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Beautiful, Sharp, Bulbous. Sigma 90mm F2.8 DG DN Review


Sigma is known primarily for budget-friendly, third-party lenses. More often than not, the lower-priced options have been hit or miss. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with this I-series lens, which manages to have the best of both worlds. The Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens performs like a higher-end lens and isn’t as expensive.

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Too Long Didn’t Read

The Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN is an all-metal lens with an aperture ring. It behaves more akin to high-end lenses and comes in at a fraction of the cost. Sigma has managed to strike a harmonious chord. The lens offers plenty of bokeh, sharpness, and lens character. But it also has barrel distortion, which is nearly unheard of for a 90mm lens.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great contrast
  • Minimal editing
  • Compact size
  • Lightweight
  • Attractive all-metal design 
  • $639 price tag

Cons

  • Weather sealing only at the mount
  • A bit of barrel distortion
  • Slow to focus in low light and mixed light

Gear Used

I tested Sigma’s 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens with a Sony a7r IV and Profoto B10x Plus. The review units were from LensRentals.

Innovations

Sigma’s 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens isn’t that innovative. The all-metal design feels premium and is a welcome addition to the E-mount lineup. It is also one of the lower-priced 90mm macro options for Sony.

Tech Specs

Tech specs are from the LensRentals listing

  • Angle of View: 27.0°
  • Aperture Blades: 9, Rounded
  • Aspherical Elements: 1
  • Autofocus: Autofocus
  • Brand: Sigma
  • Compatibility: Full Frame
  • Diameter: 2.5″
  • Filter Size: 55.0mm
  • Focal Length: 90.0-90.0
  • Lens Hood Included: Yes
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Item Type: Lens
  • Length: 2.4″
  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Max Aperture: 2.8
  • Maximum Magnification: 1:5
  • Mfr. Model Number: 261965
  • Minimum Aperture: 22.0
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.6feet
  • Mount: Sony E
  • Special Low-Dispersion Elements: 5
  • Weight: 0.7 lb.

Ergonomics

The Sigma 90mm f2.8 Contemporary lens is a compact and lightweight option that fits comfortably in your hands. At only 11.2 ounces, it is easy to shoot with this lens for extended periods.

The autofocus to manual focus switch is positioned closest to the lens mount. It has a click-style aperture ring that is clearly labeled from f2.8 to 22 and has an A for aperture priority mode. Next is the textured focusing ring and the large metal lens hood that is at the end of the lens. The metal grooves are very pronounced, and manual focus is a breeze.

The lens fits 55mm filters. As you can see, there is a slight edge along the glass of the lens.

The metal lens hood is rather large in comparison to the size of the lens.

Build Quality

The all-metal design of this lens makes it feel like a premium product. It feels good in your hands. As with many of Sigma’s lenses, the 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens is only weather-sealed at the mount. It performed well in winter temperatures with moderate moisture and there was no fogging. I would be warier when shooting in torrential rain or blizzard conditions.

Autofocus

The 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens rarely misses and is quick to focus in ideal lighting situations. The lens did a fine job keeping up with my cat playing outside. It also does an excellent job when shooting through objects and backlit environments. Autofocus is noticeably slower in low light and mixed lighting with many highlights. The slower pace reminded me of shooting with Canon’s 85mm f1.2 L on a 5D Mark III body or shooting with a zoom. Those accustomed to a mirrorless combination will probably find it feels slower in low light.

When autofocusing on my cat’s face, the lens was pretty quick in the AF-S mode. But when it came to AF-C and tracking my feline friend’s face, it was a cat–astrophe. The Sigma 90mm can’t always keep up with my cat’s antics even in good lighting. That makes me a bit of a sourpuss; pun intended. I was just letting the Sony a7r IV select my cat’s face and then the eye. In situations like this, it was faster than my old 5D, but it wasn’t accurate.

When manually selecting a focusing point in low light conditions, the focus acquisition was slower and more akin to my 5D. To be clear, this happened when trying to use a single focusing point in low light. Sometimes, the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary and the Sony a7r IV won’t speak the same language. To also be fair, the Sony a7r IV doesn’t have the greatest autofocus performance.

Ease of Use

The Sigma 90mm f2.8 Contemporary lens is a comfortable focal length and simple to use. Its minimum focusing distance makes it easy to readily establish a perimeter when shooting in close proximity. The aperture ring is effortless to navigate. And it’s a breeze to develop a cadence when toggling between camera settings. When paired with a Sony camera body, manual focus is painless to watch images slide into focus.

Image Quality

Sigma’s 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens produced sharp images with plenty of bokeh. The natural vignette and barrel distortion is easily corrected in post-production. The colors paired with the contrast are better than I’ve experienced with other Sigma lenses. It’s nice to see the company opted for character over technical perfection.

Bokeh

The bokeh created by this lens is sufficient for shooting subjects outdoors. It found a nice balance of separating the subject from the background and leaving details in the environment. The images of macro images melt into the background. It’s a great lens for shooting details.

Sharpness

The Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN is a very sharp lens. Landscapes are in focus throughout the majority of the frame when shooting wide open, but this naturally improves when stopping down. Images are noticeably sharper when stopping down to f4.

Lens Character

This lens creates sharp images with plenty of bokeh and beautiful contrast. This lens has a lot of vignetting, which you may or may not like. But it also exhibits exorbitant barrel distortion which we wouldn’t expect of a 90mm lens. If you recall, we also found it with the 85mm f1.4 a while back. Maybe it’s just a Sigma thing! Chromatic aberration is very minimal, thanks in large part to the elements of this lens. Sun flares and light flares can either be embraced or minimized, depending on your preference and settings.

Take a look at the lines here though. Unusual for a 90mm lens, right?

Color Rendition

The colors produced with the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens are pleasing. Shooting winter scenes with cool shadows and warm highlights produces a smooth balance of tonality. Skin tones are realistic without needing correction in post. If you are someone who embraces shadows, you will appreciate the deep blacks this lens can produce. And if it’s not your jam, the shadows can easily be pulled in Capture One.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions of the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Lens

Likes

  • Plenty of lens character
  • It’s comfortable to hold and shoot with.
  • All-metal design
  • Minimal post-processing required

Dislikes

  • It’s not fully weather-sealed.
  • Noticeable barrel distortion
  • Slower to achieve autofocus when the light isn’t optimal

Sigma has created a beautiful lens with a premium design. Although it isn’t fully weather-sealed, the sealing at the lens mount is perfectly sufficient for how most photographers will use it. At 90mm, cityscapes shouldn’t have barrel distortion that is this evident. So, while it’s a simple fix in Capture One, it’s a fix that shouldn’t be necessary.

As companies continue to embrace technical perfection, the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens is a breath of fresh air. It offers an outstanding balance of bokeh and sharpness. The colors and contrast it produces make the dreaded post-processing much less of a bore. I enjoyed shooting with this lens.

We’re giving the Sigma 90mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens four out of five stars. Want one? You can pick it up on Adorama or Amazon for $639 or rent it from LensRentals to take it for a spin.






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