Review: Sigma 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye (Sony Alpha)

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Ah, the fisheye, the perfect optic for the aquatically inclined. It’s a perspective that isn’t afforded by more conventional focal lengths, and should you favor curves, you’ll find that this lens will tickle that fancy. Sigma’s 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye is an easier fisheye focal length to work with than others in Sigma’s lineup. Managing Editor Gevon Servo is working with Sigma’s 4.5mm f2.8 Circular Fisheye which produces circular images. The 15mm bends the world around you nicely without creating a porthole. Herein lies my review.

Pros and Cons

Pros

-When the light is right, colors are gorgeous
-Great for landscapes & cityscapes
-Images are crisp

Cons

-Don’t you dare use it for portraits

Gear Used

I used the Sigma 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye with my Sony a580.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of Adorama’s listing:

Construction 6 Groups /7 Elements
Angle of view 180°
F stop range 22
Closest Focusing Distance 15cm / 5.9″
Maximum Magnification 1:3.8
Filter Size Rear (Gelatin filter)
Dimensions (Length x Diameter) 65mm (2.5″) x 73.5mm (2.8″)
Weight 370g / 13oz.

Ergonomics

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A few things to note in this image. Given the convex nature of the front element, the 15mm f2.8 has a permanent petal hood. That cylindrical piece in the image above positioned on the left is the adapter ring, which slides onto the front of the lens so that you can seal it with the lens cap. If you forget to take it that ring off, your images will have very visible vignetting. Be sure to take it off, unless you like that sort of thing.

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Here’s where the magic happens. You’ve got a nicely-sized focusing ring with a distance scale and depth of field scale. I’ve read that the R is the focus index marker when shooting with infrared film. The focus index marker for conventional film and digital purposes is the solid white line to the left of the R. Focusing is smooth throughout the range, and the ring is comfortably ribbed.

Build Quality

The Sigma 15mm f2.8 is sturdy. With a rubberized focusing ring and what feels like a brushed metal construction, this lens will hold up in trying circumstances. Don’t toss it around. Don’t toss any lens around, but rest assured that this lens will persevere. Just be sure to slide the adapter ring directly on and off the petal hood. Otherwise, you’ll have to shimmy it, and that’s never fun.

Autofocus

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Autofocusing is fast with this lens, and is a major boon if you’re in a fast moving environment. Manual focusing is swell, too, but I let the AF run freely for most of the review period. For Sony alpha users, the AF is controlled via the camera, whereas there’s a switch for the Sigma SA and Canon AF versions. Set the focusing point, and trust that the lens will capture what you want.

Ease of Use

Compose, focus, and photograph. That’s all there is to it, and remember to take off that adapter ring. Those dark vignettes are not appealing.

Image Quality

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The Sigma 15mm f2.8 can capture some truly beautiful images, particularly landscapes, and with the right light (or proper effort in post), the colors pop.

Bokeh

It’s a fisheye, you’re not buying it for the bokeh, but if you get up close, you’ll get some smoothness in the outer areas. The minimum focusing distance is 5.9″, 15 cm for the rest of the world, but I didn’t want to fog up the lens with a hyper-close portrait. I tried a hyper-close portrait with my sister. It was awkward for everybody.

Sharpness

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The lens produces a great amount of sharpness which is great for the landscape folks. It’s a wee bit soft wide open, but once you stop down, everything slides into place. It’ll work nicely for interior shots, too, for, say, apartment listings where you’ll want to minimize the number of shots you’ll take. Granted everything’ll be bent somewhat, but it’ll all be in focus.

Color Fringing

I saw no issues with color fringing.

Color Rendition

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With the right light, colors are wonderful with this lens. No detail is lost, and all the hues are accurate. D’you need a landscape shot for an article? Don’t worry about undersaturated colors. This lens packs a punch.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

What you’ve got here is a solid fisheye option from one of the best lens manufacturers around. The Sigma 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye provides a comfortable focal length in its fisheye family of lenses. It is a niche perspective, but the 15mm does it wonderfully with bright colors and sharp edges. Landscape and event photographers rejoice. You’ve found a friend in the Sigma 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye. I’m sad to see it go, but I had a good time with it.

You can pick it up from Adorama and Amazon.

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