Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary is a high-quality lens that adds just the right amount of ultra-wide-angle focal length range to the kit without adding significant weight or taking much space.

While the 16-28mm focal length range is shorter than other options (for example, 16-35mm lenses are common), most photographers have a standard zoom lens that picks up the needs beyond 24 or 28mm. While focal length range overlap is convenient, it is not necessary. The reduced range permits smaller, lighter, and less expensive design advantages.

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens encompasses those advantages and features great design and good build quality along with smooth and quiet autofocus. Especially valuable is this lens's light impact on the wallet.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Top View with Hood

Focal Length Range

The focal length range is the first aspect to consider for zoom lens selection. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective.

Often, one cannot back up far enough to get a large subject or vast scene in the frame, and in that case, an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens is the right choice. When a foreground subject is to be emphasized, rendered large in relation to a vast background (potentially in sharp focus), moving in close with an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens is the right choice.

Notably, the 16-28mm range is a precise complement to the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens's range.

What subjects are this ultra-wide-angle zoom lens ideal for? Creating that full list is beyond the scope of this review, but let's discuss a few of the genres most photographed by this lens class.

Which photography genre has the hugest subjects? Astrophotographers arguably have the largest subjects, and this lens's wide aperture enables that use (though these large subjects are rendered tiny in the frame).

Landscape photography is another great answer to that question. It's a big world, and the 16-28mm focal length range is a great choice for capturing the beauty of our planet. This lens gives us reason to go enjoy the great outdoors.

Another genre of photography with huge subjects, often including some landscape, is real estate photography, and this lens is a solid interior and exterior choice for this use. Directly related to real estate photography is architecture photography. This lens will take in massive structures even when a short working distance is available.

Usually, the structures we photograph are built for people, and people are also a good subject for this focal length range.

However, avoid getting too close to people when this lens is mounted. While a close-up perspective can look amazing in a wide-angle landscape scene, it is generally to be avoided when a person is the primary subject. We do not typically look at a person from really close distances, and if we do, that person becomes uncomfortable with us being in their personal space (and even more so when a camera is in hand). When we look at photos of people captured from very close distances, certain body parts (usually the nose) start to look humorously (to some) large.

Unique portrait perspectives can be fun, but this technique overused quickly gets old. Get the telephoto lens out for your tightly framed portraits.

Still, wide-angle focal lengths can still be a great choice for photographing people. Simply move back and include people in a larger scene, creating environmental portraits.

The 28mm focal length provides a natural perspective and is a good choice for full-body portraits. The 16-28mm focal length range also works well for small to large groups. Note that group photography requiring an ultra-wide-angle focal length to fit everyone in the frame often leaves those in the front row appearing considerably larger than those in the back row (the subject distance varies by a significant percentage). Back up or move the subjects closer together (front to back) to reduce the multi-row perspective issue.

The 16-28mm focal length range is a great option for the wide work at weddings, family gatherings, and other events, and for photojournalism and sports photography needs.

This lens, including the focal length range, size, and weight, is an ideal candidate for self-recording (vlogging).

To explore this focal length range, we head to Ricketts Glen State Park.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens Focal Length Range Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm
16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 22mm | 24mm | 28mm
16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm | 35mm

As mentioned earlier, alternative lenses feature longer focal lengths, and the 35mm sample in the last set illustrates a focal length not available in this lens (this set was captured with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens).

Utilizing a smaller portion of the image circle means that APS-C sensor format cameras see a narrower angle of view, with 1.5x being the multiplier (FOVCF) for Sony's lineup. An APS-C imaging sensor will see a 24-42mm full-frame angle of view equivalent from this lens. While not as ultra-wide angle on the small format imaging sensor, this range continues to work great for landscape use, and it is advantaged for portrait photography.

Videographers will find the 16-28mm focal length range equally useful as still photographers.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light the lens can allow to reach the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0) increases or decreases the amount of light by a factor of 2x (a substantial amount).

The additional light provided by wider aperture lenses permits freezing action and handholding the camera in lower light levels and allows lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition, increasing the aperture opening provides a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Often critical is the improved low light AF performance availed by a wide-aperture lens.

A narrow aperture's advantages are related to (often significantly) reduced lens element size and include smaller overall size, lighter weight, and lower cost. Right, everyone loves those factors.

Because the aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length, the focal length must be considered when assessing how wide a lens's aperture can open. At 600mm, f/4 is a massive opening.

In a 16-28mm lens, f/2.8 is relatively wide, and despite the relatively wide aperture, this lens still has the small size, light weight, and lower cost advantages.

Wide apertures are not always needed, especially in the ultra-wide-angle focal lengths. Motion blur is caused when subject details cross over imaging sensor pixels during the exposure. Although this lens can be used with a very close subject rendered large in the frame, lenses such as this one are often used at normal (or even long) subject distances. The low magnification means those subjects' details more readily stay in their pixels, enabling the longer exposures required to compensate for the narrower aperture still deliver sharp results, free of subject or camera motion blur.

Also, many uses for this lens require a narrow aperture, such as f/8 or f/11, to keep everything in the frame sharp. Photographers concentrating on landscape, architecture, real estate, etc. may seldom use the widest aperture options in this lens.

Still, f/2.8 remains advantageous for a lens in this class. Those photographing moving subjects, such as at sports events or under the night sky where light levels are so low that the earth's rotation becomes a source of camera motion, usually prefer a wider aperture lens to the increased ISO setting alternatively required.

It is hard to diffusely blur the background with the low magnification provided by an ultra-wide-angle lens. Such lenses render the background details small in size, keeping the background subjects more recognizable (and potentially distracting). Still, this lens's short minimum focus distance can create a modest blur.

These examples illustrate the maximum blur this lens can create:

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Maximum Blur Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm

When recording video, only 1/60 second shutter speeds (twice the framerate) are typically needed (assuming you're not capturing high framerate slow-motion video), and wide apertures are not often required for 1/60 second rates in normally encountered ambient lighting.

Most will appreciate this lens's constant max aperture, enabling f/2.8 throughout the focal length range.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens on Tripod

Image Stabilization

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens does not feature image stabilization. Omitting the optical stabilization system reduces the size, weight, complexity, and cost. However, image stabilization is a very useful feature.

Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their Alpha cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Furthermore, sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS or check the current settings. This extra step is a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod mounted to handholding, for example.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Angle View with Hood

Image Quality

With the proper focal length range and aperture selection out of the way, image quality is often the next criterion used for lens selection. Among the many image quality factors, great sharpness, a combination of resolution and contrast, is typically the most sought-after quality.

Is the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens sharp? Let's find out.

In the widest half of the focal length range, this lens produces very sharp center-of-the-frame image quality at f/2.8. The f/2.8 center results from the longer half of the focal length range are not as sharp — just slightly soft, especially at 24mm.

In general, lenses are not as sharp at their wide-open apertures as they are when stopped down one or two stops. That is not the case with the wider half of this lens's range. The excellent f/2.8 results provide little room for improvement at f/4. However, the 24mm results improve significantly at f/4, and 28mm images by f/5.6, where all results are very sharp.

Often, the primary subject is not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness.

At f/2.8, this lens's 16mm and 20mm corner sharpness is excellent. The 24mm results are modestly soft, but the 28mm results are good.

As usual, stopping down a stop reduces vignetting, naturally improving corner contrast. That is the primary improvement seen at 16 and 20mm. F/4 brings on noticeable peripheral sharpness improvement at 24mm and a modest improvement at 28mm.

Extreme full-frame corners are quite sharp at f/5.6, with the exception of the outdoor 28mm results still showing a mild softness.

Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a series of center of the frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
22mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
28mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0

The 16mm and 22mm f/2.8 results look excellent. The 28mm f/2.8 results are not bad, but details from this focal length's images snap into sharp focus at f/4.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

16mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
22mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
28mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. The wider two focal length corners illustrated above show excellent sharpness, and the 28mm extreme corners are good.

Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Landscape and architecture photography are two photographic disciplines that have frequent scenarios requiring sharp corners. However, those scenarios usually require apertures narrower than f/5.6.

When shooting at the widest apertures, depth of field is often shallow and the plane of sharp focus less frequently includes details showing in a corner, making corner sharpness less important. Videos captured at typical wide-aspect ratios also avoid the use of corners. I always prefer my lenses to be razor-sharp in the corners in case that feature is needed, but each of us must consider our applications to answer the previous paragraph's initial question, and if no better option exists, any limitations present must be accepted.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA). Many modern lenses automatically correct for this.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, a lens can be expected to create peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings. Wide-angle, wide-aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open, and the over 3.5 stops of corner shading at 16mm is obvious.

Vignetting is slightly reduced as the focal length increases until just under 3 stops is present at 28mm f/2.8. At f/4, the shading ranges from just over 2.5 stops to about 2 stops. As usual, the rate of shading decrease slows after the first stop of aperture narrowing, and no additional improvement is noticeable beyond f/8, where just over 2 stops over corner shading shows in 16mm and 20mm corners. 28mm f/8 corners fare slightly better, with about 1.5 stops of shading visible.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just under 1 stop of corner shading showing at f/2.8 will seldom be visible in images, isolated primarily to those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sont a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

16mm | 18mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm

Only black and white colors should appear in these images, with the additional colors indicating a moderate presence of lateral CA at the wide end and a negligible amount of separation at 28mm.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm

The color separation shown here is mild and consistent across the focal length range.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

On this lens, Sigma utilizes Super Multi-Layer and Nano Porous Coatings to combat flare. This lens produced only minor flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, reflecting excellent performance.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality. Thus, high flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of Sony a1 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Coma Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm

While these results are not unusual, they are also not great. The stars in the corner of the frame are not rendered as points.

This lens has strong barrel distortion at the wide end, which transitions into strong pincushion distortion by 20mm. The pincushion distortion increases further by 24mm and remains very strong at 28mm.

With increasing frequency, manufacturers are relying on software over physical lens design to handle geometric distortion. Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and wide-angle lenses are inherently disadvantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) 100% crop examples.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Bokeh Example

16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm
16mm | 20mm | 24mm | 28mm

Ultra-wide-angle focal lengths do not create the prettiest defocused highlights, but the effects created by the longer focal lengths are more pleasing. The shapes are nicely rounded, though not with the smoothest fill.

The second set of crops shows a natural environment with OK blur quality.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

These examples are upper-left quadrant crops reduced in size.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

16mm | 22mm | 28mm

The truncation of the shapes deep in the 16mm corner is obvious, but the 22 and 28mm samples appear very nice. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming rounder.

A 9-blade count diaphragm will create 18-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. In general, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens is capable of producing very nice star shapes, as illustrated below.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The examples above were captured at f/16.

"With its excellent field curvature correction, the 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | Contemporary is able to achieve exceptional edge-to-edge sharpness, which is essential for most wide-angle applications. It boasts five FLD elements and four aspherical lens elements to ensure optimal image quality with minimal aberrations." [Sigma]

In the wider half of the focal length range, this lens produces excellent image sharpness even at f/2.8, and the longer half of the range appreciates a modestly narrower aperture to reach that level of excellence. The linear distortion at most focal lengths is a big weakness, with software correction expected to resolve that issue. The other image quality factors, aside from the corner stars, are good.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Side View


Driven by a stepping motor, the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens auto-focuses quickly. The focusing is internal and practically silent.

Remember that (at least some) cameras, including the Sony a1, defocus the image slightly before final focusing in AF-S mode, even if the subject was initially in focus. That process adds significantly to the focus lock time from this lens. The autofocus lock speed is noticeably faster in AF-C mode.

Aided by the wide f/2.8 aperture, this lens focuses in very dark environments as long as there is adequate contrast on the subject. As usual, autofocusing slows significantly in low light.

I found this lens to consistently focus accurately, the most important requirement of an AF system.

As illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 28mm, zooming to wider focal lengths may result in focus blur. However, most of the focal length range remains in sharp focus.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Parfocal Example

28mm | 24mm | 20mm | 16mm

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

At 16mm, this lens produces a modest change in subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment. Only a minor amount of focus breathing shows at the long end of the focal length range.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Focus Magnification Example

16mm: Far | Close   28mm: Far | Close

This lens has an AF/MF switch, providing quick access to this frequently used camera setting without accessing the menu system.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens has a nicely-sized focus ring that is ideally positioned toward the front of the lens. This ribbed ring is raised slightly from the lens barrel, making it easy to find. Not rubberized, the ring is slightly slippery.

With an ideal resistance, the MF ring smoothly adjusts the focus distance very smoothly. When turned slowly, the manual focus ring adjusts focus at an ideal rate, allowing precise manual focusing even at close distances. There is 180° of rotation focus ring rotation at 16mm and 360° at 28mm. Turned quickly, the ring affects full extent focus adjustments with half as much rotation at 28mm.

With a minimum focus distance of 9.8" (250mm), this lens has a mediocre 0.18x maximum magnification spec.

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens11.0"(280mm)0.21x
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens11.0"(280mm)0.14x
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens9.8"(250mm)0.18x
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens7.5"(190mm)0.22x
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens11.0"(280mm)0.19x
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens7.5"(190mm)0.19x

At 16mm, a subject measuring approximately 13.3 x 8.9" (338 x 225mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum focus distance. At 28mm, a 7.2 x 4.8" (183 x 122mm) subject does the same.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Maximum Magnification Example

At the minimum focus distance, corners become a bit soft at the widest apertures. Stopping down a couple of stops brings very good peripheral minimum focus distance image quality.

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

The lily sample picture below also illustrates this lens's maximum magnification capability.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Maximum Magnification Flower Sample Picture

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease and increase those respective numbers. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function normally. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sigma teleconverters.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Front View on Camera

Build Quality & Features

Sigma's Contemporary series lenses are designed for small size and light weight. However, quality is not abandoned in that quest.

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens features a TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) exterior. "TSC is a state-of-the-art polycarbonate that is designed to be both lightweight and extremely durable, and its chemical makeup means it doesn't shrink or expand with changing temperatures. This material is so high-quality that we're also incorporating it into our Art and Sports lenses to provide lightness and thermal consistency." [Sigma]

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

After the normal diameter increase at the mount end, the overall lens is mostly straight. The focus ring is slightly raised from the barrel, and the raised front of the lens makes tactilely finding this ring easy.

The rubberized ribs on the zoom ring are also slightly raised. Consuming a significant portion of the barrel, this ring is also easy to find and use. The zoom ring is smooth and requires only modest pressure to rotate.

This is a fixed-size lens featuring internal focusing and zooming.

There are no buttons and one switch, the appreciated AF/MF switch.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Mount

Typically, Sigma Contemporary lenses feature a mount gasket that protects against dust and moisture, but for affordability purposes, the balance of the lens is not sealed. Sigma claims that "The vast majority of contaminants work their way into lenses through the rear mount, so as long as they aren't abused, these lenses will provide many years of trouble-free use, even in moderate weather. For regular use in more extreme conditions, Art or Sports lenses are the way to go." [Sigma]

Compact size and light weight are two of this lens's best features. Carry this lens (and the complementing Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens) in the pack or hand all day without fatigue.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens29.7(840)3.5 x 5(88.5 x 126.8)822019
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens28.1(795)3.3 x 5.2(85.0 x 131.0)n/a2020
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens15.9(450)3.0 x 4.0(77.2 x 100.6)722022
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens16.6(470)2.8 x 4.0(72.2 x 101.5)672021
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens24.0(680)3.5 x 4.8(88.5 x 121.6)822017
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens14.8(420)2.9 x 3.9(73.0 x 99.0)672019

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

The joints of my fingers only slightly impact the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the Sony a1.

Here is a visual comparison (I'll include the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens in a comparison later in the review):

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens
Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens to other lenses.

As mentioned, the 16-28mm focal length range nicely fills the gap below that of the Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens. These two lenses are similar in size — both are very small. Here is that visual comparison:

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Compared to the Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens

The Sigma 16-28 has 72mm filter threads. 72mm filters are modestly sized and priced and relatively common.

Expect a standard thickness circular polarizer filter to increase peripheral shading. I recommend a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4.

With the Sigma 16-28mm and 28-70mm Contemporary lenses fitting together so well, one might expect them to have the same filter thread size. That is not the case, but a 67mm to 72mm step-up filter adapter ring will enable effects filter sharing.

Sigma includes the LH756-01 lens hood in the box. This semi-rigid, plastic hood has a ribbed interior designed to avoid reflections and adequate size to provide moderate protection from impact and bright light. The petal shape makes visual installation alignment easy, though it does not provide a stable base for the lens to sit upright on. A release button makes installation and removal easy with the rubberized rear portion of the hood enhancing grip.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Cap

No lens case is included in the box. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Side View with Hood

Price, Value, Wrap Up

As I said in the 28-70mm Contemporary lens review, having a price at the bottom of its class makes declaring this lens a good value easier. The entire package provided by this lens also strongly supports that claim.

The "DG" refers to full-frame camera compatibility, and the "DN" indicates that this lens was designed for short flange mirrorless cameras. The Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including APS-C sensor format models. It is also available in the Leica L mount.

"What allows us to achieve these precisely produced parts and such premium aesthetics is the impressive standard of manufacturing technology and rigorous quality control we have at the SIGMA Aizu Factory." [Sigma] In regards to the Sony E-mount version of this lens, Sigma develops, manufactures, and sells lenses based on the specifications of E-mount, disclosed by Sony Corporation under license agreement.

Sigma provides a 1-year limited warranty, and Sigma USA provides a limited 3-year warranty extension.

The reviewed 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens was on loan from Sigma.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Side View with Hood

Alternatives to the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens

Competing most closely to the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens is the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens. Tamron had a three year head start on Sigma, but Sigma had a known competitor to go up against.

The primary difference illuminated in the product name is that the Sigma lens goes out to 16mm vs. 17mm, a noticeable difference.

In the image quality comparison, the Tamron lens appears a bit sharper in the periphery. The Tamron lens has less geometric distortion at the tested focal lengths. The Sigma lens has less lateral CA and less color blur at 28mm.

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens vs. Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens comparison shows that these lenses are nearly identical. The weights a similar, and the Tamron lens measures slightly smaller.

Here is a visual comparison of these lenses:

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Compared to the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens

Yes, the Tamron lens mount cap is longer.

The Tamron lens uses 67mm filters vs. 72mm. The prices are the same.

Sony's FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens offers the same wide aperture with a superset of the Sigma lens's focal length range.

The image quality comparison shows the two lenses having similar sharpness at the wider focal lengths and the Sony lens sharper in the longer range. The Sony lens has less geometric distortion at the tested focal lengths and less peripheral shading. /p>

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens vs. Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens comparison shows the Sony lens considerably larger and heavier. Along with the larger size come larger filters for the Sony lens, 82mm vs. 72mm. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9 and more complete weather sealing. The Sigma lens costing less than half as much as the Sony lens will be a primary decision factor for many.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Top View


After reviewing the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Lens immediately prior to this Sigma lens, my brain apparently had a hard time remembering that this lens reaches its limit at 28mm. I had to use the editor's search function to find all of my 35mm mistypings (please report any that I missed). While this Sigma lens lacks the long end of that focal length range, most photographers have the missing range covered in their standard zoom lens.

Providing a shorter focal length range enables Sigma to provide a smaller, lighter, and less expensive lens.

The nicely designed and built Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens delivers excellent image sharpness at the very wide f/2.8 aperture at the wide end of the focal length range, and it does the same at f/4 or f/5.6 over the longer end of the range. However, the strong linear distortion present at a majority of focal lengths will sometimes need correction. Most other image quality attributes are good.

Critical to high-quality images is accurate focus, and Sigma checked that box. This lens also provides a good manual focus experience.

An ultra-wide-angle zoom lens is a valuable and fun-to-use member of the kit, and the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens is an attractive option for those seeking to fill that need looking for a small, lightweight, low-cost option.

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