I’ve been using the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN lens for the past few days on the Sony Nex-5n. The lens is extremely light weight at 4.9oz, but is actually slightly heavier than the 30mm version which weighs in at 4.76oz. The 19mm Sigma lens as an effective focal length of 28.5mm as it relates to the Crop Factor Nex-5n sensor. This is not a bad focal length for Landscapes in particular, but can be bit restricting for some compositions. I prefer a little wider lens for landscapes, but I do often use 30mm on my zoom lenses so what do I know.
I took a nice variety of photos with the 19mm Sigma E-Mount lens and hopefully you will really get a good idea of what this lens can do for you.
Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN lens
Sample Photos with the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN lens
This first image is just a simple perspective image that shows the fall-off of sharpness pretty well from left to right, with a decent chunk of the sign being sharp.
Click the photos for the large 1200px version!!
Here is another perspective type shot, but the the depth of field is so shallow the background is totally out of focus. This creates some nice circular specular highlights in the bokeh.
Here’s a few frames of some heavy duty batteries taken at f/2.8, f/4, and f/8 for comparison. Not the greatest lighting, but a ton of detail.
Click the photos for the large 1200px version!!
Here’s a quick snapshot of the rectifiers that convert the AC electricity to DC and then intern charge the large battery plant you see above. Corner sharpness is pretty solid on this lens, and this snapshot shows it off nicely on the top corners.
This is an old school diesel generator that was used to back-up the office years ago when AC power was lost. The battery plant is designed to power the office for 8 hours encase this guy fails to start. Some very cool detail and linkage to look at. The depth of field is also pretty decent for f/8 consider how close I was to the engine.
This next photo is a major intersection in the center of Middletown, NY. It just so happens to house an awesome firehouse!!
Raw Sample Photos using the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN Lens
I decided to shoot some images in raw as the dynamic range was pretty high and I wanted to take some photos for serious HDR editing. Jpegs just don’t cut it when it comes to serious post processing. The camera does a great job with the Jpeg, but that is a final version really, all compressed down. The Raw files have a tone more information, color, and dynamic range to pull from when editing. What this means is you can push the colors, highlights, and shadows much further on a raw file in a post processing program. The files are huge though, so watch out as your memory card will get gobbled up like donuts!! The great thing about the raw file is you are the developer. you can work it like Ansel Adams in a raw processing program and get a million different variations, renders etc…
The Sony cameras have some awesome filters and and scenes modes that do this kind of thing for you, but it’s a lot of fun to play with the raw files and develop the photo yourself. It feels like you were more involved/ control of the process or “art” of photography for lack of a better word.
Also, when shooting raw with the Nex-5n the lens corrections normally made on the camera are not applied to the raw file. Therefore, you will see the true lens flaws and noise un-corrected in these shots. The flaws are easily removable in Lightroom 4, or any other raw editing program though if you choose to develop the file. The in camera lens correction really is an awesome feature, but I just wish I could fine tune the jpeg profile a bit.
Here’s a nice R6 I saw in a church parking while cruising home yesterday. You’ll notice some green fringing on the verticals in the top right corner of the 100% crop. You will also notice the raw image appears a bit softer than the jpeg, but it’s really just not sharpened yet.
A really nice firehouse with all the garage doors open.
These next few Raw “Real World” photos are from the Basha Kill Wildlife Preserve. I stopped on the way to work and the morning fog was just starting to clear up!!
Check out this pretty nasty magenta fringing!! Again, easily fixable with any raw editor, and if your shooting in Jpeg, this will be corrected In Camera!!
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN lens is a solid performer all around in my opinion. It’s about the same sharpness as the 30mm lens as far as I can tell, and suffers from similar flaws as far as very slight corner softening and chromatic aberrations/ fringing. The relatively small flaws on this lens are totally reasonable though, considering the $200 price tag!! Build quality is the same as the 30mm version being pretty decent overall, but not in the same league as the Sony E-Mount lenses. Focus is pretty much identical to the 30mm lens, although being a wider angle lens it tends to have an easier time finding a focus point in certain scenes. Especially when using the wide focus mode!!
Bottom line, it’s totally worth the money in my opinion, but does not transition focus near as good as the Sony lenses. This makes a pretty big difference with video quality. In addition to that the Sony lenses offer OSS, which is a huge advantage to low light shooting. The Sigma 19mm lens has significantly better corner sharpness than the the Sony 16mm Pancake lens in particular. The Pancake lens to it’s advantage is much thinner and wider, which is a harder optical feet to achieve. Hence all the after market companies coming out with similar/ redundant sizes. Even though we clearly want fast primes and ultra wide angles for the Nex camera system. Thank you sigma for the 19mm, but how about a 10mm?? It can even be f/4, I don’t care!!
The Engineering challenges behind making a pancake style lens with such a narrow 18mm flange distance (the distance from the E-Mount flange to the actual sensor), are incredible difficult. If it were easy, I’m sure Sigma, Tamron, and Sony would be making more and making them faster. Part of the problem is it takes serious time to develop new lens technology, and that is what the E-Mount system is. Figure they have to invest R&D to try and come up with a design. Then they need to physical make the prototype and test it. Next it needs to be torn down and refined, rebuilt, and re-tested. I’m not sure how many times this actual happens, but I bet it takes a few cycles ;) Rumor has it Sony is working on a new zoom style E-Mount, so time will tell.
In any event, that is all for now, and stay tuned for the low contrast, low light video tests coming asap. I just haven’t had a chance to film it yet in the correct lighting.