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Review by Markus Stamm, published February 2013
Normal primes for full frame cameras are often considered must-have items in any camera bag, since they usually offer stunning performance at a very moderate price.
On APS-C digital cameras, things look a bit different though. To achieve the field of view of a normal prime, it takes a lens in the range of 30mm to 35mm, preferably a fast one. Many systems feature a native 35mm f/1.4 lens, however these are usually full frame lenses targeting professional users. Which means: they are mighty expensive.
Nikon adresses this issue with its AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 lens, however there is also a 3rd party option that is even faster: the Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM. The lens has been around for a while, in fact at the time of this review Sigma just announced they are going to replace the lens with a different design. So, the lens faces the end of its product life cycle.
However, that won't stop us from having a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.
The build quality of the Sigma lens is excellent. It is a member of Sigma's professional grade "EX" (excellence) lineup. Our review unit still featured the classic crinkle finish that Sigma has used on EX lenses for many years. Current production units however now have a smooth rubber coating on top of a metal body.
The broad, rubberized focus ring has a smooth action. The physical length of the lens remains constant at all focus settings and the front element does not rotate, so using a polarizer is no problem.
A dedicated petal-shaped hood with bayonet mount is supplied with the lens.
Thanks to a ultrasonic AF drive, which Sigma calls HSM, the lens is compatible with all current Nikon DSLRs, including the motor-free entry level cameras. The focusing speed is pretty fast and the AF noise level is very low. Full-time manual focusing is possible.
The Sigma is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Equiv. focal length||45 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. max. f-stops||f/2.1 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field - not speed)|
|Optical construction||7 elements in 7 groups incl. 1 FLD, 1 SLD and 1 aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||8|
|min. focus distance||0.4 m (max. magnification ratio 1:10.4)|
|Dimensions||77 mm x 59 mm|
|Filter size||62 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera, Silent Wave AF motor|