Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN Review
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is a moderate wide-angle prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame and APS-C E-mount mirrorless cameras, where it provides a 52.5mm equivalent focal length. It's also available for Leica / Panasonic / Sigma L-mount cameras.
This new lens is part of the Sigma I series of compact, high-performance, impeccably constructed primes for mirrorless camera systems, which boast a premium all-metal weather-sealed construction, a magnetic metal lens cap and a metal lens hood.
The 35mm F2 DG DN was launched in December 2020 alongside the 24mm F3.5 DG DN and 65mm F2 DG DN lenses, with all three joining the existing 45mm F2.8 DG DN.
It features 10 elements in 9 groups, with one Special Low Dispersion (SLD) element to reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing and three aspherical lenses which help to control distortion and spherical aberrations.
There's a Super Multi-Layer Coating to minimize internal reflections so that flare and ghosting do not occur.
This lens boasts a dust- and splash-proof structure and has a minimum focusing distance of 27cm with a maximum magnification of 0.18x.
It has a rounded 9-blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to out-of-focus areas of the image and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
There is a stepping motor for fast, quiet and precise auto-focusing, while the focusing ring provides fine manual focus control.
A traditional aperture ring runs from f/2 to f/22 in third-stop increments with an Auto setting also available for camera-based aperture selection.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens will be available in January 2021 priced at £549 / $639 in the UK and USA, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 325g, the all-metal bodied Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is light for such a premium full-frame lens.
It's a little heavier than the comparable Sony FE 35mm F1.8, though, which at 281g is 44g lighter than this new Sigma alternative.
It is slightly cheaper than its main Sony rival, to the tune of around £100 / $100, which helps make up for the slightly slower maximum aperture.
Its overall size is very well-suited to a camera like the Sony A7 III that we tested it with, as shown in the product photos. Even with the supplied hood attached, it is still quite discrete for a 35mm lens.
It measures 70 x 67.4mm, making it very similar in size to the Sony FE 35mm F1.8, which measures 65.6 x 73mm.
Build quality is simply superb, far exceeding what you might expect from a mid-range, f/2 prime.
Sigma have really gone to town on the new I series, so much so that they've explained in great detail just how much thought has gone into it.
It incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's supposedly more durable than a normal metal mount.
A rubber seal is incorporated into the lens mount's design to make it dust- and splash-resistant.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens has a metal lens mount and it accepts 58mm filters via metal threads on the front of the lens.
The lens doesn't feature built-in optical image stabilisation, relying instead on the camera body's stabilisation system.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens has a rather narrow, ridged motor-assisted focus ring that is very nicely damped. Manual focusing is possible by using the focus mode switch to toggle between AF and MF.
There are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 58mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The manual focusing ring is positioned a little too closely to the lens hood when it's fitted, though, so much so that my right thumb rubbed along the edge of the hood as I rotated the focusing ring. A minor detail, maybe, but still of some importance on a lens where attention to detail is the defining characteristic.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens utilises a stepping motor which produces quiet, but not silent, smooth focusing, making it fairly well-suited to shooting both stills and video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.
When it comes to auto-focusing, it proved to be a quick performer on the Sony A7R III camera that we tested it with, although not quite as responsive as the Sony FE 35mm F1.8 lens.
We didn't experience very much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time.
Sony's near flawless Eye AF works perfectly with this lens, quickly locking onto and tracking the subject's eye despite the wide-angle view, and it fully supports Sony's DMF and AF+MF shooting modes.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens features an aperture ring that has 1/3EV stops ranging from f/2 to f/22 and an Auto setting if you prefer to set the aperture via the camera body.
Sadly there's no Click switch on the lens barrel that lets you de-click it for silent operation during movie recording.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN lens isn't supplied with a lens case, but it does come with a very good quality, hybrid plastic and metal, circular lens hood (LH636-01) that continues the ribbed texture of the lens barrel, and also an innovative magnetic metal lens cap (LCF58-01M), in addition to a normal plastic cap.
This dedicated metal cap clips to the front surface of the lens magnetically, and there's even an optional magnetic metal lens cap holder (CH-11) that can be clipped to a bag or a belt.
Note that the magnetic lens cap can't be used with filters and is quite awkward to use when the lens hood is fitted.
The 35mm focal length provides an angle of view of 63.4 degrees on a full-frame camera.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas. The example below show the worst-case scenario.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/2, there is obvious light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 3 f-stops to completely prevent it.
There's quite a lot of barrel distortion evident in the RAW files - the Sony Alpha A7 III automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is capable of producing very nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 and f/22, as shown below.
The lens is a little susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, though, even with the supplied lens hood fitted.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it does usefully offer a minimum focusing distance of 27cm and a maximum magnification of 0.18x. The following examples demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the 35mm F2 DG DN lens, Sigma have employed an iris diaphragm with 9 circular blades, which has resulted in appealing bokeh for a moderate-wide-angle lens.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal, all shot wide-open at f/2.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.