In the Field: The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Ultra-Wide Zoom

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Getting excited about a lens with a 10mm zoom range might sound odd, but when the lens in question is the new Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art lens, the excitement is understandable. Available for Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma SA lens mounts, Sigma’s latest Art-series lens was conceived and designed to capture high-quality travel, landscape, nature, wildlife, wedding, and event photography when used with the highest-resolution full-frame cameras on the market. After three days of shooting with the 14-24mm Art lens, mounted on a 50MP Canon EOS 5DS R, I can tell you this lens performs as advertised.

If the lens looks large in the opening photograph it’s because the lens is large (3.8 x 5.3"), and it’s hefty, too (2.5 lb), but that’s to be expected from a lens with an angle of view ranging from 84° to 114.2° at a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range.

The Sigma14-24mm DG HSM Art-series zoom is weather-sealed and performs well under challenging lighting and weather conditions.

As part of Sigma’s Art-series lenses, the new ultra-wide zoom must live up to a very high, pre-established standard. To meet these goals, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM employs a single large-diameter aspheric element, along with a trio of FLD elements, SLD elements, and conventional aspheric lens elements. Together, this assortment of Super Multi-Layer coated lens elements helps to minimize ghosting and lens flare while maintaining optimal levels of contrast and color values—even when shooting backlit scenarios.

When photographed up close at ground level, half-buried flotsam and jetsam found along the shoreline take on monumental stature.

The lens also features a nine-bladed diaphragm, which helps to deliver pleasing bokeh when shooting at wider apertures.

Wide open, the Sigma 14-24mm DG HSM allows for narrow bands of sharp selective focus with gentle falloff fore and aft of your focus point.

Hyper Sonic AF Motors with full-time manual-focus override deliver smooth, quiet focusing that I found to be very responsive in all but the dimmest light. According to Sigma, the zoom’s autofocus system incorporates an optimized AF algorithm that fine-tunes the overall performance of the focusing system. As with previous Sigma’s Art-series lenses, Sigma’s new 14-24mm zoom features a USB port for updating firmware.

The entire lens housing is dust and splash proof, including the zoom and focus rings. Even its brass lens mount is weather-sealed. As an additional line of defense against the elements, the front lens surface features water- and oil-resistant coatings. Handcrafted in Japan (and “individually evaluated” before leaving the factory), this lens was designed to minimize flare, chromatic aberrations, and optical distortion. Sigma states that the 14-24mm DG HSM displays zero distortion when focused at infinity. Not having access to instruments that can verify that claim, but based on my field test, Sigma’s zero-distortion claim seems to stand on sturdy legs.

VR shooters: Sigma offers a Front Conversion Service in which the lens’s petal-shaped shade is rounded to a VR-friendlier form factor.

The Sigma 14-24mm DG HSM is an ideal lens for architectural photography—it’s wide, sharp as a tack, and can capture wide views in the tightest spaces with little, if any, noticeable distortion.

The only lens comparable to the Sigma 14-24mm DG HSM is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. Though similar in size and weight to the Nikon 12-24mm zoom, the new Sigma lens has a slightly closer minimum focus (10.2" versus 11"), which really does make a difference if you’re like me and you like focusing real tight to your subjects.

Something I found surprising was the degree of narrow selective focus I could achieve despite the relatively modest f/2.8 maximum aperture and extreme angle of view of this lens. I was also quick to note how easy it was to use this lens in a way that produced photographs that don’t scream “WIDE-ANGLE when you view them.

In the three days I had with this lens, I was able to shoot with it in a variety of situations, including an overnight snow storm, a sunny afternoon by the shore, and countless stops along the way, and never once did the lens disappoint me. The lens balanced well on my Canon EOS 5DS R, and the distance and positioning of the zoom and focus rings on the lens made it easy to tell them apart without having to fumble around in the midst of fast-moving action.

Creating interesting compositions is easy within the parameters of this wonderful zoom’s focus and focal range.

As a die-hard wide-angle enthusiast, I found this lens—despite its size and heft—to be well worth considering if you’re in the market for one lens that will take care of 99% (if not all) of your wide-angle needs. It’s sharp to the very edges when stopped down and, at its widest apertures, what is in focus is infinitely sharp with ever-softening falloff fore and aft of your subject.

The Sigma 14-24mm DG HSM ultra-wide zoom lens comes with a four-year USA warranty and is compatible with Sigma MC-11 Lens Adapters, which enable you to mount Canon EF versions of this lens with full functionality on Sony E-mount cameras.

Does the Sigma 14-24mm DG HSM ultra-wide zoom sound like a lens you’d like to have with you the next time you’re out taking pictures? Let’s hear your thoughts.

2 Comments

Derrick. I belive that the Sigma flare control is superior to the (older) Nikon, and many other lenses with such a big bulb in the front catching the sun/light source in almost any direction you point it, and losing contrast in the picture.

Allan. Thanks for a nice and thorough review. Even though the format was short I think you caught the essentials and created some good pictures that took advantage of the caracter of the lens. I've already ordered it before reading your review, but from Europe since there's where I live. :-)

Thanks for writing this.  I've been wondering about the quality of this lens and seriously considering purchasing it soon.  I'm only hung up on whether to buy the Sigma or the Nikon version.  Are there any test comparing the two lenses yet (Sigma and Nikon 14-24)?

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