Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Tip Wednesday: My First Impressions Of Sigma's 8-16mm Super Wide Angle Lens

Good Morning Everybody,

We wrapped our shoot yesterday about noon, reviewed the images with the client and they loved the results.  Probably the coolest thing for them was my shooting tethered into Lightroom 3 on the spot.  It was easy to catch any nasty reflections, or anything else (extension cords, trash cans, exit signs) that was misplaced.  In reviewing the images, the client could also add their product to areas within the scene as they felt necessary. Everything went great.

Worldwide Webcast Last night's webcast went off without a hitch too.  It made it a long day for me, but I still enjoy each and every webinar.  It was nice to see some of our regular DPT readers be on board too.  I hope all of you that were able to attend had a good time.  I know Peachpit puts all the webcasts on line.  So, if you missed it, I'll keep you posted as to when you can catch it on-line, should be about a week.

That's the latest updates from around here.  I've got a client coming by this morning, so let's get on with today's post.

My First Impressions Of Sigma's 8-16mm Super Wide Angle Lens

Sigma 8-16mm w-glow Most of you reading this blog know that I'm a BIG fan of wide angle lenses. Looking at so many of the currant wedding photographers, and lots of folks seems to be enthralled with their fast glass, shallow depth of field shots.  I have to admit, that has never been my thing.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying those kind of shots are not great photographs.  They just aren't "my cup of tea". The don't "tickle my fancy". OK, enough of the old time phases - the fact of the matter is that I find my photographic excitement, not in those kinds of images, but rather in the dramatic feel of wide angle, well composed, well lit dramatic images. So, when Sigma announced their new 8-16mm super wide angle lens for APS sized sensor cameras, I couldn't wait!

Finally, it became available and I was able to borrow it while we traveled to New England last week.  I have to say, I LOVED walking around with that lens and that lens only attached to my camera all day.  It is just SO much wider than what I've been used to on my 7D.

Sigma 1So, the 10-22mm Canon lens is a nice optic, but that added 7 degrees of wide angle freedom is nice to see in the viewfinder.  The Canon lens comes in at a 107.5 degrees of view.  The Sigma sees 114.5 degrees of view.  It doesn't seem like that much more until you look through the viewfinder.  It's just a WOW wide angle view.

Still the widest, rectilinearly corrected view available on the market is the Sigma 12-24mm lens on a full frame DSLR camera body.  That lens on a Canon 5D Mark II will give you an unbelievable 122 degrees of view.  I was actually hoping that the new Sigma would be closer to that spec, not quite, but still close enough.

Remember, it has to do with the multiplication factor of your camera. Canon 7D has a multiplication factor of 1.6x making the actual focal length of the new Sigma lens 12.8mm.  The same lens on a Nikon with it's 1.5x magnification factor would be a bit wider at 12mm. Anyway, what's one silly millimeter among friends?  It's still one darn WIDE wide angle lens.

DAZNOTE: Curiously enough, Amazon list the field of view at 121.2 degrees not quite sure where that figure comes from.  Sigma lists the figure at 114.5 degrees.

Sigma 3So, how did it do? I found the build quality solid with a nice finish on the lens.  Focusing is fast and really quiet.  Sharpness looked very good to me throughout the zoom range under closer inspection in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop.

You can see some barrel distortion at the widest zoom settings but nothing that can't be ameliorated in Lightroom 3.  Also, with a lens that goes that wide, you will see just a tad of vignetting but nothing serious.  Once again Lightroom 3 makes quick work of that issue if you need it resolved - personally, on a wide angle optic like this, it simply doesn't bother me.

Before I wrap, let me give you a few pointers on shooting a lens this wide.  First of all, be sure to keep you subject near the center of the composition.  The further the subject is to the edge of the frame, the more noticeable distortion you will see.  And, it gets MUCH worse near the corners.

Sigma 4That is not the fault of the lens.  It's just a fact with super wide-angle lenses.  Remember, it's the super wide angle view that is so much fun to play with.  Just think of it as a really sharp knife so use it's "wideangledness" carefully so you don't "cut" yourself when shooting with it - figuratively speaking, of course.

Overall, I'm a big fan of the lens and can't wait to give it a try for some of my wedding and portrait work. Compositionally, it should add quite a bit of impact to my wide angle images.  I'm giving it two thumbs way up.

Oh, by the way, you can find an in-depth review of Sigma’s 8-16mm lens at right here.
Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We have a HUGE project we are working on that needs to be wrapped up by this weekend.  I'll definitely be filling you in next week. 

And, I have one of my favorite clients coming by a little later on this morning to fine tune her album selection from her son's Bar Mitzvah celebration.  It will be fun getting together and reliving that great day with her.

So folks, I'm out of here.  I'll see everyone tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday: How I Sell My Wedding Coverages.

See ya' then,  David


  1. And it's maybe the finest Sigma lens that I've ever seen. It just feels good, though it really should so at that price point.

    I bought it the first day it was available here in Austria, have used it for about two weeks exclusively, and then a bit in Italy. It's pretty perfect, maybe not completely in a league with Nikon's 14-24 (can't compare, though it can't be far from that), but so much smaller and lighter. On the camera it looks much like a fish.

    It is a comparably slow lens, but then, I can always hold it at 1/15s, even though it is not stabilized. And it does not take filters. On the other hand, you can forget polarizers at that angle anyway. This leaves ND, ND grad and color effect filters. If you depend on those for landscape work, this is not your lens.

    And of course using this lens is challenging. Let's say that it's pretty hard to make a good picture just by chance. You really have to know that lens, know how to use it, and you have to think before shooting.

  2. I'd like to clarify the difference between angles of view reported on different websites.

    Sigma's number of 114.5 degrees comes from the fact that their foveon sensors have 1.7x crop factor.

    For a Canon sensor with 1.6x crop factor the angle is 119.1 degrees.

    For a Nikon sensor with 1.5x crop factor the angle is 121.2 degrees.

    Many thanks for your great blog!

  3. David, as a bar mitzvah photographer, I'd love to see some of your work in that area. Thanks!

  4. Great vacation images! WOW, you certainly are very dimensional in your photography. Thanks for sharing SO much of yourself!