Sneak Peek at the new Sigma Art Lenses

Sneak Peek at the new Sigma Art Lenses

Sigma has sent Murphy’s Camera a couple of their newest Art series lenses to evaluate; the 14mm f1.8 DG HSM and the 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM lenses, both are in the Canon mount. I was the lucky one who was able to play around with these beauties and do some informal testing for a couple of evenings. First let me state that these are big beefy heavy lenses designed for a full frame camera. Sigma has them available in three mounts, Sigma, Canon and Nikon, plus the Canon mount can be adapted to work on Sony full frame bodies. These will also mount on APS-C bodies from Canon, Nikon and Sony (with adapter), although the user will not experience the wide angle vision.

Sigma 14mm f1.8 DG HSM

Here are some specs and handling characteristics. The 14mm f1.8 weighs 41.27 ounces, is 3.76″ in diameter and 4.96″ tall. It features a built in lens hood and has a rubber seal on the rear mount. I thought the rubber seal would make the lens weather resistant but the Sigma information sheet specifically states ” When you use the lens in the rain or near water, keep it from getting wet.” My guess is the seal is possibly for dust protection. The lens has a minimum focus distance of 0.89′. The lens features 16 elements in 11 groups. The front element is very bulbous and luckily the hood helps provide some protection against smudge marks. I did not get a chance to shoot into the sun so I do not know how well it will perform against lens flare. The lens has one switch on the side for Auto focus or Manual focus, plus Full-time manual focus function. Purchasing the Sigma USB DOCK (about $60.00) allows the user to select Full-time Manual focus ON/OFF, plus adjust the amount of ring rotation to operate Full-time manual focus. The switch needs a good nudge in order to change the focus mode. I like that as it will not easily be knocked out of position. I also liked the feel of the manual focus ring plus the length of the ring. The focus ring is up near the front of the lens and while hand holding and using manual focus it balanced nicely in my hand when using the Canon 5D Mark IV; not so good though when mounted to the Sony A7R II. I think the Sony user may want the accessory power grip if using this lens.

The lens is definitely front heavy and I would say one needs to be cautious when either mounting or removing this lens from a camera. One item I would like for this lens is a tripod collar. It would be so much easier for a landscape photographer when making a change from a horizontal composition to a vertical composition while working from a tripod. Maybe Sigma would consider this as an accessory. The lens was fast focusing on the Canon not so on the Sony, especially indoors. The Sony focused faster outdoors in natural light but still not as fast as the Canon. I attribute the slow focus as a limitation of the third party adapter we had in store, a DLC unit. Had we had the Sigma MC-11 adapter, I feel confident the focusing would have been better on the Sony.

I being more of a nature/landscape photographer tried the lens wearing a pair of middle weight winter gloves for several minutes. The lens was easy to manipulate while wearing gloves. This is very important for serious landscape and other photographers who shoot in all seasons.

Nikon shooters be advised that this lens has “an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism, the same specifications as the E-type mechanism in Nikon AF lenses.” So there may be compatibility issues depending on the age of your Nikon body. If you have any D3100 or newer, D5000 or newer, D7100 or newer, D500, D610, D750, D810A, D810, Df, D4s or D5 you have full compatibility according to the Sigma chart. If you have any of these Nikon bodies D7000, D300, D300S, D600, D700, D800E, D800, D3, D3S, D3X or D4 you will have to make sure you have the latest version of the camera firmware for compatibility. Any Nikon body I have not listed is in the no longer compatible category.

The Sigma 14mm f1.8 HSM is what I would classify as a special application lens. It retails at $1600.00 which is expensive; but a bargain considering that had Canon or Nikon made their 14mm lens with a f1.8 aperture they would retail at a much higher price. Nobody has a 14mm prime that lets in as much light as this Sigma. An extreme wide angle lens at 114 degrees making it useful for certain types of landscape, architectural, astro, real estate photos. It is definitely not for every photographer. It is big in girth on the front end and front heavy. Anyone considering this lens needs to get it on their camera and in their hands. The imaging quality is stellar. The build quality is excellent, although I wonder why Sigma did not make it weather resistant? The warranty is really good, 4 years. It can be mated with the Sigma dock which can help resolve any front or back focus issues that may happen. There are not many 14mm prime lens contenders being produced at the moment. Canon has their 14mm f2.8 L II lens, Nikon their aging 14mm 2.8 D lens and Rokinon/Samyang their 14mm f2.8 manual focus lens. The other 14mm’s come in the form of some superwide wide angle zooms.

This photo, from left to right, shows the Canon 11-24mm f4 L, Nikon 14-24 f2.8, Nikon 14mm f2.8 D, Sigma 14mm f1.8, and Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art lens.
This photo, from left to right, shows the Canon 11-24mm f4 L, Nikon 14-24 f2.8, Nikon 14mm f2.8 D, Sigma 14mm f1.8, and Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art lens.

Sigma 14mm f1.8 DG HSM Test Images

So here are some images I made with the 14mm lens. All of the landscape images were taken at one of my favorite locations in Louisville, the Parklands, using the Canon 5D Mark IV and all images other than landscape or nature were taken downtown with the Sony A7R II using a DLC adapter.

 

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM

Now for a look at the new Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM full frame lens. Definitely a versatile focal length range and sought after lens for wedding, event and landscape photographers. This one has built in OS optical stabilization. Great for me because I’m a SOG. That’s a shaky old guy. This also is another beast of a lens. It has girth, 3.46″, is 4.24″ high and weighs in at 35.9 ounces. It also has a front heavy feel. This lens will accept an 82mm filter and comes with a bayonet reversible lens hood and case. The 24-70 has 19 lens elements in 14 groups with an angle of view that adjusts between 84-34 degrees. This lens will close focus at 1.21 feet.

This lens has a three way switch with AF-MO-M positions. MO is manual override mode, which lets one auto focus the lens plus gives Full-time manual focus. The switch needs a good push to change positions, which I liked, as it will be more difficult to accidentally change. The Canon camera must be set in AF-S, one shot auto focus mode for this to function properly. Buying the Sigma USB Dock also adds some customization that gives the Full-time MF function an ON or OFF setting, plus the ability to adjust the amount of ring rotation. Ring rotation sorta sounds similar to a dock feature of the 14mm f1.8 lens.

In the hand it is heavy but balanced nicely on the larger Canon and not so good on the smaller Sony. It has a dense solid feel. I think even with the Canon I would opt for the accessory battery grip for a better handling camera. What I didn’t like about the 24-70 was the manual focus ring. For my tastes it was not wide enough. I did like the feel of the ring in manual focus. The zoom ring was slightly tight, but that didn’t cause me any problems. With the weight of the lens I think the zoom will loosen especially for those who carry the camera hanging from their shoulder. Surprisingly there is no lock on the zoom. The lens hood was also stiff to remove when in the reverse position. That too is plastic so I’m sure it will loosen some with time. The build quality is top notch and I thought the imaging quality was great as well. The lens worked well when I tested it using gloves. The Af was fast on the Canon and it exhibited the same issues when mounted to the Sony.

The lens has OS optical stabilization. Sigma literature packed in the box states “Press the shutter button halfway down, confirm the image in the viewfinder is stable then take the picture. ( It takes approximately 1 second to produce a stable image from the time of depressing the shutter button halfway.” ) Well sorry Sigma not for me. Yes I had the shutter depressed for at least one second or longer. I never did get the viewfinder to stabilize using the Canon. However the stabilizer was working as the handheld shots came out sharp. I handed the camera and lens to a couple of my co-workers and they did not have as much of an issue as I was having.

The 24-70 also has the rubber ring on the mount end, the lens is not weatherized, which they point out in their instruction leaflet. Similar to their new 14mm f1.8 lens.

For all of the Nikon shooters the same restrictions apply for Nikon camera body and lens compatibility as with the Sigma 14 1.8 lens. Nikon shooters are the big winners with this lens as it comes in at $1300.00 retail. Compare that to Nikon’s pricey 24-70mm 2.8 VR lens.

This photo shows, from left to right, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Nikon 24-70 f2.8 VR, Sigma 24-70 2.8 OS, Sony 24-70 2.8 GM, & Tamron 24-70 2.8. All of the 24-70's in this photo are stabilized except the Canon. Canon also offers a 24-70 f4 L IS lens. All of the 24-70's in this photo are using 82mm filters and they all ship with lens hoods.
This photo shows, from left to right, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Nikon 24-70 f2.8 VR, Sigma 24-70 2.8 OS, Sony 24-70 2.8 GM, & Tamron 24-70 2.8. All of the 24-70’s in this photo are stabilized except the Canon. Canon also offers a 24-70 f4 L IS lens. All of the 24-70’s in this photo are using 82mm filters and they all ship with lens hoods.

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Test Images

 

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t any type of scientific test, just some observations and how the lenses handled while taking photos. Overall I liked both lenses, and especially liked the bokeh or out of focus background rendering of the 24-70 lens. But bokeh is very subjective and what I find pleasing may not appeal to someone else. If I were in the market for full frame wide angle lenses I would probably buy the 24-70 first as it makes for a more practical landscape/nature lens. I do like the 14mm lens but it makes me work harder to find a composition. That is a good thing, because I think the 14mm can be used in more creative ways.

If you want MTF charts visit the LenRentals Blog. Roger Cicala has his review on both lenses. DPReview has an article using the 14mm for astro photography.

The lenses have only been available to us for a few weeks and we have sold out of our first shipment of Nikon 24-70 mount and are still waiting for the 14mm in Nikon mount. We have a copy of both the 24-70mm & 14mm in Canon mount.

Addendum

Upon further research I made a mistake in my assumption regarding the sealing on these lenses. Sigma state they are both splash and dust resistant.

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