Not long ago, Sigma announced the fastest aperture zoom lens made for a full frame camera: the 24-35mm f2 DG HSM Art. With a constant f2 aperture range throughout its zoom range, it is the fastest constant aperture full frame lens made so far. But with that comes what many believe to be a big tradeoff. The lens has a very limited zoom range and essentially gives you three big focal lengths: 24mm, 28mm and 35mm. However, these lengths are made possible by 18 elements working together in 13 groups in conjunction with a 9 bladed aperture.
And at under $1,000 this lens any many others that Sigma makes may be some of the few things keeping you working with DSLRs.
Pros and Cons
– Excellent image quality
– Great sharpness
– Great colors
– Lots of focal length options with a wide aperture
– Pretty big
– Few focal lengths, though we personally don’t consider this a problem.
We used the Sigma 24-35mm f2 DG HSM Art lens with the Canon 6D, Flashpoint Zoom Li-Ion flash, Metabones Speedbooster and the Sony A7r Mk II.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product.
|Filter Thread||Front:82 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.4 x 4.8″ (8.64 x 12.19 cm)|
|Weight||33.2 oz (941 g)|
|Package Weight||2.9 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||7.0 x 4.9 x 4.7″|
The Sigma 24-35mm f2 DG HSM Art is very much like the other Art lenses that Sigma manufacturers. These lenses have a very minimal build and are characterized by a metal exterior and big rubber grooved rings.
If you choose to put a filter thread on this lens, make sure that you get an 82mm as the front is quite huge.
The lens is characterized by a big beefy zoom ring and a thin focusing ring. Between these is a window that displays focusing distances.
The side of the lens has an AF/MF switch, and pretty much nothing more.
This lens is designed and built very solid indeed. It’s big, the focusing rings are beefy, and in our tests it took while a bit of abuse. At one point during the Sony trip in Portland, a skateboard came and hit me right in the face. The side of the lens took some of the damage but it kept working like a charm.
For some odd reason though, Sigma decided not to give a lens like this any sort of weather-sealing.
Ease of Use
Most users of this lens will attach it to a camera, set it to autofocus, point, shoot, and be happy. That’s all that there is to it indeed. In fact, we really had a lot of fun with this lens while testing it. To boot, I really hate zoom lenses.
When attached to the Sony A7r Mk II with the Metabones adapter, the lens became a 21-32mm f1.4 with a 1.5x crop factor effectively turning it into a 31-46mm with a depth of field of f2.1 even though it has the light gathering abilities of f1.4.
That’s pretty nice if you ask us–especially when shooting video.
On both the Canon 6D and the Sony A7r Mk II, this lens focused extremely fast. In fact, it’s probably a bit faster than the company’s 24mm f1.4 and 35mm f1.4. As much as it hurts to actually type that in, it’s true. I’m the owner of the 12th 35mm f1.4 Art lens ever made, and it’s been my bread and butter lens when using the Canon 6D.
When using the lens with an adapter on the Sony a7R Mk II we were able to keep fast-moving skaters in the frame with no real problems. When a flash was added into the mix, a fast flash duration made things even better in terms of freezing fast motion.
What impressed us even more is how the camera worked with the lens when it came to tracking a subject. Moving subjects were kept in focus pretty much as fast as a DSLR can–but that has more to do with the Sony than the Sigma in this situation. However, the lens elements are still light enough to be able to keep fast-moving subjects in focus with no issues.
With the Canon 6D, the lens didn’t seem to misfocus at all–even in low lighting and strong backlight. The Sigma 24-35mm f2 DG HSM Art focuses very silently and is essentially a speed demon.
So here’s where this review reaches it highest point. The Sigma 24-35mm f2 DG HSM is incredibly impressive. Individually, it can’t outdo the 35mm f1.4 or the 24mm f1.4, but it’s a very close second. It doesn’t have the contrast or saturation that each of those lenses have, but it’s a more dialed down version. The same applies to the sharpness.
Quite obviously, you’re also not going to get the same bokeh that you do from f1.4 lenses.
In some ways, this lens can be called a jack of all trades but a master of none, and with no other lens made in history will this ever be more true. Instead, when it comes to image quality the Sigma 24-35mm f2 is one that takes second place in so many different categories overall. But if we had to compare it to many other options available, we’d honestly tell you that it renders better images than the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC and the newest Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L USM II. This lens delivers beautiful results, and if you’re a DSLR owner you may absolutely never want to leave for mirrorless cameras because of this lens.
This goes double for concert photographers.
Our sharpness tests are done when a flash is added to the scene. Again, we had no major problems here–but we have to admit that both the Sigma 24mm f1.4 and 35mm f1.4 can render sharper photos. At f5.6 you’ll have images that are more than sharp enough. On a full frame sensor, you won’t want to go beyond f11. Though to be perfectly honest with you, we’re very happy with the sharpness of the lens wide open.
The bokeh here is nicer at the longer end quite obviously, but even so it isn’t that bad at 24mm. The image above was at 35mm and looks very nice–though the 35mm f1.4 once again would trump it.
In real life shooting situations and when shooting at the widest angle, you probably won’t want or need to stop down. The bokeh is very minimal if anything.
The colors from this lens are very on point. With Sony sensors, the lens tends to be a bit more muted (even in vivid camera mode) but when attached to the Canon 6D we get a heck of a lot more saturated and vibrant colors. Perhaps it’s the Metabones adapter doing this. The image above with shot on Sony.
This photo was shot on Canon and it’s here that we get a much better idea of how the colors are.
In our tests, we couldn’t find any major color fringing though it indeed happened when looking at 100%. If you’re buying this lens to shoot charts, then you’re probably wasting your time with this lens. Go shoot something meaningful instead and anything that bothers anyone in terms of technicalities can be removed with a slider in Adobe Lightroom.
Extra Image Samples
– Not a bad size considering what it is
– Decent amount of focal lengths with a fast aperture
– Great image quality
– Can easily replace the need of three lenses if you’re a wide-angle shooter
– It’s about time that Sigma puts weather-sealing in their lenses
Jack of all trades: master of none. We’re saying it again. It isn’t the absolute sharpest lens, but it’s close. It doesn’t have the absolute best colors, but it’s close. Bokeh? Yeah, it’s close there too. See where we’re going with this?
But the biggest strength of this lens is that it offers wide-angle shooters lots of variety in a single lens while providing a fast aperture. More than anything else, this is this lens’s strength–and it does a fine job at that.
The Sigma 24-35mm f2 DG HSM receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check out the B&H Photo listing for the latest prices.
– Canon 5Ds: The highest resolving DSLR out there is an easy choice.
– Canon 6D: With great high ISO output, just use this lens for event shooting and you’ll be all set.
– Nikon D810: At the moment, this camera is still our favorite DSLR, and this lens will shine on it.