I have wanted to try the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8mm DC HSM zoom lens ever since it was announced earlier this year. As it is designed for an APS-C-sized sensor, the field of view isn’t quite as wide as you might expect, but it works out as roughly equivalent to a 28-50mm lens, making it useful for landscapes and reportage photography. In fact, with an f/1.8 constant aperture, it could easily replace a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lens in the kit bag of those with a DSLR carrying an APS-C-sized sensor.
This lens is part of Sigma’s new Art range of lenses, which is the designation given to wideangle, large aperture or macro lenses. Basically, the Art-series lenses are meant to be for creative uses, whereas the Contemporary-series lenses are more for standard uses, while the Sports-series lenses are telephotos designed for sports and wildlife photograph. The aim is to simplify the nomenclature given to lenses, and rightly so, but until we get used to this it may be a little bewildering.
It isn’t just the categories of the lenses that have been given a new lease of life, either, as the actual design has also been revamped and the lenses have been given a stylish, rather minimalist look. Gone are the gold bands that used to feature on Sigma optics. Now they are matt black with simple white labelling, and look perfect alongside today’s retro-styled cameras that are now in vogue.
As a ‘world’s first’, there is obviously no like-for-like competition for the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens. However, to be able to see how good it is and to draw comparisons, we have chosen to test it alongside the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens.
The Canon optic is around six years old, having been released in early 2007. It is one of Canon’s premium L-series lenses, which is reflected in its price – it is almost £1,200. At this price, the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens is almost twice the price of the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, which is around £650, but there is one major difference between the two lenses. The Canon lens is designed for use on cameras with a full, 35mm image frame, while the Sigma lens can only be used on cameras with an APS-C-sized image sensor. Obviously, this means that the 16mm focal length of the Canon lens is even more impressive, as it truly is a 16mm lens when used on a full-frame camera. The difference in the field of view of the Sigma lens means it is the equivalent of a 27mm lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. For the purposes of this comparison, both optics have been used on an 18-million-pixel Canon EOS 7D, which has an APS-C-sized sensor.