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Sigma 60 mm f/2.8 for Micro Four-Thirds brings sharpness and creativity to portraits

When I was first offered the chance to review the Sigma 60 mm f/2.8 DN Art lens for Micro Four-Thirds cameras, I was intrigued. First, I had never actually used one of Sigma’s Art lenses, which are praised by a lot of full-frame photographers I know. But second — and more importantly — how would the 60 mm focal length hold up to my workflow, especially when I’m used to shooting with either a 12-40mm or 45 mm lens?

First, the quality. Despite its small footprint, this lens is built like a beast, featuring an all-metal body that’s available in silver or black. On my Olympus OM-D E-M1X, it looks a bit tiny.

In my tests, focusing was fast and quiet, most likely due to a newly-developed linear AF motor in the lens. The lens has a 7-blade diaphragm and has a minimum focusing distance of 19.7 inches.

What it lacks for in size, it makes up in image quality. I found images to be sharp, with some really nice bokeh.

Real-world scenarios

I put the lens to the test a few different times but had trouble using it for client photoshoots. Not because of the quality, but because of the focal length. As someone who is used to photographing at a maximum 45 mm focal length (similar to the field of view of a 90 mm lens on a full-frame camera) for portraits and lifestyle images, bumping this up to 60 mm was challenging. It gives a similar field of view to a 120 mm lens on a full-frame camera.

That being said, because of the longer focal length, backgrounds are blurred very well. For anyone looking for that full-frame “look” that you can get with soft, creamy blurred backgrounds, this lens will definitely be satisfactory.

I decided to take the lens into my friend Cathy’s studio and play around with creating a bar lifestyle type of situation. I’ve been photographing a lot of food and drinks recently, so this is something I can legitimately see myself doing.

The setup

We started out with a black background and small bar cart, that would serve as our table. We put a piece of slate on this in order to get a darker look. From there, we brought in an umbrella lit by a Godox AD200, which would create a key light. We also had a large softbox to the left which would serve as a rim light.

By having all our lighting equipment on one side, we could create more of a moody photograph, perfect for commercial purposes. From there, we took another Godox AD200 and positioned that up against the left part of the black background paper, and put a MagMod yellow gel and pattern on it with a collapsed MagSnoot.

The results

We played around with a few different looks too, evening out the light by bringing the softbox over to the right side of the setup.

In looking at the images in Lightroom, I have to say that the lens did an amazing job. The sharpness is spot-on. The f/2.8 aperture allowed me to separate the background without having to get super close to Cathy. It’s a great lens, especially if you’re used to being further away from your subject.

The verdict

Despite the lens really performing well, I just can’t see myself integrating this into my everyday kit. It’s a great lens, but for someone who likes to be closer to their subjects (and often doesn’t have a choice), it’s not right for me. I might look at Sigma’s smaller focal length offering — the 30 mm f/2.8 — for something more up my alley.

All that being said, if you’re one who likes to use a longer focal length for your portraits, this is a great lens to consider. Wedding photographers, this might actually be great, too, as it’ll allow you to capture some of those more intimate moments without having to get up-close. And at just $239, you won’t break the bank either.

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