Michael Topham puts Sigma’s latest wideangle zoom to the test and finds out if it lives up to the promise of producing zero distortion

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art

Product:

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,649.00

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review – Image quality

What with our review sample of the lens arriving in Canon-fit and being designed for today’s era of ultra-high-resolution cameras, it seemed sensible to pair it up with one of Canon’s 50-million-pixel DSLRs – the EOS 5DS R. Eager to first find out just how well the lens performs with regard to controlling curvilinear distortion, I headed out to take a series of real-world sample images throughout the focal range before examining these alongside the images of our distortion chart that were taken in the lab.

1o3a9791

The vignetting the lens produces at f/4 (taken at 12mm) is clear to see in this image of an underpass

Creating such an ultra-wideangle lens with zero distortion was always going to be a big ask, and although there’s virtually no distortion between the focal lengths of 18mm and 24mm, you can still expect to see barrel distortion in shots taken at the widest end of the zoom. That being said, the severity of barrel distortion at 12mm isn’t as severe as you might expect and shouldn’t be difficult to correct using an Adobe lens profile as soon as one becomes available for Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC and Camera Raw. All being well, we’ll see the lens supported, along with the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM and 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art in Adobe’s next Creative Cloud update.

1o3a9511

The wide focal length will appeal to landscape, architectural and interior photographers

Analysing our Applied Imaging tests at each aperture setting revealed that the lens resolves an exceptional level of sharpness. Our results tell us the lens is at its sharpest in the centre at the widest end of the focal length, with corner sharpness at 12mm peaking at f/8. Zooming in to 18mm also sees the corner sharpness peak at f/8, with the centre sharpness at this focal length measuring slightly below the figure we recorded at 12mm at f/4.

1o3a9735

The lens controls curvilinear distortion extremely well from 18-24mm, but barrel distortion is evident when it’s used at wider focal lengths

Inspecting our results at the long end of the zoom tells us the centre sharpness isn’t quite as impressive as it is at the wide end when it’s used wide open (f/4), but sharpness does improve by closing the lens down to f/5.6. The best sharpness at the edge of the frame at 24mm is recorded between f/8 and f/11. Overall, the sweet spot between centre and corner sharpness is found between f/5.6 and f/8. The lens continues to resolve sharp results beyond these settings up to f/11, but diffraction does start to play a role in softening images as you close down to f/16 and f/22.

fringeing

Chromatic aberration was observed along some high contrast edges as can be seen in this magnified view (right)

Examining the edges, where chromatic aberrations can often be discovered, revealed that the lens does an admirable job of keeping fringing in check. It was only in the very brightest areas of a few of my test shots, where branches were backlit by the sun, that I noticed some purple fringes of colour. Vignetting is apparent in images shot at the widest end of the zoom at f/4, but clears up as you close down to f/5.6 and beyond. The same is said of the long end of the zoom where corners appear approximately 1.2EV darker than the centre at f/4.

  1. 1. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Introduction
  2. 2. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Features
  3. 3. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Build and handling
  4. 4. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Image quality
  5. 5. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Resolution, shading and curvilinear distortion
  6. 6. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Verdict
  7. 7. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art review - Full specification
Page 4 of 7 - Show Full List