Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Review

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 is an iconic and legendary lens that also just happened to be the first E-Mount lens I owned. I bought it for my then-new a6000 and I still have it to this day. In fact, it was the first lens I reviewed for this site (though don’t worry, the review has been updated a LOT since then!).

Why You Can Trust Me

Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I bought my first Sony camera in 2018 and purchased this particular lens to go with it (full site history). So, I’ve had the Sigma 30mm F1.4 for about 5 years now (read how I review/test gear).

This lens has been all over the US and has even seen a few paid photoshoots! So, today I’ll be sharing five years worth of sample photos along with giving my opinions on why I think this lens is still the best prime for Sony’s APS-C lineup. Let’s dive in!

  • Razor sharp and beautiful images
  • Bright F1.4 aperture
  • Autofocus is reliable & fast
  • Excellent build quality
  • Lacks image stabilization

Verdict: The best APS-C prime of all time, featuring incredible sharpness, a bright F1.4 aperture, speedy autofocus, and a fairly robust build. Plus it’s cheap! You literally cannot go wrong with this lens (affiliate link).

A picture I shot in Waterton Lakes.
A picture I shot in Waterton Lakes.

Side & Weight

As stated in the intro, one of the biggest reasons I switched to the Sony a6000 ecosystem was for the smaller size & weight. And let me tell you: the Sigma 30mm F1.4 certainly met that criteria! According to my scale, it weighs a reasonable 9.03oz (226g) and measures (according to my tape measure) a length of 2.9 inches (7.3cm). 

Combining this lens with my Sony a6000 (with just a wrist strap) makes for an extremely small and portable kit. Honestly, out of all the lenses I’ve used, I find this lens to fit the camera the best. It’s not too big, but it’s not so small that it’s awkward either.

Some friends of mine on top of a mountain overlooking Hidden Lake in Glacier NP.
A random picture of mine from Glacier National Park.

Build Quality

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 is made in Japan and the build quality is excellent, especially considering it’s an ultra-budget APS-C lens. The barrel is made out of a mix of metal and thermally stable composite, a type of polycarbonate that is both strong but also lightweight.

This material is used on a lot of Sigma lenses, and it’s known for being long lasting, scratch resistant, and durable (which mine certainly has been).

The glass itself is also high quality, consisting of 9 elements with 9 aperture blades. There’s no plastic “glass” here like on some other cheaper lenses.

Man petting dog.
A guy in the dog park petting his cute pupper.

As for accessories, the only thing the lens ships with is a simple circular lens hood (plus caps). It can feel a bit cheap and isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but it does the job of protecting the front element from both flares and bumps. Mine still is in great shape after all these years. It’s even reversible for easier storage, fitting perfectly inside my my camera bag.

My Sigma 30mm F1.4 after a snowy shoot.
I’ve beat the crap out of this thing and it still works perfectly and looks clean.

Moving onto the next note: weather sealing. This lens, I assume due it’s budget price point, lacks any sort of weather sealing, but I haven’t found it to be a huge issue. Mine has survived plenty of rain, cold Wisconsin snowstorms, and dusty hikes out west. I’m not saying you should dunk your lens in a lake, but…

Ahem, anyways, to put it simply: I really do believe this lens was built to last. As I stated, it’s survived dozens of adventures in inclement weather, been bumped against tons of hard surfaces, and has probably summited more mountains than some people ever will in their entire lives. I love it.

Man standing under waterfall.
Not technically water sealed, but I’ve put it through more questionable situations than I should have…

Another thing I appreciate about the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is the rather simple and minimalistic design. I understand that the aesthetics of a lens is a rather minor point, but this one looks really nice.

It has a sleek blackish-gray finish that contrasts very well with the white engraved text. The focusing ring is massive and to top it all off, there’s a nice little “C” badge (signifying the lens as being part of the “contemporary” lineup). My only complaint, aesthetically is the rather ugly circular lens hood (opinion).

Unfortunately, to achieve such a clean and minimalistic lens barrel, they had to omit a physical AF/MF switch. It’s a bit annoying and probably my only major gripe with this lens. With that being said, the lens is quite comfortable to use, even despite the lack of any major “features” on the barrel.

It balances perfectly on my Sony a6000 (as I mentioned earlier) and the massive focusing ring provides a really nice rubberized gripping point when out shooting. I’ve shot with this thing for hours straight in the city and haven’t had any issues with comfort. When hiking, I can toss it easily in my bag.

Chief Mountain near the Montana/Alberta border, photographed in 2019.
Chief Mountain near the Montana/Alberta border, photographed in 2019.

Image Quality

Next up, let’s talk about sharpness. The lenses in the Sigma trio (again, the 16mm, 30mm, 56mm) are known as being the sharpest lenses in the Sony APS-C lineup, and their midrange lens is absolutely no exception.

Now, I’m not much of a pixel peeper, but wide open, the results aren’t quite as strong as the 16mm, but we still see incredibly sharp centers with only minor corner softness. Really impressive.

Man standing on a snowy building.
Wide-open sharpness is pretty fabulous!

Stopping down just a bit is where the lens really starts to shine. I tend to shoot portraits at about F2 in order to get a great balance of bokeh and edge-to-edge sharpness. As for obtaining “perfect” sharpness, the lens peaks at about F4, and even pixel peepers won’t find any significant flaws.

I always obsessively zoom into my images in Lightroom and I really can’t find any major visual flaws with this lens. As a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, by the numbers it is actually the 2nd sharpest lens for Sony APS-C cameras behind the Sigma 56mm F1.4.

Sample of portraits taken with the Sigma 30mm F1.4.
A set of portraits, shot some time in early 2019 if I remember correctly.

Sharpness is amazing, but how does the lens handle optical flaws such as vignette, distortion, CA, and flaring?

Well, when wide open, the lens has some moderate purple fringing that is fairly easy to correct in post-processing. Stopping down does remedy this somewhat, but you won’t see clean results until at least F2.5. Personally, I’m not particularly bothered by chromatic aberrations (I just don’t really notice it), but I figured it was worth mentioning.

A super cute dog with a ball.
A super cute dog having a GREAT time somewhere in Milwaukee.

As for everything else, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 honestly doesn’t suffer from any other optical issues. Distortion is a bit above average (roughly 2.8% barrel distortion) but is easily fixable in something like Lightroom.

Vignetting is minor and flaring is almost non-existent. I’ve shot many backlit subjects and into direct sunlight and never suffered more than a minor loss of contrast. The images below and above show how well the lens handles shooting into sunlight.

A random cute dog in a dog park. Notice the lack of flaring and how well the lens holds contrast.
A random cute dog in a dog park. Notice the lack of flaring and how well the lens holds contrast.

Needless to say, I’ve had zero complaints about the optical quality of the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Not only is it incredibly sharp, but even the bokeh looks good. While not quite a telephoto, the lens renders beautiful bokeh balls that allow for excellent subject isolation. As a fan of environmental portraits, I’ve found over the years that this is easily my most used lens for portraiture work.

Low light performance is also excellent due to the ultra-bright F1.4 aperture. I’ve gone on many nighttime photo walks and have rarely run into subjects that a bright streetlight combined with this lens couldn’t capture.

Overall, I’ve been extremely happy with the optical performance over the years.

A long exposure of the Seattle skyline that I took a few years ago.
A long exposure of the Seattle skyline that I took a few years ago.

Autofocus

When it comes to autofocus, it’s won’t rival a GM-series lens but it’s still fantastic. I find that most modern lenses focus “well enough” and there often isn’t much to say.

In any case, it’s quick and quiet, but I have noticed over time that it does struggle with extreme low light conditions. Later in the day after the sun sets, you have to keep an eye on what the lens actually gets into focus, otherwise you might end up with some missed shots.

Triple set of sample portraits for the Sigma 30mm F1.4.
Yet another set of portraits.

That being said, in good lighting conditions, the focus is top tier. The lens plays extremely well with Sony’s autofocus assists such as EyeAF and AF-C (subject tracking). In addition, it’s dead silent, which is a big plus for video shooters.

On the other hand of that though, the lens doesn’t have optical image stabilization. I do wish it did, but I can see why it was omitted to keep the price low and the size small.

Autofocus is quick, allowing you to capture cute and candid moments.
Autofocus is quick, allowing you to capture cute and candid moments.
Beautiful mountain lake with hotel.
The stunning Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.

Manual Focus

For my fellow manual focus enthusiasts, I rate this lens mid-tier. It doesn’t feel as good as a dedicated manual lens (or anything vintage), but the focus-by-wire system is quick and responsive.

Focus “throw” is good, and using peaking/magnifier makes it a breeze to use. My only complaint, which I had mentioned earlier, is the fact that it lacks a physical AF/MF switch. I should note that there is not, as you’d probably expect, a focus scale/distance meter.

Man standing in front of beautiful lake.
Manual focus works well enough.

Final Thoughts

Near the end of my articles I usually like to present alternatives. That being said, there really aren’t any comparable competitors in this focal length. If you’re looking for a mid-range lens, this is really the move.

If you’re looking to go wider, however, I’d suggest looking at the Sigma 16mm F1.4. If you’re looking to get more of a telephoto focal length, check out the Sigma 56mm F1.4. All three lenses from the Sigma trio are incredible.

A bright orange car I captured contrasted against the beauty of Waterton Lakes.
My old bright orange car I captured contrasted against the beauty of Waterton Lakes.

In case I haven’t made it clear yet, I adore the Sigma 30mm F1.4.

Autofocus is largely great, the sharpness is truly top tier, and the build quality is right up there with much more expensive lenses. Frankly, I’m not even sure how this lens is as cheap as it is. For a stills photographer, there really is no lens in the entire Sony APS-C lineup that can even come close to comparing with the value for money that this Sigma offers.

A foggy forest I captured just a couple weeks ago in Grand Teton NP.
A foggy forest I captured a while back in Grand Teton NP.

There’s a reason it’s still my favorite lens after so many years. So, if reading my long rant convinced you that this lens is, in fact, amazing, I’ll drop a purchase link below so you can check it out. Thanks for reading!

Buy from Amazon <— affiliate link, which means I get a (very) small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support! <3


Sigma 30mm F1.4 Sample Photos

A sunset I photographed during my first time visiting Seattle.
A sunset I photographed during my first time visiting Seattle.
Woman with camera.
A friend of mine photographing Milwaukee at dusk.
Van in front of mountains.
A van in Grand Teton National Park.
Man standing in front of Christmas tree.
Not my best shot, but it really highlights the strong bokeh of this lens.
bridge in st louis
Always felt this shot looked pretty timeless. Like it could have been taken 100 years ago.

Hey, thanks for looking through all my photographs! If you’re sold on the Sigma 30mm, please consider purchasing it through my link. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, thanks! <3 Also, by the way, they also make this lens for Canon EF-M mount (among others).


Disclaimer: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means I get a (very small) commission if you purchase things through my links. If you do, thank you for the support! <3