Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review

John Riley has been out capturing images of the currently sunny UK with the recently introduced Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens, tested on the Sony A7R III.

| Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary in Interchangeable Lenses
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Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review: Sigma 16 28mm F2,8 Front Oblique View | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100

Sigma's new lens is intended for full frame cameras and is available in Sony FE and the Leica/Panasonic/Sigma L mount. It fills an extremely useful selection of focal lengths, covering from ultra-wide to wide-angle, all in a light and compact form factor that is ideal for travel photographers. Add to that an attractive price and we have the makings of a lens that could be a huge success. Let's see if that potential is fully realised as we couple the lens up with the 42MP Sony A7R III and step out boldly into the current Heatwave that is covering the UK.


Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Handling and Features

Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review: Sigma 16 28mm F2,8 On Sony A7RIII | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100

The lens matches the appearance of its 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary sibling, being quite compact and certainly light. It weighs in at a modest 450g, with a diameter of 77.2mm and a length of just 100.6mm. In fact, the combined weight of 16-28mm and 28-70mm lenses is just 920g. This might tempt us to think that the two lenses together would make a fine duo for travel, and indeed for many photographers, this might well be true. If it just so happened though that an individual liked working around the 28mm point, that could also perhaps mean an uncomfortable amount of switching lenses about. Going back to the weight of the lens for a moment, this is achieved using Thermally Stable Composite as well as Aluminium, the two materials having the same coefficient of expansion, thus making it possible to use them together.

There is a provided petal lenshood, and this bayonets neatly and positively into position. There is no retaining catch, and the hood is solidly locked as it is so there is no need for one. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 72mm filter thread.

The first control ring we encounter is the manual focusing ring, electronic in operation and therefore as smooth as we would expect. In the case of the Sony FE mount version, all the usual focusing methods are supported, such as DMF, Direct Manual Focus, so that slight tweaks can be made to the AF focusing, something especially useful in close up photography. Focusing is down to 25cm, or 9.9 inches, for a maximum magnification of 1:5.6 - close enough to be a versatile and useful feature. AF is driven by a stepping motor and is smooth and silent, a boon for videographers in particular. Between the two control rings is the AF/MF switch. AF and zooming actions are both internal, so the dimensions and balance of the lens do not change, another feature that will benefit videographers as well as stills photographers.

Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review: Sigma 16 28mm F2,8 On Sony A7RIII Front View | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

The zoom ring is wide and affords an excellent grip. It is clearly marked in focal lengths of 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 22mm, 24mm and 28mm. This covers four classic prime focal lengths of 16mm, 20mm, 24mm and 28mm, all at f/2.8 which is as fast as the primes themselves would have been. This shows us how far lens design has progressed.

Optical construction comprises 16 elements in 11 groups, including 5 FLD (fluorite-like Low Dispersion) and 4 Aspherical. The diaphragm has 9 rounded blades, intended to improve the bokeh, that is, the smooth gradation and quality of the out-of-focus areas in an image.


Sigma 16-28mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Review: Sigma 16 28mm F2,8 Rear Element View | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 68.0 mm | ISO 100

Finally, the lens sports a solid brass mount, which is sealed to help prevent the ingress of dust and splashes of water. However, the lens itself is not sealed, which is a pity. However, this was not any sort of problem during the fiercely sunny days of the review process, but when normal weather is resumed then we might miss the presence of weather sealing.

In terms of general handling, the lens has no quirks of any kind, delivering what it is intended to do with quiet and absolute efficiency and melding very well with the functionality of the Sony camera body used.


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