Who came up with the idea for a 65mm lens? I don’t know, but I have to credit the folks over at Sigma, who over the last decade have transformed the company with lenses like this.
Ever since their Global Vision was launched in 2013, Sigma has gone from a value-oriented third-party lens manufacturer — with their fair share of quality control issues — to a leader in optical performance across their entire line. For me, it’s been fun to watch.
Moreover, it’s been fun to use their lenses for work and play. In addition to consistently producing quality optics, Sigma has also ventured into areas where other lens manufacturers have dared not go. Specifically, zoom lenses with apertures wider than f/2.8. Unusual focal lengths. A dock that allows users to update the firmware of their lenses to keep them compatible with the latest camera bodies. Build quality that’ll knock your socks off, etc.
Sigma has had the kind of transformation few companies have been able to achieve. Toyota did it with lexus, Nissan did it with infiniti, Hyundai has succeeded with Genesis and Sigma has succeeded with Global Vision.
The 65mm falls in line with the Sigma Global Vision
This of course brings us to today. I’m taking a look at the Sigma 65mm f/2 Contemporary lens. Part of a new line of “I series” lenses. which as far as I can tell have hybrid shooters squarely in their sights.
Lightweight and compact, the 65mm is a bit longer than “normal” and ventures just barely into short telephoto. Meaning it’d be great for environmental portraits and possibly headshots. If you’re a video shooter, it’s an ideal focal length for an interview.
Since the beginning of the Global Vision line of lenses, Sigma has sought to achieve the highest quality optical performance possible. As such, Sigma has been producing the “hemi V8” versions of lenses.
Casting aside any attempt to restrict the size and weight of their optics, I’m pleased to report that in this instance, Sigma went with a maximum aperture of f/2. What that means is, smaller and lighter. It’s a wonderful complement to the mirrorless Sony camera bodies.
From the mount to the lens hood, two words keep coming to mind — “quality” and “solid.” With an all metal lens barrel, weather sealing and a well dampened focus ring, the 65mm oozes of quality materials and craftsmanship.
The only shortcoming in my opinion is the aperture ring, which feels a bit to plasticy and clicks just a bit too audibly for my taste. But apart from that, it’s beautifully built.
The 65mm includes two different lens caps. One that’s more traditional and snaps into place like you’d expect, but another that’s magnetic. It just “clinks” on to the front of the lens. It’s a brilliant solution to something that wasn’t really a problem. Just the same, I love the design.
The only issue with the magnetic lens cap is that it’s practically impossible to remove with the lens hood on. I have to remove the lens hood to get the magnetic lens cap off. Not a dealbreaker, just an annoyance.
Both the focus ring and aperture ring are “geared” meaning for filmmakers they can rig it up with a follow focus and aperture gears. All in, build quality — especially at this price point — simply doesn’t get much better than this.
I’ve been using the 65mm on all the “Mark III” versions of the Sony a7 line. The a7 III, a7R III and the a7S III. On the a7 III and the a7R III, AF performance is snappy and silent, but the lens will sometimes hunt before it captures the intended target.
On the a7S III, AF performance is nothing short of remarkable. Both in video and stills, the a7S III’s AF system and this lens might be the most competent performers together I’ve ever used. Instant, decisive and incredibly accurate. The level of confidence in nailing the shot every time with this combo is simply sublime! That’s in both stills and video.
AF performance on the a7R III and a7 III were very, very good — just not up to the same level as the a7S III. I experienced a little bit more hunting, but AF was still quick and accurate. Never did I feel like I was going to miss a shot, but there is a difference.
It’s well built, focuses quickly, silently and accurately, but how are the optics? Somewhere between excellent and outstanding.
I love subject isolation and bokeh. Meaning that I’m most often shooting wide-open. It’s just a personal preference. At f/2, the 65mm is sharp and contrasty with excellent subject isolation. In the center of the frame, optics are razor sharp! With it’s 9-blade rounded aperture diaphragm, out of focus blur is smooth and creamy.
Vignetting is a little bit of an issue, but it’s easily fixed with the lens profile correction in Lightroom. Chromatic aberrations in the high contrast areas so far as I can tell are nonexistent and certainly not relevant. Stopping down improves things a bit, but they are already excellent wide-open. Bottom line — optical quality is simply excellent, especially for a lens in this price point.
One important aspect to consider when purchasing any piece of kit is the price to value relationship. What we have here is a high quality, well built, weather resistant lens with outstanding AF performance and great optics to boot!
The only real downsides are the max f/2 aperture and the aperture ring which is a bit too clicky for my taste. But those are nits and annoyances, not deal breakers.
All in, this is a gem of a lens, perfect for stills and hybrid shooters who need a normal to short telephoto lens in their arsenal. Overall, this is an outstanding effort from Sigma! More like this please!
- Focal length: 65mm
- Aperture range: f/2–22
- Aperture blades: 9. rounded
- Elements/groups: 12/9
- Dimensions: 2.8 x 3″ / 72 x 76.2 mm
- Weight: 14.5 oz. / 411 g (weighed on my own scale, info isn’t officially published)
- Angle of view: 36.8°
- Filter thread: 62mm
- Fast accurate AF — especially on the a7S III
- Sharp optics wide-open, even better stopped down
- Outstanding, light weight build quality
- Smooth and creamy out of focus bokeh
- The aperture ring is a nice addition, but it’s a bit too clicky and audible
- The magnetic lens cap is a neat trick, but you have to remove the lens hood in order to take it off
Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Lens for Sony E
Stylishly sleek, the Sony E-mount Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Lens is a shot-tele/long-normal prime offering a unique field of view well-suited to portraiture and selective everyday shooting. Complementing the slightly long focal length is a bright f/2 design that helps to maintain a portable form factor while also contributing to low-light performance and depth of field control.