The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary isn’t the most exciting lens in the Sigma I series lens lineup, but this tiny lens packs a lot more performance than you might expect.
As part of the L mount alliance, Sigma has been trying to make the platform a more viable option for both photographers and videographers by offering affordable lenses. Sigma’s new I series lenses are making quite the splash. Here, we’ll take a look at the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary. Can this tiny lens deliver the goods?
- Small and light
- Excellent metal build quality
- Fantastic optics
- Zero issues with chromatic aberration
- Quick autofocus
- It’s very affordable
- The lens is only weather-sealed at the mount
- The magnetic hood is nice but impossible to remove with the hood on
- No option to de-click the aperture dial
- 10 elements in eight groups
- Seven rounded aperture blades
- Minimum focusing distance of 4.3 inches (10.8cm)
- Aperture range from f/3.5–f/22
- The lens takes 55mm filters
- Sigma rates this lens as splash and dust resistant
- The Sigma 24mm f/2 weighs just 0.50 pounds, or 230 grams
- The lens is available with Sony E mount and L mount
Handling and build quality
This Sigma 24mm f/3.5 prime features an all-metal build. The brushed metal feels great in the hand. The aperture ring is a nice touch, it feels great and it’s enjoyable to use. It’s not so loose that it will turn freely, but it’s not so stiff that it requires a lot of force. The manual focusing ring turns smoothly as well.
Like other I series lenses, the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN comes with two lens caps. One standard lens cap and a magnetic one. The magnetic cap feels nice and it works well. However, when you have the metal lens hood attached, It’s impossible to remove. You also cannot use the magnetic cap if you have a filter on your lens.
Overall, the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN feels great. It balances perfectly on the Lumix S5. However, the lens has limited weather sealing. You’ll find a thin seal at the mount, but there are no seals through the lens body. I would not recommend using this lens in the rain. Sigma has done a nice job with the ergonomics and build quality.
The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 is a great lens for photowalks
The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary is easy to use thanks to the well laid-out controls and overall ergonomics. If you don’t like changing the aperture via the aperture ring, just turn it to A and then adjust the aperture with the camera body.
Manually focusing this lens is also a piece of cake thanks to the smooth focusing ring. Use it with focus peaking and you’ll nail every shot. There’s no learning curve with a lens like this. Photographers, both old and new, will have no issues using it.
The lens doesn’t feature image stabilization, but with the IBIS in the Panasonic S5, I had no issues hand holding this lens down to 1/5s. This lens is just nice and easy to use. It’s a perfect size and weight and it will not weigh you down or become a burden when out on long photo walks or during long photo sessions.
The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN performs well on the Panasonic Lumix S5 when it comes to autofocus in good and low light situations. Sigma I series lenses use stepping motors. These motors are fast and quiet. Still, they aren’t as fast or as quiet as some newer motor technology. Focus, though, is still rapid and accurate in single and continuous focus modes.
Focusing from near to far is fast. The 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary also works with eye detection as well as animal focusing on Panasonic cameras. This lens is also very impressive when it comes to close focusing. With a minimum focusing distance of 4.3 inches, you can get very creative with your images.
Videographers beware, though. There are some issues when using continuous autofocus on Panasonic cameras. Pulsing on Panasonic cameras is alive and well. Note that this won’t be an issue if you use cameras with phase-detect autofocus systems like the Sigma Fp/Fp L or Leica L mount cameras.
The pulsing will not affect stills shooters at all. Still, it’s very problematic for videographers. The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN also suffers from a fair amount of focus breathing. You can see the focus breathing and pulsing in this video here.
Image quality is what it all comes down to and I have to say that the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN is a solid performer. I don’t use charts to perform lens tests. I believe that taking images out in the real world is much more telling. So there will be a bunch of image samples here.
When shooting wide-open at f/3.5 you’re going to get images that are razor-sharp from corner to corner. I also haven’t noticed any vignetting. Sigma has done a stellar job with the optics in this lens. All of your images will remain sharp until you hit f/14 when diffraction kicks in. For a lens in this price category, the optics are top-notch.
Distortions, color and bokeh
The aperture of f/3.5 might not sound exciting, and it may be a compromise from Sigma, but the smaller aperture allowed Sigma to keep both the size and weight down. Honestly, you don’t buy 24mm lenses for bokeh anyway. Still, this lens can produce it.
When shooting at f/3.5, and at the minimum focusing distance of 4.3-inches, the background melts away. In other situations, the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN produces smooth out of focus areas. It’s quite nice and not too distracting.
When it comes to the colors the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN renders, I think most photographers will be very happy. The lens doesn’t produce overly saturated colors. In fact, the colors are quite natural. Colors, of course, can be altered to your liking during post-processing if you shoot RAW.
Chromatic aberrations and fringing are also nonexistent. I shot with this lens in challenging conditions and the lens never skipped a beat.
In terms of barrel distortion, there is some slight pincushion distortion. In-camera corrections will fix this issue, though. Shooting into the sun does cause a little flaring and ghosting, but it’s not bad at all. I have definitely seen worse. The supplied lens hood helps with this. Praise really has to be given to Sigma here. Optically, this little I series lens is stellar.
A versatile lens that will bring a smile to your face
So, is the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN worth it? It’s a solid yes. The lens is small, lightweight, solidly built and has great optics. It’s a great lens for photographers, though, videographers might want to look elsewhere as you cannot de-click the aperture ring, and there is some focus breathing. The L mount needs more affordable prime lenses, and this is a great one.
Currently, the only other L mount 24mm is the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. If you need extreme low light performance, it might be worth the extra few hundred dollars. Just keep in mind that it’s significantly larger and heavier (2.1 pounds compared to 0.5 pounds), as it was designed for DSLRs. Honestly, the Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN will serve those who are craving a 24mm prime for L mount well.
Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary
The Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary is a small fast prime with some unique qualities. The lens is well built. It feels great in the hand. The aperture ring is a nice touch, and the close minimum focusing distance allows you to be really creative. The optics are solid, and autofocus performance is stellar. If you’re looking for a light, versatile prime that’s suitable for events, landscapes, street photography, documentary work and more, check it out.