens.
Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN in Use
Strapped to a Sony E-Mount, the lens is so lightweight, it can be carried around all day like a compact camera. Ideal for nonintrusive street photography. There are 75.3 degrees of view, wide enough for most applications, which also works out to be 59.3 degrees on a Micro Four Thirds format camera.
When it comes to focusing, the motor may not be as efficient as the hypersonic versions, but it’s still quick to snap into place in good light. There were only one or two times where the lens started focus hunting in very low light, but in general, it has good performance across the board.
If you want to use the lens for manual focusing, the manual focus ring doesn’t have a hard stop, which means it’s hard to set at infinity. In this regard, it’s best to use the rear LCD screen to zoom in to accurately nail the focus.
With this price of lens, it’s usually expected to have a good share of lens anomalies, but they are in general less than expected. With the aperture wide open and in high contrast areas, the lens displayed some chromatic aberration in the form of purple and blue fringing. Low enough though to be taken out with software when needed. There’s also some evidence of light falloff in the corners with a full aperture at around one-stop, but quickly goes away by f/4.
Having an aperture of f/2.8 should also mean some decent background blur or bokeh. On a relatively wide-angle focal length, this isn’t going to be as smooth and creamy as higher-end offerings, but with close-up subjects, it’s there to a relative degree. Colors transition smoothly in blurred areas and the results are very acceptable at this price range.
Bolting the camera onto a sturdy tripod, using a single focus point, the sharpness of this lens produced the best results from f/4 to f/11, with apertures above this level starting to suffer from diffraction. Center sharpness is generally better than the edges and when we’re really pixel peeping, f/11 gives the sharpest levels. Unexpected, as when a lens has not hit its sharpest by f/4, it’s usually f/8 which is the happy medium.
In general, this lens seems to work the best when delivered a decent amount of light. The f/2.8 aperture extends the usefulness into reasonably low light conditions, but for the sharpest results, this lens is much better as a general walkabout lens. With reasonable light levels, images come out well-defined, with a good degree of contrast for the price point.
How Does It Compare?
How the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN stacks up against the rest, depends on which camera body you are currently using. On the Sony platform, as a general use lens, there’s the possibility of the Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS. This one has a more standard focal length, a wider aperture, and also benefits from image stabilization. However, it also costs nearly twice as much. Like most things in life, you have to pay for that extra level of quality.
There’s also the consideration of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 if you’re happy using an adapter on a Sony. A cheap and cheerful walkabout lens, which provides good optics and is great value for money. Optical quality is on par with the Sigma and comes in a touch cheaper. Both of these alternatives are not as wide as the Sigma, but the comparisons are more about the overall package than just focal length.
|Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN||Sony E 50mm f/1.8|
|Elements||8 elements/ 6 groups||9 elements/ 8 groups|
Up front, the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN isn’t intended to be a top-end performer. Instead, providing reasonable optics in a small package and at a reasonable price point.
There are definitely better performers on the market that beat out the Sigma for optical quality, but it’s the Sigma that offers the best value. Therefore, as a small walkabout lens that doesn’t cost the earth, this little lens could be a nice addition to your kit bag.