Around Town with the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art Lens for Mirrorless Cameras

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The 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is a perennial favorite among photographers who prefer to travel light. As a someone whose heavy rotation rotation consists of hefty 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm prime lenses, a fast 24-70mm has long lingered in my mind. So when I was asked to review Sigma’s 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens, I jumped on the opportunity to see how well it could stand in for my usual trio.

The wide end of the zoom provides plenty of room to work with on city streets.

This lens is billed as Sigma’s flagship mirrorless zoom, an important and highly anticipated addition to the Art line’s mirrorless offerings. John Harris has written on his love for Sigma’s earlier release for DSLRs. While sharing the same focal range and aperture, the new lens demanded a redesign for mirrorless cameras, especially the most recent high-performing E-mount and L-mount full-frame cameras for which this lens is available. Don’t worry, it can still be used on APS-C models, where the equivalent focal length bumps up to 36-105mm. To get the most out of the Sigma Art line’s notoriously sharp optics, all of the photographs in this review were taken using a Sony 61-megapixel a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera.

Filling the frame is easy on the closer end of the zoom.

Out of the box, the craftsmanship of this lens is on full display. From barrel grip to lens hood, it feels well built and is reassuring in your hands—something that I have always appreciated with the Art lenses. It is slightly lighter than Sony’s 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens, a surprise to anyone familiar with the notorious heft of the series. In addition to mechanical manual/auto focusing and zoom lock switches on its side, the lens has a programmable AF-L button. I changed its functionality to Focus Magnifier for manual focus. This was a nice touch that streamlined my process when I wanted absolute control of focus.

Focusing was easy in both manual and AF modes.

This was not my first experience with a Sigma Art lens. The aforementioned 50mm in my collection is Sigma’s 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens, and you can read my opinions on the 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art in this review. However, this was my first time using a Sigma lens that did not require an adapter to work with my Sony cameras. I was curious to see how well it would communicate with the a7R IV. I found autofocusing to be on par with what I would expect from proprietary glass. Its stepping motor is nearly silent for those whose prefer a low profile. AF was responsive and quick in every scenario I put it through and Eye-AF was consistent when photographing people.

Low light was no problem for this lens when paired with the a7R IV.

I was most impressed by how well it performed when shooting at night. I carried it with me while working on a film in Chinatown, where the only light sources were street lamps and the occasional neon sign. Available light was meager, at best. I was surprised by how easily I was able to attain focus as I opened the aperture.

You can see the signature sharpness of Sigma Art lenses when zooming in to images.

On the technical side, this lens consists of six F Low Dispersion and two Special Low Dispersion elements to combat chromatic aberration and color fringing. Additionally, three aspherical elements handle spherical aberration and distortion and Super Multi-Layer and Porous Coatings prevent flare and ghosting. All this glass does its job very well.

A customizable AF-L button can be used to simplify workflow.

When focus hits, the images are as crisp as you would expect from an Art lens. It has an 11-blade diaphragm that is sure to please bokeh connoisseurs; overall I found focus falloff to be smooth and consistent. For photographers who like to get extra close to their subjects, the minimum focusing distance at its widest is 7.1" and at its closest, 1.25'.

I never felt like I needed to get closer to a subject than the lens allowed.

Sigma has proven again and again that is capable of producing third-party lenses that give proprietary Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Sony glass a run for their money at a fraction of their costs. I found this lens to to be no exception. Will it cause me to ditch my trio of primes? Of course not. We’ve been through too much together to say goodbye now. Will I clear a spot for Sigma’s latest zoom in my “everyday” bag? I can’t help thinking that I might.

24mm (left) and 70mm (right)

Has Sigma’s 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens made it onto your holiday wish list? Are you eyeing any of the other Sigma art lenses? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

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