The Sigma 65mm F2 DG DN Contemporary ($699) is one of the inaugural entries in the company’s I Series, a line of slim, quality prime lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras. Its focal length is an odd one, netting an angle of view tighter than typical standard angle optics, but falling a bit shy of being considered a portrait lens. Photographers who prefer a slightly narrower view of the world will be rewarded, though—the lens is exquisitely built, with optics to match. It’s an Editors’ Choice winner, not just because of its unique angle of view, but also because of its exemplary performance.
Sigma places the 65mm F2 DG DN Contemporary in its I Series, a family of built-for-mirrorless prime lenses. It’s constructed with a slightly vintage mindset—the aluminum barrel and knurled control rings set it apart from the crowd. Most lenses have moved to polycarbonate construction, which is still plenty professional and durable, but with a distinctly different feel.
L-mount, for Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma models, and for Sony’s E-mount system. We received the Sony edition for review. Like others in the series, Sigma has worked to keep things small. The 65mm weighs in at 14.3 ounces, and at 2.8 by 3.0 inches (HD), it won’t take up a lot of room in your camera bag.
A reversible metal hood is included, as are standard front and rear lens caps. Sigma also includes a metallic cap. It’s a smart accessory—it pops on and off easily, and can slip into your pocket, as long as you don’t mind getting some lint on its black felt lining. You’ll want to stick to the standard cap if you use the hood, though, or when using a filter—the lens supports the 62mm filter size.
Sigma 45mm F2.8, now a couple of years old, set the motif, but wasn’t marketed under the banner at launch. It is now, along with the 65mm, the 35mm F2, and the 24mm F3.5. The four are unmistakably related—they share a similar industrial design, one that emphasizes quality, without utilizing massive optics.
Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA (1:7.1) and the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4 (1:6.7). If you’re looking for a standard lens that gets you closer to your subject, think about an F2.8 option like the Sigma 45mm F2.8 (1:4) or the Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro (1:2).
As with most small primes, the 65mm Contemporary skips optical stabilization. With a few exceptions, the full-frame mirrorless cameras you’ll pair this one with include 5-axis IBIS systems. With the Sony a7R IV, I’m able to get crisp results from the lens and half-second handheld exposures.
I tested the 65mm F2 along with the 60MP Sony a7R IV and software from Imatest. The lens delivers outstanding resolution, about 5,000 lines. There’s a slight drop in clarity as you move toward the edge of the frame, but the periphery delivers excellent contrast, even when the lens is shot wide open.
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You’ll enjoy automatic distortion and vignette correction when using your camera in JPG mode. If you opt for Raw capture, you’ll need to make corrections yourself, or let your Raw processing software take care of it. Without any adjustments, the lens shows some pincushion distortion (2.7 percent) and dimmed corners at f/2 and f/2.8.
January 21, 2021