There are lens tests and lens tests. I’m the first to admit that my views on lenses are subjective. I concern myself with the usability, the ergonomics, build quality and an overview of the output. The main factor is whether or not I find the results right for me. I have neither the experience nor the equipment to undertake detailed lens tests. However, if I do want a detailed technical assessment of any lens I am interested in, I know where to go.
One of the best sources of such information is Sean Reid’s Reid Reviews site where he goes into incredible detail on the technical aspects and image quality of a staggeringly wide range of lenses, old and new.
Sean has worked as a professional photographer since 1984 and his lens reviews are based on intensive fieldwork as well as controlled studio testing. They are very much written from a photographer’s perspective.
I was keen to read Sean’s test of the Sigma 45/2.8 DG DN For Leica L-Mount. It’s a lens we’ve written a lot about and have already published Thomas A. Berger’s first impressions review. I took the lens and the Panasonic S1 to the Brooklands American Car day wrote a further article.
As probably the smallest and lightest autofocus lenses designed for the L-Mount, the Sigma forty-five is gaining converts. The “slow” maximum aperture of f/2.8 is more than offset by the advantages of the modest weight and compact size.
Particularly for outdoor use at, say, f/5.6, it is capable of very impressive results. It is perhaps the first go-anywhere full-frame lens for the L system, transforming the handling of both the Leica SL and the Panasonic S cameras when compared with the usual L-mount standard lens fare.
Only Leica’s TL lenses can compare on size and weight but they result in a cropped image when used on the SL or S cameras.
It isn’t without its faults, but Sean Reid accepts the shortcomings in return for the benefits. A 50mm Leica Summicron will outperform, without a doubt, but it comes at a price and with weight penalty. And faster lenses, such as the 50mm f/1.4 Lumix S Pro, are even more of a handful. As always, it’s a matter of horses for courses, and the little Sigma forty-five excels for what it is, and for what it costs (just £549 in the UK).
Sean tells me that in his opinion the Sigma 45mm transforms the SL or S1/R in terms of working size and weight.
If you are in the market for L-Mount lenses, including the f/2.8 Sigma, it’s worth reading Sean’s in-depth reviews. Reid Reviews has always been entirely free of ads, commissionable links and so forth. So the content is paid for by subscribers only, not by advertisers and that’s why the site requires a paid annual subscription of $39.95.
I would argue that it is worth every cent to gain access to so much well-informed technical information. In the long run, it will save you cash. Some content is free, however, just to give you a flavour for Sean’s methodology. You can find full details here.
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