Hands-on with the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary
Hands-on with the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C
The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary is a compact, lightweight wideangle zoom lens for Sony E-mount and L-mount full-frame and APS-C format digital cameras. Click through this article to learn more about Sigma’s latest compact zoom.
‘Contemporary’ versus ‘Art’ and ‘Sport’
Sigma’s ‘Global Vision’ line of lenses contains three sub-brands: ‘Art’, which Sigma reserves for its best-performing and most expensive optics, ‘Contemporary’, which describes the company’s enthusiast lenses, with an emphasis on compactness and unique or unusual focal length ranges, and ‘Sport’, which is the brand that Sigma uses for its long telephoto primes and telezooms.
The 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN is a ‘Contemporary’ lens and is designed as a companion to the 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN | C, offering the same constant maximum aperture of F2.8, in a highly compact form factor. When used on an APS-C body it covers a focal length range equivalent to 24-42mm in full-frame terms.
Size and weight
The 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C really is tiny, considering that it covers a full-frame imaging circle. Weighing in at only 450g (~1lb) and measuring just 100.6mm (~4 in) it’s a perfect companion to smaller full-frame ILCs like the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5, but doesn’t feel unbalanced even on a larger body like the S1R pictured above.
Somewhat unusually for a lens of this type, the zoom movement is entirely internal, meaning that the lens doesn’t change in length at all when it is zoomed.
Optically, the 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C is made up of 16 elements in 11 groups, with five FLD (Sigma describes these as fluorite-like) and four aspherical lens elements. The minimum focus is 25cm (9.9 in), giving a respectable maximum reproduction ratio of 1:5.6.
Nine rounded aperture blades help ensure circular out-of-focus highlights as you stop down beyond the maximum aperture. Super Multi-Layer Coating is employed to help keep contrast high and flare to a minimum.
Build and handling
Despite its light weight and compact dimensions, the 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C fits right in alongside other ‘Contemporary’ lenses in Sigma’s lineup in feeling solid and well-built. The barrel of the lens is almost entirely plastic, with the exception of a textured rubber focus ring, but the tight molding and understated matte black finish combine to give a distinct impression of quality. We’ve been very impressed by the fit and finish of all Sigma’s Global Vision lenses, and the 16-28mm is no exception.
The only physical controls on the lens barrel are a focus ring (of knurled plastic) a rubberized zoom ring and an AF/MF toggle switch. Both rings are smooth and well-damped, while the focus control toggle moves with a firm ‘click’ that requires just enough force to avoid accidental operation. It’s a focus mode toggle – they’re hard to mess up (but trust us – not impossible).
Of all the criteria by which to judge a lens of this kind, arguably one of the least relevant is autofocus speed. That being said, the 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C is no slouch, and the stepper motor that drives AF does so reasonably quickly and very quietly. Manual focus is, as expected, ‘by wire’, and there’s enough granularity in the mechanism to ensure precise control if you need to take over.
In addition to stills, of course, the 16-28mm is designed to be used for shooting video, where the silent autofocus and smooth manual focus are both advantages during filming.
This image shows the rear of the lens, and highlights the slim rubber gasket around the brass mount which helps keep dust and moisture from getting into the camera. Sigma doesn’t make any great claims about weather-sealing but describes the mount accordingly (and only the mount) as ‘dust and splash resistant’.
No, this isn’t the 22nd sample of the lens to come off the production line: The ’22’ refers to the year of introduction, and the ‘0’ is an indication of Sigma’s confidence in the longevity of the Global Vision line.
In conclusion, the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C is a welcome addition to the Contemporary lineup for E and L-mount shooters, offering a useful wideangle focal length range in a package that won’t weigh down your camera bag. In terms of image quality, it turns in a good performance, but can’t quite match the more expensive optics in Sigma’s ‘Art’ lineup on a high-resolution body like the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R. Our sample is generally stronger at 16mm than it is at 28mm, but overall performance is very solid, given the sub-$1000 MSRP. You can check out a full gallery of samples via the link below.