The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is a fairly compact, weather-sealed medium-wide prime lens for L-mount and Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. It’s designed as a more compact, reasonably priced alternative to ultrafast prime lenses already available in these systems, but that doesn’t mean Sigma has compromised on build or optical quality.
For prime shooters, this could be a solid option as your main ‘walk-around’ lens, so long as you get along with the 35mm focal length. Let’s dig in and see what this lens can do.
The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is available now at a suggested price of $639 USD.
- Focal length: 35mm (52.5mm on APS-C sensor cameras)
- Aperture range: F2 – 22
- Stabilization: None built-in
- Filter thread: 55mm
- Close focus: 0.27 m (10.63″)
- Maximum magnification: 0.18x
- Diaphragm blades: nine
- Hood: LH636-01 (metal, included)
- Weight: 325 g (11.5 oz)
- Optical construction: 10 elements in 9 groups
|The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is a great always-with-you prime lens that you can use for a lot of different types of photography.
ISO 250 | 1/80 sec | F11 | Sony a7R IV
I’ve long been a fan of 35mm prime lenses; one was always glued to one of my DSLRs when I shot weddings and events, and it’s a great focal length for environmental portraits, journalism, documentary work and travel.
So when Sigma announced this 35mm F2 DG DN, I was pretty excited. The gold-award winning 35mm F1.4 Art is spectacular, but on the bulky side (to say nothing of the heft of the also-fantastic 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art). For much of my shooting, I would happily trade a stop or so of light for a kit that’s easier on both my back and wallet. But are there any other compromises to be found? Let’s find out.
All images edited in Adobe Camera Raw 13 with adjustments limited to white balance, exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black levels. Sharpening and noise reduction at ACR defaults.
|The included hood is made entirely of metal.|
In terms of size, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is what I would describe as ‘just right.’ On Sony’s latest mirrorless bodies, it balances beautifully, and I would expect it to basically disappear if mounted on one of Panasonic’s larger S1 or S1R cameras. There’s plenty of room for the clicky aperture ring, and the focus ring is really nicely damped.
The exterior is nearly all metal, which gives a very solid feel, though it may ding or dent more readily than plastic. On the other hand, we noticed no issues with scratches or paint rubbing off during our time with it.
The remaining control point other than the rings is the AF / MF switch on the left side of the lens barrel. The switch material itself is plastic, but it requires a good amount of effort to toggle it from AF to MF and back again.
You can also see the prominently featured ‘MADE IN JAPAN’ lettering within a stylistic metal cutout (it’s just for looks, it’s not a third control ring).
I love it when these types of compact, carry-everywhere lenses are weather-sealed, and I’m happy to say that’s the case with the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN. There is a gasket around the mount, seen here, and Sigma claims extensive sealing throughout.
In addition to the included metal hood and plastic lens cap, Sigma has included a nifty magnetized metal lens cover with felt backing on the side facing the lens. For an added fee, they’ll sell you a dongle to attach it to your camera. It’s a neat touch, though the felted side is a bit of a fuzz magnet if you’re like me and keep lens caps in your pockets.
On the whole, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN feels impressively well-built, and it should be: its $639 asking price isn’t astronomical, but it’s not exactly chump change either.
|Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN||Sony FE 35mm F1.8|
|Optical construction||10 elements, 9 groups||11 elements, 9 groups|
|Diameter x Length
|70mm x 65mm (2.76″ x 2.56″)||66mm x 73mm (2.6″ x 2.9″)|
|Weight||325g (11.5oz)||280g (10oz)|
Now, no one is expecting to be shooting peak action sports with a 35mm prime (usually), but this type of lens needs to be able to keep up with kids and people, particularly for event photography. Happily, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN and its stepper motor are up to the challenge.
|The Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN’s STM (stepper) autofocus motor can easily keep up animated subjects.
ISO 400 | 1/400 sec | F2 | Panasonic Lumix S1H
Photo by Jordan Drake
It’s not lightning quick, by any means, but racking from minimum focus distance to infinity in around one second (on a Sony a9 II) should be fast enough for human subjects moving at normal human velocities.
On Panasonic bodies, where users may be accustomed to even faster focusing lenses because of those cameras’ DFD contrast-detection AF systems, the 35mm may seem a little slow, but again, not to the degree that it’d be a problem.
It may not be the most bitingly sharp lens we’ve seen, but the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN turns in pretty great image quality in most respects. Even on a 61MP Sony a7R IV, which offers the highest resolution you can get in a full-frame camera at the time of this writing.
|ISO 100 | F8 | 1/160 sec | Sony a7R IV|
For landscape work at smaller apertures, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is pretty sharp, even across the frame at 61MP. As you move to closer distances and wider apertures, sharpness stays strong at the plane of focus. This lens is an especially good match for users with 24MP cameras, and will continue to provide good results should you get a higher-resolution body some time down the line.
|ISO 100 | 1/1000 sec | F2 | Sony a7R IV|
Vignetting and distortion
Most (if not all) mirrorless lenses these days are designed with some degree of software corrections in mind. Indeed, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN has a built-in profile that’s baked into Raw files from both Sony and Panasonic cameras.
That said, the built-in profile leaves behind some distortion and vignetting (the latter of which you can also see in the image of the leaves above) which you may or may not find distracting.
|In this, the greatest photograph I’ve ever produced bar none, you can see that there is some barrel distortion pushing the vertical and horizontal lines out near the edges of the frame.
ISO 100 | 1/125 sec | F2.8 | Sony a7R IV
As a matter of personal taste, I often like having some vignetting in my images. Distracting distortion is another story; this looks like fairly simple barrel distortion that could be taken care of in post without too much effort, and for something resembling architectural work, I would do so. For images of people or without straight lines near the edges of the frame, I found it to be less of a problem.
The bokeh, or out-of-focus characteristics of the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is one of the lens’ strong suits. As you can see in the image below, the out-of-focus highlights are free of distracting onion-ring patterning, though they do have a faint ring around the outer edge. The ‘cats-eye’ effect is strong, though, so if that’s not your thing, best to look at other options.
|ISO 100 | 1/100 sec | F2 | Sony a7R IV|
As you stop down, the cats-eye effect diminishes, and out-of-focus highlights remain round thanks to the nine rounded aperture blades. Even at F11, you won’t see the highlights taking on any sort of polygonal shape. The result is a smooth background, even if it’s pretty busy in real life and you’re shooting at a moderate aperture.
Flare and sunstars
In spite of its rounded aperture blades, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is capable of some decent sunstars at its smallest apertures. Having an odd (as opposed to even) number of aperture blades means you get double the number of star ‘spikes’; so eighteen in total, and they’re pretty well-defined if that’s what you’re looking for.
|ISO 250 | 1/80 sec | F16 | Sony a7R IV|
On the downside, you can see some distracting green flare in the lower left corner of the frame, which is an odd shape and will be a pain to remove if you find it troublesome. Contrast remains fairly high, though, even with the sun in the frame. In general shooting, the deep lens hood does a good job of keeping any flare artifacts at bay.
Lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration (fringing)
The 35mm F2 DG DN controls lateral CA (the type of fringing around high-contrast edges near the edges of the frame) really well. On the downside, there is a fair amount of longitudinal CA (green / magenta fringing in front of and behind the plane of focus) left behind.
|There’s strong magenta and green fringing on the high contrast edges of the handlebars and brake cables. This can be a real pain to remove. Click-or-tap-through to see full-size.
ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F2 | Sony a7R IV
As you can see in the full-size version of the image above, there is some strong fringing around high-contrast edges, and if you glance back at the bokeh section, you can even see fringing in some instances in out-of-focus background highlights (which keeps the already smooth bokeh from being as smooth as it could be). While you might be able to remove the strongest fringing just surrounding the focus plane in post, eliminating it on background or foreground highlights is a real pain.
|What we like||What we don’t|
In a nutshell, the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is a really solid lens for a reasonable price. You get exceptional build quality, sharpness that holds up well even on a 61MP sensor, and smooth bokeh.
Sony users might wonder whether to get this or spend the small amount of extra cash for Sony’s own FE 35mm F1.8. While neither lens controls chromatic aberration (color fringing) very well, we’ve found that the Sony lens is noticeably sharper, has a faster autofocus motor and of course, lets in a third of a stop more light. On the other hand, the Sigma has slightly smoother bokeh and we prefer its build quality and design. It may, though, just come down to whether you prefer the customizable button on the Sony or the aperture ring on the Sigma.
|ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | Sony a7R IV|
For Panasonic L-mount users, at the time of this writing, this Sigma lens is the only 35mm game in town unless you’re looking to shell out more than $5,000 for the Leica SL 35mm F2. The Sigma will balance particularly well on an S5, if you’re looking to build out a compact Panasonic L-mount kit.
Overall the Sigma 35mm F2 DG DN is easy to recommend if you’re in the market for a fast, compact 35mm prime lens for all kinds of shooting. It’s just a high quality, good-handling lens that produces lovely images.
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