Review Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art with Nikon D7200
Is the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art an alternative for the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art? The Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 (the world’s first zoom lens for cameras with an APS-C/DX sensor with a sensational brightness of f/1.8) is the most obvious if you want to have a high-quality, bright zoom lens for a camera with an APS-C sensor. At every focal length, the Sigma 18-35 mm f/2.8 was just as good as—or even better than—a lens with a fixed focal length and the same brightness. But if you are ever planning to switch to a camera with a larger sensor, then the new Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 might be a better choice. Even if you have to give up some field of view for it.
Sigma 24-35 mm f/2: an alternative on APS-C/DX for the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 if you ever want to switch to a full-frame sensor?
A lens with a high brightness is much more difficult to make than a lens with a brightness of f/2.8 or higher. If you want the lens to also be suitable for use on a camera with a full-frame sensor, then the degree of difficulty—and hence the price—increases significantly. That applies for a lens with a fixed focal length, but to an even greater degree to a zoom lens. That is the reason why the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art (suitable for full-frame sensors), despite a smaller zoom range and a bit lower brightness, is more expensive than the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art (only suitable for APS-C/DX). It is remarkable that Sigma has succeeded in designing two bright zoom lenses that are both the world-record holders in their zoom range as far as brightness is concerned and that are still attractively priced.
Build and auto focus
DThe build of the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art is as we have become accustomed to: uncompromisingly professional level, with a very solid metal mount. This part of a lens is sometimes underestimated, even though the precision of the connection of the lens to the camera can have enormous influence on the sharpness—especially for cameras with high resolution. If you express the resolution in line pairs/mm, then the demands that a 24-megapixel APS-C camera places on a lens are just as tough as a 50-megapixel full-frame sensor.
You can see that Sigma recognizes that and has handled this point well. Manual focusing is great with a broad, pleasantly dampened focus ring. The lens has no image stabilization, and it is not extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater. The Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art is delivered with a beautiful black bag and a flower-shaped lens hood. Just like all Art, Contemporary and Sports models from Sigma, this lens can be connected to the optional USB dock, with which you update the lens firmware yourself and with which you can fine-tune the AF if that’s needed.
With SLR cameras, the AF accuracy will be determined by the distance from the AF sensors in the phase detection module. In theory, you expect—assuming that there is no front of back focus—that a camera with a full-frame sensor can focus more accurately than a camera with an APS-C sensor. We see that in practice: on a Nikon D7200, the AF spread was larger than in our previous test of the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art on a Nikon D810. This lens is not extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater.
Vignetting and distortion
Across the whole range, the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 performs better here than many lenses with a fixed focal length that we have previously reviewed on a camera with an APS-C sensor.
If you use a lens that is designed for a camera with a full-frame sensor on a camera with a smaller sensor, then you only use the best part of the lens. You see that in the fantastic performance of the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 on the points of distortion and vignetting. At 24 and 35 mm (and thus probably across the whole zoom range) the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 is also beaten out by the Sigma 24-35 mm Art.
Flare and chromatic aberration
Sigma pays a great deal of attention in the design of lenses to preventing internal reflections and thereby goes much further than the coating of lens elements. You see that in the insensitivity to flare and ghosts. It is not always absent, but during the practice test, I had to take a lot of pictures in order to cause ghosts. Even if you photograph directly against a bright light source, it goes surprisingly well.
Chromatic aberration has also remained nicely limited. Not only in the jpg files, where every Nikon camera immediately suppresses undesirable lateral chromatic aberration, but also in RAW files where no correction at all is done.
If you express the resolution in line pairs/mm, then the demands that a 24-megapixel APS-C camera places on a lens are just as tough as a 50-megapixel full-frame sensor. The Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art also performs well here, where at f/2.8—that is to say, after stopping down one stop—a very high center sharpness will be reached. As far as the corners are concerned, you could stop down to f/5.6 for an optimal result. From f/11, the sharpness decreases slowly as a result of diffraction. That is a phenomenon of physics that no lens designer can change.
Bokeh Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art
EA wide-angle zoom is not the first lens that you think about when it comes to butter-soft bokeh. Even so, the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 is also able to surprise pleasantly in this respect. See the picture below as an illustration. Not only is the background shown beautifully blurred, but the gradient from sharp to blurred is also nicely even.
Longitudinal chromatic aberration/color bokeh is a phenomenon that can occur with practically all bright lenses. In some practice shots—as in the worst-case 100% partial enlargement shown here—there was recognizable color bokeh. That is a great performance.
Conclusion Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art review with Nikon D810
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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".