Shooting Portraits with Sigma’s 30mm f/2.8 DN Lens

by | Sep 19, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

For the Mirrorless Photo Tips blog, I wrote a post, “Field Test: Sigma 30mm f/1.4,” about this wonderfully useful lens. While not horribly expensive ($339) it still may be a stretch for some readers new to mirrorless photography. Instead they might ask, “what’s wrong with the $169 30mm f/2.8 DN lens,” that like the f/1.4 lens is available for Micro Four-thirds, Sony E as well as Sigma’s own mount system. The short answer to that question is nothing.

The more I shoot with Micro Four-thirds in my 11×15-foot home studio, the more I like it. When shooting portraits with mirrorless camera, my favorite feature is that after you click the shutter the images you just captured is visible in the viewfinder enabling you to keep working without having to flip the camera over and chimp. You can also see blinks in real time, allowing a quick re-shoot and I’m convinced this produces better portraits as well.

With a fixed focal length lens like Sigma’s 30mm f/2.8, mean you spend less time fiddling with the camera, instead moving your body back and forth, left to right to get precisely the framing you want making the experience more interactive with you and the subject. Because my lighting style can sometimes get contrasty it invites flare but there was no flare with the 30mm f/2.8 DN when used with its well-designed lens hood.

Sigma’s 30mm f/2.8 costs less and is physically shorter that the f/1.4, which is 2.89-inches long while the f/2.8 is 1.59-inches. The f/1.4 isn’t as heavy at 9.35 oz but the weight of the f/2.8, while obviously lighter is “not specified by the manufacturer.”

And the smaller aperture is no big deal in the studio (or outdoors for that matter) since the EVF, unlike flippy mirror cameras makes all lenses equally bright. Yet, if shallower depth-of-field is a consideration, the f/1.4 is the winner and is a lovely lens in it’s own right.

How I made this shot: The 30mm f/2.8 DN turned out to be a perfect compliment to the old Panasonic Lumix G2  I used to photograph Anastasia. Lighting was my equally old, purple 320 Ws Alien Bee B800 monolight with a 60-inch parabolic umbrella used in shoot-through mode placed at camera right. A 32-reflector is at camera left. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/6.3 and ISO 200.

UPDATE: As I was posting this the 4/3 Rumors blog stated that, “Sigma will announce the new 56mm f/1.4 lens this week.” I contacted Sigma to get one for review and they told me that I was first on the list to receive one. Last week I received the lens and you can check out my preview here. Look for a new post about the lens real soon now.

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If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere which is available new from for $22.44 and $13.74 used, as I write this. Interested in learning how to shoot better portraits and want hands-on training, check out my one-on-one workshops.