Home L-Mount Reid Reviews: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN For Leica L-Mount

Reid Reviews: Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN For Leica L-Mount

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Sigma 45mm f/2.8 and Panasonic S1 (Image Mike Evans)

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.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 and Panasonic Lumix S1 (Image Mike Evans)
Sigma 45mm f/2.8 and Panasonic Lumix S1 (Image Mike Evans)

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.

Professional

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.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 and Panasonic S1 (Image Mike Evans)
Sigma 45mm f/2.8 and Panasonic S1 (Image Mike Evans)

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.

The Sigma 45 and Leica's SL, a happy f/5.6 at 1/800s (Image Thomas Berger)
The Sigma 45 and Leica’s SL, a happy f/5.6 at 1/800s (Image Thomas Berger)

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.

The Sigma and Panasonic Lumix S1 create a very handleable and effective combination (Image Mike Evans)
Ichiban: The Sigma and Panasonic Lumix S1 create a very handleable and effective combination (Image Mike Evans)

Shortcomings

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.

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 was designed to match the world's smallest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sigma fp. Yet it is in demand by owners of bulkier SLs and Lumix S cameras as an effective alternatve to today's bulky L-Mount primes
The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 was designed to complement the world’s smallest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sigma fp. Yet it is in demand by owners of bulkier SLs and Lumix S cameras as an effective alternative to the usual bulky L-Mount primes

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.

Image by Sean Reid (Leica SL and Sigma 45mm f/2.8 at f/8)

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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More Macfilos coverage of the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN

15 COMMENTS

  1. There is a certain serendipity or coincidence about this, as I expect to meet Sean in Boston, USA, next Saturday where he is a speaker at the LHSA AGM which I am attending. Sean was an artist in residence with the Irish Arts Council in the 1980s and some of his work is still there. I will see what it might take to persuade Sean to come back here. As well as being an excellent tester, Sean is an outstanding photographer.

    I might add that the current plan is to have the LHSA AGM in Dublin 2021 and I will keep Mike and readers posted about this.

    William

    • .
      “..Sean is an outstanding photographer..”

      I tried Reid Reviews a few years ago, after his description of the Epson R-D1 (..I think..) appeared on, or was linked from, the Luminous Landscape.

      He appears (..or appeared, it’s a long time since I read Read Reviews..) to go into great detail ..but then seemed to abandon any ‘in depth’ review by meandering off and saying “..I’ll go into this in more detail another time”.

      And his photos ..just ugh! I cannot understand what merit any of them had or has! ..They appeared to be – back when I was reading Read – black-and-white, tilted all angles, “naïve” or pointless photos of assorted people passing by at country fairs, lots of cows, haystacks, tractors, five-bar gates, big wide hats and no discernible point to any one of them.

      So I gave up my subscription, and explained to him why. I might as well have been looking at a dozen b-&-w photos of road junctions, or of cheese on toast on hay bales, or false teeth in display cabinets.

      Neither his reviews, nor his photos, are my cup of tea ..though maybe I’m just too stupid to see what’s so ‘great’ about them.

        • David, You probably have highly developed critical faculties and you might just be hard to please. I am just a simple soul going through life with an open eye and open mind. There are things in modern photography I dislike, such as ‘pixel peeping’, which I usually call out when I see it. One man’s meat etc.

          William

  2. My problem these days is to distinguish the output of one camera and lens from another because generally I cannot tell the difference. I’ll be interested in the camera and lens combination that makes the angle of the sun or the quality of the light better or brings an attractive look on someone’s face. Probably delivered by the flying pig. So for me the size, weight and handling of the set up are more important than the technicalities. I’d like to find out more about particular cameras but baulk at paying the subscription price so thanks but I’ll stick with Macfilos for now.

  3. PIKER! See if you sold Max to your subscribers the way Leica prices cameras you could have retired a second time after selling out to a consortium of Leica Boutique owners. I would pay for subscription to Macfilos.

    • Thank you John! If we ever go subscription I’ll give you an honorary membership for your faithful support over the years. In the meantime, enjoy it for free.

  4. Whatever the quality of Sean Reid’s reviews – and I read them regularly – even if Im not a fan of country fairs – the little 45/2.8 Sigma is a real treat. I use it on my black TL2 — it looks gorgeous and designed for the camera – and the CL for an all-purpose walk around that matches the 23 and surpasses the 18 TL lenses. Im waiting to see what the SL2 brings – but even with the light lens I still found the Panasonic S1R just too heavy for everyday use. So it went back and I very happy with the Nikon Z7 (half the weight of the S1R) and very usable with a great EVF. I find (confirmed by Reid) that the M lenses at least up to the 28 are fairly equal to the SL in practice.

  5. I find it worthwhile to subscribe to Sean for the many nuggets of gold on the glass he tests. He is about the only competent tester I have found. He is a rare tester that is able to show the rendering of a lens. Most testers are incompetent; they mostly care about sharpness at one distance on a flat subject. Each lens is like a paint brush and artist that delivers an unique rendering. I have had to sell so much glass because I could not get intelligent information before I purchase. Sean’s site is one of a very few that provides rendering information.I have been able to successfully select glass based on his reviews. I only subscribe after a year or so absence at times as he will be testing things I have no interest in.
    However, if people do not see a rendering difference in their glass then I have no problem with that. Hopefully, most of us are in the photography hobby to enjoy capturing pictures, at any skill level, and not in it to think they are better than others or look to be impress others by the size and price of their equipment but have nothing to show for it.
    Anyway, I highly recommend Sean’s site to anyone wanting to become more knowledgeable on image rendering differences. I currently own 5 50mm lenses and I pick each one to use based on the shooting envelope I need and the rendering.

  6. Sean Reid certainly devides opinion. I have been a subscriber for many years and find his stuff really useful, and always assumed the pictures he posts were just taken for test/demonstration purposes. Although I personally rate him, I wish he would make his site more ‘user friendly’ with a detailed index.
    For Leica fans there are some nice videos with him and the late Michael Reichmann on The Luminous Landscape site discussing Leica cameras.

    • I forgot to mention in my comment, as you have, that the purpose of his general images are to show rendering at various apertures at various distances and backgrounds and so on. They are not intended to be all great images. I do the same thing when I evaluate my glass. I shoot differently when testing glass to determine how the lens behaves before I use it on more serious image capture.

  7. I’m looking at that b&w photo further up the page of a man hosing down (?) a cow (..forgive me if it’s a heifer, a bullock, or some other bovine variant).

    What exactly am I looking at? What is its ‘rendering’? There’s a man in, fairly sharp, focus, as far as I can tell, and some out-of-focus caravans in the background. There’s a (fairly sharp) bucket, a squeezable bottle and an aerosol(?) can in the foreground. The man’s wearing wellington boots and looking back over his shoulder. There are assorted hoses on the left of the picture.

    None of this tells me anything about how this lens renders colour – different shades of green, for example – or copes with flare, or handles ‘differential focus’ (the transition, say between sharp focus and blur), it doesn’t tell me how the lens handles bright sparkles of light reflected off the water, not anything else, really.

    All it shows is the ‘angle of view’ of that lens (on that particular sensor). The content of the picture is – to me, anyway – utterly dull and incredibly pointless. Now compare it with the photos above it by Mike Evans and Thomas Berger. See what I mean?

    Does the b&w photo convey any feeling or any information? ..All it conveys to me is “what an incredibly dull person Sean Reid must be, especially if he thinks this scene, and others like it, is worth paying $39.95 for”. But, as I said, maybe I’m just too stupid to recognise its value.

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