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The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN (sony, Leica) is the latest addition to Sigma’s Contemporary lens line. Launched in July 2019, this lens is available as Sony E-mount or Leica L-mount. The latter mount is of particular interest as the new L-mount is compatible with Panasonic and Leica full-frame cameras, plus Sigma’s own forthcoming L-mount mirrorless cameras. I got my hands on an E-mount version and tested the lens with my Sony A7RIII. Here are my thoughts.
The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which may be a disappointment for photographers used to having at least an f/1.8 on their prime lenses. It also is a fairly expensive lens given its $549 price tag. However, this lens makes amends when it comes to size and the build quality.
Compared to other Sigma prime lenses such as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Nikon, Canon, Sony), this lens is significantly smaller and more lightweight. It weighs 7.5 ounces (half of the aforementioned 35mm) and comes in at less than 2-inches long. This makes the 45mm much more portable and discreet when compared to Sigma’s other Art lens primes that all have an f/1.4 aperture, but are significantly larger and heavier.
This compact size is closer to that of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Both were my longtime favorite prime lenses when I shot with Canon DSLRs. The beauty about this size is that it feels very balanced when attached to a full-frame camera, whether it be my old Canon 5D Mark III or my new Sony A7RIII. With that said, this lens puzzles me when I compare it to other similar lenses that I’ve owned.
It’s hard to ignore the design of this lens, which is both visually eye-catching and functional. There are two physical rings – the outermost ring controls the focus and the innermost ring selects the aperture, similar to how a Fujifilm lens performs. Choosing the aperture via the lens can take some getting used to, but it’s a wonderful way to interact with your camera. There’s also a switch to toggle autofocus or manual focus. The lens itself is made mostly of metal, and it includes a lens hood that is also made of metal. There is also weather sealing on the mount of the lens to keep dust and dirt at a minimal.
45mm is an interesting focal length. It sits comfortably between two of the most popular focal lengths out there: the 35mm and 50mm. Not too wide or too narrow, 45mm gives you a range that feels natural, yet intentional. Autofocus on this lens is fast, accurate, and very quiet thanks to a fast-stepping motor.
If you shoot on a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera, you may also be familiar with the feature of flipping between shooting in full-frame and APS-C mode. While the latter does crop and shrink your images, it gives you the ability to shoot at a slightly zoomed-in focal length. This, in turn, gives you at least two focal lengths to shoot from, and it is one of my favorite features of my Sony A7RIII.
The images captured by the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens result in very consistent color, tones, and sharpness. This lens has a rounded seven-blade diaphragm that renders a smooth, shallow depth of field. There is a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches, giving this 45mm decent macro capabilities.
Overall, I had a very positive experience shooting with this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens. The compact size complemented the Sony A7RIII perfectly, making it a very portable unit. I usually have a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 55mm f/1.8 glued to my camera when shooting in low lighting scenarios. Thus, the 45mm’s f/2.8 aperture did not hinder me much. However, there is something to be said about having a faster aperture, especially in low light conditions.
If you enjoy shooting with a versatile prime lens that is reasonably fast but very portable, this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens might be the lens for you.
What are your first impressions of the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens? Would you purchase it? Why or why not?