Sigma 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary Review
Sigma is back with its second 24mm I-Series lens this year, the 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary ($ 639). It joins the 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary ($ 549) in the lineup as an alternative for photographers who need better low-light capabilities. We like its high-quality design and crisp optics, although it doesn’t focus as tightly as the 24mm F3.5 and lacks weatherproofing. Sony’s premium and more durable FE 24mm F1.4 GM ($ 1,399.99) is still the 24mm to beat for E-mount and L-mount cameras, but the Sigma 24mm F2 performs in make a worthy (and much more affordable) competitor, winning our Editors’ Choice Award with these other two lenses.
Series I Design Ethos
The 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary is part of Sigma’s I-Series, a line of similarly conceptually designed camera lenses featuring aluminum construction, an emphasis on a slim and light design, aperture control on the lens and smart magnetic lens caps. The range’s lenses look like vintage glass, but don’t sacrifice the modern convenience of autofocus or 21st century optics.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
Sigma offers two versions of the lens, one for Sony E-mount cameras and a second for L-mount models from Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. We had the opportunity to try both; aside from camera compatibility, they are identical.
The 24mm F2 is approximately 2.8 by 2.8 inches (HD), weighs 12.9 ounces, and supports 62mm threaded filters. It’s bigger than the 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary (1.9 x 2.5 inches, 7.9 ounces, and 55mm filter thread), but by no means huge. In addition to a metal cover, you also get Sigma’s stylish magnetic lens cap, a standard pinch cap, and a tail cap in the box.
Series I lenses come with a magnetic lens cap (Photo: Jim Fisher)
For L mount users, the 24mm F2 rivals the Sigma 24mm F3.5 and the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8 ($ 900). We didn’t review the Lumix, but it sports a more modern finish, uses polycarbonate instead of aluminum, and offers full dust and splash protection. The Sigma 24mm F2 (and F3.5 for that matter) include a seal only at the lens mount, so they’re not fully weatherproof.
Sony photographers have additional options. The FE 24mm F1.4 GM is bar none the best 24mm I have used. But at $ 1,400, it’s over budget for many. Sony also offers the lightweight 24mm F2.8G ($ 600). The Tamron 24mm F2.8 is also worth a look if you’re a thrifty photographer: it sells for around $ 200.
AF / MF toggle switch toggles focus modes (Photo: Jim Fisher)
Touch controls make the difference
The 24mm lens not only looks crisp, it also feels premium in the hand. The aperture ring turns with a gentle nudge and locks into place at the third stop from f / 2 to f / 22. There’s also an A setting that, when you turn it on, moves the f-stop control toward the camera body. I like to use the ring; it brings a bit of analog manipulation to the digital world. Also, it’s pretty easy to move the control to the camera body, which isn’t a bad idea if you’re shooting video, as the click ring can introduce noise into the soundtrack.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
Focused breathing, the effect that the angle of view changes with focus, is evident. There is a modest zoom out effect when shifting the focus from near subjects to far subjects. This makes the lens a less than excellent choice for rack shots that shift focus between subjects.
Instead of focusing on video, the lens prioritizes the desires of the photographers: the manual focus response is non-linear, so turning it quickly results in more aggressive focus changes than turning it. slowly. For video, a linear response is preferable, based on distance and not how fast you turn the ring. This behavior makes it easier to repeat focus changes.
Sony a7R IV, f / 5.6, 1/320 second, ISO 100 (Photo: Jim Fisher)
On the plus side, the autofocus is very quiet and responsive. The lens changes focus mode quickly and the 24mm’s unique rocker switch lets you toggle between manual and automatic controls. The close focus distance is the same in both cases (approximately 9.7 inches) and offers 1: 6.7 non-macro magnification. The 24mm F3.5 Contemporary focuses closer (4.3 inches) for 1: 2 macro results.
24 mm F2 DG DN Contemporary: in the laboratory
I paired the 24mm F2 with the 60MP Sony a7R IV to check its resolution. Imatest’s The evaluation of SFRplus shows that it is very efficient. At f / 2, he obtained excellent scores (4,600 lines). It steadily improves as you lower the aperture and falls just below the outstanding results (5,000 lines) at f / 4 and f / 5.6.
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5, f / 2, 1/2 500 second, ISO 200 (Photo: Jim Fisher)
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The resolution remains stable up to f / 11. Optical diffraction, an inevitable effect of light passing through a narrow iris, softens results somewhat at f / 16 and noticeably at the smaller f / 22 setting. You might still want to use these diaphragms: the lens draws its best solar stars when it’s completely stopped.
At wide apertures, the 24mm F2 produces photos with a shallow depth of field, the blurry background look that sets full frame cameras apart. The quality is in line with other modern lenses, with an emphasis on smooth, smooth blur. Highlights are circular towards the center, but show a distinct cat’s eye shape towards the edges and corners at f / 2. Stopping at f / 2.8 rounds off the highlights across the frame.
Sony a7R IV, f / 16, 1/250 second, ISO 100 (Photo: Jim Fisher)
In-camera corrections are available for JPG and HEIF photography. They automatically compensate for certain defects visible in raw, unprocessed images – barrel distortion, as well as a visible vignette at f / 2. Adobe includes a profile for the lens in the latest version of Lightroom Classic and applies it automatically on import. If your Raw processor doesn’t have a profile for the lens, barrel distortion isn’t too much to deal with manually – in Lightroom, a distortion adjustment of +20 does the trick.
The Sigma I series continues to impress
So far we’ve been happy with the Sigma I series lenses. The aluminum construction and aperture controls on the lens set them apart from lenses with less inspired designs.
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5, f / 2, 1/200 second, ISO 200 (Photo: Jim Fisher)
The 24mm F2 joins the 24mm F3.5 Contemporary in the I Series family. The two lenses look similar, although the smaller F3.5 is better for close-up work. The 24mm F2 is slightly larger, but it collects more light and is better suited for low-light scenes – think night sky photography and architectural interiors.
The two Sigma 24mm lenses are strong candidates for a place in your camera bag. What you should buy depends on your photographic style. Therefore, we give them both the same four star rating and the same Editors’ Choice designation. If you frequently work in low light conditions, the 24mm F2 offers much better value than the expensive Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM and is also lower than the price of the Panasonic Lumix S 24mm F1.8.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
That said, the $ 1,400 Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM still leads the pack in this focal length. If you have the money, its brighter f-stop and all-weather build justifies its premium. But the rest of us, especially photographers who work on a budget, can do just fine with the Sigma 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary.
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