Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens First Impressions L Mount

Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens First Impressions L Mount:

My site is still being updated internally but in the mean time, I have another Sigma lens that I’ve been testing lately that I want to talk about: The 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for L mount.  There are currently three L mount APS-C lenses that I have in my hands, which I am reviewing with the Leica CL.  I wrote up a first impressions for the 56mm f1.4, which you can find here, and the last one I have is the 30mm f1.4, which I’ll post about shortly.  So, getting back to the 16mm f1.4, here are my first impressions of it.

Like the 56mm f1.4 I spoke about a few days ago, the 16mm f1.4 is pretty impressive in terms of build.  It’s made of TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), comes with a brass bayonet mount, and has a textured rubberized focus ring for easy grip.  There’s also rubber sealing on the mount for a dust, and splash resistant construction.  Overall, this is a very solid feeling lens that matches the CL perfectly.  In other words, it feels like it belongs on the camera.  Besides coming in L mount, the 16mm f1.4 also comes in Canon EF-M, Micro Four Thirds, and Sony E mount.

↑ The Leica CL with the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens.

As for size, the 16mm f1.4 is a great focal length for street photography, landscape, and travel, so I imagine most will want a 24mm equivalent to be compact.  Who wants to carry around something that is bulky and heavy?  Well, the 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens is the largest of the three Sigma APS-C offerings that are out so far for L mount but even with that said, it’s quite compact, and balances beautifully when mounted on the CL.  It’s not front heavy at all, and just feels nice in the hands.  It’s a nice size, especially when you factor in its maximum aperture of f1.4.  Furthermore, the weight of the lens is just 415 g for the L mount version, so it isn’t even heavy.  Something like a 24mm lens is designed specifically for everyday use, and I’m happy to report that this is something that you can easily carry around all day long without feeling fatigued.  Even the lens hood isn’t really that large; it actually matches the size of the lens quite well although I have to admit, I haven’t used it much.  The lens has been performing well enough that I can just carry less in my bag.

↑ Here’s another shot of the CL with the 16mm f1.4.

Speaking of performance, let’s start with the autofocus, which is fast and accurate.  Like the 56mm f1.4, the 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens uses a stepping motor, and throughout my time with it so far, it has been nothing but reliable, smooth, and immediate.  There is definitely no drama here.  It’s also worth nothing that the autofocus is near silent.  I have tried the 16mm f1.4 during one of my shoots, and I’m happy to report that it works great with the CL’s face detection system as well.

↑ This was taken with 400 ISO.  The lens setting was f8.

↑ Here’s a shot taken at f5.6 with the camera set at 100 ISO.

↑ This was taken at f8 and 200 ISO.

The 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens also performs incredibly well in terms of image quality.  You’re really getting a whole lot of bang for the buck here, especially since this lens retails for just $449 (currently $399 with holiday rebate).  Like with pretty much every Sigma product I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, the optics here definitely impress me.  Sharpness, for instance, is excellent.  I imagine many will be using this lens’ f1.4 aperture, and you should because at f1.4 this lens is outstandingly sharp.  As you stop down to even just f2, it only gets better.  Contrast and color rendering are great as well.  There’s also nice depth and realism in the photos.  Bottom line is this is a fantastic wide angle prime to get for the CL.  It’s worth nothing that with its 9 blade rounded diaphragm, bokeh is also beautifully smooth and inviting.  I just realized I have not posted any f1.4 images but I will do so in my review.  As I mentioned earlier, I did bring this lens to a shoot with me, so I’ll post some environmental fashion portraits in my upcoming review, which were mostly shot at f1.4.

↑ Here’s one taken at f8 and 100 ISO.

↑ This was taken at f8 using 160 ISO.

↑ Here’s another taken at f8 and 160 ISO.

If I was in the market for a 24mm equivalent for a CL, the 16mm f1.4 would probably be my first choice.  When you add everything up from build, autofocus, and of course, image quality, it’s really hard to beat.  Best of all, the price is $449.  Leica does have a lens close to this focal length for the CL and TL, the Elmarit-TL 18 mm f2.8 ASPH, which is also a pancake lens.  I am a huge fan of the 18mm f2.8; it’s such a great everyday lens to carry around, and it’s what I used mostly when I was reviewing the CL a while back (review here).  But it’s also two stops slower than the Sigma, and it’s priced at $1,495.  Bottom line is like the Sigma 56mm f1.4, the 16mm f1.4 is a steal.  It’s really worth it, if you’re a CL or a TL owner.  Expect my full review soon!  Thanks for stopping by, and for those who celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving!

For those interested in purchasing the Sigma 16mm f1.4, you can check out the link below:

16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens at B&H Photo

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