Bokeh/narrow DOF with Sigma 19/2.8

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by mikekiwi, May 12, 2013.

  1. mikekiwi

    mikekiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    The Netherlands
    I would like to buy a prime around 20mm. Obvious choices are the 20/1.7, the sigma 19/2.8 and the 25/1.4.

    the 25mm is too expensive, so the 20mm (used) is an option (€ 200) and a new Sigma 19/2.8 (€99). To me, I would favour the 19/2.8 because I would save some money for some accessories/software/filters.

    Current set-up:
    Camera's: OM-D + Pana G1
    Lenses: Pana 14-45 + 45/1.8 + Vivitar (Komine) Close Focus 28/2.8 + Pentax SMC 50/1.7 + Takumar 55/2

    Size is not the most important reason for having the preference on the 20/1.7, but the larger aperture is because of the ability to shoot with narrower DOF.

    I browsed through the image thread of the 19mm, but couldn't find a lot of shots having a small DOF. I would like to see some examples with narrow DOF with this lens to see if this is possible...

    How is the speed of AF with the 19mm in comparison with the 20/1.7 ?
  2. aidanw

    aidanw Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 19, 2012
    Wellington, NZ
    I have the Pana 14, 14-45, 20 and Sigma 19 & 30 on an E-PL5.

    The 20mm is the slowest to focus of them all by a long way. The Sigmas are very fast and accurate.

    You'll never get the same kind of bokeh from an f2.8 as an f1.7 no matter what crop ratio. Having said that, the 19mm has a surprising amount of background blurring, and the colour rendition is very pleasing.

    Printed photos with the 19mm f2.8 look most like film. On screen they are not as amazing for some reason. But printed direct from unedited JPG they're great.

    If you're photographing moving objects the 20mm is frustrating sometimes. But at a dimly lit party the better light capture is invaluable.
  3. thazooo

    thazooo Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2012
    Mississippi, USA
    Dana F.
  4. mikekiwi

    mikekiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for your input! In the meantime, after my posting, I found some reviews online of the Sigma 19/2.8 containing some more information.
    Somehow, I overlooked that option, only looking at this forum :cool:

    I just ordered the 19mm for a nice price (€300 for Sig19 + Oly 45/1.8), think I'm going to wait for a used 20/1.7 or (preferrably) 25/1.4 for the low-light needs.
    90% of my images are taken with daylight. Of the remaining 10%, half is shot using studio strobes. For the rest I have to crank the ISO up to compensate for that extra stop (and a half) on the OM-D and then hope for the best :redface:
  5. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    If you want the aperture and don't mind the added expense, I'd just get the 20. Very sharp lens and pancake design. Pancake design is the reason I love my Oly 17/2.8... don't know why you have excluded that little lens from your choices.

    Regarding shallow DoF and wide lenses, it is harder to achieve and rarely that impressive.

    The Sigma 30 offers nice flexibility in DoF choices and is very reasonably priced... I like mine.
  6. mikekiwi

    mikekiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Well, it's hard to find a used 20mm, and frankly I find € 300 a bit too much for a new one (with my current available budget). Maybe I'll buy one if I see one on the local market for a reasonable price to compare it with the sigma.

    I needed a prime on a relatively short term for a fotoshoot with a group of kids, and preferred the quicker AF. Shallow DOF is nice and I like it very much, but having blurred kids because of too slow AF is not OK. For regular portraits and better DOF-control, I use the 45/1.8 (but for the group shots I think the distance I need with the 45mm is to big for the space I have )
  7. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013

    I picked up both the 19mm and 30mm during the clearance sales for $199 combined. I think they are well worth it. :)

    At that price I'd rather have those two lenses than a single faster lens, because of the flexibility.

    And they are very nice lenses. I've mainly been shooting buildings outdoors with the 19mm though, so background blur hasn't been something I've aimed for. It does seem to have a nice bokeh on the few flower shots I've taken. They're all on my camera still or I'd post an example.
  8. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    In my experience, especially at group shot distances with wider lenses, missed focus is rarely the problem. It's more having too slow a shutter speed. This is where the wider aperture pays off.

    Frankly, with the 20 wide open and at group shot distances, you're not going to do much background blurring anyway. Head and shoulder shots using the 20 will give you some blurring, but then the perspective isn't really that great for people pictures.

    Personally, without knowing exactly what event your are shooting, I'd use your zoom for group shots etc. (using bounce flash if you need to) and then go to your 45 when you want to get creative with DoF.
  9. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I love my P20, but I can understand your hesitation given the AF speed.

    Here are a few shots (not mine) I found on Flickr that demonstrate the shallow DOF and/or bokeh characteristics of the Sigma 19mm f/2.8:

    Tower Hill Last Weekend 5 by awrose, on Flickr

    Panasonic Lumix GF3 + SIGMA 19mm f2.8 EX DN by digitalbear, on Flickr

    Panasonic Lumix GF3 + SIGMA 19mm f2.8 EX DN by digitalbear, on Flickr

    Panasonic Lumix GX1 + SIGMA 19mm f2.8 by digitalbear, on Flickr

    Cake by ciel*paradis, on Flickr

    Flowers... Olympus OM-D EM5 + Sigma 19mm f2.8 EX DN by peterjaena, on Flickr

    View attachment 276823
    The Real Deal Cowgirl... [Monochrome] by  edwardconde, on Flickr
  10. mikekiwi

    mikekiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    The Netherlands
    @mh2000: Thanks for your view on this. In this case it concerns three or four fast moving kids on the beach which I want to free their motion while they are 'running' towards me for instance.
    OK, AF tracking, is an option but not the best side of contrast AF, so a speedy focus can come in handy.

    The 14-45 is an option but outside, with f4.5, this is just too much DOF. I agree about using the 45 for playing with the DoF, but any improvement in a wider angle is welcome. And for € 95 I couldn't resist trying.

    The 30/2.8 is available at the same store for € 75, but I'm not sure about it's use at that focal length. It's a bit inbetween regular and tele and I'm not sure if I will use that one a lot.

    @DeeJayK: thanks for these examples, must have done some bad filtering on Flickr myself :) To be honest, while switching to M43, I thought that for me THE lens to have was the 20/1.7. But the budget is rather limited and after reading so many good things about the 45, I just needed that one. And there went my cash for the 20mm...
  11. mikekiwi

    mikekiwi Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2010
    The Netherlands
  12. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    ^Do keep in mind how much space there is between the subjects and the background. In situations where you don't have as much space the separation you refer to would not be nearly as apparent with the same framing (you'd need to move the camera much closer to the subject).
  13. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    I bought the Sigma 30 on whim when it was closed out for $150. I hadn't really thought the FL would be that useful, but bought the lens because it was cheap and I had a pretty big gap to fill between 17 and 45. After getting it, I found the 30 was way more useful than I ever thought! Now it is probably my most used lens. Even briefly thought about selling my Oly 45... but after things settled down, realized that there still were times where the 45 was useful.

    I would still be happy if Oly released an affordable 25mm pancake, but until then, I'm really happy with the 17/2.8, 30/2.8 and 45/1.8 as my AF prime kit. (I also have the 14/2.5, but don't really count it since I essentially never use it.)
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