David Thorpe: A Look At Three Wide Aperture Sigma Lenses For Micro Four Thirds

“At a time when Olympus and Panasonic lens prices are going through the roof, Sigma offers these three f/1.4 ‘Contemporary’ lenses at sensible prices. Do they sacrifice sharpness, focus speed or build quality to price? Having owned, used and reviewed – many Sigma lenses over the years, I didn’t anticipate any nasty surprises and I didn’t find any. There were some nice surprises, though….”

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Sigma DC DN Contemporary prime lens roadmap for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds mount.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lenses for E-mount and M43-mount cameras

Commentary

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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary fast prime lens in M43-mount and E-Mount on Sony and Olympus cameras.

Former Fleet Street press photographer David Thorpe is one of the least-known yet most-respected YouTube reviewers with a speciality in Micro Four Thirds system cameras and lenses, though I suspect he will be bending that speciality soon with coming reviews of Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series S1 and S1R 35mm sensor format cameras and lenses.

I have no hands-on experience of Sigma lenses whether prime or zoom, though I was lucky enough to inspect Paul Leeming’s Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Canon EF-mount that he has adapted for his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and was impressed enough with its optics and construction that I am hoping to buy one of my own some time soon.

Clearly Sigma has something good going for it with its membership of the L-Mount alliance alongside Panasonic and Leica, and Mr Thorpe’s review of these three Sigma Contemporary collection prime lenses supports that impression.

With their 35mm sensor format equivalent focal lengths of 32mm, 60mm and 112mm, and fast, wide maximum apertures of f/1.4, and very reasonable pricing, these three lenses look well worth considering for use in stills photography.

I am now looking for some hard-core technical reviews of them for consideration as video lenses too.

My current impression of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is that they are designed to work in connection with in-camera and image editing raw processing software for correction of any possible optical distortion, whereas Sigma’s Art lens collection that includes the 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom is reportedly designed to the finest of optical standards to obviate the need for correction in software.

That aside, I have been looking for a medium telephoto portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds for some time now, and Sigma’s 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C may well fill the bill.

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Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 manual focus, manual exposure macro lens.

I originally got into portrait photography with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 lens and focal lengths closer to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format are my first choice for work in the genre, so the 112mm equivalent of the 56mm lens is not a bad approximation.

The Sigma 56mm offers the advantage of a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds if necessary.

Similarly, I discovered long ago that my preferred main focal length for immersive documentary and photojournalism work is 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, and Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C with its 32mm equivalent focal length is not too far from that.

I like to be able to use my lenses for cinematography and photography, and prefer lenses that perform well in both applications given raw processing can correct optical distortions in still images but non-linear editing software cannot do the same for video.

My favourite raw processing software for raw files shot on Panasonic cameras is DxO PhotoLab so I am hoping that DxO has added camera-and-lens profiles for all three of these Sigma lenses for recent and current Lumix cameras to its database.

Off to DxOMark and time to drop into some camera stores to touch, try and shoot some sample pix with these three lenses so I can crack some raw files open in DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint.

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  • Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary LensB&H
  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art LensB&H

Imaging Resource: Olympus 17mm f/1.2 Pro Lens Review: The best wide-angle prime for Micro Four Thirds

https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2018/05/11/olympus-17mm-f-1.2-pro-lens-review-best-wide-angle-for-micro-four-thirds

“Having earned the top spot as our Best Wide Angle Prime of 2017 in our annual Lens of the Year awards, we’ve now finalized our lab testing of the Olympus 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens. This 35mm-eq. wide-angle prime lens is undoubtedly a professional-level optic that offers excellent performance. Image quality is spectacular, even at f/1.2, with very low distortion and low chromatic aberration….”

https://creativityinnovationsuccess.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/olympus_m-zuiko_digital_ed_17mm_f1-2_front_upright_clutch_1024px_60.jpg
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro professional-quality Micro Four Thirds prime lens with manual clutch focus rings drawn back for accurate, repeatable manual focussing at a quarter turn to go from infinity to closest focusing distance, excellent for stills photography and video production on hybrid cameras and cinema cameras.
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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late October 2017.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro

Commentary

With the coming release of Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K later this year, along with the already-released Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 IBIS hybrid 4K stills/video camera and the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S high-end compact 4K video camera, attention is on affordable yet high-end professional-quality lenses capable of delivering excellent results whether manually-focussed or used with those cameras’ autofocus functionality if they have it.

After trying out prime and zoom optics from several ranges of Micro Four Thirds lenses, I have chosen to invest in Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro range and will be adding more as availability and finances permit.

My documentary photography and moviemaking work demands gear that can withstand years of use and potentially challenging environments without succumbing, and the weather resistance, durability, quality and relative low weight and size put the M.Zuiko Pro lens range in the frame.

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The first five lenses from the Leica M 0.8 cinema lens set by Leica Camera sister company CW Sonderoptic, in the 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm focal lengths, all with 77mm filter diameters, a perfect set for cinematographers or stills photographers. I am hoping that Olympus will expand its M.Zuiko Pro prime lens offerings to add a wider range of focal lengths like these in their M43 equivalents.So far Olympus has issued 35mm and 50mm equivalent focal lengths.

It is hardly surprising that the folks at Imaging Resource awarded their Best Wide Angle Prime of 2017 plaudit to the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens.

I have yet to have the pleasure of trying one out due to apparent local supply problems, but the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro is at the top of my M43 lens wish list along with its 45mm and 25mm stablemates as well as the 5-stop image-stablized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro zoom lens followed by the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro wideangle zoom.

I will be adding Xume fast-on, fast-off filter holders, Breakthrough Photography brass knurled step-up rings and UV protection filters, and a full set of top-quality variable and fixed ND filters to my kit in the 82mm and 105mm sizes soon.

I hope that Olympus will continue to expand its M.Zuiko Pro offerings into the 10.5mm and 14mm prime lens sizes as part of the company’s stated commitment to its professional lens range.

Both focal lengths, in 35mm sensor terms equivalent to 21mm and 28mm, are crucial to my work in documentary photography and video, and are essential to any well-rounded collection of professional-quality prime lenses.

I would also like to see a 75mm equivalent lens added to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens collection – 21mm, 28mm and 75mm is one of my favourite 35mm sensor focal length triplet for documentary stills and video, or in M43 sensor terms 10.5mm, 14mm and 37.5mm.

That aside, I am very pleased that Olympus has released the 17mm f/1.2 in its second tranche of M.Zuiko Pro primes as I have been badly missing this focal length in my M43 sensor format cameras.

I had considered Olympus’ other 17mm lens, the M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8, as well as Panasonic’s near-17mm, the Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric, but my head was decisively turned towards the M.Zuiko Pro series by my very first M43 lens purchase, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, one of my favourite zoom lenses to this very day.

My head was further turned towards the M.Zuiko Pro lens collection by Cosyspeed’s Thomas Ludwig’s review of the M.Zuiko Pro 25mm f/1.2 and its beautiful skin-tone rendering.

“What makes a good lens? This is in many ways a question that can only be answered individually. To me it is not important that it is super sharp wide open or does not vignette etc. – to me the most important point is the esthetics, the look and feel it delivers. When I look at the images of a certain lens and it “feels” good, well, than it is a good lens. And you know what? The OLY 25/1.2 is a lens of this category. I’m simply amazed especially when looking at the portraits I made in Hamburg. Amazed not by my images but by the clean, natural and three dimensional look.

The OLY 25/1.2 has a certain magic and I would describe it’s special character in the way it closes the gap between a pronounced three dimensional look and a portrait friendly (lower) level of micro contrast. A high level of micro contrast gives 3D pop for example to LEICA and ZEISS lenses, but it can be a bit harsh when shooting portraits. I don’t know how the OLYMPUS engineers made it, but they found a way to give it a lot of 3D pop while micro contrast is on a natural level.”

I have tried out the Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7, equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to 30mm, but I found the focal length an uneasy in-between, too wide for the subjects I prefer photographing with a 35mm equivalent lens and too long for those much better suited to a 28mm focal length equivalent.

When I began researching the Micro Four Thirds format for moviemaking and photography several years ago, its detractors harped on about how few M43 lenses existed back then.

The critics were factually wrong then and the number of M43 prime and zoom lenses has grown considerably since, but gaps still remain in the major lens makers’ offerings, especially at M43 system co-founders Olympus and Panasonic.

Olympus has hit the right notes with its M.Zuiko Pro collection but it needs to keep growing its prime lenses and long focal-length subsets, in the former case taking a leaf out of the book Leica Camera wrote some years ago with its Leica M-System lenses for stills photography and its recent cinema lens spin-off, Leica sister company CW Sonderoptic’s five-strong Leica M 0.8 series.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens with manual clutch focus, great for manual focussing. I like the longer image-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro zoom for available light daily walkabout needs for video and stills.

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  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 UV and ND filtersB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • XumeB&H

DPPreview: Panasonic interview: “Our business philosophy is based on ‘changing photography'”

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/7479700625/cp-panasonic-interview

“Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and booked an in-depth interview with Panasonic. Among the topics covered were the company’s new twin flagships, the Lumix GH5S and G9, as well as how Panasonic hopes to grow their appeal to professional and advanced amateur stills photographers….”

Commentary

Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G9 DSLR-style stills-oriented camera and the Lumix DC-GH5S DSLR-style video-oriented are remarkable achievements of which the company can be justly proud, but it is good to read that Panasonic does not intend to rest on its laurels when it comes to new stills photography camera offerings.

… Our business philosophy is based on ‘changing photography.’ And any change we make must be a benefit for the customer, and for the last two or three years, we’ve really focused on our video capabilities. But we still want to satisfy stills-focused users with our philosophy….

I really want to see Panasonic adhere to that philosophy and to change photography as much as it has changed video for independent documentary photographers and videographers like me.

I hope that coming Lumix stills-oriented cameras will not suffer the fate of Panasonic’s professional rangefinder-style flagship Lumix DMC-GX8, which was “replaced” with the non-professional Lumix DC-GX9 aka Lumix GX7 Mark III rangefinder-style aimed at enthusiasts and street photographers.

DSLR-style cameras do not and cannot “replace” rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras.

I will repeat that.

DSLR-style cameras do not and cannot “replace” rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras, and so the Lumix DC-G9, no matter how great it may be for sports and wildlife photography, does not and cannot “replace” the Lumix DMC-GX8.

Panasonic, we are waiting to hear that you will be coming up with a professional rangefinder-style successor to the Lumix DMC-GX8.

Meanwhile we are also waiting to hear what you intend to do to come up with successors to two cameras which fill a currently unfulfilled need, that of eminently portable compact rangefinder-style cameras with fixed or interchangeable lenses small enough to carry anytime anywhere in any general-purpose bag or dedicated small camera bags such as the attach-to-anything Think Tank Photo Little Stuffit! V3.0.

Right now there is no successor to either the Lumix DMC-GM5 or the Lumix DMC-LX100 and there needs to be, just as there must be a real successor to the Lumix DMC-GX8.

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Think Tank Photo Little Stuff It! V3.0 can be attached to a belt, bag rail or vertical straps such as Think Tank Photo Pixel Racing Harness V3.0 or straps on other camera bags and backpacks.

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Digital CameraB&H
  • Think Tank Photo Little Stuff It! Belt Pouch V3.0B&H

Venus Optics: Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro [Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony FE mounts with adapters for Fujifilm X-Mount and Micro Four Thirds]

http://www.venuslens.net/product/laowa-25mm-f-2-8-2-5-5x-ultra-macro-2/

“The most compact and versatile high magnification macro lens.

This lens is optimized for macro shooting between 2.5X – 5X life size. The lens is specially designed with an extended working distance (45mm at 2.5x & 40mm at 2x)and smaller lens barrel. This allow a sufficient lighting on the object for easier shooting in the field. The lens is much more compact and lighter than other comparative products. This lens also provides a relatively greater depth of field compared to other extreme macro lens in the market. The Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X is developed for both professional and leisure macro photography, to be used on the field or in indoor set-up…..”

laowa_25mm_f2.8_2.5-5x_ultra_macro_tripod_mount_01_1024px_60%
Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens with Tripod Collar for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony FE mounts with Fujifilm X-Mount and Micro Four Thirds adapters available.

Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro, Animated Product Shot

laowa_25mm_f2.8_2.5-5x_ultra_macro_animation_640px
Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens animation.

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LensTip.com: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 PRO

https://www.lenstip.com/524.1-Lens_review-Olympus_M.Zuiko_Digital_ED_45_mm_f_1.2_PRO_Introduction.html

“… A long list of assets with only one more serious flaw and a record-breaking resolution performance – we don’t doubt that the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 PRO deserves our ‘Editors’ Choice’ badge. Our summary is exceptionally short but there’s really nothing to talk about. It’s another excellent Micro 4/3 lens. …”

olympus_m-zuiko_digital_ed_45mm_f1-2_white_square_upright_clutch_1024px_60.jpg
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens

Commentary

As our gallery below indicates, the Micro Four Thirds format is not without some notable choices in fast zoom lenses and faster prime lenses in short to medium telephoto focal lengths suitable for the traditional approach to portrait photography and for closeup and big closeup shots in moviemaking, so the LensTip Editor’s Choice Award for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45 mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens is noteworthy indeed.

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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • SLR Magic HyperPrime Cine 50mm T0.95 Lens with MFT MountB&H
  • Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime LensB&H