Updated 04/2022 with a TON of new sample photos (found at the bottom) plus some tweaks to the review.
When the trio of Sigma primes (16mm, 30mm, 56mm) came out a few years ago, Sony APS-C users rejoiced. After being neglected by Sony for so long, fans were excited to see a set of super sharp and fast lenses.
When I first switched to the Sony ecosystem back in mid 2018, I was looking for a budget lens that both performed well but also wasn’t too large (there’s a reason I switched away from a giant Canon DSLR setup).
Thus, I stumbled upon the Sigma 30mm F1.4. It was the first lens I purchased for my Sony a6000 and it’s still my favorite lens to this day. Read on and I’ll explain why I love it so much.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Bright F1.4 aperture
- Autofocus is reliable & fast
- Excellent build quality
- Best value APS-C lens
Side & Weight
As stated in the intro, one of the biggest reasons I switched to the Sony a6000 ecosystem was for the smaller size & weight.
The Sigma 30mm F1.4 certainly met that criteria, weighing a reasonable 9.03oz (226g) and measuring a length of 2.9 inches (7.3cm).
Combining this lens with a Sony a6000 (with just a wrist strap) makes for an extremely small and portable kit, and honestly out of all the lenses I’ve used, I find this lens to fit the camera the best.
Is the lens well built?
The Sigma 30mm F1.4 is made in Japan and the build quality is excellent, especially considering its an ultra budget APS-C lens. The barrel is made out of a mix of metal and thermally stable composite, a type of polycarbonate that is both strong but also lightweight.
Sigma uses it for a lot of their lenses, and it’s known for being long lasting, scratch resistant, and durable (which mine certainly has been).
The glass itself is also high quality, consisting of 9 elements with 9 aperture blades. There’s no plastic “glass” here like on some other cheaper lenses.
The only accessory the lens ships with is a simple circular lens hood. It can feel a bit cheap and isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but it does the job of protecting the front element from both flares and bumps.
Mine still is in great shape after all these years. It’s even reversible for easier storage, fitting perfectly inside my Tenba BYOB 10.
Moving onto the next note: weather sealing. This lens, I assume due it’s budget price point, lacks any sort of weather sealing, but I haven’t found it to be a huge issue. Mine has survived plenty of rain, cold Wisconsin snowstorms, and dusty hikes out west.
To put it simply: I really do believe this lens was built to last.
As I stated, it’s survived dozens of adventures in inclement weather, been bumped against tons of hard surfaces, and has probably summited more mountains than some people ever will in their entire lives. I love it.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
Another thing I appreciate about the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is the simple and minimalistic design. I understand that the aesthetics of a lens is a rather minor point, but this one looks really nice.
It has a sleek blackish-gray finish that contrasts very well with the white engraved text. The focusing ring is massive and to top it all off, there’s a nice little “C” badge (signifying the lens as being part of the “contemporary” lineup).
Unfortunately, to achieve such a clean and minimalistic lens barrel, they had to omit a physical AF/MF switch. It’s a bit annoying and probably my only major gripe with this lens.
Overall, I think the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is the perfect combination of build quality, size, and ergonomics. It balances perfectly on my Sony a6000 and the massive focusing ring provides a really nice rubberized gripping point when out shooting.
I’ve shot with this thing for hours straight in the city and haven’t had any issues with comfort. When hiking, I can toss it easily in my bag.
Next up, let’s talk about sharpness. The lenses in the Sigma trio (again, the 16mm, 30mm, 56mm) are known as being the sharpest lenses in the Sony APS-C lineup, and the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is absolutely no exception.
Wide open, the results aren’t quite as strong as the 16mm, but we still see incredibly sharp centers with only minor corner softness. Really impressive.
Stopping down just a bit is where the lens really starts to shine. I tend to shoot portraits at about F2 in order to get a great balance of bokeh and edge-to-edge sharpness.
As for obtaining “perfect” sharpness, the lens peaks at about F4, and even pixel peepers won’t find any significant flaws. I always obsessively zoom into my images in Lightroom and I really can’t find any major visual flaws with this lens.
As a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, by the numbers it is actually the 2nd sharpest lens for Sony APS-C cameras behind the Sigma 56mm F1.4.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical flaws, there’s only one major point to touch on: chromatic aberrations. When wide open, the lens has some serious purple fringing that is difficult to correct in post-processing.
Stopping down does remedy this somewhat, but you won’t see clean results until at least F2.5. Personally, I’m not particularly bothered by chromatic aberrations (I just don’t really notice it), but I figured it was worth mentioning.
As for everything else, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 honestly doesn’t suffer from any other optical issues.
Distortion is a bit above average (roughly 2.8% barrel distortion) but is easily fixable in something like Adobe Lightroom.
Vignetting is minor and flaring is almost non-existent. I’ve shot many backlit subjects and into direct sunlight and never suffered more than a minor loss of contrast.
Overall Optical Performance
Over the years, I’ve had zero complaints about the optical quality of the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Not only is it incredibly sharp, but even the bokeh looks good. While not quite a telephoto, the lens renders beautiful bokeh balls that allow for excellent subject isolation.
As a fan of environmental portraits, I’ve found over the years that this is easily my most used lens for portraiture work.
Low light performance is also excellent due to the ultra-bright F1.4 aperture. I’ve gone on many nighttime photo walks and have rarely run into subjects that a bright streetlight combined with this lens couldn’t capture.
Overall, I’ve been extremely happy with the optical performance over the years.
Already interested in buying?
When it comes to autofocus, it’s not flawless but performance is respectable. It’s quick and quiet, but I have noticed over time that it does struggle with low light conditions.
Later in the day after the sun sets, you have to keep an eye on what the lens actually gets into focus, otherwise you might end up with some missed shots.
That being said, in good lighting conditions, the focus is top tier. The lens plays extremely well with Sony’s autofocus assists such as EyeAF and AF-C (subject tracking).
In addition, it’s dead silent, which is a big plus for video shooters. On the other hand of that though, the lens doesn’t have optical image stabilization. I do wish it did, but I can see why it was omitted to keep the price low and the size small.
Over time, I’ve been experimenting with manual focus more after getting into vintage lenses.
The MF experience on this lens can’t quite compare to a vintage manual lens, but I found the (gigantic) focus ring to be well designed and fairly accurate.
There’s no focus/distance scale, but I didn’t have much issue pulling accurate focus thanks to Sony’s various manual focus assists such as focus peaking and the magnifier.
Overall, I’m fairly happy with the manual focus experience despite not having a physical AF/MF switch. Still, I generally just stick to AF anyway.
My Final Thoughts
Near the end of my articles I usually like to present alternatives. That being said, there really aren’t any comparable competitors in this focal length.
If you’re looking to go wider, however, I’d suggest looking at the Sigma 16mm F1.4.
If you’re looking to get more of a telephoto focal length, check out the Sigma 56mm F1.4. All three lenses from the Sigma trio are incredible.
Value for Money
In case I haven’t made it clear yet, I adore the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Autofocus is largely great, the sharpness is truly top tier, and the build quality is right up there with much more expensive lenses.
Frankly, I’m not even sure how this lens is as cheap as it is. For a stills photographer, there really is no lens in the entire Sony APS-C lineup that can even come close to comparing with the value for money that this Sigma offers. There’s a reason it’s still my favorite lens after so many years.
If you’re looking to pick up an incredible and versatile lens without breaking the bank, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 is the way to go.
If I’ve convinced you to pick it up yourself, I’ll include purchase links below. Thank you for reading, I hope you fall in love with the lens as much as I did! 🙂
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Sample Photos
Hey, thanks for looking through all my photographs! If you’re sold on the Sigma 30mm, please consider purchasing it through my link. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, thanks! <3 Also, by the way, they also make this lens for Canon EF-M mount.
This lens earned a spot on many of my best lens lists. I mean, it is literally my favorite lens of all time.
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