Sigma’s third f/1.4 prime lens for Sony E and Micro Four Thirds mounts has arrived. Michael Topham offers his verdict
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary review: Build & Handling
The lens has the same clean black aesthetic that we’ve come to expect from Sigma ever since the company announced its ‘Global Vision’ series, which is the collective name for their Art, Sport and Contemporary lenses. The lens designation and minimum focus distance are both printed on the barrel and the only other marking of note is the silver circle with the letter C inside it that tells us it’s part of Sigma’s Contemporary range. Just to recap, the ethos of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is to offer high performance whilst keeping them as compact and lightweight as possible.
First impressions of the lens out of the box were that it’s smaller than I’d expected, feeling reassuringly solid and well constructed in the hand. The brass metal mount comes with a rubber sealing around its perimeter that compresses against the camera mount to form an effective seal against dust and moisture, while the ribbed focusing ring on the barrel is easy to locate with your left hand when your eye is held to the viewfinder.
My experience of manually focusing the lens was very positive, made all the better by the incredibly smooth motion of the focus ring and the magnified view offered by the Sony A6500 I was testing it with. I found extremely precise shifts in focus easy to perform, with a slow turn of the ring shifting focus ever so slightly. To jump from the minimum focusing distance to infinity takes about four or five sharp twists of the focus ring.
With no AF/MF switch on the barrel, you’re required to select focus mode via the camera. Autofocus is brisk and signs of hunting were few and far between. Only on a few occasions in low-light did the lens show signs of hunting back and forth before it acquired focus on a close subject. Just as Sigma claims, the stepping motor is very quiet indeed, however if you hold the lens to your ear as the lens autofocuses you’ll be able to make out a very high frequency whir. This was picked up by the internal microphone on the Sony A6500 when recording video, but could only be heard when filing in silence and when there wasn’t any ambient noise to cancel it out.