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Photography / Hands-on Review

Hands-On Review: the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Lens

         

Continuing their Art class of lenses, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM zoom lens fills an interesting position for APS-C format digital SLRs, and is available for Canon EF-S, Nikon F, Sony AlphaPentax K and Sigma SA mounts. The focal range of 18-35mm translates to the field-of-view of a 28.8mm-56mm lens on a full-frame sensor. But, the notable feature here is its speedit is the world’s first constant-aperture f/1.8 zoom lens.


Here we have an optic that provides a unique window of opportunity: each captured moment can be as original as the eye imagines. While ordinary lenses with similar focal lengths tend to have a maximum aperture of f/3.5-4.5 and look best when stopped down (f/5.0-6.3), closing down this Sigma one stop brings you to f/2.5; that's prime-lens speed with zoom-lens flexibility. Add to this equation Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) autofocusing, USB-updatable firmware, Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, and a rounded nine-blade aperture, and you have the ingredients for an ideal and widely versatile available-light lens for the APS-C format.

Sigma’s Art lenses are aimed at the serious amateurs and semi-professionals seeking to enhance their artistic vision. The chrome-plated brass mount, alloy chassis, and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) outer shell give the lens a solid, tightly assembled feel in hand. Refined touches include a durable black matte finish, well-damped zoom and focus controls, and thoughtful placement of synthetic rubber right where you need it—on the focus and zoom controls as well as on the base of the scalloped lens shade. 

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Macro Shot. f/1.8

A striking feature of this lens is the rectilinear rendering. In other words, straight lines stay straight, even at 18mm. While using it in the field, I found myself cramming the frame full of polygons, challenging the lens to bend them. At its widest, the view is a deep breath full of detail and light. At the other end is "normal" perspective for the APS-C format with a more sublime, forward-looking gaze.  

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Convergent Shot. f/8

Being a DC-series lens, it is intended exclusively for the APS-C sensor format. Sometimes lenses of this type have protruding rear elements, which would crash into the swinging mirror of a full frame camera. Not so with the Sigma 18-35 1.8 DC HSM, and I was compelled to see how it would look on my Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III, just because I could. At the 35mm setting the frame was fully illuminated and looked good, but at 18mm the coverage is nearly circular, with the corners dropping out altogether—not a surprise, but worth having looked. Back on my APS-C format Canon EOS 7D, used to take the pictures shown here, the frame is covered entirely but I could not help thinking about the image circle just covering the frame at 18mm. Indeed, at 18mm and f/1.8, vignetting is visible through the viewfinder, although this improves immediately when the aperture is stopped down. This is not an unusual trait of fast lenses, and can be used to your creative advantage to center the eye within a composition.

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Wide Angle Shot. f/11

But enough fretting over even illumination, sharpness, and other esoteric issues… what, you might wonder, does it look like at f/1.8? As with any fast lens wide open, it’s a little on the dreamy side due to the very shallow depth of field. In conjunction with cameras with better high-ISO performance, you’d be able to go virtually anywhere and capture a viable image without a tripod. Accurate focusing becomes more challenging, but the reward is a new stream of images captured in settings you would not have considered in the past.

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Detail Shot. f/8

If you need a lens with a convenient walkabout focal range, or your back hurts from carrying too much gear, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM might be just the right lens for you and your APS-C format camera. Its build will inspire confidence and blot out memories of plastic-y insubstantiality, but most of all, the optical performance will open your eyes wide to a broader field of creative possibilities.   

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Wide Interior Shot. f/7

To learn more about this new fast lens from Sigma, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, speak with a sales professional on the telephone at 1-800-606-6969 or contact us online via Live Chat.

Performance  
Focal Length   18 - 35mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 28.8 - 56mm 
Aperture  Maximum:  f/1.8
Aperture Minimum:  f/16  
Lens Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility   Canon (APS-C) 
Angle of View   73.8° - 42.2°  
Minimum Focus Distance   11" (27.94 cm)  
Maximum Reproduction Ratio   1:4.3
Maximum Magnification 0.23x
Groups/Elements   12 / 17
Aspherical and SLD glass elements
Diaphragm Blades   9
Features  
Image Stabilization   No  
Autofocus    Yes 
Focusing Mechanism Internal
Zooming Mechanism Internal
Physical  
Filter Thread     Front: 72mm
Construction Thermally Composite Material (TSC) 
Dimensions (DxL)     3.07 x 4.76" (78 x 121mm)
Weight   1.79 lb (0.81 kg)  

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Discussion 11

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¿Will this lens fit on a Metabones Speed Booster XL, so I can use it with a MFT camera like the Panasonic GH4?

The Metabones T Speed Booster XL 0.64x Adapter for Full-Frame Canon EF-Mount Lens to Select Micro Four Thirds-Mount Cameras will not support use of EF-S Crop sensor lenses like the Sigma 18-35mm. You would instead want to use the  Metabones T Smart Adapter for Canon EF or Canon EF-S Mount Lens to Select Micro Four Thirds-Mount Cameras which can be used with the Panasonic GH4. 

I HAVE NIKON 610D.

CAN I USE THIS SIGMA LENS/ NIKON MODEL .

ARE THEY COMPATIBLE

PL. REPLY SOONEST.

This lens is designed and optimized for use on APS-C (DX) digital cameras, not full-frame models.  Nikon full-frame DSLRs will allow you to use DX type of lenses like this on them, but this will cause the camera to crop its owns sensor down to become a APS-C size, and decrease the effective pixel count (the camera will become a 10mp camera in this mode).  Therefore it is not recommended to purchase this lens specifically for use on a full-frame camera such as the D610. 

For FX cameras the new "24-105mm f/4 | A" might be better. In tests its Canon version showed better results than 24-105 f/4L but I did not see any results for the Nikon version.

The new Nikon 24-120 f/4 goes 15mm longer and has good reviews, but is significantly more expensive. It is also the kit lens for new D750 (meaning, Nikon-recommended). If any of your friends are buying a Nikon camera, you can get a significant discount on the Nikon lens when bought together.

If you mostly shoot JPEG, Nikon's in-camera distortion corrections will be helpful when using Nikon lenses. If you shoot RAW then any lens with good IQ is the same because you will do your preferred corrections in PP.

I have found the AF to be inconsistent at best, and often shots come out soft... Disappointed of the IQ from Sigma on this lens.

 

I returned it due to its weight but I did not face the problems you pointed out. The pictures I got were sharp on D7100 and I did not notice focusing problems. What I liked most was the color contrast.

My thought is that the particular piece you received may be bad. Others have complaiend that they had to fine tune the focus using USB dock. Sigma supposedly improved their QC with their 'global vision' program to prevent such bad pieces. Your experience shows otherwise.

reading the comment from the guys above.
i never knew one had to be fit to be a photographer!!!! geeezz so much for my dream on being a photographer with my little arms :(

I have two issues with this leans:

1. Heavier that the Sigma 24-70 f 2.8, but at least this lens has image stabilization

2. No image stabilization.

I have tried the 24- 70 on my Nikon D70S and is makes the camera very front heavy. This one will be even more so, with out IS

Too Bad

I have used this lens for a couple of weeks. I do not have primes at these focal lengths but this is better than any zooms I have tried on D7100. My two complaints were exactly what you pointed out... heavy and felt the need for VR at slower shutter speeds. Shutter speed is not an issue for those who carry a tripod but I felt that this lens made the camera front heavy even on a tripod. A collar may balance it better.

That said, I have tried many other zooms since (even popular f/2.8 ones) and was not satisfied. If you are looking for the best IQ and don't care for other factors, go for this lens. I am debating about going back to this lens. Tough choice!

the information about the lens is thorough, understandable and terse. the style of writing was engaging.
this article inspired me to take my photography seriously again.

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