Introduction

The Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 DG DN Art is a bright, premium zoom lens for photographers on either the Sony E-mount or the L-mount shared by Leica, Panasonic and Sigma camera bodies. Although for this comparison we're mostly looking at its Sony E-mount competition, there are some intriguing lenses on L-mount that it goes up against as well.

Designed specifically for mirrorless, the lens is compatible with either full-frame or APS-C camera bodies. For the latter it offers full-frame-equivalent focal lengths from 36mm to 105mm, with corresponding impact to the effective aperture. With its standard zoom range on full-frame and generous maximum aperture, it's well-suited to subjects like portraits, weddings, events, travel and street photography. It also has decent macro capabilities and is quite well-suited to video, making it a versatile all-rounder.

Available since December 2019, list pricing is set at $1099.

All images edited in Adobe Camera Raw 12.2 or its Lightroom Classic equivalent, with adjustments limited to white balance, exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black levels. Sharpening and noise reduction at defaults.



Key specifications:

  • Focal length: 24–70mm (36–105mm with APS-C crop)
  • Aperture range: F2.8 – F22
  • Stabilization: No
  • Filter thread: 82mm
  • Close focus: 0.18m (7.1")
  • Maximum magnification: 0.34x
  • Diaphragm blades: 11
  • Hood: Included
  • Weight: E-mount 830g (1.83 lb); L-mount 835g (1.84 lb)
  • Optical construction: 19 elements in 15 groups (3 aspherical, 6 FLD, 2 SLD)

The Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 DG DN Art's rivals differ depending upon whether you're an E-mount or L-mount shooter. For E-mount, there's only one direct rival but several other lenses which are at least in the same ballpark. On the L-mount, though, there are two direct rivals and one more which is fairly close in its focal range.


Handling

As you might expect given its bright F2.8 maximum aperture, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 is a fairly large lens, although some of its rivals are even larger. Its barrel length is 122.9mm (4.8") for the L-mount version or 125mm (4.9") for the E-mount version, and both variants share the same diameter of 88mm (3.5").

It doesn't feel overly heavy though, and we felt the E-mount variant balanced very nicely with our Sony A7R III body. Despite being just slightly longer, Sigma specs the E-mount version as being just a touch lighter at 830g (29.0oz) versus 835g (29.5oz) for the L-mount optic.

Sigma sees the Art series as its flagship line, and so build quality is excellent, with a rugged, all-metal construction and comprehensive weather-sealing. Both the zoom ring and manual focus ring feel smooth with just the right amount of resistance to dampen user input. The handsome outward appearance and the feel of the 24–70 are both consistent with Sigma's other Art series offerings.

As well as the zoom and focus rings, there are three further controls to be found clustered on the left side of the lens barrel. From top to bottom, these include a focus mode switch, a customizable button which defaults to providing autofocus lock, and a zoom lock switch which keeps the lens retracted but releases by itself if you turn the zoom ring.

Like all of its nearest E-mount and L-mount rivals, Sigma's 24–70mm F2.8 eschews optical image stabilization in favor of in-body IS. It also opts for the same 82mm filter threads as used by all of its direct competition. A hydrophobic and oleophobic coating on the front lens element helps to resist rain drops and accidental smudges.

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Compared to...

For E-mount shooters, the nearest alternative might be the Sony FE 24–70mm F2.8 G Master II lens, which is more than double the price of the Sigma. However this newer lens brings much to the table, improving upon its predecessor in almost every way. The older 24–70mm F2.8 GM is still available, often at a discount, but it's never been a favorite of ours.

Despite its identical focal range and maximum aperture, the Sigma is 140g (.3 lbs) heavier but 1.4cm (0.5") shorter than the Sony GM II. It is also appreciably cheaper, available for almost $1200 less. Both lenses feature rugged build quality and weather resistance. The Sigma 24–70 has a smoother-turning manual focusing ring compared to the somewhat sloppy-feeling ring on the Sony.

Although both lenses provide a customizable button on the side of the lens, only the Sony G Master II provides a de-clickable aperture ring and a handy option to smooth or tighten the zoom ring's resistance. Couple that with the lighter weight and we find the Sony to be the superior handling lens.

ISO 500 | 1/30 sec | F4 | 48.4mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

Unfortunately the Sigma can't compete with the G Master II when it comes to autofocus performance. Although the Sigma is no slouch in this regard, the Sony delivers faster and smoother focusing thanks to its four linear XD motors.

As a newer lens, we expected the Sony to dominate in terms of image sharpness, and we have to admit it is more consistent across the image at wider apertures. Nevertheless the older Sigma 24–70 Art holds its own in this regard.

ISO 500 | 1/60 sec | F2.8 | 24mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

The Tamron 28–75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 might sound similar in name and and basic parameters, but optically speaking it's a very different pick.

The Tamron option is even more affordable than the Sigma 24–70mm, saving you $200. It's also quite a bit smaller both in barrel diameter (~15%) and length (~6%), and around a third lighter. Being so much more compact, the Tamron has a much smaller 67mm filter thread versus the Sigma 24–70mm's 82mm thread, which will save still more money on filter purchases.

But the Tamron features a nine-bladed aperture that will yield less-round bokeh than the 11-bladed aperture of the Sigma. Sadly, the Tamron also lacks a customizable button. Despite a somewhat plastic toy-like feeling to the lens, though, it holds up to rugged use and all parts zoom and turn confidently.

ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F4.5 | 29.5mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

Thanks to its new VXD motor, autofocus performance is snappy, and focus breathing is also minimal. Tamron has made great strides to improve the overall look of the bokeh in this lens, something which was much maligned in the original version. It has the best magnification of any lens in this article at 0.37x, compared to the Sigma's 0.34x magnification.

ISO 1250 | 1/30 sec | F4 | 48.7mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal
ISO 100 | 1/500 sec | F5.6 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

Moving over to the L-mount competition, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24–70mm F2.8 is double the price of the Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 Art, and it's also both 12% heavier and 14% longer. It has an 11-bladed aperture like that of the Sigma and a similarly-complex optical formula.

But it can't focus anywhere near as closely, and so has a much weaker 0.25x maximum magnification as compared to the 0.34x of the Sigma. It does, however, have a more sophisticated AF drive mechanism pairing both linear and stepper motors.

ISO 250 | 1/60 sec | F2.8 | 24mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70 F2.8 Asph., meanwhile, is by far the most similar to the Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 in specification, even if it is more than 2.5 times as expensive. Its size and filter threads are identical and its weight only 3% greater than that of the Sigma.

It also shares a very similar optical formula, an 11-bladed aperture iris, stepper motor-driven AF and an identical minimum focusing distance, allowing it to deliver the same maximum magnification.

Compared to...

Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 DG DN Art Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm F2.8 Asph. Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24–70mm F2.8 Tamron 28–75mm F2.8 Di III VXD G2 Sony FE 24–70mm F2.8 GM II

Price (MSRP)

$1099 $2795 $2199.99 $899 $2298
Mount(s) Leica L / Sony E Leica L Leica L Sony E Sony E
Optical construction 19 elements, 15 groups 19 elements, 15 groups 18 elements, 16 groups 17 elements, 15 groups 20 elements, 15 groups
Aperture blades 11 11 11 9 11
Weather sealed Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
AF drive Stepper motor Stepper motor Linear and stepper motors Linear motor Piezoelectric motor
Minimum focus distance / max magnification 0.18 m (7.1″) / 0.34x 0.18 m (7.1″) / 0.34x 0.37 m (14.6″) / 0.25x 0.18 m (7.1″) / 0.37x 0.21 m (8.3″) / 0.32x
Filter size 82mm 82mm 82mm 67mm 82mm
Diameter x Length
(no hood)

L-mount: 87.8mm x 122.9mm (3.5" x 4.8")

E-mount: 87.8mm x 124.9mm (3.5" x 4.9")

88mm x 123mm (3.5" x 4.8") 90.9mm x 140mm (3.6" x 5.5") 75.8mm x 117.6mm (3.0" x 4.6") 87.8mm x 119.9mm (3.5" x 4.7")
Weight

L-mount: 835g (29.5oz)

E-mount: 830g (29.0oz)

856g (30.2oz)

935g (33.0oz) 540g (19.0oz) 695g (24oz)

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Autofocus and focus breathing

Sigma has based the 24–70mm F2.8's autofocus system around a stepper motor, but it's nevertheless quite responsive. Autofocus operation is totally silent and the lens focuses quickly with no hunting. However, when compared to the more modern lenses that compete against it, the Sigma tends to fall short. This difference does seem to be more pronounced when compared against other E-Mount lenses.

The Tamron 28–75 F2.8 G2 is slightly snappier, while the Sony 24–70 F2.8 G Master II is noticeably quicker and smoother when focusing. This would only be an issue in the most demanding of situations, however. Most photographers will find the Sigma to be responsive and quick enough.

When it comes to macro capabilities, the Sigma matches the best of its direct rivals and significantly betters many of them, so long as you don't mind getting extremely close to your subject. At the 24mm wide-angle position it can focus at just 18cm (7.1") for a maximum magnification of 0.34x (1:2.9). At the 70mm telephoto, meanwhile, you can back away from your subject to around 38cm (15.0") but the magnification falls to 0.22x (1:4.5).

ISO 400 | 1/60 sec | F2.8 | 70mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

We did note some field curvature for macro shooting, which leads to rather soft corners, but the 24–70mm F2.8 isn't an incredibly sharp lens when shooting close-up in the first place. Stopping down yields very good corner sharpness.

The Sigma also makes for a very compelling video lens. It shows very little focus breathing at either end of its zoom range and its autofocus motor works very well for video if your chosen camera body offers sufficient performance. It does lack the focus clutch of the Panasonic 24–70mm F2.8, but given that it costs barely half as much, you might be willing to overlook that omission.

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Image quality

Sigma delivers on almost all fronts when it comes to the 24–70mm F2.8 Art lens' image quality, with only an unusually distracting cat's eye effect really detracting from an otherwise solid performance.

ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F11 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Chris Niccolls

Sharpness

At its 24mm wide-angle position, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 delivers plenty of detail in the center even when shooting wide-open at F2.8, and while the corners definitely aren't as sharp, they're still very acceptable. Stopping down to F5.6 delivers a slight but noticeable improvement in the center and also brings back the sharpness in the corners.

Zooming in to the 70mm position the story is pretty similar, with a great level of detail in the center but rather softer corners when shooting wide-open. Again, stopping down to F5.6 helps throughout the image. That said, the improvement in the center is less dramatic at telephoto and the improvement in the corners is more noticeable than it was at wide-angle.

ISO 320 | 1/320 sec | F3.5 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

We didn't notice any improvement in corner sharpness from placing the focus point in the corner of the image at either the wide or telephoto ends of the zoom range. All things considered this lens is very capable resolution-wise, turning in a performance that should prove a match even for high-res bodies.

Bokeh

It's hard to find much to complain about with the Sigma 24–70mm F2.8, but we did find one issue on the bokeh front.

When shooting at wider apertures it's common for lenses to exhibit cat's eye with the bokeh formed by specular highlights, an effect that's caused by the lens barrel blocking incoming light. The closer to the corners of the image, the more the highlights lose their roundness and take on a rugby ball-shaped form reminiscent of a cat's pupil.

ISO 640 | 1/320 sec | F2.8 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Chris Niccolls

But when shooting wide-open with the Sigma 24–70mm, the shape of the cat's eye effect is rather unusual and quite different to that we've seen in other lenses. There's a quite noticeable shift in angle as if the shaded side of the bokeh has been further flattened, and it makes the bokeh even more distracting than it would be in a lens exhibiting regular cat's eye.

The good news is that it's only really a concern where there are strong specular highlights, and it's quite easily resolved simply by stopping down a little. And thanks to its 11-bladed aperture – something most of its E-mount rivals lack – the Sigma gives beautiful, circular highlights even when shooting stopped down.

ISO 100 | 1/50 sec | F2.8 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Jordan Drake

We also found no concerns with onion ring effect, and this lens gives a really nice transition from in-focus to out-of-focus image areas. Overall, it's a superb performance in all respects except for its weird mechanical vignetting when shooting wide-open.

Flare, ghosting and sunstars

So how does the Sigma 24–70 F2.8 Art handle bright light sources and flare? It's definitely a mixed bag and the impact will largely depend on the kind of photography the lens is used for.

Thanks to excellent lens coatings, the Sigma 24–70 handles overall flare and loss of contrast quite well. Contrast is well maintained across the image and the lens largely avoids washed out areas of the image when shooting at bright sources of light.

ISO 320 | 1/125 sec | F18 | 24mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

Ghosting can be an issue with the Sigma 24–70, although only in fairly challenging situations. When shooting at apertures from F2.8 to F8, ghosting is well controlled, with the occasional green streak showing opposite the light source. However as the aperture is tightened ghosting becomes more obvious and can create visible trails of green across the image.

Of course it is when shooting at tight apertures that sunstars are formed. Along with the requisite ghosting the Sigma also delivers 22-point sunstars thanks to its 11-bladed diaphragm. As an added bonus, the points are largely even in length.

Unfortunately, despite the dramatic number of points the appearance of the sunstars is quite diffuse. If you are a landscape photographer looking for sharp, clean and dramatic sunstars you may want to look elsewhere.

Longitudinal / lateral chromatic aberration (fringing)

Although you'll see some lateral chromatic aberration in photos shot with the 24–70mm F2.8, this is easy enough to fix in post-processing and so not a worry. As for longitudinal chromatic aberration, which causes color fringing in the foreground and background and can be hard to correct post-capture, while there's some present it's a pretty average performance and so doesn't represent a significant concern.

ISO 100 | 1/50 sec | F2.8 | 70mm | Sony a7r III
Photo by Chris Niccolls

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Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Very competitive pricing, especially against similarly high-end rivals
  • Solid, weather-sealed build
  • Bright, constant F2.8 maximum aperture
  • Self-releasing zoom lock and customizable AF Lock button
  • Swift, silent autofocus
  • Very little focus breathing
  • Very attractive bokeh in most respects
  • Well-controlled aberrations
  • Decent macro capability
  • Unusually distracting cat's eye effect
  • Corners are a bit soft, especially for close-up
  • 82mm filters are pricey

Although alternatives to the Sigma 24–70mm F2.8 DG DN Art lens differ depending upon whether you're an E-mount or L-mount shooter, it's a very solid offering for either mount. Its pricing simply blows manufacturer offerings from Sony and Panasonic out of the water, and despite its high-end build and performance, it's not a whole lot more expensive than consumer-grade offerings for either mount.

If you're an E-mount shooter who's especially sensitive to size, weight or cost, and you can live with the lesser wide-angle possibilities, it's definitely worth investigating Tamron's latest offering.

ISO 100 | 1/50 sec | F2.8 | 31.9mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

The newer VXD G2 is a more modern, ground-up redesign that outperforms the Sigma in most areas except bokeh performance. But it's hard to argue that you should spend twice as much for the Sony G Master in light of the Sigma Art lens' solid all-around performance. It can deliver very attractive images in almost all respects while saving you easily enough money to buy another lens or piece of camera gear for your kit.

Of course, on the L-mount you don't have Tamron's offerings to consider, but it's a similar story to the G Master when comparing to the Panasonic 24–70mm F2.8, and even more so against the even pricier Leica lens.

ISO 125 | 1/60 sec | F2.8 | 24mm | Sony a7r IV
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

If your pockets are deep and your L-mount body doesn't have the best autofocus, you might perhaps want to consider the Panasonic for its handy focus clutch, but otherwise it's a no-brainer to go for the Sigma.

And that, were we in Leica, Panasonic or Sony's shoes, would have us feeling pretty nervous right now.

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Scoring

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art
Category: Normal Lens
Build Quality
Ergonomics and Handling
Features
Image Quality
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
81%
Overall score

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DPReview TV review

See what our team at DPReview TV has to say about the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art.

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Sample galleries

Please do not reproduce any of these images without prior permission (see our copyright page).

Sony a7R IV and a7R III

Sony a7R III

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