Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom for Nikon APS-C - hands on review

Finally a lens manufacturer is addressing an important category of optics for the APS-C sensor cameras, namely, the high speed aperture standard zoom. The new Sigma 18-35mm DC HSM lens does just that. It has a conservative equivalent focal length spread of 27-53mm full frame equivalent, which is not impressive in it own right. However, when couple with an extremely fast f/1.8 fixed aperture it covers a zoom area that even full-frame camera owners would envy, and makes it the fastest zoom in the world.

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 fixed aperture zoom is a perfect fit for a Nikon D7100, D5300, or D3300 camera. 
This lens is another model brought out in Sigma's new "Art" series of high quality, professional lenses. For what it delivers -- and its DxO score is the highest of any Nikon APS-C zoom lens out there --  it is quite reasonably priced at $799.  Of course the dues you pay for most high speed aperture zooms, and particularly those with built-in auto-focus is that they are large and heavy. This one weighs in at 1.78lb (811gm), is 4.76" long with a diameter of 3.07 (78mm), and takes 72mm filters -- not excessively bulky by pro standards, but definitely feeling large on a smaller DX camera.  When we take into account that f/1.8 is ground-breaking aperture technology for any lens in this category, things don't seem so bad. After all, I would have to carry around at least three prime, fast-aperture lenses just to cover the range of this one zoom.  Not so bad when I look at it that way.

For such a relatively short focal length range of 18-50mm (27-75mm equivalent), this lens cuts a large figure when mounted on the smaller D5300 DX Nikon camera.
While the super fast f/1.8 aperture of this zoom is impressive enough in its own rite, the performance factor of its optics is what really clinches the deal. Suffice it to say I don't think I have ever seen any other lens that can top it within this zoom category on a DX camera such as the Nikon D7100, D5300, or D3200. The Sigma 18-35mm even out-classes many of the top prime lenses. If you were to pair this lens with Sigma's new 50-150mm f/2.8 and toss in a super-wide to complete the package, you'd have a fully equipped, pro quality assortment of lenses for a DX outfit --  pretty much a perfect combo for a D7100.

What you do not get for your $799 lens is a weather-proof body -- not a deal breaker if you like the price and don't shoot in demanding conditions. A weather resistant Nikkor zoom, like the 24-70mm f/2.8, will cost more than twice as much.

This lens is also compatible with Sigma's new USB lens docking station. This accessory allows you to access the lens AF and focusing firmware through Sigma's Optimizaiton Pro software, and make micro adjustments that customize it to your specific camera.

The lens can focus down to 11" for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:4.3.

The f/1.8 maximum aperture makes this Sigma zoom the fastest in the world. Combined with its decent close focus range it delivers excellent bokeh results in out of focus areas, a feature that should also be of interest to anyone wanting it for video use.

Click here to download the high res version of this file
This photo was taken at the widest focal length setting of 18mm and aperture of f/8.  Click here to download a high res version of this file.

This photo was taken at the longest focal length setting of 35mm and aperture of f/6.3.  Click here to download a high res version of this file.

Someone needed to address the issue of supplying lenses with pro characteristics for the APS-C sensor format, and Sigma was first out of the gate with an impressive beginning. As APS-C sensors continue to improve, its camera format should begin to usurp many of the tasks now assigned to full frame machines, but this can only happen if pro quality lens support is available. Sigma's 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM is not only an impressive performer in this category, it sets a benchmark that is going to be hard to beat, even by some top prime lenses.

If you are planning on purchasing this lens, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Lens for Nikon can be ordered from:  BH-Photo   Amazon   

No comments :

Post a Comment