Sigma 8-16mm Review (Long with many images)

Started Jun 8, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Severian The Lame
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Sigma 8-16mm Review (Long with many images)
Jun 8, 2010

As a UWA virgin I had been looking intently for several months into the possibility of acquiring either the Canon 10-22 or the Tokina 11-16 and had pretty much settled on the Tokina. The problem was that it just never seemed to be in stock at any of the reputable online dealers. Then Sigma threw a monkey wrench into my calculations by announcing the 8-16, and all of a sudden 10 and 11mm seemed just so passé and ridiculously narrow! I’m joking, but only a little. Despite the inherent risks of being an early adopter of a third party lens, once this lens became available I just couldn’t resist. I picked it up almost four weeks ago and in that time I’ve easily snapped over 2200 shots, both testing and playing around and with more serious intent as well. I must say that I’m both impressed and at the same time a little disappointed, too. (Which has been pretty much my experience, one way or another, with all four of the Sigma lenses I own.)

I called this a review in the thread title, but this is basically a few observations. I have uploaded to my gallery several samples of the shots I’ve taken. I had also intended to upload some shots specifically for this post and as examples of various things I’ve found out about my copy of this lens but I ran afoul of the gallery space limitations. I was able to get a few up but have since taken them down and moved everything I was going to put there to photobucket. [ http://s838.photobucket.com/albums/zz305/daPriceIs/Product_Shots/Photo_Gear/Sigma_8-16mm/ ] There you can find essentially an extended version of this “review” by reading the photo titles and captions (and looking at the images, of course).

This review is going to be quite long and contain many photos so I'm going to break it up into a series of a few posts. This first post will concentrate on the build of the lens.

  • Build : The focus and zoom rings have a nice smooth feel (not an "L" silkiness, but still very nice) yet are firm without being stiff. The lens is a little more hefty than the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and is all in all a substantial piece of glass.

    • If you know anything about this lens then you will have heard about it's bulbous and potentially vulnerable front element.

      The front elements (FEs) are minimally protected by a permanently affixed hood. I say minimally because there is always some exposure. From about 12-13mm to 16mm the FEs are recessed.

      From somewhere between 13 and 12mm down to 8m the FEs extend outward. At full extension the FEs extend beyond the protection of the smaller petals of the hood.

      But even when fully retracted at 16mm the FE extends a bit beyond the notch between the small and large petals of the hood.

    • Sigma has provided some additional protection for the lens in the form a black anodized aluminum ring that fits snugly around the hood allowing a standard 72mm lens cap to clip into place.

      Sigma calls this ring a "lens cap adapter" so I will too.

      The adapter has two pads glued inside it to grip the hood. They feel and look like suede dyed black. They seem durable enough and look to be easily replaceable when they wear out.

    • You will no doubt have noticed that the end of the adapter is threaded. That's right, it'll accept a 72mm filter. Here I have it mounted with a 77mm CPL via a step up ring.

    • There will, of course, be significant vignetting. In the category of “I do stupid things so you don’t have to,” I took some test shots with the adapter in place, both with and without a filter installed. Vignetting is insane at 8mm but perhaps acceptable at 16mm, especially if you crop a bit.

8mm + Adapter +CPL

12mm + Adapter + CPL

16mm + Adapter + CPL

I'll cover distortion, flare, and CA in my next post.

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