Normal Retro

At sites like dpreview and there's been plenty of gnashing of teeth over the past few months about the upcoming Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime lens for DSLRs. Price speculation, weight speculation, and quality speculation. As much as I like my Zeiss Distagon 28mm, it's often hard to focus using the 300D's tiny "prison window" finder. Rather than dropping $3K on a 1D, I've been cosnidering having a fast AF alternative. I thought I'd sum-up what's known for Canon users by comparing it to some of the existing Canon offerings:

LensSigma 30/1.4Canon 28f/1.8Canon 24f/1.4LCanon 35f/1.4LCanon 35f/2Canon 50/f1.8 Contax 28f/2.8
Min Aperture16222222222222
Closest Focus (m)
Aperture Blades8778556
Elements/ Groups7/79/109/119/115/75/67/7
Filter Size (mm)62587772525255
Diameter/ Length (mm)75.5/ 5973.6/ 55.683.5/ 77.479/ 10367.4/ 42.568.2/ 4162.5/ 50
Weight (g)473310550580210130290
Price *$449 ($389)$384$1089$1089$219$69NA

* at Adorama

All lenses are USM (HSM) with FTM, except the 35f/2 and the 50f/1.8 (the Zeiss is Manual Focus). The APS-C field is too small for the 1D MkII's "APS-H" sensor.

Sigma also makes a 28mm f/1.8 for EOS, but it's huge (filter size 77mm), heavy (almost 600 grams), and without HSM I'm not really all that interested in it.

Why are these small lenses so... giant? Basically, because even for a small-sensor camera in EOS mount (or Nikon, or Pentax...), the DSLR flange-to-sensor distance is above 40mm — that means that a lens with 28mm or 30mm focal length needs to use a retro-focus design to hit the film/sensor waaaay in the back of the body. This is one aspect that 4/3-system cameras like the Olympus could — but so far haven't — exploited as an advantage.

The lack of f/22 seems like a real loss for the Sigma — sure it's a half-stop faster, but does it have any other possible advantage over the Canon 1.8?

(PS: As of 6 June the price offered at Amazon on the Sigma, still pre-release, is down to $389.94)

Comments on "Normal Retro"

Michael Poster
May 30, 2005 02:42 PM

>but does it have any other possible advantage over the Canon 1.8?

Depends on whether it's any better optically. The Canon is often dissed for optical performance. I bought one, tested it and decided it was significantly inferior to my Canon 24mm f2.8

June 6, 2005 08:43 PM

Sho 'nuff. The complaints about optical quality have confused me -- I know John Brownlow has (or had) one and liked it a lot. I see that the street price is already dropping on the Sigma even before it's released... (late)

June 13, 2005 10:50 PM

In the end I ordered the Canon... even with the price drop it's cheaper and available this week.

Besides, if my next purchaces is a 1DS Mk II... (right!) saw one for sale for only $3089 today :)


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