Sigma’s small, well-built I series contemporary lenses certainly raised a few eyebrows when they were released, especially the odd 65mm f/2 DG DN. This fast prime lens finds itself sitting between two of the most popular prime focal lengths (50mm and 85mm) and nobody knew quite what to make of it. We’ve been hard at work figuring it out.
I spent a few weeks with this lens, and while I was a little puzzled, to begin with, my time with the lens ended positively. However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Find out all about the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN in our full review.
- Excellent all-metal build
- Image quality overall is very good
- Some excellent character
- Fast to focus
- It renders beautiful colors
- Creamy bokeh
- This lens is beyond sharp
- It’s only weather-sealed at the mount
- Heavy focus breathing
- Pulsing with Panasonic cameras in continuous autofocus modes
- Heavy ghosting and flaring
- The metal lens hood cannot be removed when the lens hood is attached
- 10 elements in 9 groups
- 9 rounded aperture blades
- Aperture range of f/2–f/22
- Dust and splash resistant
- 62mm filter thread
- Weighs 0.89lbs / 405 grams
- Dimensions: 2.83 x 2.94 inches (72 x 74.7mm)
- Available for both L mount and Sony E mount
Handling and build quality
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN features a gorgeous design that makes it a joy to use. The all-metal body feels fantastic in the hand. The lens’s small footprint makes it easy to handle and allows it to balance perfectly with many cameras, including the Panasonic Lumix s5.
The lens has a nice retro design, which is really brought home with the well-placed aperture dial. The nicely sized rubberized manual focus ring sits at the front of the lens. The only other control on this lens is a manual and autofocus switch. Simplicity was the name of the game here.
You’ll find that this lens uses 62mm filters. From an ergonomics and build quality standpoint, Sigma has done a great job with the 65mm f/2 DG DN. Perhaps my only gripe is that this lens is only sealed at the mount with a pretty thin gasket. Apart from that, just like other Sigma I series lenses, this lens is solid and will stand up to the demands of modern photographers.
In single focusing modes, the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN is rapid and accurate. You’ll have no issues catching images from many genres, including fast-paced ones. The lens focuses and locks onto subjects in all lighting situations. Some issues pop up when you use continuous autofocus on Panasonic cameras, though.
In continuous autofocus on the Panasonic Lumix S5, the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary pulses more than any other Sigma I series lens. This is partly due to the DFD autofocus system Panasonic employs. While it can be a little disconcerting for photographers, you’ll rarely get out-of-focus images. The lens tracks very well. However, videographers will really struggle with the pulsing. You can see how bad the pulsing is here in this video.
Videographers will probably want to stick to focusing manually, which brings us to focus breathing. Unfortunately, the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN also suffers from quite a monstrous amount of focus breathing too. If you’re really set on using this lens for anything but photography, you’ll have to keep these issues in mind.
Sigma’s 65mm f/2 DG DN is a joy to use
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN is a very easy lens to use. The lens has no stabilization, but I was easily able to hold this lens down to 1/5s when used with the IBIS in the Panasonic Lumix S5. The aperture dial is a pleasure to use. However, keep in mind that the aperture ring cannot be de-clicked. The manual focusing ring is also nice and smooth.
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN, like other I series lenses, comes with a standard, and a magnetic, lens cap. There’s a problem, though. When you have the lens hood attached and have the metal lens cap in place, it’s impossible to remove the magnetic lens cap without first removing the hood. This is frustrating. Overall, though, you’ll have a pleasant experience when using this lens.
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN has bags of character
Image quality is what it all comes down to and I have to say that, for the most part, the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN is a solid performer. However, there are a few issues to talk about. When you shoot this lens wide-open at f/2 the images are bitingly sharp in the center.
When you get to the extreme edges and the corners you’ll see that are they are a little softer than the rest of the image. Stopping the lens down to f/2.8 will give you images that are sharp across the whole frame.
At f/2 there’s also a tiny amount of vignetting, which also disappears by the time you reach f/2.8. You can easily shoot down to f/14 before you have to start taking diffraction into account.
Colors, distortions and bokeh
The colors that this lens renders are really quite beautiful. Just as a note, the images here have had no color changes made to them during processing. The only parameters that changed during processing were general exposure settings.
The colors, overall are quite natural. They aren’t overly saturated, but they aren’t flat and dull either. It’s worth noting that the colors from the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN do take on a slightly warm tone, but, like most things these days, this can be changed in post if you shoot RAW. You’ll be quite pleased with straight-out-of-camera colors, though.
The bokeh that this 65mm f/2 lens produces is also marvelous. While not the smoothest bokeh I have ever seen, for an f/2 lens, the results are impressive. Out-of-focus areas are smooth and pretty creamy. You can certainly generate a lot of subject separation. The extra compression from the extra 15mm over a regular 50mm prime is noticeable too. This makes this lens great for portraits.
As you can see in the image above, bokeh balls are nice and round until you get to the edges and corners, where you will start to see some cat’s eye bokeh. Overall, when it comes to bokeh, the Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN delivers it in bucket loads.
Is it character or a flaw?
Another area where Sigma has excelled when it comes to this lens’ optics is in regards to chromatic aberration. There isn’t really any to speak of. Sigma needs to be commended here.
Now it’s time for the bad. The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN performs the worst out of all of the I series lenses when it comes to ghosting and flaring. This is an issue as I’m sure many photographers will pick this lens up as a portrait lens. You could use this to your creative advantage, but it can quickly get out of control.
As you can see in the image above, shooting into the sun yields some very distracting flaring and ghosting. Overall the optical performance of the lens is solid. It’s ridiculously sharp. The colors this lens renders are beautiful, the bokeh is fantastic, and the chromatic aberration control is excellent.
Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN is not your run of the mill prime
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN is an interesting lens that packs a lot of things you’re going to love into a well-built, but still small, and light lens. The images you create will have something a little special about them. The main issues to think about are the ghosting and flaring, and the fact that this lens is only weather-sealed at the mount.
I hoped that Sigma would have gone all out with the sealing on this lens. If it was fully weather-sealed, this lens could have become the go-to lens for street photographers and event photographers. If you don’t ever go and shoot out in the rain or on days when the dust is swirling around in high winds, this lens will delight you, even with its ‘flaws.’
Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary
The Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN contemporary is a fantastic lens that will serve those looking for an all-purpose lens very well. It will also find favor with portrait photographers too. It exhibits great color rendition, it renders gorgeous bokeh, distortions are kept to a minimum and it focuses well. Couple these traits up with the excellent overall build quality and vintage styling and you have a great lens.