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Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 HSM Lens Review

 

 

5D3_7002When the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 was first leaked and then later introduced, most people thought it was a joke. No one had ever tried or was even rumored to be working on a zoom lens with over a stop more light than the leading f2.8 zooms. As if the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 had not made enough headlines, the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 was a show stopper. The biggest question in my mind was could it possibly be any good? Sure sigma could create a zoom lens with a wide aperture, but it surely couldn’t be sharp enough to be usable. Thankfully, Sigma proved me wrong.
Hardware
The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a looker. Frankly, all ‘Art’ series sigma lenses have been lookers thought the 18-35mm just took the crown. The Piano black metal finish is quite honestly as beautiful as any lens should be. Not to be outdone though by its looks, the Sigma 18-35mm feels amazing. This is seriously one of the best built lenses on the market and surely is the best under $1,500 without question. And somehow, the retail price on this lens is only $799! That is a LOT of metal for $799. The zoom ring is on the stiff side, but is the smoothest I have ever operated. Videographers should immediately turn their heads if they are looking for a lens with smooth motion while zooming. The focus ring is also smooth but turns a bit easier and has a long travel distance. 7DAA1630This is both good and bad. The good is that it is easy to acquire accurate focus when needed but unfortunately, you may need to rotate a bit more than you are used to. For auto focus users, this long travel distance is covered quickly by the quick HSM motor. While not quite as quick as the best from Canon & Nikon, you will have no trouble focusing quickly and tracking fast moving objects. Unfortunately, no image stabilization is present though the long barrel makes it easy to hand hold. Keep in mind that this is not a small lens. The Sigma 18-35mm is significantly longer than any of the 24-70 lenses I am used to though not quite as long as a 70-200. It is not light either weighing an impressive 1.8lbs which lends to the high quality feel assuming you are not looking for a small lens.

 

Sharpness
I really can’t believe I am saying this but the Sigma 18-35mm lens is SHARP. While f/1.8 has a tad bit of softness, f/2 looked great to my eyes with only slight improvements from there on. Take a look at the full resolution images from my test below. At 35mm the lens performed slightly better than at 18mm and while the 35mm files looked great at f/2, the 18mm files looked better starting at f/2.8. Either way this is very impressive.

 

7DAA1590

F1.8 100% Crop


7DAA1591

F2 100% Crop



Vignetting
There was just the slightest bit of vignetting at 18mm when shooting at f/1.8 that was just about gone by f/2.8. This slight bit was virtually un-noticeable and is surely not a concern. When racking up the zoom to 35mm, there was some more noticeable vignetting at f/1.8 that almost completely disappeared by f/2.8. While the vignetting at 35mm f/1.8 was more noticeable, it still is not an area for concern and can easily be eliminated in software if desired.

 

Conclusion
7DAA1618The big question is ‘Should I Buy This’ and that is somewhat of a tough question. Is it worth it? Absolutely the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 is worth every penny bringing top of the line build quality, amazingly wide apertures, zoom abilities, and fast autofocus for only $799. However, this is not quite ‘cheap’, especially for an APS-C camera and the zoom range is somewhat limited. If you were considering the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, 30mm 1.4, or a Canon/Nikon alternative, I would seriously consider the Sigma 18-35 as the flexible range more than makes up for the lost 2/3 stops of aperture. Also, if you find yourself shooting indoors in tight spaces and frequently use this focal range, the Sigma should be your top choice. While there are some compromises with the large size and somewhat limited range for a zoom lens, the Sigma 35mm f/1.8 HSM lens is by far one of the most amazing zoom lenses around

 

Download the full resolution images here

 

In stock at Adorama.com

 

Comments  

0 #8 Al 2013-08-21 16:39
How's the focusing speed of this compared to the 35mm 1.4? Just bought the 1.4 and itsss...not the best in low light :( Usually switching to manual there.
0 #7 EddyGL 2013-08-16 12:01
Looking closely at the original file on dropbox, it appears that the sample image for 1.8 is actually back focused about a cm or more, making it look much less sharp then it really is. To see for yourself instead of looking at the centre section used in the article, scroll to bottom of the image at 100% and look at where the focus falls on the stone, or whatever that green/white thing is. and also do the same for the one up top.
0 #6 BdV 2013-07-22 06:32
I am having a hard time trying to believe the difference between 1.8 and 2.0 is that huge. If it's really that soft at 1.8 they should have turned it into a 2.0 lens.
0 #5 Varago 2013-07-21 16:27
The 18-35 will mount on a full frame. People at FM have reported it works at 35mm on a 5D3 with little vignetting. So you can use it as a zoom on your crop and a 35 1.8 on you FF.

Also DXOmark tested the 18-35 with a Tstop of 1.8 and the S35 at 1.6 so there really is very little difference between the two.
0 #4 Nicolas 2013-07-21 11:45
Quoting LearningCameras:
Quoting Nicolas:
Hello,
I have the sigma 17 50 lens and I wanted to know if the sigma 18 35 is a big upgrade?
The 18 35 is not stabilized, is it an issue?
Thanks

I used to own the Sigma 17-50mm as well before I upgraded to full frame. The Sigma 18-35 is for sure a big upgrade. It is sharper, has faster AF, quieter AF, and has build quality of a pro end lens. However it is not stabilized so that is something to consider but it does have more than 1 stop wider aperture which is huge.

Thank you.
I am a newbie in photo and I never used a lens without stabilizer...
So, what is the real impact on the day to day use of my reflex?
Will I have to use a tripod for each pictures?
(I use to take pictures of landscapes, cities and streets in all light condition)
Thanks for your help
-1 #3 LearningCameras 2013-07-21 00:08
Quoting Nicolas:
Hello,
I have the sigma 17 50 lens and I wanted to know if the sigma 18 35 is a big upgrade?
The 18 35 is not stabilized, is it an issue?
Thanks

I used to own the Sigma 17-50mm as well before I upgraded to full frame. The Sigma 18-35 is for sure a big upgrade. It is sharper, has faster AF, quieter AF, and has build quality of a pro end lens. However it is not stabilized so that is something to consider but it does have more than 1 stop wider aperture which is huge.
-1 #2 Nicolas 2013-07-20 23:34
Hello,
I have the sigma 17 50 lens and I wanted to know if the sigma 18 35 is a big upgrade?
The 18 35 is not stabilized, is it an issue?
Thanks
0 #1 Varago 2013-07-18 22:23
You need to MFA the lens at 18 with the usb dock. It is the sharpest at 18, 35 is great but not like the 18mm end :) My 18-35 is awesome at 18 with no correction but needs +5 at 35.

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