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FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


FM Snapshot: Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary
Order the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary:

B&H Photo


Review quick links:
  1. About the lens
  2. Infinity Performance
  3. Infinity Performance vs Sony FE 35/1.8
  4. Infinity Performance vs Voigtlander 40mm f/1.2
  5. Field Curvature
  6. Close-up performance
  7. Specular Highlights
  8. Sunstar rendering
  9. Rendering
  10. Lateral CA / Longitudinal CA / Purple fringing
  11. AF speed and accuracy
  12. Final thoughts
  13. Samples 1
  14. Samples 2
  15. Samples 3
  16. Samples 4
  17. Samples 5



About the lens:

The Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary E-mount is an intriguing lens and a welcome addition to the E-mount system. It's compact, light and delivers great optical performance without neglecting rendering.

The lens features an electronic aperture ring and a manual focus ring with a linear response. I like the design of the lens with the hood on - Itís all metal and well-built. The lens itself weighs a mere 212g without caps but the hood adds another 44 grams and extra bulk which negates the compact design when attached. There is also a MF/AF button.



Optical Design: 8 elements (2 aspherical)










Main Features











Infinity Performance:

The Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary is optimized for infinity distance and it's already sharp from wide open (f/2.8) while showing noticeable improvement stopped down to f/3.2:











At center, it achieves optimal resolution/contrast at f/4:











Moving off-axis, the mid-field area benefits from f/5.6 for maximum resolution/contrast, although it's very similar to f/4.











The same can be said for the extreme corners where f/5.6 seems to be the optimal aperture. (f/2.8 and f/4 not too far behind)












Field Curvature:

The Sigma 45/2.8 has low field curvature but it's still noticeable at pixel level, especially at mid-field. The curvature is slightly wavy but the corners are also affected to a smaller degree.

Here are three crops from images shot at f/2.8 showing the center area of a scene at infinity distance:
  1. Left crop: Center area focused at center
  2. Mid crop: Center area focused at corner
  3. Right crop: Center area focused at mid-field










As you can see from the crops above, the mid-field are shows the most curvature, although there is a slight curvature at the corner as well.

Same as above but now stopped down to f/5.6: Field curvature gets masked by depth of field:









For landscapes, I would stop the lens down to least f/4, making field curvature less relevant in the field.




Close-up performance:

As mentioned earlier, the Sigma 45/2.8 is not optimized for close focus and does not feature a floating element system. From MTF until about 0.6m, it greatly improves when closing the aperture to f/4. After 1m, resolution and contrast improves greatly and from 3m to infinity it's already great from wide open.

Here are 1:1 crops comparing f/2.8 vs f/4 at various distances. (0.2m, 0.6m, 1m, and 3m)

Thumbnail at MFD (0.2m) showing the full image:











1:1 crop comparison from f/2.8 to f/4 at MFD (0.2m):
Spherical aberration is very noticeable











1:1 crop comparison from f/2.8 to f/4 at 0.6m:
SA still noticeable











1:1 crop comparison from f/2.8 to f/4 at 1m:
At this distance, the lens improves greatly and looks good even wide open











1:1 crop comparison from f/2.8 to f/4 at 3m:
From 3m to infinity, the lens performs optimally












Specular Highlights:

The inner structure shows slight traces of onion ring pattern. However, it's not very noticeable in real world images.











Bokeh balls look good at close distance but its cat-eye shape is noticeable away from center. Here is an example showing f/2.8 (top) and f/4 (bottom) at about 0.5m. After f/5.6, specular highlights are no longer rounded.











Here is the same scene at 5m:












Sunstar rendering (14-point)

I could only manage to get somewhat defined sunstars at f/22 but it's still a bit fuzzy. I much prefer the sunstars from the Loxia and Voigtlander line. Ghosting flare is hard to avoid.




















Rendering

Out of focus rendering is the Sigma 45/2.8's biggest strength despite its slow aperture. I have a feeling Sigma optimized this lens for high resolution and contrast at long distance and rendering at close and mid-distance. Transition zone and overall rendering is very smooth from wide open.

Here are a few samples:
















































































































Lateral CA / Longitudinal CA / Purple fringing correction

The f/2.8 aperture gives this Sigma a big advantage in color aberration correction. I can only see traces of magenta/green in defocused areas (LoCA) and no visible lateral CA towards the corners. Overall excellent performance.

Samples 1:

Thumbnail showing full image:











Focused area:











Defocused area:
(only traces of green color error)











Samples 2:

Thumbnail showing full image:











Focused area:











Defocused area:










AF speed and accuracy

The Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary has fast and quiet (not silent) auto-focus under good light. In low light it hunts depending on the subject but nothing out of the ordinary for a f/2.8 lens.
However, my copy has issues with focus accuracy. I'm not sure if it is a widespread problem but others have reported similar problems with AF-C (PDAF). That includes Eye-AF as well.

I tested this today at various distances (0.5m, 1m and 3m) and got consistent issues with AF-C and back-focusing at 0.5 and 1m. At 3m, AF-C seems more accurate but still not as good as AF-S.

The test below shows AF-C (left crop) vs AF-S (right crop) at different distances. 5 images were taken with each mode and they were consistent on the results presented here:


AF-C vs AF-S at 0.5m











AF-C vs AF-S at 1m











AF-C vs AF-S at 3m










All my close-up tests in this review were done in MF for this reason. However, this does not affect AF-S (contrast-detect).



Final Thoughts:

The 45/2.8 Contemporary gets many things right but what makes it unique is the butter smooth rendering.
It's well-built, compact and light. The aperture ring stops down in one-third increments with great precision. The manual focus ring has linear coupling and is a joy to use. Optimized for mid and long distances, it is capable of high resolution across the entire image field. The f/2.8 maximum aperture restricts the amount of blur and subject isolation, however, starting at the transition zone, rendering is smooth and pleasant. It's refreshing to see Sigma focus on rendering with their latest mirrorless designs for the E-mount.

Another strength is color aberration correction. I struggled to find color fringing in any of my test images even under high contrast lighting. Slight traces of longitudinal CA are still present - but overall, the lens is well corrected for CA.

The aperture mechanism is equipped with seven 'rounded' blades which prevents the lens from rendering defined sunstars at mid-range apertures. However, when stopped down to f/18-22, it still produces defined 14-point sunstars.
Rounded blades are very popular with AF lenses because it maintains circular specular highlights at smaller apertures. In the case of the Sigma 45/2.8, bokeh is still circular at f/4.5. (This would not be possible if it was equipped with straight blades)

On the negative side, flare resistance is average with good retention of contrast while ghosting is visible under backlit situations. AF is a mix bag. It's fast and quiet but there are issues with phase detection (AF-C). It consistently back-focuses and hopefully this is an easy firmware fix for Sigma. AF works great in AF-S mode (contrast-detection). The lens is not equipped with a floating element system so expect image degradation at close distance.

For those looking for a light and compact walk-around AF lens with superb rendering and color correction, the new Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary may be what you're waiting for.

________________

Order the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary: B&H Photo




Aug 08, 2019 at 08:20 PM
ajamils
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Thanks Fred. If you still have Samyang 45/1.8, it would be great to compare that lens as well.


Aug 08, 2019 at 08:46 PM
vdo1
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Yay my wish came true, bokeh balls galore!


Aug 08, 2019 at 08:48 PM
zugzwang2
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Thanks, Fred. I think that this will be a terrific walk-around lens (well, at least for me).


Aug 08, 2019 at 09:02 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Fred Miranda wrote:
The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 E-mount is now in stock at B&H Photo for $549.

About the lens:

The Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary E-mount is a very intriguing lens. It's compact and light while delivering great optical performance without neglecting rendering.

The lens and hood are all metal and feel very well-built. If features an electronic aperture ring and the manual focus ring has a linear response. It weighs a mere 212g without caps while the hood adds another 44 grams. I find the latter very attractive and effective but its size takes away from the lens compact design. There is also a MF/AF
...Show more

Thank you Fred. The quality of your review has improved greatly. You show stuff that most others don't even talk about, like bokeh balls at different distances, resolution at MFD, infinity vs. other distances, FC vs. resolution dip. Heck, professional reviewers, like Lloyd Chamber, really need to improve theirs. I think Sony US and other lens makers really need to send you their press samples for review.



Aug 08, 2019 at 09:03 PM
jhinkey
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Ugh, my search for a 35-45mm small, light FE mount lens for backpacking/hiking/etc. continues on . . . . poor sunstars has doomed this lens for me - might as well stay with the Sony 35/2.8.


Aug 08, 2019 at 09:38 PM
mudlake
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Thanks for the great review, Fred. Whatís your opinion now after testing?

As I suspected when it was announced, the lens has some good points, but not enough to make it anywhere near paying $550 for it. That price is sneaking up on used prices ($600-650) for the brilliant Zony 55/1.8. Plus, the Sigma isnít appreciably lighter than the 55mm AND a full 1.3 stops slower. I think they would sell a lot more if it was priced closer to $300.

Iím curious how it compares to the lowly FE 50/1.8. You wouldnít happen to have one on hand to compare would you Fred?🙂



Aug 08, 2019 at 10:35 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


mudlake wrote:
Thanks for the great review, Fred. Whatís your opinion now after testing?

As I suspected when it was announced, the lens has some good points, but not enough to make it anywhere near paying $550 for it. That price is sneaking up on used prices ($600-650) for the brilliant Zony 55/1.8. Plus, the Sigma isnít appreciably lighter than the 55mm AND a full 1.3 stops slower. I think they would sell a lot more if it was priced closer to $300.

Iím curious how it compares to the lowly FE 50/1.8. You wouldnít happen to have one on hand to compare
...Show more

Secondary for Sigma is pretty bad in general. I think a used copy might turn up around $300 eventually. I will wait for sure. No urgent need for this lens.



Aug 08, 2019 at 10:45 PM
zhangyue
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Fred, nice review. I fully agree with you about the lens. I received this lens in L Mount Monday and put a small review in Panasonic S1 thread I like this lens a lot actually and like it way more than 35mm f2.8 Sony for better Bokeh rendering and less CA.

The lens build like jewel with click aperture ring offer fast and quite AF. The FBW is also implemented nicely. I look forward for more similar spec and designed lens from sigma.

As for price, if you guys can wait a little, it will be in $450 region I think. To my surprise, all new introduced sigma lenses are sold in China and Asia are cheaper than US. This one is about $480 US actually. This is super rare compare to other manufacture.

To me, it is worth the asking price. Between this one at 550 brand new and 55 Sony at 1000, I will pick this one personally. I even slightly prefer it to Nikon 50S I had for overall package. It is just lovely.


Fred Miranda wrote:
The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 E-mount is now in stock at B&H Photo for $549.

About the lens:

The Sigma 45/2.8 Contemporary E-mount is a very intriguing lens. It's compact and light while delivering great optical performance without neglecting rendering.

The lens and hood are all metal and feel very well-built. If features an electronic aperture ring and the manual focus ring has a linear response. It weighs a mere 212g without caps while the hood adds another 44 grams. I find the latter very attractive and effective but its size takes away from the lens compact design. There is also a MF/AF
...Show more



Aug 08, 2019 at 11:14 PM
trogdon
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Seems to turn in an okay performance, but for Sony shooters it looks like the 35mm ZA would give more sharpness at wilder apertures, and still come in smaller and lighter


Aug 08, 2019 at 11:47 PM
 


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Fred Miranda
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


ajamils wrote:
Thanks Fred. If you still have Samyang 45/1.8, it would be great to compare that lens as well.


Sorry but I don't have the Samyang 45/1.8 any longer but got to know the lens very well. It competes with the Sigma at infinity but I believe the sigma has higher resolution towards the corners. The Samyang definitely has higher contrast.
Rendering-wise they are very different lenses. I found the Samyang a bit harsh while the Sigma is smooth as butter even at f/2.8. Both are very compact but the Sigma is better built.



Aug 08, 2019 at 11:47 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


zugzwang2 wrote:
Thanks, Fred. I think that this will be a terrific walk-around lens (well, at least for me).


I agree, it's a great walk around lens. I wish it performed better at close distance though.



Aug 08, 2019 at 11:50 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


hiepphotog wrote:
Thank you Fred. The quality of your review has improved greatly. You show stuff that most others don't even talk about, like bokeh balls at different distances, resolution at MFD, infinity vs. other distances, FC vs. resolution dip. Heck, professional reviewers, like Lloyd Chamber, really need to improve theirs. I think Sony US and other lens makers really need to send you their press samples for review.


Thank you, I appreciate your kind words. I received the lens today and try a quick review format this time.



Aug 08, 2019 at 11:51 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


jhinkey wrote:
Ugh, my search for a 35-45mm small, light FE mount lens for backpacking/hiking/etc. continues on . . . . poor sunstars has doomed this lens for me - might as well stay with the Sony 35/2.8.


I don't think the 35/2.8 ZA can render great sunstars either. I agree though, sunstar rendering is not a strength but in exchange we have very rounded bokeh balls at f/4.



Aug 08, 2019 at 11:53 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


mudlake wrote:
Thanks for the great review, Fred. Whatís your opinion now after testing?

As I suspected when it was announced, the lens has some good points, but not enough to make it anywhere near paying $550 for it. That price is sneaking up on used prices ($600-650) for the brilliant Zony 55/1.8. Plus, the Sigma isnít appreciably lighter than the 55mm AND a full 1.3 stops slower. I think they would sell a lot more if it was priced closer to $300.


I will post my final thoughts once I get to know the lens a little more.



Aug 09, 2019 at 12:06 AM
Jochenb
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Thanks Fred.
This is a lens I might buy to use as a small street lens on my A9. The first impressions I see say that it has very decent AF. I quite like it's rendering too.
Nicer sunstars would've been a nice bonus, but that's never a real must for me.

From what I've seen so far I like this Sigma much more than the FE 35/2.8, my least favorite lens of all the FE lenses that I've had.



Aug 09, 2019 at 02:31 AM
vdo1
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


mudlake wrote:
Thanks for the great review, Fred. Whatís your opinion now after testing?

As I suspected when it was announced, the lens has some good points, but not enough to make it anywhere near paying $550 for it. That price is sneaking up on used prices ($600-650) for the brilliant Zony 55/1.8. Plus, the Sigma isnít appreciably lighter than the 55mm AND a full 1.3 stops slower. I think they would sell a lot more if it was priced closer to $300.

Iím curious how it compares to the lowly FE 50/1.8. You wouldnít happen to have one on hand to compare
...Show more

I have the FE 50 and I would say that, in my experience and compared with Fredís photos, the 50mm at 2.8 has a lot more LoCA (readily visible as green outlining / shadows in the background and also in the bokeh balls - the 45 looks so much more cleaner there). However the 50 @ 2.8 might be a tad sharper, at least in the central area. If time permits Iíll try to take a few sample photos showing this, by the end of the weekend.



Aug 09, 2019 at 05:24 AM
LBJ2
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


Very thorough review Fred! No question left unanswered for many. I can see this review being passed all over the internet


Aug 09, 2019 at 05:28 AM
Jochenb
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


LBJ2 wrote:
Very thorough review Fred! No question left unanswered for many. I can see this review being passed all over the internet


Agreed, I only miss one thing and that's the AF performance (speed, accuracy, noise).



Aug 09, 2019 at 06:34 AM
Douglas L
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · FM Review: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary


jhinkey wrote:
Ugh, my search for a 35-45mm small, light FE mount lens for backpacking/hiking/etc. continues on . . . . poor sunstars has doomed this lens for me - might as well stay with the Sony 35/2.8.


for sunstar, Voigtlander or Loxia, or bust!

Edited on Aug 09, 2019 at 06:59 AM · View previous versions



Aug 09, 2019 at 06:58 AM
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