Released back in 2017, the Sigma trio of lenses (16mm, 30mm, and the 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?
- Bright F1.4 aperture
- Autofocus is reliable & fast
- Nice build quality
- Best value wide APS-C lens
Size & Weight
To start off the review we’ll be talking about the size and weight of the lens. The Sigma 16mm F1.4 is actually bit on the larger side compared to your average 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.
As for weight, it weighs about 14.3oz (405g), making for a lens that actually feels a bit front-heavy on my a6000.
Is the lens well built?
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-lasting, scratch resistant, and strong. I’ve owned my 30mm F1.4 (same material) for four years and have never had any durability issues.
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.
The included petal-shaped lens hood 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).
As an additional bonus, the lens also features a bit of weather sealing! This is rather rare at this price point, but the 16mm offers a rubber gasket around the lens mount.
While I only have an unsealed a6000, combining this lens with a weather sealed body would make for a great rainy-day kit.
Built to Last
Strong materials, weather sealing, and a good reputation for durability makes me confident that the Sigma 16mm F1.4 is built to last.
Like I mentioned prior, I’ve owned my Sigma 30mm F1.4 for over four years and still have had absolutely zero issues with it. I suspect this lens should be similar.
Although beauty is always subjective, I find this lens to have a nice but, to be frank, somewhat boring aesthetic.
As with the other lenses in the trio, the 16mm 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 solid 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 hand fatigue.
The massive focus ring functions as a great gripping point, allowing for some good weight distribution and comfortable holding/stabilizing.
That being said, for hiking or anything else strenuous, it would definitely go into a bag until it was needed, as the weight and front-heaviness does wear down on you after a while.
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.
Always Razor Sharp
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 the extreme to see any difference).
Diffraction starts to hit at F11, and I wouldn’t recommend shooting any higher than F16 as sharpness drops substantially.
Absolutely incredible performance, especially from an APS-C lens.
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.
Besides the distortion, the lens if free from any sort of other optical quirks.
Vignette is very minor, flaring is well controlled (especially with the massive lens hood), and chromatic aberrations are barely noticeable.
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 the moderate distortion, 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.
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Autofocus is another category in which I have very few complaints.
Although it may not be quite as flawless as an OEM Sony lens, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 provides quick and reliable autofocus.
The lens plays particularly well with Sony’s autofocus systems.
I found EyeAF to be pretty accurate, although it’s somewhat hard to test with a wide angle lens.
Continuous AF (AF-C) was pretty accurate, reliably tracking moving subjects.
Really impressive autofocus performance overall, and I really have no complaints there.
For those who enjoy manual focus, I found the experience to be pretty fun.
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 usable and precise.
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 still pretty solid.
On a slightly unrelated note, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 has also gotten some love from the astrophotography community.
The “industry leader”, so to speak, for APS-C is the Rokinon 12mm F2.0, so how does this Sigma stack up? Decently.
Perhaps obviously, the biggest advantage that this Sigma offers is the incredibly bright F1.4 aperture.
Having such a bright lens opens up so many possibilities when shooting the night sky. You can shoot with a lower ISO, reduce shutter speeds if needed, etc.
Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Coma performance leaves a lot to be desired.
Near the edges of the frame, stars tend to have long tails and a lot of “smudging”.
For casual night sky photographers, this lens will do the job. If you’re the type that only wants to do astro, however, look to the Rokinon 12mm F2.0.
In addition to astrophotography, the Sigma 16mm F1.4 has gotten a bit of attention in the video community as well.
The bright aperture is very appealing to those shooting talking head type videos (or wide angle cinematic b-roll).
First off, the autofocus is quite well suited to video work.
It’s quick (though of course not as quick as when shooting stills), and the motor is absolutely dead silent.
That being said, it is important to note that this lens does not have image stabilization.
If you’re shooting with a gimbal or on a tripod, this of course does not matter. However, if you’re looking to do handheld shots, I’d suggest only using it on a body with IBIS (so, not the a6000).
My Final Thoughts
At the end of my reviews I tend to give potential alternatives. While the Sigma 16mm F1.4 is an excellent lens, there are still some worthwhile competitors on the market.
Rokinon 12mm F2.0
As I mentioned earlier, for astrophotography enthusiasts, the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 simply cannot be beat.
It may not be quite as sharp, but it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t have the same issues with coma. Plus, it’s cheaper too (but lacks autofocus).
Check out my review if you want a little more information on it.
Sony 11mm F1.8
The next one is a bit weird: the Sony 11mm F1.8. Featuring a rather peculiar (11mm) focal length, this Sony lens just recently released.
It offers surprisingly strong optics, quick autofocus, and also a very compact build. Not a bad option if you’re looking for something a bit less heavy and large.
Other Focal Lengths
Otherwise, if you’re simply looking for a tighter focal length, consider the other two lenses in the Sigma trio.
The Sigma 30mm F1.4 is my favorite lens of all time and offers fabulous performance along with a very competitive budget pricetag.
For those looking to shoot portraits, check out the fabulous Sigma 56mm F1.4. It’s quite literally known as the sharpest lens of all time for APS-C cameras.
The Sigma 16mm F1.4 is quite literally the best value wide angle lens for Sony APS-C cameras.
Exceptional sharpness, a bulletproof build and great autofocus all come together to create a mighty lens.
So, if I’ve convinced you to pick up this excellent lens for yourself, I’ve included a purchase link below. Thanks for reading, hopefully you enjoy this glorious lens as much as I do. 🙂
This lens earned a spot on one of my best lens lists.
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