Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Review
Sigma has a long history as a lens maker, having been founded over 50 years ago. In the film era it was best known for relatively inexpensive lenses that undercut the camera makers' own equivalents in terms of price. But this has changed over the part decade or so; while other companies have shifted manufacturing to cheaper locations such as China and Thailand, Sigma has stubbornly refused to move from its factory in Aizu, Japan. This means it can no longer compete in the same way on price alone, and it's therefore switched its focus towards higher-value offerings.
Over the past few years we've seen increasingly ambitious concepts appear from the company's design studios. The original (and recently-replaced) 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM has long been one of our favourite lenses for APS-C SLRs, and the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM grabbed our attention back in 2008 due to its sharpness at large apertures. Most recently the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM impressed us with its exceptional optical quality at a very competitive price. This all bodes well for the company's latest offering - the record-breaking 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, which is the first constant F1.8 SLR zoom lens to hit the market.
Sigma's choice of F1.8 as maximum aperture isn't a coincidence; it means that the lens will offer the same control over depth of field as an F2.8 zoom does on full frame. What's more, combined with an APS-C sensor, the system will also offer effectively the same light-gathering capability as an F2.8 lens on full frame. By this we mean that it will be able to project an image that's just over twice as bright onto a sensor that's slightly less than half the area, meaning the same total amount of light is used to capture the image. This is important as it's a major determinant of image quality. Essentially it means that APS-C shooters will be able to use lower ISOs when shooting wide open in low light and get similar levels of image noise, substantially negating one of the key advantages of switching to full frame.
As we'd expect at this level, the lens uses an ultrasonic autofocus motor for fast, silent focusing. It's compatible with Sigma's new USB dock which allows you to fine-tune autofocus behaviour in much more detail than the AF microadjust corrections found on SLRs, which should help get the best possible focus accuracy and make the most of the large aperture. It also incorporates several of the thoughtful design touches that we were impressed by on the 35mm F1.4, including an improved AF switch, and a large grip area on the base of the barrel for better handling.
The lens's 27-53mm equivalent focal length range is obviously a little limited, but should still be rather useful for such applications as wedding and events photography. So while it may not quite match the capabilities of a 24-70mm F2.8 on a full frame SLR, for existing APS-C users it should offer something very close. Crucially, at a street price of around $800 / £650 at the time of writing, for existing APS-C shooters it's an awful lot cheaper than buying a 24-70mm F2.8 and a full frame SLR to go with it.
Overall the 18-35mm F1.8 is a really intriguing product, and we applaud Sigma for pushing the boundaries of lens design ahead of the more conservative camera manufacturers. But can an F1.8 zoom really deliver good results? Let's find out.
- 18-35mm focal length (approx 28-50mm equivalent)
- Extremely fast F1.8 maximum aperture
- Ring-type ultrasonic focus motor with full-time manual override
- Initially available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sigma SA mounts; Pentax K and Sony Alpha to follow
Angle of view
The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto (on Canon APS-C, 1.6x). The 18-35mm covers a modest 2x zoom range.
|18mm (29mm equivalent)||35mm (56mm equivalent)|
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM specifications
|Date introduced||April 2013|
|Street Price (August 2013)|| • $800 (US)
• £650 (UK)
• €850 (EU)
|Maximum format size||APS-C|
|35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)|| • 27-53mm (1.5x)
• 29-56mm (Canon 1.6x)
|Diagonal angle of view||76.5° - 44.2°|
|Lens Construction|| • 17 elements in 12 groups
• 5 SLD glass elements
• 4 glassmold aspherical elements
|Number of diaphragm blades||9, rounded|
|Minimum focus||0.28m / 0.92ft|
|AF motor type|| • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
• Full time manual focus
|Zoom method||Rotary, internal|
|Filter thread|| • 72mm
• Does not rotate on focus
|Supplied accessories*|| • Front and rear caps
• Lens hood LH780-03
|Weight||810g (28.6 oz)|
|Dimensions|| 78mm diameter x 121mm length
(3.1 x 4.8 in)
|Lens Mount||Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA, Sony A|
* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area
Jun 19, 2015
May 28, 2014
May 28, 2014
Dec 30, 2013
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more