Review: Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art (Canon EF)

When you think about where Sigma was in 2011, you wouldn’t at all have thought the company would produce a lens like the Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens([amazon_link asins=’B01LZJM7SY’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’18dddf7c-dd98-11e6-a949-81658db3aaba’]). In a time where the digital photography world is all about just cranking out product after product, it’s also incredible to see just how well Sigma lenses hold their value after aging for a number of years. With the Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens, you get a constant F4 aperture, a bit of weather sealing, a pretty good build quality overall despite heaviness, and really good image quality.

At the same time though, we all need to admit that this lens is a bit of an odd duck. Canon and Nikon have wide angle zooms that have an f2.8 aperture. Granted, Nikon’s doesn’t have this much range coverage and Canon’s doesn’t go as wide. You can also make a very valid argument that in 2017, digital high ISO output is so good that you don’t really need an f2.8 aperture at a wide angle. But sometimes you just want it–if you’re shooting a wedding then it means potentially less flash output is needed from you. At the same time, if you’re just shooting landscapes or cityscapes with a tripod, you’re probably not going to have that issue.

And if you’re a Sigma lens fan, then you’ve got a lot to love here.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bit of weather sealing, enough to survive a snow storm.
  • Sharp output
  • Just contrasty enough
  • Not a whole lot of distortion. Some of it isn’t really even visible.
  • Fast and accurate autofocusing

Cons

  • Big and heavy
  • Just f4, which probably won’t be a major problem for most people.

Gear Used

The Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens with the Canon 6D.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Sigma’s own page listing.

Lens Construction 16 Elements in 11 Groups
Angle of View 122.0°-84.1°
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9 (Rounded Diaphragm)
Mininum Aperture F22
Minimum Focusing Distance 24cm* / 9.4in. *At 24mm end of the zoom range
Filter Size (mm) n/a
Maximum Magnifications 1:4.9
Dimensions
(Diameter x Length)
4.0in. × 5.2in.
Weight 40.6oz
Corresponding Mounts
Sigma DG
HSM
Nikon DG
HSM
Canon DG
HSM
HSM -Hyper-Sonic Motor
DG – DG for Digital* The appearance, specifications, and the like of the product are subject to change for improvement without notice.

Ergonomics

When you look at the Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens, you obviously see a pretty beefy optic. In fact, it’s pretty large overall. Because of the design, the major grippy areas are the rubber focusing and zooming rings. But also due to the design, you’re going to have a lot of room to place your fingers.

The front element is very large. Unfortunately, you can’t put a lens filter on the front. That’s much unlike some of Zeiss’s newest offerings.

However, having a lens hood constantly attached is sort of nice. The lens cap goes on over the hood.

Build Quality

This is the lens next to the Canon 6D. They’re pretty much the same size. The lens itself is very solidly built. Sigma doesn’t use metal in its body construction in the way that both Tamron and Zeiss do, but it’s still pretty nicely built.

At the mount, you’ll find a nice, fat rubber ring. When the camera and lens mate, this ring protects (pun totally intended) the duo from moisture and precipitation. This lens went out into both NYC rain and snow. You’ll see this in some of the sample images.

Both the 6D and the 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art survived with no problems.

Ease of Use

Essentially, this is a simple lens to use. You slap it onto the camera, point, focus, shoot and enjoy the photo. Using manual focusing is pretty much useless since mostly everything focused out to beyond a few feet will likely be in focus. This has to do with everything being so wide.

When you’re on the longer end of this lens you’ll get a bit less in focus.

Autofocus

Because this is a wide angle lens, you’re almost guaranteed to not miss a thing. So much is in focus at a given aperture. The focusing is quick, accurate, and I’ve got generally no complaints here.

Image Quality

The Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art is of course a solid performer when it comes to image quality. The company has always produced very good wide angle lenses, and this is no exception. You’re not going to get much bokeh, but I also probably wouldn’t use it for bokeh. You can use it and expect a whole lot from it otherwise though.

Bokeh

To get any sort of bokeh here you’ll need to focus up close and get up close to your subject. The better bokeh will come at the 24mm end of the lens. But as it is, the bokeh isn’t anything epic or worth writing home about.

Again, you’re not buying this lens for the bokeh.

Chromatic Aberration

There is very little to no distortion and also no major issues in regards to color fringing that I’ve been about to find in my tests. That’s a relief!

Color Rendition

I’ve seen more contrasty and saturated lenses from Sigma for sure. But perhaps why this is such a great lens for landscape photographers–the lack of contrast is nice for the editing process later on.

Sharpness

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to Sigma’s sharpness here. It’s about on par with offerings from Canon and Nikon.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Versatile range
  • Fun to use and shoot with

Dislikes

  • Just a bit too heavy for me.

The Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens is honestly fantastic. It’s lacking in bokeh and this isn’t Sigma’s most saturated and contrasty lens. That’s a good thing for landscape photographers. It’s also uber sharp. Then, when you consider the very low distortion, fast autofocus, and the weather sealing, you’ve got a lens that’s really great. In fact, I don’t hate a single thing about this lens except for carrying it around.

I don’t recommend photowalking with it; this lens is going to really start wearing away at your wrist after a few hours. But if you’ve got it set up on a tripod at night, then you’ve got a fantastic setup for shooting wide angle views at night.

Sigma’s 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens ([amazon_link asins=’B01LZJM7SY’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7110c598-dd9c-11e6-b0e5-5d14cea0bae6′]) gets five out of five stars.

Recommended Cameras

Canon 5Ds: The Canon 5Ds has the most resolution of the bunch here. And it’s perfect for this camera.

Nikon D810: These two are great for shooting weddings or events.