DPReview Gear of the year 2013 - Part 4: Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM
Trying to usefully review a camera often means trying to put yourself in the shoes of another consumer, with different needs and expectations from my own. So it’s not my intention to seem disingenuous by selecting a product I can’t picture buying for myself.
However, while I can’t imagine buying the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM (mainly because I can’t imagine owning a DSLR again), I have a pretty good idea of how excited the me of a few years ago would have been. That’s why it’s my product of the year.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM: What I Love
- Brings previously unseen capability to APS-C
- Consistently impressively sharp
- Covers my most-used focal lengths
- Keenly priced
- Fast focusing and well built
The reason I like the 18-35mm so much is because it allows APS-C shooters to do things they've not really been able to achieve before. The exciting thing about it for me isn’t so much the fact that it’s a constant F1.8 – cool though that sounds – it’s what this means for photography. It gives you a lens that behaves comparably to a 28-50mm F2.8 on full frame, giving the same control over depth-of-field and similar low-light potential as you'd get with the larger format. The result is I got some photos I rather like with cameras that are within reach or already in the hands of a lot of people.
|Although it's far from being a conventional portrait lens, the 18-35mm gives a fair degree of flexibility, with impressive sharpness when well focused.|
And, while 28-50mm isn't the most flexible zoom range in the world, if you think of it as a collection of primes, including a 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm equivalent, stuffed into a single tube, then that's really pretty impressive. And it becomes all the more impressive if you were to actually try to go out and find that set of primes that fast for APS-C cameras, because nobody has bothered to make them for you. To come close to completing that set, you'll have to pick the nearest match from lenses designed for full frame, which often means all-out, pro-grade F1.4s, and the price tags that come with them.
APS-C users of the world unite
When I started at dpreview I was a keen DSLR shooter but, not being committed (or wealthy) enough to buy an EOS 5D, I shot APS-C. And I was hardly alone in that; for much of the last decade, APS-C has been the de-facto standard format for most photographers. More realistically enthusiast-grade full frame cameras have only arrived in the past twelve-or-so months and, at around $2000/GBP1500, they’re still out of the reach of a lot of people.
So, if you want to picture the ‘typical’ keen photographer and you imagine someone shooting with an APS-C DSLR, you’re likely to be right more than 90% of the time. And yet, most of the big manufacturers have never made any great effort to design lenses for these people. Sure, the big manufacturers have a 16-50 or 17-55 F2.8 lens in the lineup, but that’s often the extent of their high-end lenses and their prices are not inconsiderable. Beyond that, APS-C users have historically been rather poorly served (a cynic might note that this paucity of APS-C-intended lenses promotes the plausibly spurious notion of an ’upgrade path’ to full frame).
|The 18-35mm F1.8 gives a touch of depth-of-field control and the ability to get better results in lower light than a more conventional 17-55mm F2.8. The slight focus error in this image could well be mine.|
The 18-35mm F1.8 doesn’t push you into an awkward limbo between two systems – it lets you harness the more of the potential of the camera you’ve already bought, already know how to use and feel at home with. It doesn’t give you the lovely big viewfinder that you get with a full frame camera, but it gives you many of the other advantages.
And, while the 50mm equivalent long end of the zoom leaves it a little short, it’s still a lens that covers the focal length range I shoot with most often. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of spending money on a nice wide-angle lens or a fast telephoto zoom, only to find you’re still using the built-to-a-budget-of-nearly-nothing kit zoom that came with the camera, most of the time. For the photography I like to do, the 18-35mm paired with a fast 90mm-equiv prime would leave me pretty happy.
|Ranging from wide-angle to just-beyond normal, the 18-35mm covers most of the focal lengths I most often use - almost like a set of F1.8 primes that happen to come in a single tube.|
It’s not perfect – some cameras (particularly Canon, based on our experience with several bodies and several copies of the lens), struggle to focus it well enough to get the most out of it. And yes, that’s a major drawback in a lens. Thankfully, we had a lot more luck with the Nikon-mount version, and it’s on that basis I’ve selected it (though we're seen some complaints from Nikon owners, too).
Ultimately, even if you don’t subscribe to my theory that APS-C users are being taken for granted, there are still a couple of factors that would still make it my product of the year. It’s astonishingly sharp, at every focal length and every aperture, and it’s sensibly priced – often selling for less than most camera makers’ F2.8 APS-C zooms. And, if that’s not enough for you, look at it this way: it’s the fastest consumer zoom in the world.
This is part 4 in a series of articles where DPReview staff will be highlighting their personal standout products of the year.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 sample galleries
Feb 28, 2016
Dec 30, 2015
Dec 28, 2015
Dec 23, 2015
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.
You’d have to be pretty brave to immerse your $50K RED cinema camera underwater. But if you've got the guts, Gates just released a new housing you can be pretty sure won't wreck your unbelievably expensive toy.
Adobe has released a 'Lightroom Downloader' app for Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra that allows you to download all of your images from the Adobe Cloud, all at once.
After releasing a popular 4K action cam and an affordable mirrorless M43 camera, Chinese camera maker YI is diving into yet another market: 360° VR. Meet the YI 360 VR: a powerful little two-lens camera that can shoot and stream in 4K.
The DJI Spark has received a lot of attention thanks to its diminutive size, but how does it stack up? In our review, we take a look at what it's like to fly this pint-sized drone, as well as what's in it for photographers.
Between now and the end of the year we'll be counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Coming in at #10 is a fast wide prime and part of the highly-acclaimed Sigma Art series.
DxOMark has awarded the Pentax 645Z 101 points, making it the second-highest scoring medium format camera it's tested (or the highest scoring from 2015 to now, based on the originally published results).
A small explosion that sounded like a gunshot caused a panic and 24 flight cancellations at Orlando International Airport last Friday. As it turns out, it was a camera battery that exploded inside a traveler's bag.
At last, a premium superzoom bridge camera with phase detect autofocus. Is this the best all-in-one camera ever made? Read on.