Sharp prime lens good for closeup video work.

There are many well known DLSR video bloggers out there at love the Sigma 30mm 1.4, so I wanted to try it myself to see how it preforms. It comes in at a great price to compared to a Canon prime in this focal range.

The third party lenses always get a bad rap that they are not as sharp as Canon. I don’t have a Canon 30mm 1.4 to compare it to, but I do have a 50mm 1.8 prime.

The Canon 50mm 1.8 is only $100 or so and the Sigma is around $450, so I am going to guess by the price and all the great reviews out there that the Sigma has is going to win this match up at 1.8 and at 4.0 sharpness test.

If I am shooting at 1.4 I could really careless if the corners are soft, I am mostly interested with sharpness in the center.

30mm is a nice focal range, especially on a crop sensor on the T2i, 7D etc. Also this 30mm seems to have little or no distortion that I can see. Unfortunately there is no Lightroom lens profile yet so I couldn’t test the distortion.

Test done in this video:

  • Noise it makes
  • Compare focus speed at low light
  • Brickwall it at different stops 1.8 vs. 4 compare to 50mm prime

22 comments

  • Great review, Dave. I would have loved to see some sample footage though. Does your copy autofocus well?

  • I have one as well, and I love it. The autofocus is much faster than my Tamron AF 17-50mm f2.8, which cost slightly more. It has a distinctive look to my eyes, as well – sophisticated and almost cold (in a good way).

    One thing that drives me nuts, though. I’m used to manually focusing on the Tamron, and this focus ring goes the opposite direction. Dave, you have way more experience than I do with this stuff – is there a standard direction for these to turn, and if so, which one is “wrong”?

  • Hey Dave I’ve used the sigma 30mm 1.4 on everyone of my video shoots….great lens for video work…the larger lens sizes of the focus ring make for good focus pulling. Check out vimeo.com/blkpxls for examples.

  • Hey Dave, thanks for the review.

    I also have this lens, and I’m curious how you feel about the focus ring: Does yours have a ‘rough/grainy’ feel?

    Also, have you noticed any back or front-focusing (AF) issues when your using it for stills? Mine front focuses big time! šŸ™

    Cheers.

  • I guess I have to disagree with most people about this lens. It’s good enough for a budget photography lens because it has autofocus and, of course, the fast aperture at a reasonably wide focal length. However, it’s pretty terrible for video just because of the rough focus ring that lacks hard stops and has a short throw. Moreover, if you’re using it primarily for video and the f1.4 aperture isn’t an absolute requirement, it’s not even a good deal on the price because you can get much cheaper and better lenses with perfectly smooth focus rings if you buy vintage on eBay or KEH.

    This was the first lens I bought for my 60D but now I only take it out for photographing family holidays where autofocus is a must. For video, it almost never comes out of the bag and has been supplanted by a set of Takumar primes.

  • Nick, can you say more about what lenses you use for video? You mention Takumar but after a little research, I don’t seem to find these with a Canon fit…

    Oh and Dave, I just subscribed to your YouTube videos, I love them, your style and your very good tutorials. Just got my 60D a week ago and am keen to get started!

  • I have a 30mm sigma. I like it the lens, but it definitely has some front auto-focusing issues. The focus ring does have a rough feel to it, but it does not bother me. Vibhuti, Takumar lenses were the brand designation for lenses used primarily on older Pentax cameras. Both brands were part of the Asahi optical company at the time. Many folks tend to use these manual lenses, as they are of good optical quality and relatively cheap. I believe you’ll need a m42 to canon eos adapter to use these lenses.

  • Thanks for that. I’ve got the 50mm 1.8 canon prime lens which I love using to get that very narrow DOF but using it with my crop camera, I find I have to move back a lot, that’s why I got interested in the sigma 30mm, is there anything else on the market that’s worth investing into?

  • Looking forward to those lens reviews Dave. Your web site has really opened a can of worms for me. Stay with the nikon or sell up and try the Canon ride?
    Well,… I’ll end the suspense.
    Your beautifully shot footage and engaging style have sent me running to the the camera store for a new t3i and a sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM OS lens. Not the perfect video lens I’d imagine, but I hope a great all rounder while I continue to research the great lens dilemma. I never thought I’d spend weeks of my spare time scouring the web for “fast glass”. (The letter “L” is my new favourite member of the alphabet).
    Anyways, looking forward to the Canon ride, due in no small part to your guidance and experience making it impossible not to buy a Canon! Thanks for keeping it real Dave.

  • @Meaty I got a kick out of your comment, “The letter ā€œLā€ is my new favourite member of the alphabet” šŸ™‚

  • Was that a rubber hood on your 50mm? I got a plastic bayonet hood for that lens for around 10 bucks, it snaps on nicely and seems to function well.

  • Hi Dave,

    I’m wondering, what type of body is that you show in this video? It looks like my 550D but i don’t have the extra DISP button next to the ISO. It just puzzles me…

  • Well I finally took the plunge and got myself the canon 28mm 1.8 USM after reading SO many wonderful reviews about it and seeing so many great pictures on flickr, will let you know what I think when it arrives!

  • hey, I am just starting out as a videographer and I am going to purchase the Canon T3i soon and wondered if this was the lens that you would recommend the most for starting out. Also should i go with the T3i or the 60D? Thanks!

  • Dave, love your work,

    If you have not already done so, can you please use the full frame camera with these lenses so we can see the difference to the cropped sensor.

    Thanks mate,

    Keep up your passion, i love what you do.

  • All my sigma lens are louder on the f stop changes than my canons, just they way there are built I guess.

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