Sigma is back with a top end lens, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art lens. This wide-angle zoom aims to be an alternative to what Canon, Nikon, and Sony offer at this focal length. All three aforementioned lens makers have top-notch wide-angle lenses of their own, which means Sigma had to produce something special to tempt people away from the top brands.
The Art series of lenses from Sigma is their highest quality line and the 14-24mm looks to be no exception. Starting with the glass, inside are three aspherical elements, with three FLD (Fluorite-grade Low Dispersion) elements, and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. In total 17 elements in 11 groups. Sigma claims the way the elements are made bring a new standard of quality to wide-angle lenses. Aperture goes from f/2.8-f/22 with nine rounded diaphragm blades inside which produce a nice bokeh.
As typical of modern high-end lenses, the outside barrel is a simple layout – clearly built to a high standard – and is nicely weather sealed. Due to the lens’ bulbous front element, Sigma has added a built-in lens hood. While the hood does add a constant layer of protection while reducing ghosting and flaring, you have no option to take it off. Fortunately, Sigma offers a service to remove the hood if needed. The front element does move a little for short focal lengths, but overall the dimensions stay the same.
The autofocus functions via a ring-type ultrasonic system, which is super quiet and allows for a manual override. When used on a Canon camera, things like colour aberration, fringing, and distortion can be corrected in camera. There’s also a USB dock so you can hook the lens up to a computer for firmware updates and fine tuning.
Just under the hood is a focus ring with a smooth action that feels great. A distance scale sits underneath, with a zoom ring for changing the focal length. Everything weighs in at a chunky 1,150g, so while it’s not the heaviest zoom in the world it certainly won’t make your bag any lighter. The strange thing with any high-quality lens is that you want it to be lightweight, but a lens with a nice heft always feels like better quality.
Overall, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art lens feels like it’s built to a level of quality that can justify its price. In fact, the build quality is probably on par with the others or possibly even better. It’s also the shortest of the bunch and the plainest looking.
The Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens In Use
I had high expectations for the Sigma being an Art lens, and luckily it doesn’t disappoint. Even when wide open at f/2.8, center sharpness is impressive up to the corners with razor sharpness across the board at f/4. For such a wide-angle lens the sharpness is impressive, as are the contrast levels.
Distortion usually separates the men from the boys in wide-angle lenses. The Sigma has extremely low distortion levels throughout the entire focal range. This was easily tested out by shooting a few buildings to check out how straight the sides would be. Pretty impressive. The same course for chromatic aberration- which is also almost non-existent. Images show high contrast with no artefacts right up to the edges.
One symptom of wide-angle lenses is ghosting and flaring, so it’s the usual course of action to try and keep the sun out of frame. The petal shaped hood does a lot to help, but luckily the lens is very adept at keeping these to a minimum. The f/2.8 aperture is pretty good at giving a nice background blur when needed. Not too complicated and a nice transition of colors. Overall, the quality of images is outstanding and picking the Sigma would be a no-brainer if it wasn’t for Canon, Nikon, and Sony having their own top-quality versions.
How Does It Compare?
Nikon has their 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S which has the same aperture of f/2.8. Canon boasts a 11-24mm f/4L which has a wider focal length than the Sigma, but only has a f/4 aperture. Lastly, Sony’s FE 12-24mm f/4 G is of similar quality, but again only f/4. All these lenses produce amazing results, but if it was just down to budget, then the Sigma is the clear winner. The Nikon is arguably the sharpest of the bunch, but the Canon has the best range of focal length and is probably the best all-rounder.
|Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art||Canon 11-24mm f/4L|
|Diaphragm blades||9 rounded||9 rounded|
There is no faulting the image quality, with sharpness and contrast being top-notch. There’s very little vignetting and all things level out at f/4. It’s a pricey lens, but when lined up against the competitors, it’s actually a great value for the money. If you need to cover the wide-angle side of things with a zoom lens without sacrificing quality, then the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art lens should definitely be shortlisted.