Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review L Mount:
As some of you know, I switched to the Leica SL a few years ago from the M system, and for the most part, I couldn’t be happier. I absolutely love my SL lenses, and it’s great to also be able to use my M lenses whenever I need too. Of course, I’m always interested in new lenses to complete my collection but it takes time for Leica to release new ones, and even if they start rolling out more, they might not have a focal length I’m interested in using. So, when I heard about the L Mount Alliance, I was actually pretty happy about it because the two partners were Panasonic, and Sigma. Panasonic makes some great M43 lenses, and I absolutely love Sigma lenses. So, I waited patiently for some of these new Sigma lenses to come out, and now that they have, I was able to get the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens for L Mount in to review. Here are my thoughts on it.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Build Quality:
Let’s start off first with the overall build. The Sigma 45mm f2.8 is very solid with no creaks or rattles of any kind thanks in part to it being made mostly out of aluminum. The bayonet mount is made of brass for accuracy and durability. Nothing here is going to fall apart anytime soon. The aperture ring clicks very distinctly into each position as you rotate it, which may not be the best for videographers but great for photographers. The focus ring is smooth. Basically, nothing has play or feels loose. The lens is also dust and splash proof, which is great because it matches a lot of the L mount cameras currently out on the market. It has rubber sealing incorporated in the mount design. The 45mm f2.8 is also available in E Mount for Sony users as well.
↑ The Leica SL with the Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens.
I think the best part of this lens is its size and weight. Just look at the photos, and you’ll know what I mean; while this isn’t a pancake lens, it still is very tiny. It uses just a 55mm filter thread. Furthermore, even though the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens is mostly made of metal, it weighs just 215 g. In other words, it’s a lightweight. The size and weight combined make the 45mm f2.8 such a great everyday lens. It’s so small that you can just leave it in your bag for those “just in case” moments. It’s also so discreet, which makes it a great street lens. To top it off, you won’t be tired after a long day of shooting because it doesn’t weigh much. This is just something that is easy to live with, and even something you can leave on the camera for those spontaneous moments.
↑ Top view of the 45mm f2.8 mounted on the SL.
I’m an SL user, and I knew what I was getting into when I bought the system. I knew the lenses were large, and I’ve dealt with it. I use it on shoots every week. But for everyday activities or even travel, it sure is nice to have something like the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens. Yes, you can use M lenses when you want a more compact set up, which is why I kept mine when I switched systems. But in this case, the 45mm f2.8 is autofocus.
↑ The 45mm f2.8 also comes with a lens hood.
As for the overall balance on the camera, the 45mm f2.8 is excellent. The 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens in general feels great in the hands, and it balances so nicely on my Leica SL. The lens I use most these days is the Summilux-SL 50mm. It’s a superb lens but it’s something I use for work; this 45mm is something I’ve been searching for because you’re still getting great image quality (which I’ll talk about below) but at the same time, it’s so small and light. In other words, this would make a great companion to the Lux for me because for those days when I just don’t need all the features of the Lux, I can just grab this lens.
↑ Here’s another view of the 45mm f2.8 with the lens hood.
What’s great is the 45mm f2.8 also comes with a lens hood that looks and feels like a high quality product. It’s made of metal, and it has a surprising heft to it in a good way. It’s worth mentioning though that I didn’t experience any flare with this lens. I didn’t even really use the lens hood.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Autofocus:
As for the autofocus, the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens is equipped with a stepping motor, which means it’s smooth, and quiet. I’m also happy to report that it is very fast too. The autofocus may not be the fastest autofocus in the world but it’s plenty fast for most I imagine. I had absolutely no issues with the autofocus. I did a lot of model shoots with it, and it had no problems keeping up whatsoever. It locked on to whatever my subject was instantaneously, and accurately I might add, even in dimly lit situations. It’s also worth noting that this lens can focus as close as 24cm as well.
Plus, it worked really well on the SL. You wouldn’t even know it was another manufacturer’s lens in terms of compatibility. I did use it a lot with face detection, and it worked great. Overall, no complaints with the autofocus.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Image Quality:
Now, let’s talk about image quality. I’ve been a huge fan of Sigma lenses, and I’m happy to say that the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens has only made me a bigger one. The image quality is excellent, especially for something that is so compact and easy to live with. For one, The lens is very sharp. At f2.8, the corners hold up quite well. Stopping down to just f4, the corners are near perfect. Center sharpness also improves. I would say the sweet spot for this lens is f5.6 to f8…even f11. Truthfully, this is a lens you should have no problems using at all apertures. You’ll produce some great results.
↑ This was taken at f8, 64 ISO.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.
↑ This was taken at f5.6, 64 ISO.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.
↑ This was taken at f11, 400 ISO. Black and white conversion was done in Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.
Of course, there’s more to the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens than just sharpness. Color rendering is decent, and contrast is nice. As I said earlier, flare also doesn’t seem to be a problem with this lens, at least from what I’ve experienced. There were some pretty bright days while I was using the 45mm f2.8, and there were times where I used the sun to even backlight my subject. I had no issues at all with the lens. The 45mm f2.8 does vignette a bit at f2.8, however. Most of it is gone by f5.6. If you want an absolutely clean image, you’d have to stop down to f8. Still, I don’t think it’s really even noticeable at f5.6 or even f4 unless you’re looking for it on a white wall for instance. There is also slight distortion but nothing bad.
↑ This was taken at f8, 100 ISO.
↑ The settings here are f2.8 at 50 ISO.
↑ This was taken at 160, f8.
↑ This was taken down in Wall Street early in the morning. The settings were f8 at 160 ISO.
Overall, I was really happy using this lens. I was even using it a lot during my shoots. In fact, I was reviewing the Voigtlander Nokton 75mm f1.5 (review here) while I was reviewing this lens, and guess which one I used more for my shoots? It was actually the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens even though the Voigtlander is technically a portrait lens. It wasn’t because the Voigtlander was a bad lens. On the contrary, the Voigtlander is an amazing one but I just loved using the Sigma. Yes, it makes an exceptional everyday lens but at the same time, you can definitely use it for work as well. The size, weight, build, and the image quality just makes it so versatile. It’s something you always want to have on your camera.
↑ This was taken at 125 ISO, f2.8.
↑ There were a lot of hazy days when I had this lens on loan. This was taken at f8, 200 ISO.
↑ This was taken at f8, 80 ISO.
↑ Here’s a shot taken at 80 ISO, f5.6.
Plus, I find the 45mm f2.8 is actually a great focal length to have. I was using it for semi-environmental portraiture, and it was just about perfect. A little wider than a 50mm but not like a 35mm (I’m actually not a big 35mm fan). It’s a decent focal length for walking around, and taking model shots and portraits (candid or posed) around New York City. It’s also a great focal length for even cityscape, landscape, and street photography as well. In terms of street, I was downright surprised at how unnoticed I was at times.
↑ The Sigma 45mm f2.8 is such a great everyday lens. It’s something you can just carry around everywhere with you to catch those spontaneous moments. This was taken at f2.8, 500 ISO.
↑ This is such a great lens for everyday shooting. This was taken at f8, 400 ISO.
↑ The Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens makes a great street lens not just because of the focal length but because it is so discreet. I shot this person a few times without being noticed. This was taken at f5.6, 400 ISO.
↑ This was taken at 50 ISO, f2.8.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Bokeh:
As for bokeh, it is very smooth. It has a 7 blade diaphragm. Since the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens largest aperture is f2.8, and it’s a 45mm lens, the shallow depth of field isn’t extraordinarily thin but you can still get some great isolation. It can be nice for portraits too since it gives you decent isolation but at the same time, both eyes will be sharp for the most part :).
↑ Here’s an example of the bokeh. This was shot wide open at 64 ISO.
↑ The settings here are 80 ISO at f2.8.
↑ The 45mm f2.8 can focus as close as 24cm. This was taken wide open at 50 ISO.
↑ Here’s another shot taken at f2.8. The ISO setting was 125.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Pros And Cons:
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Pros:
- Well-built with quality parts.
- Made to last.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Great lens hood not that you need it, since the lens is highly flare resistant.
- Fast autofocus.
- Perfectly compatible with cameras like the Leica SL.
- Fantastic image quality.
- Decent price.
- You’ll never want to leave it at home.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Cons:
- A bit of distortion at times.
- Nothing major that would stop me from purchasing this lens; the good far outweigh the bad here.
Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens L Mount Verdict:
Overall, I really enjoyed using the 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens. It’s well-made, splash and dust resistant, the autofocus is quick, and it produces excellent image quality all while being light and compact. What more could anyone ask for? There are a couple of small quibbles like the vignetting for instance but in real world use, it didn’t seem like an issue to me. I feel like I’m nitpicking more than anything else just to find some sort of issue with this lens because this is a review.
↑ One more shot of the SL with the 45mm f2.8.
The bottom line is I am a huge fan of the 45mm f2.8, and I’m seriously thinking about purchasing my own copy. It’s so easy to use, light, and it’s so compact that you don’t ever want to leave it at home. It really is one of the handiest lenses that you can buy for the L Mount or the Sony E Mount. It’s great for street, portrait, and definitely for travel. Best of all, the price is $549, which to me, is a steal for what you’re getting. I can’t recommend it enough, and if you’re looking for a lens with these attributes, this one by Sigma should definitely be on your short list.
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