Many photographers probably buy a 24-70 mm (full frame equivalent) f/2.8 or a 24-105 mm f/4 standard zoom as their first zoom. To bring the subject closer to you, a 70-200 mm f/2.8 or f/4 telephoto zoom soon follows. And after that, there is often a wide-angle zoom on the wish list, for wide overviews or spacious indoor shots. Usually, this is the typical 16-35 mm, in f/2.8 or f/4. But there is always room for improvement. Those who are ready for this third type of zoom lens should definitely take a look at the Sigma 14-24 mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art. With even more wide angle and high brightness.
BRIGHT ULTRA-WIDE ZOOM: Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
For the Art series, Sigma started with the development of two ultra-wide-angle lenses, both of which have 14 mm as their main focal length. One is prime, the other, a zoom lens. We tested the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art last year. That is the world’s first ultra-wide-angle prime with a brightness of f/1.8. For those who want a bit more flexibility, Sigma now also offers the 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art with a constant brightness of f/2.8 over the entire zoom range. This is just as bright as the fastest 16-35 mm lenses. The Sigma has slightly less range on the long side (but you already have that on your standard zoom) and 2 mm more on the wide-angle side. That doesn’t seem like much, but it does make a difference. According to Sigma, this is the ultimate bright ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, with dust- and splash-proof construction and the highest possible optical quality at every focal length, with a minimum of distortion. These are claims that we would of course like to test. This lens also has a number of remarkable features. The 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art is incidentally not the only ultra-wide-angle zoom from Sigma in the Art series. There is also a 12-24 mm f/4. That has an additional 2mm in the wide-angle range but is one stop less bright.
Sigma’s Art line has as its motto: optical quality first. You obviously do not get that quality in small sizes. The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is a big, heavy lens. It features a wide focus ring at the front and an almost equally wide zoom ring at the back. The screen with the distance setting underneath is a unique feature these days. With this screen, you can see how small the difference between infinity and close up is on an ultra-wide angle. The lens has a switch to change from autofocus to manual focusing. The design of the Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art uses three FLD, three SLD, three aspherical glass elements and one large aspherical lens element, with the aim of getting the best out of cameras with 50 megapixels or more. The large aspherical element in particular is exceptional: all the techniques and knowledge from Sigma’s factory in Aizu (Japan) have been bundled to make this ultra-high-precision aspherical glass element, with a diameter of up to φ80mm. The design minimizes color errors and other forms of optical aberrations, which, according to Sigma, results in very high-resolution images. In addition, the corrective power of the FLD and SLD glass elements is enhanced by the high refractive index of the glass elements. The large aspherical lens element, in combination with the other elements, ensures that distortion is minimized to less than 1% (focused to infinity). During the design and development process of the lens, Sigma has been able to minimize lens flares and ghost images with the help of simulations. All these factors combined ensure excellent ultra-wide-angle performance.
The Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art is dust- and splash water-resistant. Among other things, the mount, focus and zoom ring are fitted with a special seal, so that this lens can be used in all weather conditions. The front lens element is protected with a water and oil-repellent coating, making it easy to clean. The lens is built to be used under all circumstances. It is extensively fitted with gaskets to keep dust and moisture out.
The autofocus is reasonably fast and accurate for a lens of these dimensions, but of course it remains a hefty lens. In combination with the MC-11 adapter, this lens can be used on the Sony A7 and A9 cameras, and you won’t be bothered by front or back focus due to the focus on the sensor. If you see any of that with an SLR camera, then you can fine-tune it with the USB dock.
The Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art has little trouble with vignetting, even at 14 mm and f/2.8. About 1.3 stops, in both RAW and jpeg, is quite unique. The jpeg values are the same as the RAW scores because apparently no correction is done in the camera. And if we look at the scores, correction is actually not necessary at all. At 14 mm, the values remain slightly higher than at 21 mm and 24 mm, even when you stop down, but we aren’t worried about that. With many modern lenses today, little attention is paid to the prevention of vignetting in order to keep costs and weight lower. The consequence is that the vignetting then has to be calculated, which happens at the expense of the dynamic range in the corners. That’s not the case with the Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art. This lens seems to be designed to perform as well as possible optically and not to have to remove all kinds of errors later with software. That justifies the dimensions and weight.
The distortion, on the other hand, is corrected in the JPEG shots. The distortion in the jpegs over the entire range is between 0.6 and 0.9% barrel-shaped. You see a different pattern in the RAWs. Then the distortion is slightly more than 1% barrel-shaped at 17 mm and less than 1% of cushion-shaped distortion at the longer focal lengths. The nice thing about this characteristic is that somewhere between 14 and 20 mm, there must be a tipping point where the lens is almost neutral. That’s good news for architecture photographers, who thus have a super-wide angle without distortion at around 17 mm. In the RAW shots and the jpegs, the distortion is low, and there is therefore little to be calculated in the files. And that in turn ensures better image quality.
The sharpness of the Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM Art is high, especially for an ultra-wide-angle zoom. Good telephoto zooms have been around since Nikon released the very first 80-200 mm f/4.5 in 1969, but really good wide-angle zooms are a recent invention. And a really good wide-angle zoom that starts at 14mm is still unique. The image quality is even the steadiest at 14mm. At full aperture, you get great center sharpness and a gradient to the corners that is very small. Stopping down causes a gradual increase in quality to f/5.6 and f/8. At f/11, the sharpness decreases slightly again due to the diffraction. At least, in the RAW shots. The Canon 5DS R has the ability to correct the decrease in sharpness at small apertures. If you turn on this diffraction correction, and we did, you will see that the sharpness in the sample images even reaches the highest values. That results, of course, from a software sharpening. You will of course not be able to capture more detail with f/11 than with f/8. At 21 mm, the center sharpness is slightly higher than at 14 mm, but the gradient to the corners is greater. At 24 mm, the center sharpness is slightly higher and is excellent at f/5.6 and f/8. The corners are also slightly better than at 21 mm. The zone in between, however, lags slightly behind. In practice, with this Sigma you get good, sharp shots at almost every aperture, and stopping down simply results in an increase in sharpness and depth of field.
The Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM does not have image stabilization. You can get this lens in Canon EF and Nikon F mount, and the cameras with that mount do not have any image stabilization. If you put this lens on a Canon EOS 5DS or 5D Mark IV or a Nikon D850, you are holding almost two kilos in total, and that weight ensures a good damping of small vibrations. And landscape photographers generally prefer to put such a set on a tripod. But if you still want image stabilization, there’s an option for that. Then you can use the Canon EF version along with a Sigma MC-11 adapter on a Sony A7 or A9 camera. Then you can use the image stabilization in the Sony camera bodies.
USB DOCK: TWEAKS AND PERIODIC UPDATES FOR 50 EUROS
Camera manufacturers do their best to make their own lenses more attractive than lenses from other manufacturers. They do this, for example, by constantly adapting the communication between camera body and lenses, so that off-brand lenses need an update, for which the lens usually has to go to the importer. Sigma has made it a lot easier for consumers with the USB dock: instead of delivering your lens to the importer, you connect your lens to your computer via the Sigma USB converter and download a software update for your Sigma Art, Contemporary or Sports lens. But Sigma’s service goes much further: the software of the USB dock also offers various options for adjusting the performance of your lens to your own preferences. You can also correct any front or back focus at multiple distances, and with zoom lenses also at multiple focal lengths.
COMPATIBLE WITH CANON’S LENS ABERRATION CORRECTION
Another way in which camera manufacturers attempt to increase the sales of their own lenses is by not correcting jpg files made with off-brand lenses for lens errors. The Sigma 14-24 mm f/2.8 is compatible with Canon’s lens aberration correction, so you can correct the jpg files made with this Sigma lens on a Canon camera just as well and as easily as with Canon lenses. This is particularly good news for photographers with a Canon camera who use jpg files directly from the camera instead of RAW files, because they want to spend as little time as possible on image editing.
Sigma indicates that this will not be the case with all Canon cameras but has not yet specified which Canon cameras will allow in-camera lens corrections with this Sigma lens.
NEW: FRONT CONVERSION SERVICE
Virtual reality videographers prefer multi-camera videography with ultra-wide-angle lenses. Responding to this trend, SIGMA offers the Front Conversion Service: the standard lens hood is replaced by an exclusively round part. This prevents a visible shadow with multi-camera virtual reality.
If you use Sigma’s front conversion service, whatever warranty provisions you have in effect will remain in force.
Curious about the performance of the Sigma 14-24 mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art + Canon 5DsR (& sample images @ Sigma MC11 + Sony A7R III)
Sigma did not save on glass when building the 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM. This ensures a great brightness of f/2.8 over the entire range and excellent optical performance.
Sigma did not save on glass when building the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM. You can feel that in the weight and the dimensions. What you get in return is a great brightness of f/2.8 over the entire range and excellent optical performance. The good seal of the lens ensures that you can also use it under less-than optimal conditions, although you will have to do your best with rain and snow to keep that convex front lens clean. It’s no problem for the lens. It can take it. But your shots will of course become less sharp with droplets on the glass. Filtering is also difficult, but not impossible. These days, there are various suppliers of large 150 mm filters and special adapters. So it’s possible. It’s just something that comes with the package if you want to shoot with extreme, bright, wide angles. In addition to this 14-24 mm zoom, Sigma also has a 14 mm f/1.8 fixed focal length and a 12-24 mm f/4. Which you should choose depends on the type of subjects you want to photograph.
You cannot zoom with the 14 mm f/1.8. That makes it less all-round. For landscape photography and architecture, you also have little use for that high brightness. But if you do a lot of astrophotography, then that brightness is very useful. And the 14 mm has less trouble at f/2.8 with coma, a kind of chromatic aberration that you mainly see when you photograph stars, than the 14-24 mm has. The 12-24 mm is even more extreme, with its 12 mm mode, but is less bright. This makes the 12-24 mm less suitable for evening and night photography than the 14-24 mm. The Sigma 14-24 mm F2.8 DG HSM is therefore a great all-round super-wide angle with which you can photograph beautiful landscapes and with which you can also capture the Northern Lights at night if you like.