Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C Review
Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C Introduction
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C is a short telephoto prime lens for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts that offers a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4. It joins the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C and the 30mm f/1.4 DC DN C lenses, completing Sigma's large aperture series of portable wide-angle, standard, and telephoto prime lenses in Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts.
It offers the equivalent angle of view as a 84mm lens on a Sony APS-C camera and 112mm lens on Micro Four Thirds. The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a minimum focusing distance of 50cm / 19.7in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:7.8, while the stepping AF motor ensures a silent, high-speed AF function, and it's also usefully weather-sealed.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C lens is currently available for £399.99 / $479.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at a mere 280g and measuring 6cm in length, the Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C is a very compact lens given its fast f/1.4 aperture and telephoto focal length. As seen in the photos below, it complements a smaller camera like the Sony A6000 very well.
Build quality is excellent given the affordable price tag. The lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic parts and a compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), used inside.
It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's claimed to be more durable, while the optical elements are made of high-grade glass. Sigma have also made the lens dust- and splash-resistant by incorporating rubber sealing into the mount design. Finally, a Super Multi-Layer Coating on the lens elements helps to minimize flare and ghosting.
In terms of features, the Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C offers all the basics that you need from a telephoto prime lens. The main exception is the lack of Vibration Reduction, which won't please owners of older Sony, Olympus and Panasonic bodies that don't have built-in stabilisation. The very fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 partially makes up for this, and it won't be an issue for more recent camera bodies that are stabilised.
Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the camera body. Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C lens has a fairly wide focus ring. There are no hard stops at both ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 55mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C zoom is a pretty quick and reliable performer, taking about 0.20 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A6000 that we tested it with.
We didn't experience too much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in stepping AF motor, which makes this lens well-suited to video recording.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C ships with a good quality plastic circular-shaped lens hood (LH582-01). It accepts 55mm filters.
The 56mm focal length provides an angle of view of 28.5 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, can be detected in a few of our sample shots, but it's not overly prevalent or obvious.
Vignetting and Distortion
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.4, there is some noticeable light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/4 virtually eliminates this.
More worryingly, there is also a large amount of pin-cushion distortion evident - this is definitely one of the Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C's weak points in terms of image quality.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it delivers reasonable performance nonetheless. It has a minimum focusing distance of 50cm / 19.7in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:7.4. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a snowdrop flower.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C produces fairly appealing sunstars when stopped-down to f/16, although be careful to watch out for unwanted flare effects when shooting directly into the sun.
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 Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN C lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.