In recent years, Sigma has continued putting out more and more compact yet amazing glass. This is a far cry from the Sigma of the past, with their gigantic and sharp Art series lenses.
In this review, we’ll be looking at the Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN. It released a couple years ago, but never seemed to take off.
Despite being an excellent portrait lens (spoiler alert), I suspect many photographers were scared away by the rather odd focal length.
So, how does this little portrait lens stack up against its competitors?
Let’s find out.
Looking for a quick summary before jumping in?
- Razor sharp even wide open
- Beautiful bokeh and rendering
- A beautiful and premium build
- Fast and reliable autofocus
- A fantastic mid-budget pick
Size & Weight
To start off, let’s talk about the size and weight. Or, more accurately, the compact size. The lens measures a length of roughly 2.9in (7.4cm) and measures a total weight of 14.3oz (405g).
Although not quite as tiny as some lenses, it’s a substantial difference from some other full frame primes.
I’ve said it in other reviews many times, but these compact-yet-powerful lenses are the exact kind of thing that got me to switch to mirrorless in the first place many years ago.
It looks natural on my camera and fits rather well into my Tenba BYOB 10, something that many full frame lenses are unable to do.
Is the lens well built?
Luckily, small and compact doesn’t equate to poor build quality.
The Sigma 90mm F2.8 has an entirely metal barrel, from the front element all the way back down to the mount.
Many of Sigma’s recent lenses (such as the 85mm F1.4) are made entirely out of metal and I’m absolutely loving it.
Even the circular lens hood is entirely metal, clicking securely into place.
It’s got some ribbed/ridged texture that allows for easy removal (it’s also reversible, by the way).
Believe it or not, even the lens cap is metal. Well, kinda.
Sigma actually includes two caps with the lens. One is a metal magnetic style which, if I’m honest, is nearly impossible to take on and off when the lens hood is attached.
The other included cap is a very typical, generic plastic pinch-cap style. It does the job well enough.
Everything else looks great, so surely it must be weather sealed, right?
Not quite, unfortunately. The lens does have a gasket around the mount, but there’s no internal seals otherwise.
I’m not entirely surprised, given that the lens falls squarely into the mid-budget category (and it’s so high quality already), but it would have been a nice thing to see.
Built to last?
In case it’s not obvious, this lens is built like an absolute tank. It’s compact, yet somehow feels incredibly premium in the hand.
Despite the lack of (full) weather sealing, I do honestly think it is built to last. Though, of course, only time will tell.
As for aesthetics, I absolutely adore the appearance of this lens. I’ve done a lot of shooting with vintage lenses and this Sigma gives me the same vibes.
The all-metal build, swooping lines, and large (chunky) rings just feel and look so good. The white text engraving (especially on the aperture ring) pops so nicely against the sleek black barrel.
Seriously, I absolutely adore this style of lens. All metal, super clean, and absolutely no cheap plastic anywhere.
As for ergonomics, the Sigma is a joy to use. If you’ve ever read any of my other content, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of small kits.
The lens feels just right on my camera, and it’s quite comfortable to carry around for long periods of time. No hand fatigue with this one (plus the focusing ring makes a nice gripping point).
The Sigma 65mm F2 also features an aperture ring (we’ll get to that later) along with a physical AF/MF switch. I love having a physical switch since that means I don’t have to dig through Sony’s clunky menus to change my focus mode.
Next up, let’s talk sharpness. My tests don’t really get very scientific, I generally just pixel peep to the extreme. Don’t expect any sort of MTF graphs or complicated measurements.
In any case, there’s honestly not really that much to cover anyway. The Sigma 65mm F2 is stupidly sharp, just as we’ve come to expect from the brand’s lineup.
When shooting wide open at F2 we see near perfect performance. Even zooming in at F2 we see near-flawless sharpness on the extreme corners.
Contrast is strong and we see great color rendition. It doesn’t have a heavy amount of “character” necessarily, but it’s still a way more interesting image than Sigma’s old Art lenses (very clinical), for example.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for any sort of optical quirks or flaws, there’s nothing particularly egregious.
The biggest issue this lens suffers from would be distortion.
We see some moderate pincushion distortion, but I was able to easily fix it in post-processing.
Besides the bit of distortion, the lens doesn’t suffer from any other optical flaws.
Vignette is incredibly well controlled and virtually unnoticeable, and flare resistance is spectacular.
I didn’t notice any chromatic aberrations, even when subjecting the lens to my “torture test” (branches against a sunlit sky).
Bokeh & Subject Isolation
Despite not being a background obliterating F1.2 lens, the Sigma 65mm F2 renders some absolutely gorgeous bokeh.
Out of focus elements are nice and bubbly, with no warping or fringing around the corners.
I’ve always enjoyed the look of bokeh on weirder focal lengths (like anything between 60-70mm). The focal length offers good subject isolation while still capturing a bit of the surrounding environment.
Overall Optical Performance
Overall, optical performance was just off the charts. After using so many Sigma lenses in my lifetime, I’m not even surprised. They almost all excel.
Seriously, this thing is razor sharp even wide open. Combine that with the fantastic bokeh and you’ve got a beastly little portrait lens here.
Next up, we’re going to focus on focusing. I usually don’t dig too deeply into autofocus on modern lenses as it usually performs “well enough”.
The Sigma 65mm F2 works just how I’d expect it to: it’s quick and reliable. Nothing to complain about in that regard.
EyeAF worked spectacularly and focus tracking (AF-C) was about as reliable as I’d expect. Also, surprisingly good performance in low light (a feat not all lens can achieve).
The good doesn’t stop there. Video users will be happy to know that the focusing motor is pretty much dead silent.
The caveat, however, is that the lens does suffer from a pretty major bit of focus breathing. If you’re doing big pulls, keep that in mind.
Manual focus is where Sigma really nailed all the right points. Normally I’m incredibly critical of most modern lenses as I’m such a vintage glass enthusiast.
However, The 65mm F2 just feels so… good. The focusing ring feels very precise and there’s a lot of very strong, tactile feedback. I also love having a physical AF/MF switch.
Again, the whole aesthetic and feel of the lens brings me back to vintage glass. It just feels so strong, tactile and responsive, I love it.
Before we finish out the article, I have a few more random notes to touch on.
First off, I’d like to point out that the lens lacks any sort of optical stabilization.
There was a time where I’d be disappointed by this, but honestly most Sony bodies have IBIS anyway, so it’s not a huge deal these days.
Now, the aperture ring. I’m an absolute sucker for physical aperture rings. They feel so satisfying to use, and this one is no exception.
You can, of course, set it to automatic, but I prefer moving through the various F-stops. There’s a very pleasant, audible click every third of a stop.
My Final Thoughts
Anyway, I absolutely love the Sigma, but there are a few alternatives that I’d like to present for your consideration.
Do note that there’s no direct competitor when it comes to focal length or price.
Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM
First up is the Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM. It’s an absolute background obliterator and produces fabulous images.
It is, however, much more expensive than the Sigma (and wider).
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
In that same vein we have the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM. This is pretty much the same story as the previous: top-tier image quality and just an overall amazing lens.
It is, once again, much more expensive than the Sigma (and tighter). If budget is of no concern to you, consider one of the Sony alternatives.
The two Sony lenses that I just listed are great, but they are prohibitively expensive for most photographers.
For this reason, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN.
Sharpness is fabulous, it’s free of any major optical issues, AF is quick, and the lens is built absolutely beautifully.
If you’re interested in picking up this wonderful mid-budget lens for yourself, I’ll leave a purchase link below. Thanks a lot for reading!
Disclaimer: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means I get a (very small) commission if you purchase things through my links. If you do, thank you for the support! <3