Sigma just announced three autofocus lenses for Fujifilm X-mount: 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4, and 56mm f/1.4. This is a big deal because 1) Sigma lenses are pretty darn good yet typically “affordable” and 2) it’s good to have options, which has been a little missing for Fujifilm photographers. These lenses can be pre-ordered and will ship in April.
I’m sitting here sipping my first cup of coffee, and already there has been plenty of press and early reviews published on these three lenses. What can I add that hasn’t already been said?
I’m glad that Sigma announced these lenses. I think it’s good. But I’m going to give you three quick reasons why you should not buy them. I’ll briefly explain why the similar Fujinon offerings are superior, and you should go with those instead.
First, there are no aperture rings on these Sigma lenses. Sigma literally took three already existing lenses for other mounts and made them compatible with X-mount. These lenses aren’t designed for the Fujifilm experience—they’re designed for Sony, in which you use a command wheel to adjust the aperture (yuck!). It is true that some Fujinon lenses work this same way, but most don’t. Most have an aperture ring, and that’s an important aspect of shooting Fujifilm. Sigma should have redesigned their lenses to include an aperture ring, but they didn’t, and I predict their X-mount lenses won’t sell as well because of this.
Second, behind the scenes, your Fujifilm camera is secretly fixing little flaws in the Fujinon glass. Fujifilm programmed their cameras to do this automatically, so you don’t know that there’s actually a little vignetting or chromatic aberrations or whatever else that doesn’t show in the pictures but is actually there if the camera wasn’t making this adjustment. Your camera won’t do this for third-party lenses. For the greatest optimization, stick with native glass.
Third, these three Sigma lenses are rather plain-looking. They don’t really match the retro-vibes of most Fujifilm X cameras because they look like modern lenses. Not all Fujinon lenses were modeled after vintage designs, but many of them were, and they match the stylings of the body much better than these Sigma offerings.
With all that said, there’s definitely a market for third-party autofocus lenses; however, they must offer something that Fujifilm doesn’t. It could be a focal-length and/or aperture. It could be quality. It could be speed. It could be size and/or weight. It could be price. What do these Sigma lenses offer that Fujifilm doesn’t? Let’s take a look.
Fujifilm offers a 16mm f/1.4 lens already—a high-quality, quick lens that’s smaller than the Sigma offering. The Sigma is less than half the price.
Fujifilm offers a 33mm f/1.4—a high-quality, quick lens that’s a similar size (and focal-length) to the Sigma offering. The Sigma is less than half the price.
Fujifilm offers a 56mm f/1.2—a high-quality, quick lens that’s a similar size to the Sigma offering (but larger maximum aperture). The Sigma is less than half the price.
Now you see why one would choose a Sigma lens over the Fujinon: to save some cash. They’re priced significantly cheaper while offering something similar. If you can afford it, the Fujinon lenses are better, but if not, this is a solid alternative that’s friendlier on the wallet. There are also lesser-expensive Fujinon options worth considering, which maybe don’t have the tech-sheet wow factor, but are otherwise fantastic lenses that you’re sure to be happy with.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 $449 — B&H
Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 $999 — Amazon B&H
Fujifilm 16mm f/2.8 $399 — Amazon B&H
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 $339 — B&H
Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 $799 — Amazon B&H
Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 $399 — Amazon B&H
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 $479 — B&H
Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 $999 — Amazon B&H
Fujinon 50mm f/2 $449 — Amazon B&H
I’d love to buy a 12 mm
The Rokinon 12mm is pretty good.
…Sigma would be autofocus
Yeah, Rokinon 12mm f/2 autofocus. Take a look:
Oh, thanks, I did not know about it !
Good point about the lack of an actual aperture ring on these Sigma lenses. Those aperture rings are a major reason I signed on with Fuji. I really don’t understand the need for the really fast wide angle lenses. Having the capability to use very high ISO values more than compensates for a slower lens. I’d much rather have a lens with better resolution and mapped by the camera to minimize any inherent aberrations over lens speed.
I think large apertures on wide-angle lenses makes sense for star pictures… and not much else. If you plan on doing astrophotography, it can be great, but otherwise isn’t a big deal. Thanks for the input!
The press release specifically mentions “in-camera aberration correction”. It would seem then that the camera will indeed correct at least some of the minor flaws. I don’t see why that wouldn’t be the case if other features such as AF-C are supported.
Personally, I think these are very interesting. Especially for those for whom Fujinon lenses are a bit too pricey. They may make for a decent introduction into prime lenses too. Obviously, we’ll have to see some proper reviews to get a better sense of what they actually offer but I suspect that for a lot of people an aperture ring and a slightly nicer feel aren’t worth two or three hundred dollars.
It could be a copy-and-paste typo (from press releases for other brands). Fujifilm doesn’t currently offer this correction for any third-party lenses. It is possible that Sigma and Fujifilm made a deal to offer this functionality, but it will take a firmware update I’d think, wouldn’t it? If Fujifilm does a firmware update on all their interchangeable-lens models between now and April (when these lenses are released), that would be a good indication that the press release is accurate. If not, that’s a good indication that the press release was inaccurate. Unless I’m mistaken on how all this works. Maybe the correction parameters are contained in the lenses, and Fujifilm has given Sigma the key to allow the camera to read it? I’m not certain, but, if true, it would be a “first” for a Fujifilm camera to correct for third-party glass, so I’d be surprised, but you never know.
For myself, and I think a lot of people, the aperture ring on the lens is a big part of the Fujifilm user experience. Having used a Nikon Zfc camera, and not having an aperture ring, the user experience greatly suffered. I’d definitely pay several hundred dollars for that, no doubt about it, because it makes that much of a difference. But each person has their own preferences, so I can only speak for myself.
Once again, it depends on the particular setup. If someone shoots RAW only, then the lack of correction isn’t any concern. Although I doubt there’s many readers of this site do that. There again, what exactly is going on with JPEG correction will have to be evaluated by independent reviewers once the lenses hit the store shelves.
(BTW the FujiXWeekly app is great, I consider it to be an essential companion to my camera now.)
If I were to buy a lens, I would strongly consider one of these as photography is just a hobby for me and I don’t make any money off it. I like the aperture ring on both of my Fujinon lenses, particularly the one on the 50-140. I guess I could live without it for a few hundred $$$ less (assuming everything else is equal or comparably good).
I agree that once they’ve been tested we’ll know more about it, for sure. I hope in the future Sigma considers adding an aperture ring to their X-Mount lenses. I don’t think they will, but I really hope they do, even if it raises the cost one or two hundred dollars.
Nice to see some 3rd party glass, but I’m with you. I’ll stick with native glass whenever I can. The Fuji 16/1.4 and 33/1.4 are two of my very favorite lenses – period. I did break down and pick up the Viltrox 56/1.4 recently though.
Having options is definitely good. The more the merrier! But… Sigma is going head-to-head with what are some exceptional Fujinon glass. Those on a tight budget will appreciate it, but those who can afford it I think will appreciate the native glass much more. I think a better strategy would have been for Sigma to look for “holes” in the Fujinon lineup and fill those.
Nice to see some 3rd party glass for Fuji. But I’m with you – I’ll stick with Fuji when I can, especially when they have the aperture ring. This is one of the reasons I left Sony for Fujifilm – I’m reminded of my days shooting with a Pentax film camera. The Fuji 16/1.4 and 33/1.4 are two of my absolute favorite lenses – the way they render color and contrast just can’t be beat. I did break down and recently picked up the Viltrox 56/1.4 and am still checking it out – it’s not a focal length I use a lot so I decided to save the $$ and went with the Viltrox.
Waiting for a light 18-70mm f2.8: this should be the field for Sigma.
My feeling is that Fujifilm users tend to prefer prime lenses over zooms more than other brands. That’s not to say that Fujifilm photographers don’t buy and use zooms, or that other brands don’t buy and use primes, but by percentage, primes are more used on Fujifilm than other brands, and zooms are used less. I don’t have any data to back up this claim, it’s just my impression from experience interacting with hundreds of photographers. I could be completely wrong.
I think something like the 28-70mm f/2.8 would fill a hole not currently offered by Fujifilm, and that might do well enough.
Sigma has said that they’re bringing their recent 18-50/2.8 over to X-Mount, and that’s only 300g. It’ll be a while, closer to the end of the year or later, but that’s the one I’m most excited for. I mostly prefer primes, but this is a fast zoom that’s light and compact enough that it might tempt me away from just zooming with my feet.
Seems like an odd choice. The Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 is a similar weight and not that much more money. Yeah, the maximum aperture decreases as you zoom, but you do get a small amount of extra reach. The Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8 is obviously bigger and more expensive, but is both more wide and telephoto. I guess Sigma is hoping that the constant f/2.8 and slightly lower price is enough to convince people to buy their lens over the 18-55mm, but to me that’s a tough sell because the Fujinon glass is excellent. On the other side, I don’t think those in the market for the 16-55mm will be convinced to choose the Sigma model instead (otherwise they would have bought the 18-55mm). I’m sure they’ll have buyers, but I just don’t see this as enticing a lot of people, perhaps not as many as Sigma hopes, anyway.
I was a long time (25 years) Hasselblad user. While their digital stuff is way out of my price range the lack of directly actuated F-stop and shutter controls on their new cameras is a complete disaster in my opinion. Dr Hasselblad would have never accepted that current design. Off topic to be sure, but if a company wants to attract older photographers to a new technology they should realize that a camera should function like a camera. Aperture and shutter controls that are directly accessible are the most efficient means of controlling those two variables. Auto-exposure is not something that should be blindly used, one needs to consciously make those decisions quickly when necessary.
Fujifilm is pretty unique, and third-party companies like Sigma should realize that and embrace it when making lenses for Fujifilm. I appreciate the comment!
Much of it is precisely the reason I would prefer Fujinon to the Zeiss touit lenses, I love Zeiss but their lenses seemed an afterthought modifying their existing lenses for Sony. About corrections I am not fan of them, I thought Fujinon lenses were mostly optically corrected, the cameras I invested the most are optically corrected (Sony R1, Sigma DP2 classic, I think my Fujinon 35mm f1.4 was optically corrected but now I am in doubt) I guess correction of some vignetting or chromatic aberration is fine, but geometry correction tends to contribute to that digital artificial look I am not very fond of, when that is the case I simply not see difference with a smartphone photo.
I think it is mostly CA and vignetting and things like that. It’s so well done that you’d never know (if I hadn’t told you…).
That is reassuring, the best make up is the one you don’t notice : D
Exactly! Well said.
I was excited until I saw “no aperture rings”. Nope. Not for me.
My thoughts exactly.
I am not hyped either. The lack of an aperture ring really throws me off. Even the unmarked aperture ring on my Xf18-55 is always slightly irritating. Despite this the size and bulk compared to their Fuji F2 counterparts seems to make them impractical for use on an X-E or maybe even X-Txx camera, for a prime that is. Even the XF35 f1.4 is a good chunk shorter and lighter.
Also the 30mm seems a weird kind of focal length. There is already the wonderfully small XF27mm which is ideal for street and city. Maybe those lenses make sense if you really need f1.4 and autofocus for a decent price.
I agree! Best is a marked aperture ring. An unmarked aperture ring is a little annoying, and not nearly as good as being marked, but much better than no aperture ring at all.
I’m ok with the 30mm focal-length. It’s pretty much a “standard” focal-length, so very useful. It’s close to the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4, so that’s what it will compete directly with, and it’s no competition, unless you are on a tight budget and can only afford the Sigma offering. I think if they made a 27mm f/1.4, that would be ok because, while Fujifilm offers a fantastic (and small) 27mm lens, it is f/2.8, and an f/1.4 lens would obviously not be competing directly with it, because they’d definitely serve two different purposes.
I appreciate the comment!