Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Review | For Sony E-Mount

Released a few years ago in 2017, the Sigma trio of lenses (16mm, 30mm, and 56mm) sent waves throughout the Sony a6000 ecosystem.

Delivering incredible sharpness, build quality, and autofocus performance, these three Sigma lenses quickly became fan favorites of Sony camera owners. 

Now, a few years later, we’ll be looking at the Sigma 16mm F1.4 to find out if it’s still as great as it once was. Let’s dive in.

Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?

Sigma 16mm F1.4 (Summary)
3,616 Reviews
Sigma 16mm F1.4 (Summary)
- Razor sharp and beautiful images
- Bright F1.4 aperture
- Autofocus is reliable & fast
- Nice build quality
- Best value wide APS-C lens
The Grand Tetons at sunrise.

Build Quality

Size & Weight

To start, I’d like to note that the Sigma 16mm F1.4 is a bit on the larger side for being an APS-C prime. It measures a rather long 3.63 inches (9.2cm) and even gains an extra 1.5 inches (4cm) with the large, petal-shaped lens hood attached.

The weight is a rather heavy 14.3oz (405g), making for a lens that feels both big & hefty. That being said, it still balanced well and felt right on my Sony a6000.

Is the lens well built?

Another view of the Sigma 16mm F1.4.

As with many Sigma lenses, build quality is not compromised. The Sigma 16mm F1.4 has a lens barrel that is made out of a healthy mix of metal and “thermally stable composite”, a type of polycarbonate that is strong and durable while still staying (somewhat) lightweight.

Over the years, many of their lenses have been made out of this material, and generally it’s shown to be long-lasted, scratch resistant, and strong.

Sigma didn’t cheap out on the glass either. You’ll find no plastic here, just 7 different high quality glass elements combined with 9 aperture blades.

Wide angle perspective of a person on a foggy cliff.

The included petal-shaped lens hood, while not the worst, doesn’t feel quite as hefty and high quality as the rest of the lens.

That being said, it still does it’s job of blocking flare and protecting the front element extremely well. As a bonus, it’s also reversible for easy storage (fits well inside my Tenba BYOB 10).

Additionally, the lens, unlike most budget options, has a rubber gasket around the lens mount, allowing for a good degree of weather sealing. Combined with a more expensive weather sealed body (unlike my a6000) would make for an excellent and durable kit.

Speaking of durability, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 feels incredibly sturdy and built to last.

Over the years, I’ve beat the crap out of my Sigma 30mm F1.4 and it still works just as great as the day I took it out of the box, so I imagine the 16mm should be similar.

Snowy and foggy mountains.

Aesthetics & Ergonomics

As with the other lenses in the trio, this one has a very minimalistic and simple look. With the exception of the massive focus ring, the barrel has a sleek black finish contrasted with white text engravings.

I think this is a great look, especially when combined with the silver “C” badge (signifying the lens’s position in Sigma’s “contemporary” lineup).

The only downside, in my opinion, is that to achieve the clean look, an AF/MF switch had to be omitted. As a fan of manual focus, it would be nice to have that on the lens itself to switch quickly, but I ended up just rebinding a custom button on the camera body for it instead.

As for ergonomics, I don’t have many complaints. I shoot with a wrist strap, and was able to handhold & carry my setup around for a while without any major issues.

The massive focus ring functions as a great gripping point, allowing for some good weight distribution and comfortable holding.

That being said, for hiking or anything else strenuous, it would definitely go into a bag until it was needed, as the weight does wear down on you after a while.

A high up view of Jackson from the ski resort.

Image Quality

Sharpness

As with the other two lenses in the trio, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 provides literally top tier sharpness. Usually, lenses lose some of their clarity when wide open, but this one doesn’t.

Even at F1.4, sharpness was nearly flawless from the dead center all the way out to the far corners. Absolutely exceptional.

As the quality is already great, stopping down does very little, but the lens does peak at F5.6 where the frame is just a tiny bit more sharp (you really have to pixel peep to see any difference).

Diffraction starts to hit at F11, and I wouldn’t recommend shooting any higher than F16 as sharpness drops substantially. Overall, incredible performance, especially from an APS-C lens.

The grand canyon of Yellowstone.

Optical Quirks & Flaws

As for optical flaws, there’s only two subjects to touch on. First, being a wide angle, distortion is fairly strong (roughly 2.8%). This is largely fixable in post-processing as there is an included lens profile in Lightroom.

Second, for astrophotographers, coma is fairly strong. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, certainly, but it’s there. For any photographers looking to capture the stars and the night sky, I’d suggest perhaps looking at the manual focus Rokinon 12mm F2.0.

Besides those two issues, however, the lens is free of any major vignetting, flaring is well controlled, and chromatic aberrations are easily fixable.

A campsite overlooking Grand Teton national park.

Overall Optical Performance

In terms of overall optical performance, I’m honestly extremely impressed. For wide subjects such as landscapes that demand edge-to-edge clarity, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 certainly can deliver.

With the exception of poor coma performance for astrophotography, the lens handles pretty much everything very well.

Chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting are easily fixed. Flaring is a non-issue, and I noticed only slight loss of contrast when shooting into sunlight or when photographing backlit subjects.

Already interested in buying?

Sigma 16mm F1.4
3,616 Reviews
Sigma 16mm F1.4
The Sigma 16mm F1.4 is nearly unmatched when it comes to pure image quality.
A woman in a canoe with the sun in the background.

Focusing System

Autofocus

Autofocus is another category in which I have very few complaints. While not quite as great as an OEM Sony lens, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 provides quick & mostly reliable autofocus.

It does struggle with some minor hunting issues in very low light conditions, but over the years I’ve found that to be an issue with a lot of APS-C lenses, so it’s dismissable.

The lens plays well with Sony’s autofocus assists such as EyeAF and AF-C (continuous AF for subject tracking). Additionally, the autofocus motor is nearly dead-silent, which is good for video shooters.

That being said, it is important to note that this lens does not have image stabilization. For that reason, if you’re looking to shoot video, I’d only consider this lens if you already own a newer, stabilized body (unlike my a6000).

For stills photographers, however, you shouldn’t have any issues with a lack of stabilization as the bright aperture lets in more than enough light.

Manual Focus

For those who enjoy manual focus, I found the experience to be pretty enjoyable. The lens is focus-by-wire as with most modern glass, but in this case the giant focusing ring was dampened just well enough to make it feel pretty usable.

There’s no focus scale or distance engravings, but nailing accurate focus was fairly easy with Sony’s excellent assists such as focus peaking and the focus magnifier.

Overall, not quite a comparable MF experience to a dedicated manual (or vintage) lens, but it was still pretty solid.

Grand Teton mountains with the TA Moulton barn in the foreground.

My Final Thoughts

Alternatives

At the end of my reviews I tend to give potential alternatives. While the Sigma 16mm F1.4 is an excellent lens, it still has some downsides.

Astrophotographers will want to consider the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 instead. It may not be quite as sharp, but it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t have the same issues with coma.

For those looking for a smaller lens with a much more premium build, consider the pricey-but-mighty Voigtlander 15mm F4.5.

Otherwise, if you’re simply looking for a tighter focal length, consider the other two lenses in the trio: the Sigma 30mm F1.4 or the Sigma 56mm F1.4.

Value for Money

The Sigma 16mm F1.4 is quite literally one of the the sharpest lenses ever created for Sony a6000 series cameras.

In fact, the entire Sigma trio (again, the 16mm, 30mm, and 56mm) offer incredible performance for the price, and this particular lens is no exception.

With the exception of astrophotography, I’d recommend this lens to literally anyone looking to get into wide angle photography.

It delivers exceptional sharpness across almost the entire aperture range and has great and reliable autofocus. 

Combining that with a reasonable price and a solid, long-lasting build, I truly do believe that the Sigma 16mm F1.4 is the best wide angle lens you can pick up for Sony APS-C cameras.

If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, I’ve included purchase links below. Thanks for reading, hopefully you enjoy this glorious lens as much as I do. 🙂

Sigma 16mm F1.4
3,616 Reviews
Sigma 16mm F1.4
The Sigma 16mm F1.4, offering incredible sharpness along with quick autofocus and a premium build, is the BEST wide angle lens for Sony APS-C cameras.

This lens earned a spot on one of my best lens lists.

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