Review: Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX DG Macro

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Sigma has been on an impressive tear with its recent releases of lenses. Not satisfied with accepting a second tier reputation, they have been delivering lenses that compete favorably against the major camera manufacturer’s line of lenses in terms of image and build quality, while edging them out on price. So, Sigma has packed in a lot effort into this wide-angle lens.

Pro and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Little to no chromatic aberration
  • Sharp and contrasty even at the widest aperture
  • Fast and accurate autofocus

Cons

  • Not weather-resistant

Gear Used

For this review, we used the lens with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the BG-E2N battery grip. Images were saved to a Sandisk Extreme 16GB CF card.

Tech Specs

Performance

  • Focal Length
24 mm
  • Aperture
Maximum: f/1.8Minimum: f/22
  • Camera Mount Type
Canon EF
  • Format Compatibility
35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital SensorCanon (APS-C)
  • Angle of View
84.1°
  • Minimum Focus Distance
7.1″ (18.03 cm)
  • Magnification
0.37x
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio
1:2.7
  • Groups/Elements
9/10
  • Diaphragm Blades
9

Features

  • Image Stabilization
No
  • Autofocus
Yes
  • Tripod Collar
No

Physical

  • Filter Thread
77 mm
  • Dimensions (DxL)
Approx. 3.3 x 3.1″ (8.38 x 7.87 cm)
  • Weight
1.07 lb (485 g)

Ergonomics

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You immediately enjoy the nice feel of the lens the moment you pull it out of the packaging. However, you only really experience the lens when you attach it to your camera. The 24mm f1.8 EX DG Macro has a nice heft which confirms the optic’s solid build and construction.

The wide manual focus ring provides a good feel in the hands, even when you are primarily using autofocus. As with other Sigma lenses, you can switch quickly to manual focus by pulling the focus ring back and sliding the focus switch on the barrel. The lens then provides nice smooth resistance for precise manual focus. The lens focuses from infinity to a minimum distance of just 7.1-inches which delivers an impressive 1:2.7 reproduction ratio.

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The large front element provides a large front element with a 77mm filter thread making it compatible with several popular fast zoom and prime lenses, which provides great convenience for those of us that regularly use filters such as a circular polarizer.

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A scalloped lens hood is included in the box, which helps reduce issue of flare, as well as protect the front of the lens for those of us that have a tendency to bump into door frames.

Built Quality

As mentioned before, holding the lens in one’s hands eliminates any concerns about its construction. Though the lens doesn’t have the benefit of weather-sealing, it is built to hold up to regular demanding use whether you are a nature or a photojournalist.

Autofocus

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The lens delivered excellent results when photographing static subjects such as when photographing interiors and landscapes. There were no issue of back focusing evident, even when the lens was used wide open.

However, the real challenge is when focusing on people, particularly people that are not sitting still for the camera such as revelers at a food festival. Thankfully, the lens delivered not only accurate autofocus, but did it with the speed necessary to capture quick and unpredictable movement.

Ease of Use

It’s a fixed focal length lens, there is little to figure out beside switching back and forth between autofocus and manual mode. After, that it’s about using good, solid camera handling technique to ensure sharp results.

Image Quality

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The hope with a fast wide angle lens like this is that it perform optimally at both the wider and smaller apertures. So, whether you are a landscape photographer looking to maximize depth field or a photojournalist working wide open to contend with low light, the lens needs to perform well.

Sharpness

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The overall sharpness performance lens is excellent whether the lens is closed down or used at its widest aperture. Critical sharpness at the point of focus is crisp and detailed and extends well throughout the frame. Though there may be the slightest of drop off in sharpness towards the extreme edges of the frame, it takes some aggressive pixel peeping to pick on up on this.

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Color Rendition

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The lens’s ability to provide good contrast helps to deliver color saturation. Whether it’s foliage or skin tone, the lens delivers accurate and vibrant and clean colors. Contrast and color held up nicely with little flaring even with the lens was directed toward a point light source.

Bokeh

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The 9-blade aperture provides some very delicious bokeh. It’s especially nice to look at when you have a diverse range of colors to serve as the background. It delivers a strong contrasting element to the point of focus, even when shot at f1.8.

Color Fringing

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There is very little color fringing when faced with high contrast situations. Though there was some very slight purple color fringing at the edges of the frame, it could have easily been missed at 100% magnification if one weren’t specifically looking for it. The fact that a wide-angle lens such as this makes color fringing virtually non-existent is quite an accomplishment.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

The Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX DG Macro lens certainly delivers on its promise of a high-performing fixed focal length lens.

For nature and landscape photographers, the lens provides a step-up from a zoom lens such as the Canon 24-105mm, which is often purchased as a kit with the full-frame 5D Mark III. As compared to that popular zoom lens, this is virtually no pincushioning or barrel distortion. You also enjoy a much better close-focusing distance, which can be particularly advantageous for including a strong foreground element in a landscape composition.

For photojournalists, event or music photographers, the speed of the lens both with respect to its maximum f-stop and focusing speed make it an invaluable tool when faced with challenging lighting conditions.

The combined strength of sharpness, a fast maximum aperture and close focusing capability provides the lens great versatility for any type of photography. When you add to that mix, solid construction with impressive image quality, there’s hardly anything left to say other than if you need a lens like this, you now know where to find it.

You can purchase this lens from Amazon, B&H or Adorama.

Recommended Cameras and Accessories

Canon 5D Mark III: This full-frame camera takes advantage of the high image quality delivered for the lens. The camera’s fast autofocus and excellent low light performance provides for a perfect pairing.

Nikon D600: Nikon’s most affordable full-frame camera provides the performance and flexibility to use this lens at its true 24mm focal length a 35mm equivalent when using the camera’s in its cropped mode..

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