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.

Focal Length   18 - 35mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 28.8 - 56mm 
Aperture  Maximum:  f/1.8
Aperture Minimum:  f/16  
Camera Mount Type Canon EF-S
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
Image Stabilization   No  
Autofocus    Yes 
Focusing Mechanism Internal
Zooming Mechanism Internal
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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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.

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

What??? Did you proof read before you sent???

Too bad.......
This lens is supposed to be a landscape/ultra wide angle lens with an aperture of 1.8. What comparable lens with a the constant aperture of 1.8 has IS? Not to mention the price of 799. Most of the time, if you're shooting landscapes or interiors, you're on a tripod anyways. Lack of IS is not an issue, thinking you need it with this lens is the issue and you'd better stick to your kit lens. Also try some bicep curls so things aren't so heavy for you.

Bicep curls aren't going to do much for holding camera equipment. I suggest you do some bicep curls and then you should be able to figure out their application. Holding a heavy camera/lens combo is going to be much more dependent on strong anterior deltoid muscles, as well as strong flexors and extensors in the arm. Having used a Canon 400/2.8 in the field for years, the best exercise you can do for heavy equipment would be front raises with dumbbells.

If you're holding your camera and lens combo with one hand on the camera (which you pretty much have to), and one hand under the lens, it's not a problem at all. And the D70s is not a small body as a lot of APS-C bodies are today. Also, there is no other lens out there that can be compared to this as it's a 18-35mm f/1.8. It's a zoom with f/1.8. There is only this, and if a little weight puts you off, you have no options.

Also, the 24-70mm is for full frame and isn't nearly as wide angle as the 18-35mm. And it's f/2.8, more than a stop darker than the 18-35mm.

And it's f/1.8, so less need of stabilization compared to the more than a stop darker f/2.8 lens.

Lack of IS isn't a problem for Pentax and Sony shooters. ;)

I do wish it had an aperture ring and full frame coverage so I could use it on a film body, but it still might find its way in to my bag when the Pentax version is released.

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 :(

if we take sigma 18-35 mm 1.8 lense, is it support for canon 6d body


No, I am sorry. The Sigma 18-35mm lens is for DSLR's with an APS-C size sensor. The larger fill frame sensor in the 6D is not compatible.

Actually it does. If y'all read the post it does show on a full frame it works from 28.8mm to 35.. 

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.