Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Review
With the amazing performance of the compact mirrorless cameras on the market today from Sony and Canon, it’s awesome to see a series of prime lenses that match the level of quality they offer.
The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 has become my lens of choice for capturing wide scenes with an APS-C mirrorless camera.
With an equivalent focal length of 24mm (multiply 16 by 1.5 for full frame equivalent focal length), this is a great all-around wide angle lens!
This lens is particularly great for shooting landscapes or architecture as it allows you to capture large scenes with ease. It also offers amazing specs and performance considering the price.
My focus for assessing the quality of this lens was how it would perform in a variety of scenarios and how it would compare to some of the other lenses I already own.
In this review, we’ll dive deeper into the specs of this lens and take a look at its strengths and weaknesses, as well as what I think it’s best suited for.
If you want a super-fast wide angle lens for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds, I highly recommend the Sigma 16mm f/1.4. It’s durable, the autofocus is excellent, and image quality is far superior to what you’d expect at this affordable price point.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Specs
- Great image quality
- Excellent value
- Solid build quality
- Color fringing/aberration
- No auto/manual focus switch
- APS-C / Crop Sensor Lens
- Aperture Range: f/1.4 – f/16
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.25m (9.8″)
- Weight: 14.3 oz / 405 g
- Length: 3.6″ / 92 mm
- Diameter: 2.8 ” / 72 mm
- Filter size: 67 mm
Build & Ergonomics
While I’m usually skeptical of the build quality and functionality of a sub-$400 lens, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 immediately stands out as feeling quite durable.
The barrel of the lens is a metal design with a large rubber focus ring. It feels very tough and comparable to much more expensive lenses I own.
The inclusion of a rubber gasket around the rear mount for weather/dust sealing is excellent. It gives me peace of mind to know that despite the inexpensive price tag, this lens is built to the high-quality standards of many higher-end sigma lenses.
Although I haven’t used the lens for an extended period, I suspect it will take a lot of abuse. It feels very tough and durable.
In terms of ergonomics, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 has a nice feel to it. The large rubber focus ring provides a firm place to grip the lens.
The lens does have a bit of weight to it (some people like this because it feels tougher and more steady). I find it to be near the limit of what I am comfortable pairing with my very compact Sony a6600 camera body.
There are no switches or functions on the lens, keeping the design super simple.
It would have been nice if Sigma at least included an auto/manual focus switch for video shooters but this can always be achieved by turning focus on/off on the camera body.
Overall, this lens feels great to use. I like how easy it is to grab and how it feels sturdy. It would be nice if Sigma could shave a little weight but at this price point, I have nothing to complain about when it comes to build and ergonomics.
Focus performance is superb with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4. It quickly grabs focus and tracks fast moving objects easily.
With the very fast aperture of f/1.4, it does exceptionally well focusing in low light and I never have any issues.
As I mentioned above, it would have been nice to include an auto/manual focus switch on the lens body but I can live without this feature (especially when I’m only shooting photos).
I’ll admit that I’ve always subscribed to the idea that native lenses work best when it comes to autofocus but Sigma is changing my mind about this. I find that it focuses just as well as my native Sony lenses on the a6600.
This may be a turning point in quality lens offerings where you no longer see a loss in autofocus speed by using non-native brand lenses.
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a prime lens is the image quality. Many people opt for prime lenses because they typically have better sharpness, bokeh, and aberration than zoom lenses.
Overall, the image quality of the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is great! Even wide open, the images this lens produces are quite sharp. Once you stop down, the sharpness in the edges of the frame improves and I was very happy with the quality.
When it comes to bokeh, this lens has great potential at f/1.4 – however, the wide focal length of 16mm counteracts most of these effects. I wouldn’t expect to see much bokeh unless you’re shooting subjects at a very close range.
It’s my belief that wide angle lenses aren’t meant for portraits and I think the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is no exception. It works beautifully for environmental portraits or large landscapes with people in them, but when shot at a close distance, portraits with this lens will distort faces and exaggerate features in unflattering ways.
All that’s to say, this lens is great in low light but not intended as a bokeh-producing portrait lens. There are much better lenses in the Sigma lineup that are suited to that, namely the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and Sigma 56mm f/1.4.
Although distortion may be a problem for close up portraits, I find it to be very manageable for landscapes and larger scenes.
When the lens correction profile is applied in Adobe Lightroom, a lot of the natural vignette and distortion is eliminated.
At such a wide focal length, this lens will distort things with straight lines (i.e. architecture) but if I avoid pointing the lens upward, I don’t have any issues.
When it comes to aberration, I do have some issues with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4.
If your intent is to shoot astrophotography, I would be wary of this lens. At the edges of the frame, I notice some color fringing and distortion of point sources of light. Stars can appear slightly elongated with red/blue color fringing on the edges.
The aberration isn’t significant except in super high contrast scenes where you have a very small bright light source on a dark backdrop. For the majority of my use, I don’t find this to be a problem!
I’ll get into more detail below, but for the price, the image quality of this lens is awesome! It will be a step up from most kit lenses and give you a new perspective on creating.
Value for Money
Value is what really sets the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 apart.
For under US$400, you get a super-fast prime lens with the durability to last many years of heavy use.
This lens fits a niche for many APS-C camera users that is unmatched by other offerings. I’m continually impressed by how much quality Sigma has been able to fit into this lens for the price point.
My only complaint is the aberration issue and that’s only really a concern if you want to do astrophotography. I don’t think you’ll find a better balance of features at this price point: very durable, great image quality, and excellent autofocus.
This lens is going to be a great buy and will retain its value if you decide it’s not right for you.
I often encourage people to invest in lenses over camera bodies. Because the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is so affordable, it allows you to invest in both!
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Review | Conclusion
When it comes to a fast aperture wide angle prime for Sony (or Canon) APS-C mirrorless cameras, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is unmatched. It has tremendous quality and performance in a very affordable package.
I appreciated feeling like I never sacrificed quality or durability because I opted to get a less expensive lens.
So far, my only complaint is the aberration in my astrophotography. In every other scenario, this lens has exceeded my expectations.
With so many choices for lenses, it can be difficult to discern what will work best. But if you want a quality lens for shooting wide angle scenes (landscapes, environmental portraits, or indoors) the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is a great choice.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.