With everyone using similar set of focal length these days, a good way to capture unique photographs is to use a lens with a unique focal length. This is exactly the case with the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens. Though it might not be appreciated for it max apertures, its amazingly wide full-frame focal lengths are worth your time and money. Currently no other full frame compatible lens other than the Sigma 12-24mm offers a rectilinear focal length so wide. The Sigma 12-24mm at 12mm provides for an extreme angle of view and the overall 12-24mm range of the lens proves its usefulness quite often. This is one of those lenses one would not to skip while shooting in restricted physical spaces like monuments or even for landscapes. Also, it is a well built lens which gives pictures with some really good image quality.

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Focal Length – Sigma 12-24mm

As I stated earlier, currently, there aren’t many lenses in the market which are full frame compatible and yet are ultra wide and rectilinear. In laymen term this means the Sigma 12-24mm is a non fish eye ultra wide lens. Very few such lenses in the market currently bear a name other than Canon or Nikon due to the difficulty in producing such extreme lenses. The Sigma 12-24mm is one such lens. If you have ever used a Canon 10-18mm lens on your APS-C DSLR you would have been in awe of how wide it goes. Well, to keep things in perspective, 10mm on an APS-C sensor is 35mm equivalent of 15mm. And the Sigma 12-24mm (on a full frame) gives an even wider 12mm of focal length. Keep in mind, at such wide focal lengths, every ‘mm’ counts.

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Now, having said that, the Sigma 12-24mm might not be so alluring to the photographer carrying an APS-C DSLR, as many wider lenses are cheaper prices are available for such cameras. The Canon 10-18mm and the Tokina 11-16mm are examples of these. The Sigma 12-24mm proves its maximum utility, thus, to full frame camera owners.

It is great fun to click at these angles and they are surely able to provide pictures with a different perspective than all the other people clicking at the same location. Unless, of course they have the same lens (!).

Clicking in tight spaces like old monuments or buildings or any such place becomes a lot easier with the usage of a lens like the Sigma 12-24mm. However, something which none of the wide lenses are good at (it isn’t their right purpose to be honest) is in blurring the background. So do not expect the kind of blurring in a 35mm or a 50mm prime lense or even a 18-55mm kit lens.

Aperture – Sigma 12-24mm

What is also not helping the blurring cause of this particular lens is its set of narrow max apertures. The f/4.5 aperture is only available at 12mm. While using it from 13-18mm the aperture shifts to f/5.0 and from 19-24mm further to f/5.6. The competition of this lens usually allow for f/2.8-f/4 fixed.

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As a general rule, wide angles > wide apertures. But if your cause needs you to take pictures in dark or low light conditions, you might want to look at other lenses. I should add however that this lens gives a fairly good result indoors in normal lighting conditions. Also, when you have a combination of narrow apertures with wide angles, you can instead, get great depth of field.

Image Quality – Sigma 12-24mm

This is the criteria where the Sigma 12-24mm shines. Though it can get a tiny bit softer at 24mm, it is quite sharp in the center of the frame for entire focal length range. Usually it is seen that the sharpest results are given when one stops down to f/8 on most lenses, this however, is not the case with the Sigma 12-24mm as the lens is as sharp at f/5 as at f/8. At 12 mm however a modest improvement can be seen if the aperture is made a little narrowed.

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Corners are softer (as in the case of most lenses) especially while shooting at 24mm and there is very slight improvement even when going as narrow as f/11 or f/16.

Similarly corner sharpness improves while shooting at 12mm on the Sigma 12-24mm as you go further towards a narrower aperture of about f/8-f/11.

Similar results are seen for the entire range of the lens. Sigma 12-24mm all in all does a decent job of balancing the aperture and the sharpness to a standard level as seen on other lenses in this class.

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Overall the Sigma 12-24mm seems to be a good lens from an image sharpness perspective.

One thing which you can not shake off in such wide angle lenses is the vignetting. One can expect around 4 stops of peripheral shading at <20mm, around 3.5 stops at 20mm and around 3 stops at 24mm. You can however get rid of the excess vignetting by stepping down your aperture values.

As expected from a lens this wide, Barrel distortion at 12mm is quite strong on the Sigma 12-24mm. Distortion reduces until about 18mm where it starts to convert into pincushion distortion. While it can be said that distortion could be one of the biggest flaws in this particular Sigma 12-24mm lens, for the 16-20mm focal range it performs better than the rest of the lenses in this class. This is one of the problems which comes in making rectilinear lenses at such wide focal lengths. The Chromatic Aberration is modest in the mid and surrounding areas but is still visible for the entire 12-24mm focal range of the Sigma 12-24mm.

For lenses that are so wide it is not too difficult to get the sun or other bright lights in to your frame.The flare however seems to be isolated in the case of the Sigma 12-24mm and does not change significantly for the whole of focal range.

Focusing – Sigma 12-24mm

As its name implies, Sigma 12-24mm II DG HSM Lens, makes use of Sigma’s HSM (Hypersonic Motor) AF system. The focusing is as expected and works great. This being a Sigma HSM lens is patently quiet and that is a good thing for any lens of any range.

The focusing is quick although in low light conditions the lens tends to lose focus some times. If you rely heavily on auto focusing this can be a bit annoying.

DOF scales are rare on zoom lenses, but with the deep depth of field delivered by the Sigma 12-24mm, it has one and the scale has wide apertures including f/5.6 and f/8 (only). Such depth in the depth of field also means that one can zoom from wide to long without making focus adjustments often.

The manual focus ring on the Sigma 12-24mm is decently sized and optimally placed. It has no play and provides for a good amount of rotational force.

The MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) for the Sigma 12-24mm is 11.0″ (280mm), which is similar to most of the lenses in this class. Here is a table showing these values for all such lenses and Sigma 12-24mm in particular.

Model MFD MM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.22x
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.23x
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.25x
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.15x
Nikon 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens 11.4″ (290mm) 0.25x
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D AF-S Lens 10.8″ (274mm) 0.22x
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.17x
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.17x
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens 11.0″ (280mm) 0.19x
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens 11.0″ (279mm) 0.21x

 

 

Build Quality & Features – Sigma 12-24mm

The physical design and build of the Sigma 12-24mm Lens is very nice and the soft material of the lens barrel gives a nice smooth touch. The wider lens hood is built. The matte black finish of the lens makes the Sigma 12-24mm feel quite premium and the lens looks quite attractive to the eye. The main barrel of the lens is made of good quality plastic and the lens is of aluminum.

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The zoom and focus rings on the Sigma 12-24mm are raised-rib-rubber-coated. These are a snug fit and I found them quite easy to use. As stated earlier, there is no play in the lens rings and the overall quality of the build is great. and are easy to find and use. There is no play in the lens rings and only a very small seam is seen between the rings and the lens body, showing quality construction. The zoom ring on the Sigma 12-24mm rotates in the Nikon standard direction, which is of course, opposite to the Canon standard direction of rotation.

The front lens element of the Sigma 12-24mm moves slightly while shifting from 12mm to 24mm but all the movement takes place inside the barrel so essentially the size of the lens stays fixed.

The Sigma 12-24mm comes only with one toggle switch on its body i.e. to shift between AF and MF. It has been placed keeping in mind that one does not have to look out of their viewfinder to use it. After using the lens a couple of times it will come to you automatically. The Sigma 12-24mm does not have full weather sealing and can be termed as “splash proof”. So while you can take the lens for a shoot in a light drizzly condition, you might want to keep it well protected in any other such rainy or dusty condtion.

Here is a table to compare the size and weight of the Sigma 12-24mm with its competition.

Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter Year
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens 22.6 oz (640g) 3.5 x 4.4″ (88.5 x 111.6mm) 82mm 2007
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM Lens 21.7 oz (615g) 3.3 x 4.4″ (82.6 x 112.8mm) 77mm 2014
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM Lens 16.8 oz (475g) 3.3 x 3.8″ (84.0 x 97mm) 77mm 2003
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens 34.2 oz (969g) 3.9 x 5.2″ (98.0 x 131.5mm) n/a 2007
Nikon 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens 24.0 oz (680g) 3.2 x 4.9″ (82.5 x 125mm) 77mm 2010
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D AF-S Lens 26.3 oz (745g) 3.2 x 4.2″ (81.3 x 107mm) 77mm 1999
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens 23.7 oz (670g) 3.3 x 4.7″ (83.8 x 119.4mm) n/a 2011
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM Lens 21.7 oz (615g) 3.4 x 3.9″ (87.0 x 100mm) n/a
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens 33.5 oz (950g) 3.5 x 5.2″ (90.0 x 133.3mm) n/a 2011
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens 21.2 oz (600g) 3.5 x 3.7″ (89.0 x 94mm) 82mm 2011

So, one thing that is absolutely important to talk about is in regard of external filters. The Sigma 12-24mm comes with a fized lens hood and this can pose problems for photographers that would like to use filters during their shoots.

However, there is a work around to that. The inner section of the 2-piece lens cap has 82mm threads built it. So for a full frame body at 24mm, 82mm filter can be mounted on the lens and used without a problem. This is of course an exception and similar workaround cannot be used while clicking at 12mm as the vignetting becomes quite evident.

The Sigma 12-24mm ships with a  compact zippered, padded-nylon case to keep your lens safe.

Image Samples – Sigma 12-24mm

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Price – Sigma 12-24mm

It not easy to compare the price of a lens when there is no direct comparison for it in the market. If you wish to go for a 12mm wide rectilinear lens, the Sigma 12-24mm is your only choice.

The Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens is available in all standard mounts including Canon, Nikon, Sony/Minolta and ofcourse Sigma.

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The Sigma 12-24mm retails on Amazon India for varied prices between Rs 53,000- 77,000 and On Flipkart it is listed for Rs 77,000 along with a Sigma external flash unit.

Summary

The Sigma 12-24mm comes with its own set of shortcomings but to be honest, the things which it offers, no one in the market is offering right now. As stated, Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens is the widest angle rectilinear lens available for a Canon, Nikon, Sony or Sigma DSLR mount. The lens therefore would provide you with some excellent wide shots with a good image quality.

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build Quality
9
Image Quality
8
USPs
8
Price
6
Features
7
Weather Proofing
7
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Editor in Chief at Qwich. Exploring the latest gadgets and gizmos while constantly studying engineering. Current Device One Plus 2 , Macbook Pro