Last night I got home to a pleasant surprise, the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN had showed up. I half expected it today, but I won’t complain. Sigma apparently changed the box when they moved to their new category designations of lenses. It is actually a little nicer, not so black and dreary.
As with Sigma’s other DN lens offerings it comes with a case and hood (not pictured). My one big complaint with Sigma, and Panasonic, is that even though their lens caps are built like a brick waste disposal facility, they are BIG. I always get aftermarket 46mm lens caps and slim rear caps whenever I get a new sigma/Panasonic lens. On the Sigma 60mm the difference between the lens cap front and rear that come with it and slim ones (side pinch instead of center pinch) is about 4-5mm, or about 5-6% of the length of the lens with caps on. Okay, it isn’t MASSIVE, but these are already relatively small lenses and the more space you can save in your bag the better (and the side pinch lens caps work just fine for me. I haven’t lost one yet). Center pinch is a little easier to deal with and a little more secure, but I don’t want the extra space taken up in my already small bag.
Overall the lens is slightly lighter and slimmer than the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4, but basically the same length. The barrel is a little less shiny and finger print magnety (yes, I just made that up) than it looked/looks in a lot of pictures. It is still fairly shiny, but still in a modestly dull way. Grip is a little slippery, but even with cotton gloves on it shouldn’t prove to be much of an issue. Manual focusing is smooth and precise. It takes a fair number of turns to go from close focus to infinity. No shooting through the focus scale. Autofocus speed is modest at best. It isn’t super slow, but it is not as fast as most of my other m4/3 lenses (exception the 17/2.8, where it is maybe a hair faster sometimes). Likely this has to do with more physical distance that the IF elements have to move through. In good light though it locks focus pretty fast, but mostly I was shooting inside last night, which meant some focus hunting (but not a lot).
Image quality is impeccable from the early results. Easily as good as my Olympus 45mm f/1.8. I will say, even with only a few dozens pictures taken, I can say with confidence I really wish it was a 67.5mm f/2 lens. The bit of extra reach would be a better step up from the 45/1.8 and an extra stop of speed would make it that much more useful and easier to stop motion with on a medium long focal length. As is indoors (granted, it is a LONG lens for shooting indoors, which it’ll probably almost never actually get used for), you really have to bump the ISO to 1600 and shoot wide open to stop motion blur or camera shake. I am not used to shooting with a 120mm equivalent lens on my E-M5, so the fact that I am having to bump to 1/30s or faster most of the time to keep from getting motion blur isn’t something I am used to. I shot a number of nice and sharp pictures down around 1/20s, but that seemed to be the limit. Even being careful any slower and at least half of the pictures were unsharp and the other half had at least the tiniest hint of motion blur if you looked at 100% (though they were generally usable for a smaller print). The longer the focal length, the less gain you get out of IBIS sadly, still and all, the E-M5 IBIS seems to be good for at least 2 solid stops of handholding gain with the 60mm and more like 2 1/2 or so if you are being reasonably careful. Most of my people pictures at 1/20s had motion blur, but those people also weren’t holding super still. My outdoor brief landscape photos the few that were around 1/20s were mostly acceptably sharp, but the couple that were at 1/10 and 1/15s weren’t really unless you were going for a small print.
Sigma 60mm f/2.8: f/2.8, 1/15s, ISO800. If you were to look at 100% there is the slightest bit of camera shake evident. Nothing that wouldn’t stop it from being a good 8×10 though, this was one of about half a dozen shots at 1/10-1/15s shutter speed with this being the best and there being 1 other one that was perfectly usable from the group, the other 4 were a little too blurred. Careful technique and a static subject means I could probably push 1/15s shutter speed and get a good result, but keeper rate will probably be below where I’d really want it to be.
The good news is that the lens seems to be very, very sharp, so shooting wide open isn’t a problem at all. No complaints even out at the extreme edges. Flare, the little I could test, also seems very well controlled and no noticable CA. Bokeh generally seems pretty pleasing too. Camera startup doesn’t seem to be noticeably delayed like it was on the old Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN lens I had (it might be a little slower, but it if it, isn’t by much compared to my other m4/3 lenses).
Sigma 60mm f/2.8: f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO200
Early times yet and I haven’t been able to do much good light shooting (a few minutes outside near sunset on a hazy day with the sun blocked by clouds near the horizon), but Sigma seems to have done a solid on this one. It really does make me hope that Sigma will come up with a 90 or 100mm f/2.8 lens in the $299 range with this level of optical quality, compactness, etc. That would pretty much round out the long end of my lens kit some day (I don’t know that I’ll ever really get GAS so bad that I’ll feel the need to buy a longer lens unless there is some particular trip where I know wildlife shooting opportunities will be such that I’ll feel compelled to buy a longer lens).
Sigma 60mm f/2.8: f/3.2, 1/40s, ISO400
I do still wish it was a 67.5mm f/2 lens. Fingers crossed that maybe some day somebody will come out with one that is good and won’t break the bank. Maybe Panasonic? I mean, Olympus came out with the 75mm f/1.8 that is amazing and Sigma came out with a dirt cheap, but very good 60mm f/2.8, maybe Panasonic will split the difference and come out with a 67.5mm f/2 or 2.2 positioned between the Olympus and Sigma offerings in price and speed. Despite my wishes I foresee enjoying the Sigma a lot and I am very happy to have a medium telephoto now in my kit as an option. Depending on future lens offerings down the road GAS and want of a slightly faster and longer lens might push me in to getting the Olympus 75mm f/1.8, possibly as a replacement for the Sigma 60mm, or possibly just to add to my kit (the sigma seems so damned good, and the focal length difference is enough along with the smaller size/weight that it may make sense to have both to choose the best tool for the job). Though if a good 90mm or 100mm f/2.8 or faster lens comes out, that’ll probably get chosen over going with the Olympus 75mm. If there is never an option between 75mm and the upcoming Panasonic 150mm f/2.8, then getting the 75mm would likely make sense for my photography. Though if someone did come out with that moderately fast 67.5mm lens I want…that would pretty much be a no brainer for me (unless quality wasn’t there or price was out of this world). My only worry is that Panasonic, if they do come out with one, is going to want to make it a super fast f/1.4 67.5mm to beat everyone on speed, which with the size/cost penalty that would likely entail means it probably wouldn’t be an option for me (but it might be a dream).
Sigma 60mm f/2.8: f/3.2, 1/160s, ISO400
I’ll be taking the 60mm to the beach with me this weekend to give it a work out and I also look forward to Renaissance Festival coming up a few weeks to do some portrait work with it.
After I am back from the beach look for an m.Zuiko 12mm f/2 full review page. I am hoping I can crank one out for the Sigma 60mm sometime around mid October or so once I have had a chance to really use the lens for a couple of months.