The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM is the worldu2019s first zoom lens with an f/1.8 maximum aperture, but itu2019s not as expensive as you might think. Richard Sibley and Andrew Sydenham compare the lens with the Canonu2019s premium EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II and find out how good it is

Specification: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II

RRP: £2,147.99
Street price: Around £1,180
Filter diameter: 82mm
Lens elements: 16 elements
Groups: 12
Diaphragm blades: 7
Aperture: f/2.8-22
Minimum focus: 28cm/11in
Length: 111.6mm
Diameter: 88.5mm
Weight: 640g
Lens mount: Canon EF


Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II – 16mm

Chart analysis

Tested on a Canon EOS 7D

At its widest setting the distortion of the Canon 16-35mm lens is around the same as the Sigma 18-35mm lens, and will require some correction. Interestingly there is a slight wave on the vignetting, no doubt caused by the complex lens design, but overall vignetting is virtually non-existent.

Although the chart shows that the lens performs fractionally better when wide open, this wasn’t reflected in our real-life test. There was very little difference between the image resolution at f/2.8 and f/5.6 with the lens performing well at both apertures, although not as well as the Sigma lens.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II – 24mm

Chart analysis

Tested on a Canon EOS 7D

With the longer focal length of the Canon lens, the slight wave in the shading graph is smoothed out, and again there is virtually no vignetting.

Resolution is very similar to when the lens is used at the 16mm setting, although the difference between centre and edge resolution at each given aperture is less, which is represented by the lines on the graph being closer together.

The curvilinear distortion is minimal and by the 24mm focal length shouldn’t be an issue.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II – 35mm

Chart analysis

Tested on a Canon EOS 7D

At its longest focal length there is some pincushion distortion of the Canon lens, as indicated by the arrows at the bottom of the graph. However, it isn’t too severe and is straightforward to correct. Any vignetting is virtually unnoticeable in real-world images as it is less than 0.1EV. The lens actually seems to be at its sharpest at this setting, managing to resolve at 800lp/ph at MTF 50%. Performance at the edges when the lens is at its maximum f/2.8 aperture is poor and drops to less than 400lp/ph at MTF 50%.

Score: 4 out of 5

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Page 2
  3. 3. Specification: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM
  4. 4. Specification: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
  5. 5. Page 5
  6. 6. Page 6
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