Travel mindfully.
Pursue creatively.
Live life with intention.

Travel mindfully.
Pursue creatively.
Live life with intention.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 vs 30mm f/1.4: A Non Technical Real Life Comparison on Sony a6500

by Tom Shu

I see you’re stuck between the Sigma 16mm vs 30mm f/1.4 lens for your Sony E-mount camera!

Honestly, one of the best but also most frustrating things about having a camera with interchangeable lenses is picking which lens to invest your hard-earned money into.

When it comes down to the Sigma 16mm vs 30mm, both of these lenses are two of the best quality and best value prime lenses for the Sony a6500. Although they are very similar in build, aperture, look, and feel, they both excel in different aspects of photography and videography.

Lucky for you, I’ve owned the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens for over 3 years and the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 for over 2 years, so I’ll tell you all about my experience working with them.

When I was researching and comparing the Sigma 16mm vs 30mm, the only articles I ever found were super technical.

So it is my goal with this article to provide a non-technical real-world comparison of what type of photography works best for each lens with examples from my professional work.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have enough information to help you figure out which lens is a better fit for you!

Here is what I’ll be covering today:


A little about the Sigma Lens Product Lines

Sigma 16mm vs 30mm Image #1 -

Sigma makes some of my favorite lenses for the Sony a6500 and for the most part, is a good alternative to the more expensive Sony lens lineup.

In my everyday carry bag, I actually have two Sigma and two Sony lenses and I use both my Sigma and Sony lenses just as much.

Currently, Sigma has organized its lenses into three different lens lineups based on the characteristics of the lenses. These three lines of lenses are:

  • Art Lenses: this is their larger aperture, prime lens lineup. Lenses in this lineup include the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM and 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM. HSM means the lens has Sigma’s built-in Hyper Sonic Motor, which supposedly gives the lens faster autofocus and is near silent.
  • Contemporary Lenses: this is their all-purpose, multifunctional, compact, and lighter weight lens lineup. Lenses in this lineup include the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN and Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN that this article is about.
  • Sports Lenses: this is their durable, high quality, telephoto lens lineup created for wildlife, and as the name suggests sports photography. Lenses in this lineup include the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM.

Like I mentioned already, both the Sigma 16mm and 30mm DC DN lenses are in the Sigma Contemporary Lens product line.

Although some people say that the image quality of the Art Lenses is better than the Contemporary Lenses, that is not the full truth.

In my opinion, it would be very difficult for a normal person or even your client to tell the difference between an image taken with an Art Lens versus a Contemporary Lens. Both lens lineups really are that good.

I actually don’t have an Art lens in my everyday gear bag, so I’m not going to get into a detailed comparison between these two lens lineups, but if you’re looking for more info, here is one of my favorite YouTube videos comparing lenses from both product lines.


When do I use the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 the most?

After owning the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for over a year, the main reason why I decided to pick up the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 was for the wider focal length.

Now, the 16mm is my go-to videography, real estate interior (hotel clients), and low light wide-angle lens I use.

Honestly, in most situations where I would have used the Sigma 30mm in the past, I now choose to use the Sigma 16mm.

The extra 14mm difference between the two lenses definitely makes a huge difference especially on the APS-C sensor of the Sony a6500.

This isn’t always the case though as there are certain situations where I would rather use the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, but I do tend to use the 16mm lens much more now.

To give you a better idea of what type of situations I use this lens in and how the images look, here are some commercial projects where I primarily used the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens to shoot.

1.) Videography: Spirit of Matsu Short Film

Spirit of Matsu was a short documentary film I shot in Beigang, Taiwan in the summer of 2018 to capture the annual Matsu Festival celebration in this small countryside city.

Over the course of 7 days, I ran around the small city, capturing the festivities in the narrow alleyways, small streets, and inside the main temple of the city, Chaotian Gong Temple.

Shooting conditions were pretty rough as there were fireworks exploding all around us at all times of the day.

The crowded streets, alleyways, and temple were also all poorly lit so it definitely tested the autofocus and low light capabilities of the lens and camera.

The reason why I chose to shoot with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 was that I knew I needed the wider angle for the alleyway and temple shots.

Plus, it gets extremely crowded during the event so I knew I would be closer than usual to any people I would be capturing too.

At the end of the 7 days of shooting, I was extremely happy with how the footage looked and was surprised by how good the lens actually performed in real life!

Don’t just take my word for it, though, check out the results. All the images you see here are stills taken from the final short film.

Also, if you missed it at the beginning of this section, I embedded the short film so you can check out the video results with this lens too.

Gear Used

  • Camera: Sony a6500, Sony RX100 V, DJI Mavic Pro
  • Lens: Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN
  • Stabilizer: Moza Air Gimbal
  • Editing Software: Adobe Premiere Pro

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #6 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #7 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #2 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #5 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #1 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #3 -

Spirit of Matsu Short Film Still #4 -

2.) Tight Spaces and Low Light: Nau Clothing Campaign

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #1 -

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #3 -

Nau Clothing, a company based out of Portland, Oregon who creates premium apparel that combines technical performance with modern design from sustainably sourced materials partnered with us to launch their Seoul x PDX Korean Capsule Collection.

Their Korean Capsule Collection was a result of a collaboration between the company’s Portland-based design team and its Seoul based design team.

This resulted in a cool, streetwear type of aesthetic that took design inspiration from both the style, landscapes, and vibes of the PNW and the urban, chaotic, and trendy environment that is Seoul.

My goal of the collaboration with Nau on this project was to create a set of 20 images that would highlight the versatility and the streetwear vibes of this line.

To accomplish this, I chose to shoot in a street environment, which is something I usually don’t do.

The lens of choice for this photoshoot was the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens for two main reasons.

  • The shoot location was enclosed so I needed a wider lens to capture the entire scene.
  • The shoot location did not let in very much natural light so I needed a lens with a larger aperture.

The lens worked perfectly for this photoshoot and allowed me to quickly focus on Melissa in a variety of different positions even at a larger aperture.

In addition, the lens allowed me to achieve some cool close up shots from a lower angle using the distortion of the lens to our advantage.

I don’t think this would have been possible with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 because of its longer focal length.

Gear Used

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #7 -

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #6 -

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #9 -

Nau PDX x Seoul Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #8 -

3.) Interiors: Novotel Danang Premier Han River

Novotel Danang, Vietnam Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #4 -

Novotel Hotel & Resorts, which is a hotel brand under the AccorHotels Group with over 400 hotels in 60 countries partnered with us to create photography content for their Novotel Danang Premier Han River hotel property in Danang, Vietnam.

As part of the project, I had to take a series of photos in specific locations throughout the hotel.

This included its standard room, the executive suite, the executive spa, the pool area, its breakfast buffet, and the lounge.

For all the interior shots of the project, I chose to use the Sigma 16mm f/1.4.

The reason why I chose to use this lens versus the other ones in our gear pack is the same as the Nau Clothing project.

I needed a wide-angle lens in order to capture the tight spaces inside the hotel and a larger aperture which allowed me to keep ISO lower while handholding shots in lower light.

The lens handled all our interior situations great and allowed me to easily switch between different lighting situations.

Gear Used

  • Camera: Sony a6500
  • Tripod: Three Legged Thing – Leo Tripod
  • Lens: Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN
  • Editing Software: Adobe Lightroom

Novotel Danang, Vietnam Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #1 -

Novotel Danang, Vietnam Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #3 -

Novotel Danang, Vietnam Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #7 -


When do I use the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 the most?

Sigma 16mm vs 30mm Image #3 -

Although the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens is a beast, there are still times that I would rather use the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 version depending on the shooting situation I’m in.

The three situations that I use the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens the most are:

  • Taking product photos.
  • Lifestyle photos in which the subject is the main focus and not the landscape.
  • If I want to create more depth in the image between the subject and the background while compressing the background slightly.

I find that the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is easier to use for product and lifestyle photos.

This is because the extra 14mm in focal length distance allows me to shoot further away from the subject and also compress the background slightly giving certain scenes (such as trees, lights, etc.) a more full bokeh effect.

Also, since the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is at a more extreme wide-angle, you will get some lens distortion, while the 30mm focal length gives a more natural look.

For example, if you shoot a model from low to high with the Sigma 16mm, the feet of the model will look much larger than the hands of the model.

This doesn’t happen with the 30mm lens.

To give you a better idea of what type of situations I use this lens in and how the images look, here are some commercial projects where I primarily used the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens to shoot.

1.) Create Depth in the Daytime – prAna Spring Dresses Campaign

PrAna Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #1 -

prAna, a premium clothing company based out of San Diego, California who creates clothing for yoga, travel, and adventure enthusiasts from sustainably sourced materials partnered with us to launch their spring dress campaign.

Our goal for the project was to create a series of images that highlighted the versatility, comfort, style, and sustainability of prAna’s dresses.

So, for the project, we decided to take prAna to Alishan Mountain in southern Taiwan during its cherry blossom season for a 5 day 4-night trip.

My favorite set of images created for prAna was on day 2 of our trip to the small Alishan mountain town of Shizuo.

In this town, there was a wooden walkway near the tea fields called ‘Cherry Blossom Trail’ which had cherry blossoms lining both sides of it.

The lens I chose to take photos at this spot was the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 as I wanted to frame Melissa with the cherry blossoms that were on top of the stairs while throwing out the background a little using an aperture of about f/2.8.

The 30mm focal length worked better than the 16mm focal length for this shot as it also allowed me to compress the trees a little more giving them a more full look.

Gear Used

PrAna Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #2 -

PrAna Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #4 -

2.) Create Depth at Night – Cleobella Dress and Bag Campaign

Cleobella Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #4 -

Cleobella, a brand that creates handcrafted clothing, bags, jewelry, and accessories working with artisans and families in Bali partnered with us to create a series of product photos for both their dresses and bags.

For this set of photos, we were in the picturesque Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam and had the vision to create a set of images at night for Cleobella.

The lens I chose to take the photos in Hoi An at night was the Sigma 30mm f1.4 as I wanted the extra focal length of the Sigma 30mm compared to the Sigma 16mm to compress all the lanterns hanging in the street.

This is the same reason why I chose to use the Sigma 30mm for the prAna project.

In addition, I wanted to throw out the background using an aperture of around f/2.0 in order to emphasize Melissa with the lights and crowds in the background.

Gear Used

Cleobella Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #3 -

Cleobella Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #1 -

3. Use in Combination with ND Filter During Daytime – SummerSalt

SummerSalt Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #5 -

SummerSalt, a US-based direct to consumer swimsuit brand that makes designer swimwear without the designer price partnered with us to create a series of photographs for their swimsuit line.

For this partnership, we decided to create the photos during our trip to Vietnam too.

One of my favorite ways to use the Sigma 30mm is to pair it with the 6 stop ND filter from Breakthrough Photography and shoot with the aperture wide open during the day.

The contrast and colors created from the mid-day sun shot through a 6 stop ND filter are really beautiful and is only possible if you use a darker ND filter.

If you do want to try this, make sure you get a high-quality ND filter like this one from Breakthrough Photography because low-quality ones can add a green color cast to your photos.

Gear Used

SummerSalt Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #7 -

SummerSalt Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #3 -

SummerSalt Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #1 -

SummerSalt Collaboration with @witandfolly Image #2 -


illustration comparing the different weight of a lens

After using the Sigma 16mm f1.4 and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for 2+ years now I can confidently tell you that they are both awesome lenses and each does certain things better than the other.

Here is which lens I would recommend depending on what type of photography or videography work you will be focusing on.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4: You should get this lens if your primary focus will be:

  • Landscape shots in which you need to fit your subject in the frame such as mountains, trees, lakes, waterfalls, etc.
  • Urban photography
  • Real estate or interior photography
  • A general all-purpose videography lens
  • Astrophotography

illustration of box which links to amazon

Sigma 30mm f/1.4: You should get this lens if your primary focus will be:

  • Expansive landscape shots in which you don’t need to fit everything in the frame such as a wide ocean shot, wide shot of rolling fields, etc.
  • Portrait photography
  • Lifestyle photography
  • Product photography
  • More specialized videography lens to get closer to the subject.

illustration of box which links to amazon

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Anonymous July 25, 2019 - 6:58 am

Wonder ful review!!!! Thank you so much.

Tom Shu July 25, 2019 - 7:48 am

You’re welcome and thanks for reading it! Let me know if you ever have any other questions!

Iwa T Son August 8, 2019 - 7:07 pm

I have a family trip to Europe soon, I have 2 kids with me (13yrs old). I wanna take as many as possible photos of them. What Lens I shall take with? I am using a6400 and I have 10-18, 16-70, 18-200(silver), Sigma 16 1.4, Any suggestion? It is the 2nd time I visit Europe (last was 2004)… and I dont think I will go there again in coming 20 years….

Tom Shu August 9, 2019 - 1:00 am

That’s awesome you’re going to Europe soon and thanks for your questions! If you have enough room to take all your lenses with you, I would definitely do that as I always like to have more choice than necessary. If that’s not possible, though and you’re trying to travel lighter, I think it will depend. Here are some options I think might work well for you.

Option 1 – Most Flexible: Pack the Sony 18-200 and the Sigma 16 F1.4. The reason why I think this combo might work well is because since you’re traveling with your kids, you probably don’t want to spend time switching lenses while you’re running around all day. The Sony 18-200 will for sure cover all focal lengths that you might run into on your trip when you’re capturing the kids and you could even use it as a wide angle or telephoto lens for landscape if you wanted to. The downside of the Sony 18-200 is lower light situations, which is where the Sigma 16 F1.4 comes in. With the Sigma, you don’t get the reach, but at least you can use a faster aperture when its darker out or if you’re taking photos of the kids indoors. Plus, you will probably have to use a higher shutter speed to capture your kids, so the faster aperture will help you do that without cranking up the ISO too high. I think it is possible to only use the 18-200 your entire trip, but carrying the extra Sigma 16 F1.4 would probably come in handy. I like the idea of this combo of lenses because Europe has so many beautiful landscapes to capture and it would be a bummer if your lens didn’t have enough reach to capture what you wanted in a certain situation. Especially if you won’t be going back in another 20 years.

Option 2: Best Quality Photos: If you’re looking for the best quality photos and are ok with losing some of the flexibility from the extra reach of the Sony 18-200, then I would take the Sony 16-70 F4 and the Sigma 16 F1.4. I have owned the Sony 16-70 F4 for almost 2 years now and it is by far the lens I use the most. The flexibility of the focal length isn’t as good as the 18-200, but 16-70 covers a good amount of ground too. To be honest, I don’t own the Sony 18-200 and have never used it before, but from all the reviews I have read, the image quality of the Sony 16-70 is better. I would add in the Sigma 16 F1.4 for the same reasons as option 1 because the weakness of the Sony 16-70 is low light. I like this option because I know how good of images the Sony 16-70 can produce. Plus, a focal length of 16-70 covers most situations, especially if your focus is on taking photos of other people, like your kids. The aperture is also constant at F4 on this lens, so when you zoom into 70mm you don’t have to worry about the change in settings affecting your picture.

Option 3: Everything Covered: This is what most closely resembles what I carry most of the time. If you don’t mind carrying 3 lenses with you, I would bring the Sony 16-70, Sony 18-200, and Sigma 16. In this scenario, I would use the Sony 16-70 most of the time and would use the Sony 18-200 only as a telephoto lens when I wanted to zoom in on an object in certain situations. The Sigma 16 would really only be used only in low light situations or if I’m indoors and there is not a lot of light inside.

I hope this helps you choose what to bring and if you have any other questions, just let me know!

DA A January 1, 2020 - 11:23 pm

Hello TOM SHU,
Thank you for your wonderful article.
I am looking forward to buying the Sony a6000, my budget will not allow me to buy several lenses. Which one would you recommend as an all purpose lens( between the 16 and the 30 lenses) ?
You mentioned about lens distortion in the 16mm, is that too noticeable if I take some very closeup shots like pets or food ?
Please give some advice.
Thank you.

Tom Shu January 2, 2020 - 8:30 pm

Hi Darshana! Thanks for reading the article and happy new year! As I mentioned in the article, it really depends on what you will be shooting. Both lenses can be used as an all-around lens. The difference is that you’ll have to adjust how you shoot based on which lens you have. I only had the 30mm for the first 6 months with the a6500 and used it in all situations including landscape, portrait, food, videos, etc. When I got the 16mm, I used it in every situation too. The 30mm is really great for portrait type distance shots. The 16mm is really great when you need to fit more into the frame. Even though there is distortion on the 16mm, it’s only obvious if you’re shooting from an extreme angle (for example shooting the subject from low to high or vice versa). I do think the 16mm has a slightly better build quality and autofocus and it’s easier to manually focus with it. With that said, the 30mm is cheaper than the 16mm. I hope that helps and if you want more information just let me know!

Anonymous January 28, 2020 - 7:32 pm

Thanks for your valuable comments TOM SHU.

Tom Shu January 30, 2020 - 9:58 am

You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any other questions.

trustmeher January 10, 2020 - 1:12 am

I have a Sony 16-50 lense. Do you think at 16mm focal if we compare both the lenses still Sigma 16mm fix lense would perform better due to F/1.4 ?

Tom Shu January 11, 2020 - 9:01 am

Thanks for your question! I think it will depend on what you’re shooting. If you’re taking landscape photos, it won’t make a significant difference since you’ll probably be using a higher f-stop. If you’re taking portraits or up-close photos of a subject, then it would make a bigger difference. Also, if you’re shooting video, the Sigma will give you a more cinematic look when it’s at f.1.4. I hope that helps!

Stanislav P. April 22, 2020 - 11:46 am

Really very good review of those two great lenses. Thank you for this! Nice photos as well 😉

Tom Shu April 22, 2020 - 1:44 pm

You’re welcome and I’m glad you liked the review! Let me know if you have any more questions too.

Heather May 25, 2020 - 7:13 am

Hi Tom! Thanks for the very informative article and stunning photos. I am curious which lens you would recommend for making videos for online courses? My setup is going to be me sitting at a desk or occasionally standing at a white board. I wanted to have the background slightly blurred. The room is 13 – 17 ft. I would also be live streaming. A lot of people use the 16 mm/f 1.4 for this, but am curious if the 30 mm might be good to reduce some of the distortion you mentioned? If it is not inappropriate to ask, I am also wondering if there are certain lights you recommend for having soft/forgiving lighting in this kind of set-up? Thank you so much!

Tom Shu May 25, 2020 - 10:35 am

Hi Heather, thanks for your question and for reading the article. I think the 16mm f/1.4 would be a better choice. The distortion is really only a problem with the lens if you’re shooting from an extremely high or low angle, so sitting or standing at a white board shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, I think the 16mm lens will be more flexible for when you’re standing by the white board. With the 1.5x crop factor on the Sony camera, the 30mm might be a little too zoomed in at times. As for lighting, I have heard this is one is a really great value: ESDDI Softbox Photography. If you have any other questions just let me know!

Heather May 28, 2020 - 5:36 am

Tom! Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly, and offering such detailed and helpful advice. I’m so grateful. I will check out those lights, they look great and are very affordable. I’m curious if you do any virtual one-one consultations (paid of course) to help with equipment/set-up?

Tom Shu May 28, 2020 - 5:46 pm

You’re welcome! I just sent you an email as I thought it would be easier to communicate that way.

amir May 29, 2020 - 10:48 am

hi, great review indeed! But i still confuse what to get. Indont want to buy 2 lens. If possible i jist want to have 1 lens. I would love to capture aurora and potrait in 1 lens. Do you think 30mm is good enough for both? Thank you.

Tom Shu May 29, 2020 - 2:24 pm

Hi Amir,

Thanks for your question and I’m glad to hear you found it helpful. If you want to capture both the aurora and do portrait shots, I think the 30mm would be your best choice. The 16mm is also capable for aurora photos, however, it’s not as good for portrait style photos.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Jerry June 5, 2020 - 12:21 am

Nice detailed review and amazing video! I saw you mention that after acquiring the 16 you used it more than the 30. I own the 16 and am currently considering skipping straight to the 56mm for a 2 lens setup. Do you think the 16 and 30 are different enough to justify getting both?

Tom Shu June 5, 2020 - 1:08 am

Hey Jerry, thanks for reading the review and for watching the video! There is a noticeable difference between the 16mm vs 30mm when it comes to the mid-range shots. With the 30mm it’s much easier to get that blurry depth of field than the 16mm especially if you want to keep the entire person in the shot like you see in the article with Melissa. It works with the 16mm too, but the subject just needs to be much closer to the lens, which doesn’t have the same look. In the end, I think this will depend on if you need a mid-range focal length or if you can be further away from whatever you are shooting. You can probably create similar looking images with the 56mm, but you will have to be much farther back from your subject. So, if this works with how you shoot, you can probably skip the 30mm. For our photography, we usually needed to keep Melissa in the entire shot, so the 30mm was a good fit in those special situations. The 56mm would also be nice to have too, but for us, it would probably be too close of a focal range in most situations we find ourselves in. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

Camila June 29, 2020 - 7:38 am

Thank you so much for this review! I found it very useful and easy to read 🙂
At the time I’m writing this I own a Canon EOS M50 which I LOVE, I bought the camera with the lens kit (15-45 mm) and then decided to also add a 11-22 mm lens.
Now I’m really debating myself about getting a Sigma Lens (they are so sharp!!!!!!!), but I’m a little hesitant about which one I should pick. I mostly focus myself on vlogging (such as lifestyle and travel vlogs) and also beauty content (reviews, tutorials and all that). I’d really like to invest in a Sigma lens but I’m not quite sure which one would add more benefits to my already kit.
Hope you can help me!

Tom Shu June 29, 2020 - 10:28 pm

Hi Camila, you’re welcome and thanks for reading the article! I’m glad you found it useful and thanks too for your question too. Both lenses are really awesome and you can get great results with both of them. I think it will come down to which focal length you will use more and if you hold the camera in your hand/use a tripod and walk and talk while vlogging. If you capture the walking and talking type of vlog content and you hold your camera in one hand while recording yourself, then I think the 30mm might be a little too tight. Since you have those focal lengths covered with the lenses you have already, have you tested to see if 16mm or 30mm works better for you? Performance-wise the Sigma lenses are very similar and you will see a big difference in the depth of field compared to the lenses you already have with the f/1.4 max aperture with the Sigma lenses. So, I think it will come down to what focal length you will benefit from most. I know it’s not a definitive answer but I hope it helps!

Anonymous July 13, 2020 - 6:54 am

Hola muy buen articulo, que tal va el sigma 30mm para fotos de paisajes?

Tom Shu July 17, 2020 - 12:01 am

Hi! Thanks for checking out the article and I’m glad you liked it! The Sigma 30mm is very good for landscape photos in most situations. The only downside is that with the crop factor on an APSC sensor, it may not be wide enough in some situations. If you think this might be the case for you, the Sigma 16mm could be a better choice. I hope that helps!

Omi7k July 22, 2020 - 10:38 am

so after searching over the net and youtube. I have to say this is the best comprehensive overview regarding the specific lens i am looking at. However i am still fairly new to the photography and more important videography. I recently got my hands on a5100 body only for a remarkable low price. Due to covid i plan to use it for streaming, zoom etc. one of my main functionality i am hoping to gain benefit of use is the detail focus capability of the lens, by web streaming an over the top down view to cover a 24 by 24″ view of space. Which lens would you recommend in order to pick up clarity on text focus, or would you recommend something else all in its entirely. Appreciate so much for your support.

Tom Shu July 23, 2020 - 12:01 am

Hi! That means alot to hear that and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Thanks for taking the time to ask your questions as well. I did a little testing for you and both would work. It will just depend on a few things. I’m 5’9″ and when sitting down using 16mm the camera is at about eye level to fit most of the 24″ x 24″ view of space into the frame. This is nice because you can see the camera screen without using an external monitor. The downside is that there is not too much room between the table and the camera so it could get in the way. With the 30mm lens, the camera needs to be slightly above my head to fit most of the 24 x 24″ view. The downside is that you can’t really see the camera screen since it’s above your head so you’ll probably need an external monitor. On the positive side, you have a lot more room between the table and the camera so you have more flexibility to work. I hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions!

Ceyza August 10, 2020 - 2:43 pm

Wow this is so helpfull and beautiful photos too, thank you for sharing with us!

Tom Shu August 12, 2020 - 9:07 pm

Thanks and I’m glad you found the article helpful!

JB August 16, 2020 - 10:50 am

Hi Tom, thank you very much for the article. I have a Sony a6000, that came in with kit lenses (Sony 55-210mm (4.5-6.3) OSS and Sony 16-50 (3.5-5.6) OSS). I wanted to get a higher quality lens and, after doing some research, got a Sony 35mm E (1.8). I like the quality of the 35mm pictures for portraits/small groups, but have a bit of a hard time with the relatively narrow field. that requires stepping quite far back from the subjects. To resolve this, I looked into (Option A) getting also a wide-angle lens such as the Rokinon 12mm (in which case I would have both the 35mm and the Rokinon), but instead I could (Option B) return the Sony 35mm and get the Sigma 16mm F1.4. Would you have any guidance? While being able to shoot good portraits is nice, I usually like to include some background, and I like being able to take indoor family pictures. A couple of concerns I would have with the Sigma 16mm: suitability for portraits/relatively close pictures of people, and lack of image stabilization (problem for taking family pictures on the go with little ones who don’t usually stand still?). I would be grateful for any guidance. Thank you very much.

Anonymous August 16, 2020 - 11:30 am

Tom, supplementing my comment above: one reason for considering adding the Rokinon to the Sony 35mm is the ability to include landscape, but maybe swapping the Sony 35mm for the Sigma 16 F1.4 instead would be enough to be able to include some landscape photo from time to time. Thanks again for any guidance.

Tom Shu August 16, 2020 - 5:10 pm

Hi JB,

Thanks for your question and for reading the article! It sounds like you have a very nice setup already, and that’s great to hear you have the 35mm f1.8.

I thought about your question for a little bit, and here is what I think.

If the classic portrait type of shot (for example, from the shoulder up) is significant for you and high on your priority, the 35mm focal length is probably your best bet. You can definitely use the Sigma 16mm for portrait work too, but you will have to get very close to your family members. With that said, for family photos, if you’re ok with more of a wider “portrait” type of shot, which shows more of the area around the subject like the examples in the article, then the 16mm will work great, especially in lower light. As you mentioned, the lack of image stabilization in the Sigma isn’t very big of a deal for photos. Since you’re capturing photos of your little ones, you’re probably using a fast enough shutter speed to counteract the lack of stabilization. Plus, it’s fast enough to handle low light, and the Sony a6000 is pretty good at higher ISOs.

The Rokinon 12mm is a great wide-angle choice; however, the big downside is that it’s a manual focus lens. Because of this, the Rokinon is probably not best for capturing family memories as I could imagine, it would be difficult to focus on people since everyone is always moving around. For landscape, I actually think you could get away with the 16-50mm you already have.

In conclusion, here are some options I think you have.

  • If you spend more time taking photos of family vs landscape, then I think you don’t need to change anything. The 35mm focal length is great for more intimate shots with family, especially for those portrait shots. For landscapes, I think the 16-50 mm would work very well. Although the 16-50 is a variable aperture lens, you will likely be using a higher f stop, so it wouldn’t matter as much. The image quality of this lens isn’t as good, but I think it would be hard to tell unless you really looked at the small details side by side.
  • If you’re looking for a faster wide-angle lens to use indoor with your family and are ok with the wider “portrait” style shots then option A, trading for the Sigma, is appealing. The reason why I say indoor is that I think the 16-50mm lens you already have would work as a wider angle option when you’re outside with the family or for landscape photos. Yes, it’s a slower lens, but when it’s bright outside it can be hard to use the Sigma lens wide open without an ND filter.
  • I hope you find this information helpful! I know it’s not the clearest answer so if you have any other questions please let me know. You can also reach out to me directly at [email protected] if you would like too

    Jojo September 15, 2020 - 12:48 am

    Hello Tom,

    Thanks for your article.
    Do you have any suggestion between the choices of 16mm/30mm if I got a Sigma 19mm F2.8?
    As my baby will be born in the coming few months, so one of my target is taking different shots for my new born baby.
    Also, do you have any article about the technique of taking shots with baby or animals??
    Thanks for your reply:)

    Tom Shu September 15, 2020 - 1:05 am

    Hi Jojo,

    Thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you found it helpful! That’s very exciting news too and I wish you the best! I think the 30mm would be the best fit. On the APSC sensor the 30mm has an equivalent focal length of ~45mm. At this focal length it will give you enough reach so you won’t have to get too close to your baby for those intimate shots and is still wide enough when you need it to be. The 16mm or 19mm could be nice too, but I think you would have to get too close with these lenses.

    I don’t have an article about techniques for taking shots of newborns or animals, but I might write one in the future! My best tip would be to use a faster shutter speed (like 1/500) so you don’t miss any moments. Additionally, don’t be afraid to increase the ISO to achieve a faster shutter speed if you’re shooting in lower light.

    If you have any more questions, just let me know too!


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