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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A standard zoom lens.

| Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Sigma 18 35 F18 Dc A Lens (2)

This much anticipated standard zoom lens for APS-C format cameras sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range and silent internal focusing with full time manual override. We have a final pre-production sample to test here and it will be available to fit Canon, Nikon and Sigma cameras, with a recommended retail price of £799.
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Sigma 18 35 F18 Dc A Lens (5)



Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Handling and features

Even though this lens sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range it still weighs only 810g, which isn't as much as you might think. Build quality is very solid with high quality plastics used for much of the lens barrel. This lens feels right at home on the Canon EOS 600D used for testing and would balance even better on cameras with a slightly larger finger grip. The lens is finished with a metallic glossy finish in parts and both zoom and focusing rings are very smooth to operate, which reinforces the quality feel of the lens.


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A silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism, which is very quick to confirm focus and accurate, even on this pre-production sample. If your sample of this lens does exhibit focusing errors, this lens supports Sigma's new USB Dock accessory, which allows focus adjustments and firmware updates to be applied to the lens, quickly and easily. Focusing and zooming are performed internally, so the 67mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

Full time manual focus can be applied by simply adjusting the focus ring at any time. Manual focusing is a pleasure as the focus ring is quite heavily damped, and very smooth to operate. Closest focusing is 30cm from the sensor plane, which is great for shooting in claustrophobic environments, although the maximum achievable magnification of 1:5.2 may make this lens less suited to frame filling close-ups of smaller objects.
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Sigma 18 35 F18 Dc A Lens (10)





Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Performance

At 18mm and maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding with clarity towards the edges of the frame being just a shade short of excellent, which is impressive for a lens with an f/1.8 maximum aperture. Stopping down a little improves sharpness further, with peak performance being achieved between f/2 and f/2.8 for this focal length.

Zooming to 24mm results in a slight reduction in sharpness, although this lens is still very sharp at this focal length. At maximum aperture sharpness is still outstanding in the centre of the frame and the clarity towards the edges has fallen to very good levels. Stopping down to f/4 results in peak performance across the frame for this focal length, with outstanding sharpness being achieved from edge to edge.

Finally, at 35mm there is a slight further reduction in overall sharpness, although clarity is still very good across the frame at maximum aperture. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved between f/4 and f/5.6 for this focal length.





Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Resolution @ 18mm
Resolution @ 18mm
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Resolution @ 24mm
Resolution @ 24mm
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are remarkably well controlled for a zoom lens with such a bright maximum aperture. The strongest fringing can be found towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture at 24mm, although the level of CA is still low enough to cause very few issues here.





Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Chromatic aberration @ 24mm
Chromatic aberration @ 24mm
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review: Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame isn't as strong as you may expect from a lens with a fast f/1.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. At 18mm and f/1.8 the corners are only 1.25 stops darker than the image centre and at 35mm the corners are only 1.5 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture stopped down to f/4 or beyond throughout the zoom range.

Distortion at both ends of the zoom is noticeable, but not overly strong with 2.71% barrel at 18mm and 1.06% pincushion at 35mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so should be relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with this lens, which does a reasonable job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause loss of contrast or flare. Even when shooting into the light, contrast remains good.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC Sample Photos




Value for Money

With this lens being unique at the current time, with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range, it is difficult to make direct comparisons. However, when the recommended retail price of around £799 is compared to the current prices of Nikon and Canon's f/2.8 lenses in the same range it stacks up quite well, especially as this lens is nearly £200 cheaper than Nikon's 17-55mm f/2.8 and only £70 dearer than Canon's 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens. Adding up the cost of prime lenses covering this range adds up to considerably more on any system.




Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Verdict

In the past, Sigma have carved a niche for themselves creating new, exciting optics that don't already exist in manufacturer's own lens line-ups, such as their 15-30mm & 12-24mm lenses for full frame cameras, that were the first of their kind.

This lens opens new possibilities for owners of APS-C format cameras for low light shooting and creative use of depth of field with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, normally reserved for prime focal length lenses. The image quality delivered, especially at shorter focal lengths is of the level normally reserved for prime lenses also.





  Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Lens Review:    
  The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A lens has excellent sharpness and is reasonably priced.  



Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Pros

Excellent sharpness
Constant f/1.8 aperture
Low falloff for an f/1.8 lens
Good build quality
Reasonably priced



Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A Cons

No real issues to report






Thanks to HarrisonCameras for providing the Canon EOS 600D used for testing.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF-S
  • Sigma SA
  • Pentax KAF
Focal Length18mm - 35mm
Angle of View44.2° - 76.5°
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size72mm
35mm equivalent27mm - 52.5mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus28cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, lens hood, case.

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22 Jun 2013 3:43AM
" This lens opens new possibilities for owners of APS-C format cameras for low light shooting and creative use of depth of field with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture "

Certainly agree whole heartedly with that statement, Nikon sadly lack fast lenses of this focal length for their APS-C format cameras, Sigma have realised the gap in the market and come up with a winner.

This is the sort of lens I would shoot at f/1.8 most of the time and it looks like the results at f/1.8 look great.

I guess for photographers looking at the upgrade path to FX and the fairly high costs involved, perhaps there's more reasons to stay with the APS-C format thanks to Sigma.
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
24 Jun 2013 2:36PM
I wonder what a lens manufacturer has to do to achieve 5 stars?

The one serious shortcoming for me about this lens is they're not doing an m4/3 fit.

I could even live with the fact that it wouldn't be particularly wide @ 36mm equiv - it would still be considerably better value than Panasonic's 12-35 f2.8 optic, which whilst relatively fast and IS isn't going to give the same control over DoF as this would [even if not quite the same as it offers on APSc].

Kudos to Sigma for producing such a lens at a sensible price [something Canon in particular appear to have left behind].

They deserve to sell shedloads of these - it almost makes me regret giving up APSc for the lighter more convenient smaller format.
zedhaed918 13 5 United Kingdom
26 Jun 2013 9:37PM
This lens is a brilliant coup on the part of Sigma, seeing the opportunity in the market place and exploiting it.

I was considering getting the Canon 24mm 1.4, but seeing this review has certainly given me reason to reconsider. Ill be holding back for its realease and putting the money saved to good use.

Cant wait to get my hands on one!
ricohflex 10 1
29 Jun 2013 5:00PM
But 35mm equivalent zoom range of 27mm to 52.5mm is not exciting.
10 Jul 2013 2:49AM
is it a typo that you said it weights only 665g and on the specificications it states 810g?
10 Jul 2013 7:18AM
Thanks for pointing that out, I have updated the review.
26 Jul 2013 10:04PM
One question: I keep reading that this lens is silent. I mostly shoot video and plan on upgrading to the Canon 70D & am wondering if this is as quiet for shooting video as the STM kit lenses? I would much rather get this than a kit lens that is 3.5-5.6.
30 Oct 2013 1:37PM
Finally i got my copy for my Nikon D7000. It reveals as a superb lens and i am left with the question why Nikon is not willing to offer fast high quality lenses for their DX-Bodies.
MGJ 14 372 6
13 Mar 2014 7:20PM
Why not a greater zoom ratio -because one would have had to compromise image quality. Doesn't matter because with such quality a 30-50% crop will still go to A3+, and with good sharpening, still be razor sharp. This lens is in a different league from the majority of zooms.

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