These days, Sony a6000 owners likely know Sigma for their excellent trio of prime lenses (16mm, 30mm, and the 56mm). However, Sigma had released another trio before that in the early 2010s: the 19mm, this 30mm, and 60mm.
It’s dirt cheap, but can it still stack up against modern options? Let’s find out.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Incredibly tiny and compact
- Dirt cheap and a good budget option
- Old but still a decent lens
Size & Weight
Starting off, let’s talk about size and weight. The Sigma 30mm F2.8 is incredibly small, coming in at only 1.6 inches (4.1cm) and weighing a measly 4.9oz (140g).
It’s crazy how small this lens is especially considering it still features AF. These are the kinds of lenses that made me originally get into ultra-compact mirrorless systems. It balances incredibly well with my a6000, making an easily pocketable setup.
Is the lens well built?
As for build quality, it is, to be honest, a bit lacking. This old Sigma was made for the original NEX lineup, and for whatever reason I’ve found that many NEX-series lenses just feel a bit cheap.
The lens barrel is metal, but the low weight doesn’t lend itself well to a premium feel. It’s like holding a toy instead of a lens.
On that note, the lens also makes a sort of rattling noise when the camera is turned off. I did some research and it turns out this rattle comes from the AF system that it uses. I’m not very technical so I couldn’t tell you why, but its a thing.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
Ergonomically, the Sigma 30mm F2.8 is pretty nice to actually use. Despite the cheap feeling, the low weight does lend itself well to being incredibly comfortable to use. Taking it out for a long day of shooting was like using no lens at all, and I didn’t experience any hand fatigue over the course of a couple hours.
Aesthetically, the lens barrel is very minimalist. It comes in either black or silver, and the lens barrel is very plain, featuring only the text engraving and a small (smooth) “focus ring”.
Next up, let’s talk sharpness. I don’t get very technical in my reviews, so don’t expect any sort of complicated charts or measurements. I generally figure things out with extreme pixel peeping.
The lens offers pretty decent edge-to-edge sharpness when shooting wide open at F2.8. Stopping down changes very little, but makes the overall image vaguely sharper.
Frankly, the Sigma 30mm F2.8 puts out rather respectable performance considering its age and price tag.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical anomalies, the lens suffers from a very small amount of distortion and vignette that are both very easily fixed in post-processing.
Chromatic aberration is well controlled, and flaring should largely be a non-issue.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the optical performance of the Sigma 30mm F2.8.
It’s not as sharp as the newer 30mm F1.4, but it’s more than adequate for the vast majority of uses.
Next up, let’s talk about focus. The AF system in the Sigma 30mm F2.8 is decidedly average.
It usually focuses reliably, but can suffer from hunting problems in lower light conditions. Either way, its generally just quite slow when compared to newer lenses. My Sigma 30mm F1.4 focuses in milliseconds every time.
Regardless, it’s still serviceable, and I really can’t complain given how cheap and old this thing is.
As for those photographers who prefer to manually focus, you’ll find the focus ring on this lens a bit weird. Typically, nearly every lens features ribbed or ridged focus rings, but this one is just a smooth barrel.
It’s decently dampened and works well enough, but it feels incredibly unnatural to spin a bare metal ring to adjust focus. Additionally, it can get slippery or cold, making it hard to get a grip.
My Final Thoughts
Before we finish out the review, I’d like to present a couple alternatives.
First up, the excellent Sigma 30mm F1.4. It acts as the direct, modern replacement to this lens and is better in nearly every way. Although a bit bigger, the max F1.4 aperture is fantastic, the sharpness is nearly perfect, the AF is blazing fast and, to top it all off, its also still pretty cheap.
Second, if you’re looking to delve even deeper to the budget-side, consider the Neewer 35mm F1.7. Its a fully manual focus lens, but the Neewer offers awesome image quality, an incredibly compact build, and a dirt cheap price.
So, is the Sigma 30mm F2.8 still worth the purchase a decade later? Maybe.
I would personally suggest going with one of my alternatives, but if you want autofocus on an extreme budget, this old Sigma could be a good pick.
Like I said, it’s an incredibly cheap lens considering what you’re getting. Lightweight, fairly sharp, and dirt cheap. I’ll include purchase links below if you’d like to check it out yourself (ps: buy used).