Review Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary
The Sigma 16mm 1.4 DC DN Contemporary is a bright documentary lens with a fixed focal length, available in Sony E and micro-43 mount, specially designed for cameras with a Sony APS-C or a micro-43 sensor. This lens, introduced in 2017, is a first, because it's the first Sigma lens for micro-43 released in the new Art, Contemporary or Sports series.
Sigma 16mm 1.4 DC DN Contemporary @ Panasonic GX8 f/1.4, 1/8000, 100 ISO
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 C: Een Contemporary lens with Art performance (and - for micro-43 - Art dimensions).
On a camera with a micro-43 sensor, the field of view corresponds to the field of view of a 32 mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. That's just a little more field of view than a standard lens - a bit more appears in the picture - which comes in handy during weddings, parties, for documentary shooting or on vacation. This lens is almost 10 cm long and has a filter diameter of 67 mm: a common filter size for high-end micro-43 lenses. The front lens doesn't turn during focusing, which is nice when using filters.
BUILD AND autofocus
On a Panasonic G9, the Sigma 16 mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary focused from infinity to 1.5 meters in 115 ms, thanks to the hybrid AF motor. That's lightning fast compared to lenses on an SLR camera, but Panasonic lenses on a Panasonic camera are a bit faster. In practice, it's not a difference to lose sleep over. This lens is extremely solid, as we're used to from the Sigma Contemporary lenses. In addition, it's extra-well sealed against dust and splash water. There aren't any switches on the lens. You switch between manual focus and autofocus on the camera body. Manual focusing is wonderfully smooth. This lens has no built-in image stabilization.
The lens design is fairly complex, with 16 lenses, including 3 FLD, 2 SLD and 2 aspherical elements, in 13 groups. But that's not without reason:
IMAGE QUALITY: RESOLUTION, VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DEFORMATION
Lens correction with a Lightroom lens profile reduces the distortion in a RAW shot from -2% to 0.2%. The RAW score for distortion then becomes 9, and the final score is then increased by a half point.
Like all Sigma Contemporary lenses that we've reviewed, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 C has little trouble with backlighting if you use the included flower-shaped lens hood. If you have a bright light source in frame, you can get some ghosts, as you can see from the practice shot above. Maximum sharpness is achieved from f/2.8, but even at full aperture the sharpness in the entire image is already remarkably high. If you open jpg file stored in the camera or a RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop, you won't see visible distortion. Visible (-2%) distortion is present in the lens design, but you won't see it in practice thanks to automatic lens corrections.
The good scores for vignetting (and high resolution in the corners) are thanks to the lens design. This lens is designed for a larger APS-C sensor, so on a camera with a micro-43 sensor, you only use the center of the lens.
Sigma 16mm 1.4 DC DN Contemporary @ Panasonic GX8 f/1.6, 1/1000, 100 ISO
The Sigma 16 mm f/1.4 C has an aperture with 9 rounded lamellae which, in combination with the high f/1.4 brightness, produces a remarkably beautiful bokeh for micro-43. At full aperture, the bokeh balls of a bright light source still have an edge in the background. Lateral chromatic aberration (colored edges in the corners) is completely absent. Longitudinal chromatic aberration (green edges behind and purple edges in front of the focal plane) is nicely suppressed but can still be detected up to f/2 (see practice shot above).
ConclusiON: REVIEW Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary @ Panasonic G9
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are even better.