The Sigma 30mm f 2.8 and the Sony Nex 7: A sharp kit lens for $199: Samples with 100% crops

The Sigma 30mm f 2.8 and the Sony Nex 7: A sharp kit lens for $199: Samples with 100% crops


The Sigma 30mm arrived today, the first small-ish, standard prime for the Sony Nex series! The built quality is pretty good, the front element does not rotate and internal focus keeps the physical size of the lens constant. One thing I noticed immediately, internal rattle, lets call it Rattle Royale since I have never heard anything like that before in a lens. Once mounted, the rattle was gone. Obtaining auto focus in still mode produced a clicking sound generated by the aperture blades-comparable to the sound of death in a hard drive. AF speed was good but not exceptional. I really liked the AF behavior in video mode, super smooth without jumps and totally silent, almost human like. Samples with 100% crops after the break

The lens looks very well proportioned on the Nex 7, the wide manual focus ring has a nice feel to it, not as smooth as Carl Zeiss lenses, though good enough for manual focus pulls during video takes. Next thing I noticed was how sharp this lens is, maybe a side effect from those rattling lens elements? Just kidding. I am not a big fan of brick wall photos-unless I have a pretty girl in front of it :), however I never expected this little lens to perform at such a high level-reason enough for this quick test. It is nice to finally have a standard lens which clearly outperforms the kit lens at a killer price, a perfect match for the Nex 7!
Camera on a tripod, distance from the wall-approx 10 feet, WB 5600K, aperture priority, +_ 0, auto ISO.

Sigma_30mm11_onNex7 center100

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47 thoughts on “The Sigma 30mm f 2.8 and the Sony Nex 7: A sharp kit lens for $199: Samples with 100% crops

  1. Pingback: Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN para Sony NEX | Sony Alpha

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  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Hey Ron, I agree, the Zeiss 24mm is one sweet lens, my 30mm starts up very fast and af is also very fast, a lot better then on the Sigma 19mm, perhaps you got a bad copy?

  4. ron greer

    After a month with the 30mm I got really tired of the slow start-up time (compared to the Sony kit zoom and 16mm); and I worry about the giggly elements and how long the lens will last. Two weeks ago I broke the piggy bank and bought the Zeiss 24mm. So I’m VERY pleased, even sharper and it feels like it is very well made.

    In hid sight I regret buying the 30mm, although I plan to use it as my commuter camera lens. I like how compact it is.

  5. Yusuf

    Just got confirmation that the problem i had with my lens was a manufacture defect and has since been repaired. Can’t wait to get it back as it was an awesome lens and made shooting with my NEX5N a pleasure as made me get the full benefit of the camera :)

    I may even pick up the same lens for m43 simply because its just that sharp! and with the OMD i have got some good results at 3200 with RAW

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks for stopping by, Alice. Yeah, I know, it was just a shock in the beginning since none of the Sony lenses exhibit that kind of behavior, also my favorite standard lens!

  7. Alice

    Hi Mike,

    the clicking noise in the lens is nothing dangerous.
    Its the focus motor without attached camera the power is off and so
    the focus motor gear is loose. As soon power is supported by the camera
    some kind of electro-magnet control fixes the gear.

    Sigma states on their website that this is not a defect and absolutely ok.

    No problem for me. I am amazed how good this lens is ->its my run-&-gun-lens.

  8. Yusuf

    Thanks Mike prior to the crash of the lens (it seems software related) the images were stellar and sharp! sharpest lenses on this system for me at a reasonable cost!

  9. mike.kobal Post author

    aye, sorry to hear that, I had the same issue with the 19mm, doa, acted totally weird and never focused, replacement lens works fine, could be firmware or circuit issue, highly annoying, I hope Sigma steps up their quality control

  10. Yusuf

    I am having the same problem with my 30mm 2.8 on my NEX5N, I have been underwhelmed with the camera due to poor lenses! The 30mm was sharp and an excellent lens! But now it just doesn’t focus and the lens is acting all weird! doesn’t focus even after removing! I swapped it with the 19 and that worked fine! I think its a firmware issue as sometimes the lens works and then goes bizarre again!

  11. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks for posting, Leo! Let’s hope Sigma get those quality control issues under control. I just tried manual focus again to see if anything similar occurs as you described, but my lens appears to be working properly.

  12. LeoWong

    Hi Mike!

    Been a silent follower of this site (and your very inspiring visuals) for just about month now, but find your views and reviews invaluable. Many thanks for sharing what you know!

    I use a Sony Nex5N with a newly-bought the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 that you’ve reviewed here. Fantastic lens! As you’ve rightly pointed out, at this price, image quality is beyond reproach.

    IQ aside, I’ve had a couple of odd issues with it. The first one I thought I’d share about because it seems like some folks here may have had similar problems. Last weekend, I tried working on a couple of cloudy sky shots. I hadn’t any 46mm ND filters with me at the time and inadvertently pointed straight up into the sun, wide open. Sounds crazy, I know, but perhaps this somehow ‘overloaded’ this setup… My Nex5N’s LCD blinked once (without any input from me), then a blurry image came back into view. Autofocus was on, but once I aimed the camera back at eye level, the lens wouldn’t work. Didn’t even seem like it was trying ie. no motor noise or vibration that I could fee. I cycled the camera off and on, and tried snapping a test shot, but the camera refused to fire and instead reported that I had an unrecognized lens attached! Luckily, switching off, removing the lens and re-attaching it cleared the problem and everything is back to normal again.
    I’m guessing the Sigma’s electronics might be somewhat sensitive?

    The second problem is the focus ring when focusing manually – its smooth most of the time, but sometimes almost seems like its ‘resisting’ and the focusing suddenly becomes gritty if I insist on turning the focus ring further. Just wondering if this is normal (the manual says nothing about this.)

    Regardless, I’m still extremely pleased with this lens and am just happy to be in the company of other equally happy owners :)


  13. mike.kobal Post author

    yes, takes a second longer then with the 16mm from off to on, don’t let that deter you, as I mentioned, once you hit the streets, focus is very snappy and the quality is like shooting without an AA filter!
    camera compensation only applies to jpegs, I always shoot raw and am very happy with this lens

  14. Scott Shu

    Thanks Mike! I will probably throw in my order next Monday.

    By “AF is not super fast, mostly noticeable when turning the camera on”, do you mean that it take a few more seconds (than say with the 16mm pancake that both of us have) to start firing?

    Another question with this lens is that I notice (in some forum) that the in-camera compensation is contributing to the wonderful result they are getting. Does this mean that I will probably shoot JPEG with this lens instead of RAW? (The in-camera lens comp doesn’t apply to RAW, do they?)

  15. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Scott, sell the Voigtlander -you wont regret it- and get the Sigma, it is crazy sharp in real life already wide open, produces nice bokeh, I am using it for street all the time now. Agree, AF is not super fast, mostly noticeable when turning the camera on and if focusing from very close to infinity. AF isn’t a problem for the 1.5~5m range we need for street shooting.

  16. Scott Shu

    Hello Mike!

    Great review as always!
    I really like the performance here.
    I saw some reviews say that the AF isn’t as fast. In your opinion is it good for street photography with the 7? (u know a lot of fast capture. Using zone focus now for manual lens.
    I have a voigtlander 35mm 1.4, but I was thinking abt selling it and getting the 30 sigma instead for the price, AF and performance. (Got the Leica 40mm f2 for M7 already).
    Do you think it’s a good idea, or should I just stay with the fast but soft voigtlander?


  17. mike.kobal Post author

    sounds like it, I haven’t had problems with other recent Sigma lenses, like the 8-16mm, let’s hope Sigma finds a fix, hate to return stuff

  18. Nico Foto

    Hummmm, the usual sigma russian roulette of quality control? I thought they had fixed those issues by now. I have a 30mm 1.4 for Canon EOS mount, a great normal lens for crop cameras, but had heard of people having issues with it as well a few years ago…

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  20. ron greer

    I’ve had my 30mm just 4 days and it stopped working this afternoon. Starting making strange chattering noises, stopped focusing. Switch back to the kit zoom and no problems, back to the 30mm; no go. It goes back to Adorama tomorrow. I hope I just got a lemon as the image quality was quite nice.

  21. mike.kobal Post author

    Hey Zeusman, glad you find them useful. You won’t be disappointed with the 30mm. I know exactly what you mean love the LAEA2 and the 16 50mm, crazy sharp esp on the Nex 7, I started using the Minolta 35 70mmf4, much smaller and lighter and almost as sharp !

  22. Zeusman

    Hey Mike, thanks for the terrific review! Just ordered one for my 5N. I have never been a fan of Sigma but your review and examples is easing my concerns. It’s very much what I have wanted for my body, a small low profile, quiet and sharp lens to have on and carry the camera all the time.

    I will say that I have 16-50 f2.8 A Mount with the LA-EA2 and that lens and adapter ROCK! But it’s a bit large and take commitment to carry. This Sigma, I’m hoping will give me similar quality at a more appreciated size.

    Thanks again Mike! Really enjoy reading your posts!

  23. Mark England

    Expensive is right on the 18-200mm, I think I may take your advice and get the 30mm sigma. I was originally planning on getting the Sony 18mm purely to have a smaller lens than the 18-55mm, but the Sigma 30mm seems like a really good balance as far as size goes. With the Panorama functionality, I think I’ll give the 30mm a go before committing to the 19mm.

    Thanks again.

  24. mike.kobal Post author

    the zoom is slow, you need more light and not as sharp. the 30mm is so sharp you could easily crop closer, esp on the Nex 7 ,
    the photos look much crisper, if you need a zoom check out the 18 20mm from Sony and Tokina, expensive and large and you will need good light but those two lenses are much better then the kit lens

  25. Mark England

    Thanks, any comments regarding zoom? I know that you mention elsewhere that you are not a fan… I wonder if you could help me to understand the pro’s/con’s a bit more of foregoing a zoom?

  26. Mark England

    Thanks for the speedy response Mike!

    So losing the zoom capability would not be an issue you don’t think?

    Under what scenario would you use the 19mm, for taking a wide-frame shot of a landscape or something like that? Would you use the 30mm for everything else?

  27. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Mark, I am very impressed with the Sigma 30mm, it destroys the kit lens, crazy sharp already at 2.8. I would take the that and the Sigma 19mm, I have one on order and what I have seen so far everyone seems pretty happy with it. I would also take the 16mm and the wide angle converter.

  28. Mark England

    Hello Mike, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind giving some advice. I’m unable to source a Nex-7 with the Sony 18-55mm lens, so I’m looking at an alternative option for a lens.

    Would the Sigma 30mm be a suitable replacement for the 18-55mm lens? Would it be a suitable lens for taking travel pictures? (Landscapes, Wildlife etc).

    If you were to travel with the Nex-7, what Lenses would you take?

  29. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks Ed, yeah, it really is the right length for the Nex body, I am not 100% sure but I would say it is made in China. high grade plastic, not metal.

  30. Ed

    Thanks for the quick review :) I like the size of it! Is the lens made in Japan or China by the way?

  31. mike.kobal Post author

    The 30mm 2.8 would definitely be my choice, great all round standard lens and sharpness is on the same level. The 50mm is a great portrait lens, that’s it, not a versatile lens

  32. David

    Hey Mark.
    If you had to choose one E mount single prime which one will you go for, the 50 1.8 or the 30 2.8?
    Sharpness wise are they on the same level? Just wondering as I know you like both of them.

  33. mike.kobal Post author

    lol, yup, I sure would, and use the left over cash to book a flight to a cool location for a weekend and shoot lots of pictures :)

  34. mike.kobal Post author

    go to a store and try it Hendrik, small, lightweight and crazy sharp already wide open, all this for 1/5 of the Zeiss 24mm 1.8 price, which is soft wide open and only reaches the performance level of the Sigma at f 2.5…
    the best option we have right now for a standard prime

  35. Hendrik

    A prime with 2.8? How come I’m not really thrilled. That is the aperture I would expect of the fast zoom that hasn’t arrived. But for a prime …

  36. Stefan

    I also tried the lens myself and in the meantime this is my weapon of choice when running around. The price is like music…

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  38. Hards80

    Now hopefully the Sigma 19 2.8 will offer similar performance. Will you be able to test that one as well?

  39. Hards80

    very useful first thoughts and quick brick wall test. It performs better than I was expecting as well. How does this sharpness compare to the 30mm macro from Sony? My guess is similar within in the center, but looks like the Sigma does better in the corners.

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