Review Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art + MC11 @ Sony A7R mk2

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The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is not only the world-record holder with f/1.8 for 14mm on full frame, Sigma also proudly reports that this dust- and splashwater-tight lens is suitable for future sensors with more than 50 megapixels. The lens is available with a Sigma, Canon or Nikon mount. We tested the Sigma MC-11 on a Sony FE camera (Sony A7R II).

lens construction 14mm

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art is one of the few Art lenses that is sealed to weather resistance.

The solid construction of the Sigma Art lenses is well-known by now. Relative to previous Art lenses that we have reviewed, this lens is also extra well-sealed against dust and splashwater. For use under extreme conditions, that is a welcome addition. This lens is available with a Canon, Nikon or Sigma mount. The extremely solid brass mount shows no play at all when you attach this lens to your camera, in this case via the Sigma MC11 on a Sony A7r II. In the Nikon mount, the aperture is also controlled electromagnetically, like most of the modern Nikon E lenses.

 DSC5762

practice shot Sigma 14mm f/13 Art @ f/1.8, 250 ISO, 1/60 sec.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 ARt & AstroPHOTOGRAPHY

500 rule: longest shutter time in seconds without Star trail = 500 divided by the focal length

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art, with its extremely roomy field of view, is ideal for creative documentary, architecture, landscape and astro photography. Astrophotographers dream for three reasons about a bright ultra-wide angle lens like the Sigma 14 mm f/1.8 Art.
First, you can capture a large part of the starry sky – including the Milky Way – with a short focal length, without having to compile the image from multiple shots.
Second, you can use a long shutter time (30 seconds), without the stars changing into stripes (“star trails”) as a result of the rotation of the earth.
Third, the combination of a long shutter time and extremely high brightness – f/1.8 is a world record for 14 mm – means a low ISO setting, which results in a better signal-to-noise ratio.

The video below from Jose Francisco Salgado on Vimeo is a beautiful illustration of the high image quality of the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art for Astrophotography.

If you would like to see more like that, then read his article Astrophotography with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens on Dpreview.

BUILD AND autofocus

PPhoto 14 18 a017 vertical

Focusing is fast (from infinity to 1.5 meters in 250 ms) and quiet. The newly designed HSM AF motor can always be manually overruled, if you want, without you first having to flip a switch on the camera or lens (AF/MF is the only switch on the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art).

Specifications
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art + Sigma MC11
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:16 / 11
length x diameter:126 / 95
filter size:-
Weight:1320
Lens hood:+

VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

vignetting 14 1.8 dg hsm a017

The picture above from Sigma shows that the vignetting at full aperture will already be clearly visible, decreases noticeably to f/4, and remains more or less constant after that. At full aperture, we measure 1.75 stops vignetting in uncorrected RAW files. That is already very good in itself for a wide-angle lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor, but at f/4, the vignetting had decreased to 1 stop.
If you open RAW files in Lightroom or Photoshop, automatic correction of vignetting is done in advance, so that you only see 1 stop vignetting at full aperture (and 0.4 stops at f/4). The same is true for jpg files that you save in the Sony A7R II.

  DSC5766
Exposure and contrast of this practice shot are modified to more clearly show the ghosts as a result of flare. Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art @ f/13, 100 ISO, 1/160 sec.

IMAGE QUALITY DSC5757

Practice shot Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art @ f/1.8, 100 ISO, 1/2500 sec.

At the introduction, the manufacturer reported that this lens is suitable for cameras with sensors of 50 megapixels or more. In addition, various kinds of chromatic aberrations are minimized by using three SLD (special low dispersion) elements and four aspherical elements. This results according to Sigma in outstanding image quality into the corners. And that’s true. More or less.

RAWREZZ

Sigma indicates that this lens is designed for cameras with a sensor of 50 megapixels or more. The Sony A7R II comes pretty close with a 42-megapixel sensor without anti-aliasing filter. The center sharpness is indeed phenomenal. At full aperture, it is already good, and maximal at f/5.6, as it appears from our Imatest measurement results. But the sharpness in the corners lags visibly behind the center sharpness even on a camera with less than 50 megapixels at f/1.8 to f/5.6. If you look at color errors (lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration), then those are remarkably absent across the whole frame. As far as that is concerned, Sigma has put up an exceptional performance.

Uncorrected RAW files show a distortion of 3% barrel-shaped in our Imatest measurements. Because jpg files and RAW files that you open in Photoshop or Lightroom are automatically corrected, you see just 1.5% of it in practice. To illustrate, the picture that Sigma America shows with the product specifications as "effective distortion."

ed 14 1.8 dg hsm a017
You usually do not buy a wide-angle lens for the bokeh. Even so, the combination of a camera with a full-frame sensor, f/1.8 and 9 rounded aperture lamellae is the best recipe for a beautiful background blur with a 14mm lens. The closer you creep up to your subject, the better that works.

PPhoto 14 18 a017 horizon

ConclusiON: REVIEW Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art + MC11 @ Sony A7R mk2

Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

14
14
9.1
8.5
9.1
7.0
9.6
7
8

Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are even better.


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

14
14
8.4
8.4
8.9
9.1
7.5
7
8

PROS

  • Fantastic image quality::
  • Very high center sharpness
  • Lens errors limited to an absolute minimum
  • Fantastic image quality
  • Weather-resistant
  • Later, doing your own updates with an optional USB dock will be possible

CONS

  • Sharpness in the corners lags visibly behind
  • Big and heavy
  • Professional price point

The Sigma 14 mm f/1.8 Art is an absolute winner for any photographer who can afford this ultra-wide angle with world-record brightness.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is a unique lens in many respects, designed for those who want to have the best of the best. This lens has a complex design with 16 lens elements, a large number of which have a low refraction index. This is not a little guy. The lens is nearly 13 cm long, the aspherically ground front lens a full 80mm in diameter, and with a weight of 1120 grams (Sigma MC11 adapter not included) you will not be quick to hang your camera around your neck.
If that – or the purchase price of 1500 euros – is a stumbling block for you, then the slightly less bright Samyang AF f/2.8 E is an alternative with nearly equivalent image quality and half the weight for half the price.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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