A while back, sigma announced that they were revamping their lens lineup for micro 4/3 and Sony NEX cameras. At the time, they offered 2 of the best budget lenses for either of these mirrorless systems – namely, their 19mm 2.8 and 30mm 2.8 lenses. Now, the reboot is complete and the new versions of these lenses are hitting the market as part of Sigma’s new “Art” lens collection, and they’ll be joined by a 60mm 2.8 lens as well. Will these new lenses be a worthy addition to your lens collections and do they warrant an upgrade over the previous versions?
In an episode of DigiDirectTV (above), Blunty displays quite a bit of enthusiasm for the new 30mm 2.8 lens, and in my opinion, rightfully so. After all, I was quite impressed with the previous version, especially for the price.
But what’s the difference between the old and new versions?
First up, the new versions have a better build quality. Sigma have done away with the plastic casings of old and replaced them with a shiny metal body (you can get them in either black or silver) that feels much more solid in the hand. They also appear to have addressed the rattling issue with the previous version (the inner mechanisms of the lenses would rattle inside the body whenever the lens was not attached to the camera body and engaged). Manual focus rings are buttery smooth and responsive. Each lens also comes with a lens hood and a padded case to keep it secure when it’s not attached to your camera.
OK… so they look good on the outside, but what about the inside?
One of the biggest reasons why these Sigma lenses are among the best budget lenses that you can get (for either micro 4/3 or Sony NEX) is that they are good lenses, period. Autofocus is quick and accurate (but in my experience, it works a bit better on Panasonic cameras like a Lumix G5, although I have not tried them on a newer Olympus camera, such as a PEN Mini E-PM2, PEN Lite E-PL5 or the new Olympus flagship camera, the PEN E-P5). The images produces are sharp and color reproduction is accurate. Then again, the same was true of the older versions of these lenses, so this is no surprise.
Should I get these lenses?
Speaking strictly for micro 4/3, it all depends… If you’re just moving into micro 4/3, you need some good primes and you’re on a budget, then these Sigma lenses are great options, but if you have the budget for, or already have, some of the go-to M43 lenses like the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, Olympus 45mm 1.8 or Panasonic-Leica DG Summilux 25mm 1.4, then you can probably skip these. Likewise, if you already own the previous versions of these, you probably don’t need to upgrade unless you really like the shiny new casings.
My 2 Cents
I would personally categorize the Sigma 19mm 2.8 and 30mm 2.8 lenses as “very good”… even “very very good.” While they’re not quite on par with the top tier M43 lenses like those mentioned above, or pro zooms like the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens, they’re not too far off either, and you might be surprised at just how good these lenses actually are – especially considering the price ($199 USD each). I personally own the older versions of each (I got a killer deal on them late last year) and I’ve been extremely pleased with the results they provide, but other than build quality I don’t really see a need to upgrade and won’t be doing so.
Still, these are some of the best budget lenses for any camera system and I highly recommend them if you’re starting your collection of M43 glass – especially on a budget.