Is This The best value prime for video in 2021?
The Sigma 35mm F/2 Contemporary is the cut price, light weight little brother of the 35mm Art lens we looked at recently. I want to see if this lens, which is 1/3 rd the price of that Art lens, is one of the best value prime lenses for video you can get in 2021?
When Sigma’s Press department sent us a two 35mm lenses at the same time I was at first confused. Surely the premium Art lens is the only one worth looking at, and that this F/2 from the Contemporary range is just going to be a moot point. That was until I actually came to testing it in the studio.
Coming in at around £500-600 (or dollars in the US), this lens is very much priced to be obtainable by a much large group of users. To sit alongside that accessibility we also have a compact design and a super light weight but sturdy weather sealed body.
It’s a no nonsense F/2 to F/22 range, with a 9 blade design and a 10 element construction, with no image stabilisation, a fly by wire focus and rear mounted clicked aperture control, all weighing in at a tiny 325grams.
It’s a lens that looks simplistic and that has had anything deemed unnecessary trimmed down in favour of focussing on getting the best optics for your money. But enough of the talk, let’s get to using the lens and to see if it really is a good bang for your buck.
THE GOOD BITS
The first good point has to be the price point in which it sits. Maybe that because I’m a cheapskate at heart, but truly a fast prime lens of this optic quality is almost impossible to find at this price point. This is highlighted to us even more as we got to test the 35mm F/1.2 Art lens at the same time, which retails at 1500$. And although that is a superior quality lens, this contemporary lens is definitely far from 3x times worse than it.
The build quality is second to none. It’s something Sigma lenses seem to excel at in both the contemporary and Art range. The quality of the lens construction and the ergonomics are amazing. What is particularly noticeable with this 35mm is how lightweight it is. This for a prime 35mm is really important, at least from my perspective. It’s a lens you can happily strap on your camera and leave on without worrying, the same can’t be said for it’s Art big brother which is 3 times the weight and just all round bulky by comparison.
The image it renders is really the most important part of any lens, and as you’ve hopefully seen in the shots up to this point, it can render some really lovely results that to my eye far exceed it’s price point. I would love to be able to give you a clear indication of some of the usability elements like autofocus, but we were testing this lens on the Sigma FP, and in truth that would give you an unfair indication of the focus motors performance. But from what I’ve seen of it, much like the image and every other aspect of this lens, it’s snappy and impressive.
THE BAD BITS
So onto the bad points and as to be expected for a product at this price point, there is some caveats, especially for us video shooters. And first of those is the focus breathing, which is extreme. For those unsure this is how much the lens alters your field of view when you rack focus in and out, it’s present in all photography lens, but on the 35mm F/2 contemporary it’s so apparent that it almost looks like a zoom.
Next comes to that slightly stripped down design, with the fly by wire focus ring. I don’t like them, especially on smaller lens bodies, as someone that lives almost exclusively in manual for video they hinder rather than help, I guess I’m just a sucker for that analogue feedback.
Really for anyone using an E or L mount camera this is a very easy lens to recommend, but that could also be as your choices are very limited at this focal range. This is comfortably a lens you can use as an all day carry and achieve some beautiful results in your videos. It represents my favourite part of the camera market, where quality outstrips price and the performance far exceeds the money you put into it, the Sigma 35mm F/2 Contemporary is at that price and quality sweet spot and as such is a no brainer investment for any L or E mount users.
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