Before all this excellent modern glass, however, Sigma had put out an older trio of lenses for the original NEX system: the 19mm, 30mm, and 60mm, all releasing in the early 2010s.
In this article, we’ll be covering the Sigma 19mm F2.8. It’s an older lens, but its still decently sharp, capable, and dirt cheap.
Looking for a quick summary before jumping in?
Size & Weight
So to start, lets talk size and weight.
The Sigma 19mm F2.8 truly is a lens built for mirrorless, weighing in at a measly 5.6oz (160g) and measuring a tiny 1.8 inches (4.6cm) long.
Not quite a pancake lens, perhaps, but still incredibly small, especially given that it has autofocus.
Is the lens well built?
As for build quality, the lens is looks and feels a bit weird. It’s a smooth metal barrel, with virtually no markings or engravings. There’s not even a focus ring.
I don’t necessarily think this lens is built poorly, but the low weight and incredibly minimalist barrel makes it seem a little cheap.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
As for ergonomics, the lens is, like I mentioned, absolutely tiny. It nearly floats on the end of your camera and, despite not having a good spot to grip (no ribbed focus ring, for example), it still felt comfortable to use when on a long shooting session.
Aesthetically, it’s very… simple. The lens comes in either black or silver, and its almost like mounting a shapeless blob on the front of your camera. It looks kind of ugly, but to be honest, the minimalist vibe sort of grew on me.
Of course, what good is a pretty lens if it doesn’t perform well? Let’s talk about that next…
So, image quality. The Sigma 19mm F2.8 can’t quite compare to the company’s newer options, like the 16mm, but it still puts out decent images. My sharpness tests are usually not very scientific, as I tend to just eyeball and pixel-peep, so don’t expect any complicated measurements or charts.
When wide open, the Sigma shows pretty sharp centers, but corners really start to fall apart. Stopping down to F4 sharpens up the centers, but corners still look a bit mushy.
Pushing your F-stop to F8 evens out the frame a lot more. It’s not razor sharp, but images look consistent from pretty much edge-to-edge.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical flaws, the Sigma 19mm F2.8 suffers from some moderate distortion, but its largely fixable in post-processing.
Chromatic aberrations are handled incredibly well, and you’ll only have issues with flaring when shooting into direct sunlight. Vignette is a non-issue.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, this lens doesn’t win any sharpness competitions, but its good enough for most photographers. Some newer lenses are much sharper, but you have to consider that something had to be sacrificed to meet the size (and cost) of this lens.
The autofocus system in the Sigma 19mm F2.8 isn’t anything particularly spectacular, it’s really about average. Not super fast, but it’s consistently reliable, and I rarely ran into any sort of hunting issues unless I was trying to focus on something super close.
Something big to note for video shooters however: the autofocus does tend to breathe a lot. I would NOT even consider this lens if you shoot a lot of video.
And then for those of us who like to manually focus, this lens is a bit weird.
Due to its incredibly minimalist design, there’s no ribbed focus ring. Thus, you’ll be spinning just a smooth barrel to manually focus.
It feels very awkward and, combined with the rather poorly dampened ring, makes for a somewhat lackluster MF experience.
My Final Thoughts
Before we finish out this review, I’d like to offer a couple alternatives.
First up, the spectacular Sigma 16mm F1.4. It’s razor sharp and has excellent autofocus, but unfortunately comes at a much higher cost along with being much heavier and larger.
Second, consider the Rokinon 12mm F2.0. It’s sharp and tiny, but entirely manual focus, which may be a dealbreaker for some.
Finally, the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 is just unmatched. If you’re on a budget though, its… incredibly expensive.
So, should you buy this lens? I’d say it depends.
The Sigma 19mm F2.8 isn’t the sharpest lens nor does it have great autofocus. What it does offer, however, is an incredibly low price tag.
For a new photographer on an extreme budget, this lens can be an ultra-low-cost way of getting a wide-angle piece of glass (plus, it’s so lightweight!).
If you’re interesting in picking one up yourself, I’ll include purchase links below. Thanks for reading!
Some of the links on this site may be affiliate links. That means if you purchase a product through one of my links, I get a (very) small commission. Thank you! 🙂