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First Impressions: Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM (Canon EF-S)

by Chris Gampat on 04/24/2013

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 first impressions (7 of 7)ISO 1601-500 sec at f - 4.0

Sigma’s 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM has been blowing the minds of photographers everywhere. Since its announcement, many are still truly amazed that the company was able to manufacture it. Before this, the fastest aperture zoom lenses made were done by Olympus for their Four Thirds lineup. But Sigma’s is a jaw droppingly bokehlicious f1.8 constant aperture instead. We recently met with the company in NYC to have some personal one on one fondling time with the optic. And here’s what we think so far.


Tech Specs

Specs taken from our announcement post

- Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups

- Minimum aperture: F16

- Filter size: 72mm

- Angle of view (SD1): 76.5°-44.2°

- Minimum focusing distance: 11 in.

- Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 3.1 inches x 4.8 inches

- Number of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm)

- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:4.3

- Weight: 28.6oz

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 first impressions (6 of 7)ISO 1601-1000 sec at f - 2.5

Sigma’s latest Art Lens is really something of a mystery. You see–when we first met with the company about their new philosophy, they stated that mostly primes would be consisting of their Art Series glass. This is the first Art Series zoom lens–and this hints to us that more are to come. As you can see, this lens is essentially the size of an equivalent 24-70mm f2.8 lens. It retains all the exterior looks and finishes of the company’s new Art lenses as well.

In the photo above, it is connected to the new USB dock. As a refresher, the dock is meant to update the firmware on the lens.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 first impressions (4 of 7)ISO 1601-1000 sec at f - 2.5

The lens has two major control rings: the zoom and the focusing. Sigma put the zoom ring on the back while the focusing is near the front. Ergonomically, this works out just fine. But if the lens were larger, I would instead want the vice versa setup.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 first impressions (3 of 7)ISO 1601-640 sec at f - 3.2

The front element of the lens also doesn’t move when the lens zooms in and out. Nor does it move when focusing. So everything about this lens is internal.

In practice, that means a smaller package.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 first impressions (2 of 7)ISO 1601-640 sec at f - 3.2

And on the side is one single switch: and that’s for autofocusing or manual focusing. We’re positive that most users of this lens will go for autofocusing instead of manual.

Build Quality

As with any Art Lens from Sigma, the build quality is solid. We’re actually quite surprised at it. Personally, I’ve noticed that many people look down on APS-C lenses because they cannot use them on Full Frame cameras later on. But for what it is worth, the build quality combined with the fast aperture has made Sigma a lens maker that is helping to push the notion that people can be totally okay with just an APS-C camera. Fujifilm and Metabones are similar in this thought process.

Ease of Use

Zoom in, zoom out. Focus, shoot. Get creepily close to someone’s face and shoot. It’s really just that simple.

Autofocusing

We tested this lens on a Canon Rebel, and the focusing was super speedy and accurate. Of course though, we were dealing with a prototype lens so we can’t give a final decision yet.

Image Quality

We weren’t allowed to put a card into the camera because this is a prototype lens, but the images that we saw weren’t so contrasty or punchy. It also seemed a bit soft wide open–and for that reason we’re going to blame that on it being a pre-production copy. We just hope that this lens doesn’t suffer from the same problems that Sigma’s previous zooms have.

First Impressions

This lens is a world’s first on many things. But we’re still very excited about it and hope that the issues that we saw with the pre-production copy’s image quality isn’t going to be that problematic when the final production run hits the stores.

We don’t know the price or the final release date yet. But stay tuned.

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