The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is an affordable wide angle prime lens that’s available for Sony E-mount cameras and micro 4/3 cameras. I will be reviewing the E-mount version of this lens. The closest competitor to the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is the Sony 20mm f/2.8. The Sony 20mm is a pancake lens that has the Sigma 19mm beat on size, but the Sigma has the advantage in optics and image quality. At $199, the Sigma 19mm is also $100 cheaper than the Sony 20mm. In this review, I will cover the build quality, construction, and handling of the Sigma 19mm, as well as provide sample shots from a wide range of exposure settings.
Lens Construction, Handling, And Build Quality:
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is a lens that works on APS-C crop sensor cameras. The lens provides a 28.5mm equivalent on a 35mm format for a 73.5° angle of view. The minimum focus distance is listed at 7.9″, but I found the autofocus to hunt quite a bit at anything less than 12″. The lens takes a 46mm filter thread and measures 2.39 x 1.80″.
The lens is constructed of 8 elements (3 are aspherical) in 6 groups, and the aperture diaphragm uses 7 blades. The elements have what Sigma calls Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce abberations, fringing, ghosting, and flare. The aperture range is f/2.8-f/22. There is no image stabilization provided by this lens. The Sigma 19mm is constructed of mostly plastic and has a metal bayonet. Overall, the construction is pretty good, and provides solid build quality in a lightweight package.
The Sigma 19mm has an internal focusing system with a linear auto-focus motor. I’ve found the autofocus to work very well and is pretty silent. It’s not the fastest auto-focus on the market, but for a 19mm, is more than adequate.
In the MTF graph below, you can see the quality of the Sigma 19mm. The red line is for the Micro 4/3 version and the green line is for the E-Mount Sony. This graph corroborates my experience: Light transmission and sharpness is really good in the center, with a noticeable falloff as you move away towards the edges. The Sigma 19mm takes some super sharp images that beat out or equal just about every other lens at this price point.
What is an MTF Chart?
From Nikon USA: “Modulation Transfer Function or “MTF” is a measurement of the optical performance potential of a lens…A MTF chart plots the contrast and resolution of a lens from the center to its edges against a “perfect” lens that would transmit 100% of the light that passes through it. The contrast of a lens is important as this works in correlation to lens resolution…The y-axis (vertical axis) of a MTF chart plots the transmission of light through the lens with a maximum value of “1.0” which would indicate 100% transmittance of the light, although 100% transmittance of light is not possible because glass is not 100% transparent…The x-axis (horizontal axis) shows the distance from the center of the image towards its edges. So, the “0” in the lower left corner represents the center of the lens and the numbers along the lower axis represent the distance out towards the edge of the lens in millimeters.”
Image Quality And Performance:
Build quality, MTF charts, and item descriptions are nice, but if you’re like me, real life shots with a review lens are what impact my purchasing decision most. In this section I’ll provide a handful of images in a range of categories. My overall impressions of the Sigma 19mm are positive. There is very little distortion, and the vignetting is pretty mild. The sharpness is also very good, especially once you get past f/5.6.
*The only post processing applied to these images is a size reduction and the addition of a watermark.
With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, the Sigma 19mm offers photographers a lot of flexibility in low light situations. I’ve been able to shoot handheld sunsets and poorly lit indoor shots without issue. As you can see, the images are super sharp even when handheld shots are taken in low light. I’ve found the Sigma 19mm to be an ideal lens for museum visits and other outings that require indoor shooting in questionable lighting.
Landscapes, Walk-a-round, and Outdoors
The Sigma 19mm also performs very well as an outdoor hiking lens and walk-a-round lens. At 19mm, it’s wide enough to capture most landscapes that come into view.
Portraits, Closeups, and Bokeh
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is not an ideal portrait lens due to it’s wide field of view, but it performs more than adequately when called upon. It also provides a rather pleasant looking bokeh.
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 is a lens that provides a lot of value at $199. It’s plastic build isn’t the most robust on the market, but that’s what you’d expect at this price point. What the Sigma 19mm does do very well is provide super sharp photos. If you’re looking for an affordable wide angle prime lens for your Sony E-mount camera, you owe it to yourself to give the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 a close look.
- Sharp photos
- Quick auto-focus
- Lightweight for travel and hiking
- Hunts for focus on items closer than 12″